The Reunion Chronicles – The Final Chapter

In contrast to the Mixer I went to but didn’t attend the night before (depressing details available here), I managed to arrive at the Richmond, Texas venue for this multi-class reunion a tad early. I bought a plastic cup of wine, sat myself down at one of the smaller tables—close to the get-your-nametag-here table, and where I could easily see the door—crossed my legs, and waited for one or more of the following events to occur: (a) someone to walk through the door who I recognized (not likely); (b) someone to walk through the door who recognized me (even more not likely); and/or (c) the wine to kick in (a sure thing).

As apprehensive as I was, I managed to sit there, gulp my White Zinfandel, and, with an air nonchalance that any Frenchman would envy, stare fixedly at the door. I was projecting such an air of nonchalance, in fact, that even if Mark Harmon himself were to walk through that door, I would have reacted with the proper dignity and reserve appropriate for any woman my age, especially since there was a clear shot between me and that door, and no shoving, pushing, or tackling would have been necessary for me to get there first—which was a good thing, because I wasn’t dressed for it. In addition, I had the advantage of the element of surprise, since no one else was watching that door like I was.

But, alas, no Mark Harmon. Only normal, ordinary, old people… like me.

Out of the thousands attending from the four graduating classes invited (such observation being based upon the length of the food line), there were only seven people in attendance with whom I graduated in 1970 (christened, just now, by me, and referred to herein forthwith as the “Seven from Seventy”). The rest graduated in ’69, ’71, and ’72, and because no one showed up from ’69, I qualified for a shot at the title of Most Senior Senior. The upside, though, was that all but one of the Seven from Seventy had signed my yearbook, which meant that I might have actually met five of them before now. And, not counting my sister, that just left a mere crowd of people I didn’t know.

I really shouldn’t have worried about connecting or re-connecting…it turned out that the shared experience (or trauma, if you prefer) of high school was enough for me to assume a familiarity with my fellow classmates that I would not have assumed otherwise. I renewed friendships long deemed dead, and made some new ones that, hopefully (or miraculously), will last another forty-one years.

Just one more insightful observation: People there seemed to just pick up where they left off, and I’m thankful I wasn’t grilled about how I spent my last forty-one years. I would have had the devil of a time condensing my life since graduation into a short—albeit fascinating—synopsis.

And that’s assuming, of course, I could remember any of it.

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The Reunion Chronicles – The Mixer!

I didn’t go.

Well, actually, it depends on one’s definition of “go.” I climbed into my little rental car with the cool GPS and set my course, like Christopher Columbus and the New World. And, unlike Christopher, I had no trouble finding it.

The bar was located in one of those “town centers” that all small suburbs seem to have nowadays, and I was soon reminded what a disadvantage a car (even with a cool GPS) was in these teeny-weeny places. However, this one had a free, multi-level parking garage, so I pulled in, corkscrewed my way up and parked.

Now, I was born and raised in Colorado, which means my sense of direction is completely and utterly dependent upon the Rocky Mountains, even after forty years gone (give or take)—finding my way out of a parking garage, on foot, is akin to finding my way back to civilization after being spun, blindfolded, and dropped off in the middle of nowhere…all parking garages look the same to me. I got out of my rental car with the cool GPS, and started walking, praying at the same time that I could find it again, especially since I was having a hard time remembering what color it was.

I had the street-smarts to realize that down meant out, and I just happened to spy a stairwell, half-hidden in a corner of the garage. That was the easy part. The hard part was deciding in which direction to turn once I got down to the street. As is my nature, I turned the wrong way, and after walking past the same Mexican food restaurant for the fourth time, I made an adjustment to my heading, and finally got there before my canteen ran out of water.

I walked in and promptly stopped, dead cold. People were crunched together, barely able to move, so mingling seemed out of the question. Worse yet (and this was the kicker), the bar itself—the home of dearly-desired, highly-anticipated Screwdrivers, was totally socked in, like an airport in fog.

Reminiscent of my days as a junior high school wallflower, I hung around outside for a little while and waited for anybody who looked even remotely familiar. I finally, reluctantly, gave up, and headed back to the parking garage. I’m proud to say that I did find my rental car with the cool GPS on the first try, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that God answers prayer.

I just wonder now, looking back, if I should’ve prayed for Vodka and orange juice, too.

The Reunion Chronicles – Almost Part One

I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up, got myself some coffee, and sat down at the kitchen table, where I flipped through the pages of my senior yearbook for the umpteenth time (it’s a whole like cramming for a test I know I’m going to fail anyway). I’m now sitting in a hotel room in Sugarland, Texas, after a forty-five-minute flight in a metal tube the size of a drain pipe, and in about another forty-five minutes from now, I fully expect to be throwing away (with both hands) all of the personal growth and/or profound wisdom I have managed to accumulate over the past forty-one years.

Suddenly, I’m reminded of that song by Joe Nichols: “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”

Lord, please bring me back with all my clothes on…

My High School Reunion – A Prologue

As I wrote in this space a few months ago (see a rundown of my travails here), I have been debating the wisdom (?) of attending my 41st high school reunion.  Yes, that’s right.  The 41st.  As in one year beyond 40, when one would naturally expect a reunion would take place.  Personally, I think it’s rather unique holding a reunion in an odd-numbered year…everyone else holds reunions in the even-numbered ones, probably because even numbers are a whole lot easier to remember than odd numbers, since—and I was somewhat surprised by this— cheerleaders, class presidents, and football jocks age just as quickly as we average, anonymous under-achievers do (really…you can look it up.)  So, by having it on year forty-one, we can all prove to the world—and each other—that we remain fleet of mind, when in truth it just took an extra year to get organized.

Actually, that’s not strictly true.  The graduating class of ‘71 planned this reunion—their 40th (see? even number!)—and they did it in a most timely fashion.  Then, for reasons most likely known to everyone but me, they graciously opened it up to classes ‘69 through ‘72, which means that, now that I think about it, there will be even more people there I don’t know.  The upside is that I may not remember any of it—there will be liquor, after all.  And an even better upside is maybe no one will remember any of it.  I do, however, have grand plans to keep you all intimately informed…I just might have to make something up.

So, the decision has been made.  I’m off the fence.  I’ve taken a stand.  I’ve bought a non-refundable plane ticket.  The only things left to do between now and next Friday are (a) get my nails done, and (b) lose ten pounds.

I should have started a year earlier.

Yard Art

The other day, my husband walked into the kitchen where I was sitting, doing I-forget-what, and announced he was going to go mow the lawn. I don’t completely understand what happened next (I must have blacked out or something), but before I knew it, I was saying, “I’ll help…I can mow while you edge!”

I know!  Weird, right?

I’m not a natural yard person.  I like to think I am sometimes, especially when I get the urge to buy flowers and plant them in the concrete planters I bought several years ago during another, particularly expensive bout of self-delusion.  My husband would vouch for this, and agree I’m long on ideas and short on follow-through.  He knows exactly what I mean when I say, “you know what we ought to do?”  He braces himself against his chair, and waits for the blow to fall.

“You know what we ought to do? We ought to dig a flower bed over there between the pool and the fence…wouldn’t that look really cool?

‘And,” I usually continue, “you know what else we could do?  We could lay a stone walkway that runs from the back porch to a small stone patio where we can put a gazebo with a hot tub!”

I repeat, I’m not a natural yard person.  I have to work at it.  So, anyway, I get about three-quarters of the backyard done when my sister shows up for a surprise visit.  I shut the mower down, and leave it where it sits.  Hubby gets done edging and takes up the mowing where I left off.  I’m half-watching him from the kitchen window and half-listening to what my sister is saying, when I see him look around at what I’ve done, shake his head slowly from side-to-side, and throw up his hand in resignation.

I cannot believe my eyes!  And I cannot believe he has no idea whatsoever of what all I go through to mow HIS lawn.  If I’m not battling heat stroke, I’m battling boredom.  As a result, I like to just wander where the mower takes me.  I am careful, though, to keep the rows straight (or sorta-straight, since I am not—contrary to what he may have told you—completely ignorant of the finer points of lawn care), but sometimes the yard ends up looking like a maze right out of Alice in Wonderland.  (I can’t remember if there was a maze in Alice in Wonderland…it just seems like the kind of story that ought to have one.)

Apparently, I am, deep down, a free spirit.  And, apparently, deep down, he’s not.

So, perhaps next time, he’ll think twice about accepting my offer to help, and perhaps, next time, I’ll think twice about offering it.  Either way, I think we’ll both be better off.  I know the lawn will.

Thank you…I accept!

Many thanks to Sher A Hart, my fellow campaigner,  who saw fit to bestow the coveted Versatile Blogger Award on me!  I didn’t think I would ever win this honor, so I don’t have an acceptance speech prepared.  I would have liked to have thanked my fans, but I don’t have any…yet.

Per the rules, I will pay it forward by choosing other worthy bloggers for this prestigious honor (I forget how many, but I’ve chosen five).  Now, also by the rules, I’m supposed to list seven things about myself.  Geez.  Seven.  Might as well be seventy.  But, here goes:

I.

I wear a size 8 shoe.  It seems that the older I get, the bigger my feet get.  And, the bigger my feet get, the shorter I get.  It’s like I’m melting into a ten-toed puddle.

II.

I love the word “puddle.”  I love the word “cuddle,” too.  Shoot…I love any word with “uddle” in it.

III.

I can play “Scarborough Fair” on the piano.  And, I play it over and over, because, frankly, it’s the only song I can play with both hands without looking at the music…which is a vast improvement over “Home Sweet Home,” a song I picked out on my aunt’s piano when I was little.  I managed to get only a bar or two before she made me quit, so, it’d go, “Be it ev-ver  so hum-ble, there’s no-o-o place like home.”   Period.  The end.  Should I die tomorrow, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I grew in at least one area of my life.

IV.

I’m contemplating getting a tattoo.  Now, I’m not that fond of body art (particularly for this body), but I’m getting to that stage in my life where I just want to prove to myself I’m still capable of doing something really stupid.

V.

I hate buying shoes.  Unamerican, unfemale, unlikely…but there it is.

VI.

Once upon a time, I got to spend two glorious, fantastic weeks in Paris, France.  I think I saw every church there (including the one at St. Denis) EXCEPT Notre Dame. By the time I’d gotten around to that one, I blew it off, figuring that if I’d seen a hundred churches, I’d seen them all.  What was I thinking?

VII.

I like change.  Change is good.  Keeps me on my toes.  But, I’m noticing that the older I get, the smaller the change has to be to make me happy.  I figure in a few years, I’ll be thrilled with just changing my underwear.

So, on that pathetic note of personal disclosure, I hereby bestow the coveted Versatile Blogger Award to:

 The Voice of Stobby – The name reminds me of Dobby in Harry Potter…so, I’m there!

 Chemist Ken – he loves castles, and chemistry…who doesn’t?

Writer-in-Transit  – aren’t we all?

Michael Haynes – A Writing Blog – he talks about reading AND writing.

Cat Rambles – apt name for a blog, and one I can relate to!

Enjoy…they’re worth the trip over.

The Art of Cubist Philosophy

A few weeks ago, I had a day off from work and decided to wander down to the world-renowned Kimbell Art Museum here in Fort Worth to take in some work on display by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, two famous, albeit confusing, Cubist artists.  I had been exposed to Cubist art (aka art-that-makes-no-sense-whatsoever) in an Art Appreciation class several years back, and was now ready, I thought, to boldly face what I would consider art from another planet.

If you perceive a flavor of fear in that last sentence, you would perceive correctly.  As I got out of my car and approached the museum entrance, I felt a deeply-entrenched sense of dread.   I feared that it would somehow reflect badly on me, my intelligence, and my artistic sensibilities if I failed to understand it, or failed to appreciate it, or worse yet, failed to justify my position other than to say, “because it’s, like, gross!”

So, as I walked slowly, thoughtfully, fearfully through the gallery, I stopped in front of every etching and every painting and read every informational placard to desperately glean some insight as to what mind-bending message the artist meant to convey.   And, I must say that I had somewhat limited (i.e., zero) success.  For the most part, it all still looked like something one would slap together for lack of anything else better to do.  And, if I had been changed in any way as a result of the experience, I would have to say I came out more confused than when I went in, if only because it was apparent that someone appreciates this stuff and I was obviously too dense to figure out why.

I’ve had a chance to reflect on it in the weeks since, though, and here’s what I’ve decided:  I’ve decided that all these cubist guys want is to provoke me into seeing that there is more than one world out there that I can only discover through multiple perspectives.  I believe they want me to widen, stretch, bend, and twist my field of vision, so that I am able to take in not only what I believe I should be seeing, but take in (and be surprised by) what I don’t expect to see.

In short, their message to me is life has infinite variety, if I will only be brave enough to look for it.  Which is all well and good.  But I personally believe that I would have gotten the point without the whole boob in the forehead thing.

Lost: One Muse. Reward.

I’m two weeks behind on my posts going on three.  You’d think by committing to only one post per week, I’d manage to stay on top of things.  Apparently, my muse has other plans, because it (she?) has headed for tall timber.  Disappeared.  Vamoosed. Gone bye-bye.

What a coward.

If I could disappear like that, I probably would.  The pressure has been intense ever since I joined the Platform Building Campaign.  Since then, I’ve had wonderful people, fellow campaigners, stopping by and reading what I’ve written, and I’m not used to that.  Now, I don’t dare flatter myself by believing people are counting the hours down until I post again, but I’d like to think I would have a chance to gain some (as in, one or two)  followers if (a) I could post good stuff on a consistent basis, and (b) I could put a “follow” button somewhere on here (it would be business-as-usual if I’ve picked a theme that doesn’t include a “follow” button).

I’ve opened a twitter account (here’s what I have to say about that).  And, I’ve downloaded “Tweetdeck” to help me keep everything organized.  However, I have not been able to get on there on a regular basis, and when I do, I can’t think of a thing to tweet in a hundred and forty words or less.  Being word-thrifty is not one of my strong suits.  Usually.  Except now.  When I can’t think of any words.  At all.

And, it’s not like I’ve been living in a vacuum…things are happening to me and around me.  I do have a life.  Honest.  In fact, three days ago, I was sitting on a king-size bed in a cute, cozy room in a bed-and-breakfast in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, after eight hours of sitting behind my husband on a motorcycle in ninety-five-degree weather.  The last time I was in that neck of the woods, I was riding my own motorcycle, missing a curve, hitting gravel, and (gracefully, I assure you) landing between a chain link fence and a large wooden sign that said “St. Paul’s Bible Church,” which explains very succinctly, I think, why I was sitting behind my husband for eight hours on a motorcycle in ninety-five degree weather.  Which may not seem very hot to some, especially to those of us in Texas who have been suffering from three-digit heat since Christmas…but this was a wet heat, as I discovered when I tried to pull up my soggy jeans after a bathroom break.  Almost can’t be done without an industrial-size shoehorn.  Believe me.

Yeah, things happen to me, which is normally excellent fodder for blogs, but at the moment, I’m Muse-less, and if things don’t change, this is going to be a really short campaign.

Calling in the Cavalry

I’m a Platform-Building Campaigner.  What, you might ask, is that, and why is it such a big deal?

It’s a big deal because writing is, by its nature, a solitary pursuit.  Unless you’re lucky enough to be a member of a writing team for someone like David Letterman, chances are you’re stuck by yourself, all alone, in an office or other converted space, pounding away on a computer or, what they used to call in the day, a “typewriter.”

It’s a big deal is because through this Campaign, I will become part of a growing community of writers, many of whom are in the same proverbial boat as me, i.e., a complete novice at this writing thing.  I also won’t have to waste valuable time making all my own mistakes…I can make just a few, while learning from the mistakes others have made before me.  It’s a good deal, especially since it’s extremely likely their mistakes aren’t nearly as fatal as mine usually are.

Like many (if not the majority) of writers out there, I’m not too keen on promoting my own work, or my own name, or my own brand (like I even know what a “brand” is).  I’d like to believe that once someone reads what I write, they’ll graciously deign to tell all their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers what a great writer I am and boy they should really check out my blog because it will change their lives for the better…forever.

Who says I don’t have a fantasy life?

Anyway, that isn’t gonna happen (unfortunately), so I’ve got to take my destiny—and my reputation—into my own, feeble, inexperienced hands.  Joining the Platform-Building Campaign will not only teach me what a “platform” is, it will, hopefully, go a long way towards improving my comfort level in blowing my own horn, and, just as importantly, the horns of all the other Campaigners out there.

Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it’s going.  In the meantime, click on the Shield at the left to see what I’m talking about.

Jamie Fraser or Indoor Plumbing?

I’m in book number five in a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon called Outlander, and I’ve become so totally involved in it that I fervently wish I was living in the 18th century, in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by all that is contained therein; e.g., crags, heather, and—most especially—brawny Scotsmen dressed in plaid.  It has become so real to me, in fact, that when forced to emerge from the fantasy, I experience a painful pang of regret because I’m not in the Scottish Highlands during the 18th century.  Plus, to further complicate things, I’m involved in a one-sided love-ish-like-sorta thing with a figment of someone else’s imagination.

How kinky can you get?

My…er, our… hero is named James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser.  He’s a very tall (probably six-four at least), broad-shouldered Scot with long, thick, red hair that complements his ruddy complexion and high cheekbones.  He can handle himself in a fight, using both broadsword and dirk (which is—for you uninitiated lay-people out there—Scottish for “dagger”), and has a pain tolerance like you wouldn’t believe.  He is kind, loyal, and fiercely protective.  His sense of honor keeps him from breaking his word once he’s given it, no matter what the cost.  Plus—and this is the good part—he’s sexy AND sensitive (that’s how you know he’s not real).  In short, he’s perfect.  Oh, yeah, and he has a broad, Scottish accent.  I know that, because he says things like, “I dinna ken that man, did ye?” (or words to that effect).

I’ve never experienced anything like this.  I’ve been wrapped up in books before, not wanting to put them down, but not to the extent that I needed a reality check.   

And the reality is, Jamie and I can never be together.  Period.  It wouldn’t work.  And not just because I’m real and he’s not (which in most cases is a deal-breaker).  We could never be together because I wouldn’t last five minutes in 18th century Scotland—sexy, kilt-clad Scot notwithstanding.  This fact became glaringly obvious to me last week when I locked myself out of my house. 

I won’t bore you with the details, but when I pressed down on the door handle, my life flashed before my eyes.  No, I thought…it’s just stuck.  I had my twelve-year-old grandson with me, and while I was still pondering why the door wouldn’t open, he was having his own little conniption, stomping around the garage, waving his hands around as if beng swarmed by bees.

 “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T HAVE A KEY!  WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A KEY?!” he ranted. 

Then, when I told him I didn’t have my phone either, I thought his adolescent brain was going to explode. 

“WHAT??  YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR PHONE, EITHER??  I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU FORGOT YOUR PHONE!” 

I know…I’m not fit.  I didn’t have my house key and I didn’t have my phone.  We were doomed. 

I allowed myself a few moments of blank mindlessness (as if I could do anything else).  I was stunned.  This wasn’t happening.  I NEVER get locked out!  It was 106° in the shade and we were stuck out outside…oh, yeah, we were so-o-o-o-o doomed.

I collapsed into a chair on the back patio and tried to pull myself together…I told myself not to panic, to stay calm, be brave.  In spite of my internal pep talk, I started to sweat, both physically and mentally.  My head started aching and I began to get thirsty, all the while imagining us dying of heat-stroke (or boredom) before help arrived.  

We did eventually get in, you’ll be glad to know, but not before I was forced to face the unvarnished truth:  Jamie Fraser could never protect me from me.  How could I possibly deal with marauding clansmen and English spies if I can’t face, with courage and fortitude, getting locked out of my own house?

And, anyway, after further thought and consideration, I’ve decided that I much prefer indoor plumbing and stretch pants to chamber pots and corsets.

Sexy, kilt-clad Scot notwithstanding.

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