Monday, August 27, 2007

Ocean 6, Christine 1

Friday has become our de facto ocean day in St. Augustine. That is, up until we start our full-timeschedules. I’ll probably still have Fridays off, but I’m not ready to go by myself. I want someone to notice if I go missing, you know?

Our first trip to Vilano Beach was perfect. The waves were calm and we were able to wade out to our shoulders and only get splashed by waves occasionally. The water was bath water warm, there was a gentle cooling breeze, and everything just fit together snuggly. We were in love.

Our second trip to Vilano was not smooth. It turned out to be a big wave day, and all the surfers were out en masse. A guy with a surf board walked by me, and I asked, “How did you know it would be a big wave day?” His answer: “I’ve been doing this forty years.” Hmm, good answer, but not very useful to me.

On the second trip, we (I) only waded up to my knees, technically, but the waves were so huge that even at that depth I got covered up to my shoulders. Usually. Sometimes the waves came in so huge that I really got dunked, even so close to the shore like that. I kept score of the waves, hence this post’s title. Six times the ocean knocked me down, and once I withstood the ocean’s wave attack.

Each time I got knocked down, I’d get pushed to a sitting position and pushed toward the shore. This meant my bottom was being dragged across the sandy bottom, and my swim trunks would fill with sand. The trick here is that since I was wading so shallow, I’d have to go in deeper to try and get the sand out of my trunks. Going deeper exposed me to more waves. Exposure to more waves tended to knock me over, thus the dilemma of the cycle.

We managed to have fun anyway, and Matthew seems to really enjoy body surfing in the big swells, so it was far from a bust. What ended up happening to me, though, was that my knees got really sore from constantly being pushed by the strong water. I had to give up on the ocean dip once I realized I was hurting myself—no, wait, once I realized the ocean was hurting me.

We went to the shore to lay out and dry off. We forgot sunblock. And, so, Team Wy earned their first St. Augustine sunburns. Aww. Matthew’s hurts worse than mine, so I guess I’m lucky that way.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sing just for me

My friend Kathy tells a backstage Duran Duran story that kicks my Simon LeBon pre-teen crush story’s ass, but this isn’t Kathy’s blog, so I’m telling my story instead.

I bought Matthew a karaoke machine as a housewarming gift when we moved to Florida, and since then we’ve been squirreling disks whenever we can, giddy with each new find. One nugget was a song track labeled “Rio” by Duran Duran, but it turned out to be “Hungry like the Wolf.” I didn’t mind; I think I’d sing anything Duran Duran at home karaoke. But singing “smell like I sound” made me remember middle school.

Insert Wayne’s World flashback wavy lines.

Just on the cusp of middle school, my parents moved us to a new neighborhood. It was never like the old place, Reidlonn, instead it was more impersonal and making new friendships was difficult. There were a few kids about my age living on the street behind us, and I tried my best to make friends with them. The problem was that one girl was significantly wealthier than me and had total disdain for me, and another girl was significantly poorer than me and she had total disgust for me. So you see the problem. No one in the middle to be friends with Christine.

I hung out with the rich girl, Raechel, every once in a while. She had an awesome sticker collection, whereas mine anemically contained a few graphic scratch-n-sniff and a few pictures of random objects. But nothing cool, none of the right stickers. Raechel had the most impressive sticker collection of anyone I knew, however. I don’t know where she attended middle school that was so magical, but she talked about her and her friends doing sticker swaps and miraculous sticker book meets. At my school, we kind of took our sticker books to school with us, but no one had anything grade A primo to really worry about swapping.

One sunny afternoon in the summer, Raechel must have been bored because she actually called me over to play. As a bonus, she told me, “I have new stickers.” When I got to her bedroom, she pulled out a 2” by 3” wax sheet of glitter heart stickers that nearly melted my soul with envy. And then Raechel blew my mind. “This is the newest sticker I just traded for,” and she showed me a tiny 1” rendering of Duran Duran—in sticker form. I thought I’d die. Having the Duran Duran sticker would catapult my pedestrian sticker book to stratospheric proportions.

“I’d love it if you could share some of your stickers with me,” I said, trying to figure out how to ingratiate myself to Raechel.

“Mmm, maybe you could have a couple of the glitter hearts.”

I really craved to have Simon LeBon so I could practice kissing his tiny 2 mm visage. “I really like that other one,” I told her, pointing at sticker Duran Duran.

“Welll, I just got it and all…”

Somehow, I persuaded Raechel to blindfold me, and she would do a switcheroo, and then I would point and pick a sticker at random. Like sticker roulette. So, blindfold, swish, swish swish, “Now pick.”

At first I worried that I’d choose wrong and get stuck with glitter hearts instead of my heart’s desire. But then I realized that my disproportionately large nose was causing a huge gap in the blindfold and I could see straight out by just tilting my head back a little. But, was this a sin? If I cheated at sticker roulette, did I have to go to confession? Lying is clearly forbidden by the Catholic church, but, come on, Simon LeBon! Doesn’t Simon LeBon totally trump the Catholic church?

He does. He does indeed.

I tilted back my head, and I could see Raechel’s hands as she moved around the stickers in front of me. On the right, glitter hearts. On the left, clearly a square of Duran Duran. “Okay, now choose,” Raechel said to me, confident her scheme would keep her sticker collection intact.

I extended my left index finger, “That one.”

She gasped. I took off my blindfold and faked surprise like nobody’s business. “Oh my goodness!” I squealed, and picked up the much coveted Duran Duran sticker.

“Um, let’s try again at the sticker game, OK?” Raechel awkwardly asked me. Confident in my ability to cheat her all day if necessary, I was ready for any challenge. Again, sticker roulette, swish, swish, swish on her carpet. “Now choose.” I pointed with my right index finger this time, directly at my future husband’s face, Simon LeBon.

I took off my blindfold: “Oh! I got it again!” I picked up the sticker.

“No, let’s try again,” Raechel told me. “I want to make sure your blindfold is on right.” No problem. She held up two fingers to test if I could see, I said “three?” Lie. She held up four fingers to see if I could tell, and I said, “two?” Lie. She was finally satisfied. And for a third time she played the eggshell game, teasing my obvious future with my boyfriend Simon LeBon.

This time, I acted even harder, and I started to point to the left like I wasn’t sure, and I said, “Ummm,” a lot as my finger wavered. But, at last, my finger settled on the Duran Duran sticker. “This one,” I declared. I took off my blindfold, and Raechel finally conceded defeat.

Knowing when to cut and run, I got out with my precious sticker while I could, so I kept up the lying (sorry God!) and told Raechel I had to be home or my mom would be mad. I bailed so fast I think I left her crying on the white carpet of her perfect princess bedroom, and I didn’t care. She had decorative grass fronds in a vase in the corner of her room; she could get another Duran Duran sticker any time she wanted, right?

I never really saw Raechel again after that, but I didn’t care; I got what I wanted out of the relationship—exclusive access to my husband, Simon LeBon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

School of hard knocks

I learned something today. Leaving my laptop unattended on the spare bed is probably not a good idea. It's covered in cat puke this morning. Mostly I wish my husband had woken up first so he could deal with it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Curmudgeonly yours

Of all the misguided people I’ve met in my life, hippies are the most self-righteous, self-absorbed, misinformed, opportunistic, greedy jerks I’ve ever met.

Did you hear that? I just turned old. If you’re really quiet, you can hear the death rattle of my youth.

Here’s how else I know I’m old: I don’t understand music videos anymore. Matthew and I were watching Fuse music network, and a video (gasp!) actually came on. Four guys who all looked under the age of 21—much closer to the tender age of 18, I’d guess—were wailing away about how some jerk wad feels like a real man because he hits his girlfriend and they hate him for it. What did I say in response? Was it a, “Wow, it’s really amazing to watch videos for a change since MTV is all Real World/Road Rules/Jackass Challenge these days,” b, “I’m not into this band, but I feel where they’re coming from; violence against women is wrong,” or, did I shout c, “Oh my god! They’re like 18 years old! They don’t know anything about domestic violence!” Yes, it was c. I turned to Matthew and said, “Oh no, I just turned old, didn’t I”

He laughed and asked, “How does it feel?”

“I don’t know yet,” I answered.

And I was stunned. I just turned 31. It felt like a big birthday, because it was a birthday that said, “OK, this is it. This is your life; you’re really an adult now. This is really what’s happening now.” There was no, “tomorrow you skip out on life and go back to grad school!” No, “It’s OK, Mommie and Daddie still cook your meals!” Just, “You look forward to paying bills on time.” It was a pretty un-glamorous birthday, obviously.

So, back to hippies. My neighbor and friend has a sweet but misplaced nurturing streak. She’s letting someone she barely knew before they arrived sleep at her house indefinitely. This person is proud to have been homeless in the past. This person now has a two-year-old son. This person is named Precious. This person is named Precious, brags about being a stay-at-home-mom, and swears like a sailor in front of her gift, the joy of her life, her toddler son. Honey, you’re just unemployed hippie trash. She congratulated me for being “real.” She told me: “It’s great to have someone so real to have a conversation with.” Well, I may have seemed real, but really I was just being polite, and I let her do all the talking or else I was gonna cuss her like a sailor in front of her undeserving two-year-old boy.

Here’s the strange thing about hippies like Precious: all they can talk about is making money. You think hippies are all into free love and stopping the war, but all the people I know who really think they’re “true” hippies only care about finding the next buck. Every time I opened my mouth, Precious turned it into some sort of statement about, “You can make money doing that.” And I’d even respect her need to support herself and her child, but every time she speaks she has another scheme to make a buck: “I could make and sell jewelry at the head shop.” “I could make hula hoops.” “I can be a housekeeper and make $200 a day.” “I can make soap.” She’s so busy with these stream of conscious money scheme updates, that even if I wanted to I couldn’t have an actual conversation with her. So far, the only skill she sticks with is running her mouth.

And there, now I’m old. I don’t understand rock music and hippies make me angry. I’ve turned a corner in life, a crotchety, smaller-minded corner, but I’m not resisting. I feel that although I’m losing touch with so many things that used to motivate me, I’m only getting better with age. I’ve always felt that, every birthday, another year of wisdom and experience gained. It’s just that right now my experience isn’t very precious.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Grrr! I missed ANOTHER year!

Yet again, I have snoozed through the Perseid meteor shower. Every August, I swear I'm going to remember to do one of those NPR night skies things and watch the meteor shower, but I never do.

The only time I've ever seen the Perseids, it was a total fluke. It was high school, and some friends and I had sneaked out of the house to go sit at the local water tower and talk about life the universe and everything. I was laying on the still warm August evening sidewalk, and I said, "Hey, guys, I just saw a shooting star!" No one believed me.

"You're just making it up to get attention," Louis said.

"No, really, I'm not making it up, I swear." Then, it happened again, "Look guys, I swear I saw another shooting star!"

I made them all come lay with me on the ground, our heads touching in a circle, and our feet radiating out like spokes. "Woah, cool!" Louis said, "You really weren't lying."

We laid there for hours, watching the stars fall over and over. We were so touched by the experience, that except for an occasional "ooh" and "aah," we never spoke another word that night.

I don't even think we ever spoke about the meteor shower again. Later, I would learn that it's the Perseids that show up every August, one of the most regular and observable meteorite shows the earth gets. If by some meteoric chance I ran into anyone from that night, I don't think I would mention the Perseids. It's been years, and they've probably all forgotten, but in my mind we are still restless teenagers stopping for a night to watch the sky.

Friday, August 10, 2007

If you're like me ...

... you'll LOL! Really!

I was busy on the internet proving my husband wrong (Homer Simpson buys the F Series Canyonero, not the L Series, as he believed), and I came across this site:

It's not the pinnacle of web achievement, but it made me laugh out loud. Bless you internets. I think I'll order a Tab now, after I press the "any" key.

Face time

I’m feeling mega bummed Team Wy fans. Ever since we moved to St. Augustine, I’ve had major inertia problems. I can’t seem to get motivated to do anything. All I want to do is lay on the couch and drink cappuccino. That’s it. I don’t even want to hula hoop, and that’s just crazy. I even made a huge vat of chili, just so I wouldn’t have to cook for a week.

I didn’t care about the inertia until today. Suddenly today it just feels so annoying since there’s so much to do to move in still, and I can’t make myself do it. Maybe this is my tipping point, though, and my annoyance will motivate me.

I can hear the dog dreaming downstairs. She has long toenails right now, and she always flops and runs in her dreams. I can hear her bumping and scratching the floor. I’d give anything to see what a basset hound dreams, but I think it’s mostly squirrels and cats and rabbits. Just like my dreams. I’m always chasing or running.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Internet access at last!

Oh Team Wy fans, I am so glad to be back online. I feel like things are beginning to get normal again after all we’ve been through. My first post from Florida, and I’m sitting in our huge living room amidst stacks and stacks of boxes. It’s pretty crazy here so far.

Play-by-play of our sojourn to Florida--no, that’s way too difficult. Use your imagination; it was hard.

The first truck we rented was too small so we had to get a bigger truck and unload everything from the smaller truck and put it on the bigger truck. The trailer we got for our 4 cylinder car was bigger than the one we were supposed to rent, so we were heavily warned against going over 55 miles per hour with it since our car wasn’t technically rated to haul something that big. We stuck to 55 for the first two legs of the journey, then the home stretch into Florida we were so exhausted and road weary that we blew through Georgia at 65 mph, trailer hitch be damned. Then we got here and it was so hot and muggy that Matthew nearly died from unloading the truck. I mean, I guess that’s what we expected from Florida in August, but nothing could prepare us for the reality of being this hot. Maybe if we had conditioned ourselves in Chicago by going to saunas a lot. Which would have been nice. Now when I need a sauna I just go out on the porch.

Florida. We traded a rat problem for a backyard full of lizards. The squirrels are smaller here but not a different species than the gray squirrel. There are things called “live oaks” which I haven’t seen yet. Our backyard has tall palm trees, and somewhere is a small orange tree. Our front yard has a tree *covered* in Spanish moss. Everything I saw and photographed at the green house in Chicago is just growing here in people’s yards. I tried to steal a shoot off some sort of prickly palm tree, but I couldn’t get it to break off and the dog was ready to move on. Apparently there’s serious city council rules here about trees anyway.

And it’s hot. I hear Chicago is having a terrible heat wave too, so I feel better knowing that I’d be suffering there too. And it’s refreshing that my friends are experiencing the same thing as me. Someone who was once my friend said, “You’ll hate Florida. Sure it gets up to 100 degrees here in Chicago, but that only lasts a few days. In Florida, it’s 100 for the whole summer!” I feel vindicated that she’s sweating too. And I love Florida, despite it being hot, so there.

There’s a lot to do in St. Augustine. Our best friend here calls and invites us out to see bands play, go to movie festivals, visit a women’s craft fair, and god only knows what next. We love it.

We ride our bicycles everywhere we go because nothing we need is more than a bicycle ride away. Everyone at the library where I work laughs at me though because of how sweaty I am. They like teasing the northerner about the heat, so I let them. There’s a fellow Midwesterner there, so I bond with him a lot.

Today my goal is to sneak out of the house and see if the local Home Depot has irrigation tubing of the right heft for making hula hoops. I gave my hula hoop to a friend because I knew it would be a while before she could afford one, and she did so much to help me move that she deserved it anyway. Any trooper with that much fire power earns a used hula hoop, so don’t forget it dear reader! I’m also going to try and sell hula hoops at my friend’s shop here in town. I don’t know if it will catch on, but it’s worth a shot.

My new library is a mixed bag. I was hired to be their first archivist ever, so I have to bring together all of the materials they’ve been collecting and arrange them according to archival principles. So far I’m in research stage and I’m gathering information about local historical societies, arrangement principles for college archives, and the history of the college and its founder. I’m busy, but not working hard yet. It’s a big job, one I hope I can accomplish, but it will take time. The people at the library are great though, and even though I can’t remember all of their names at all, I really enjoy being with them.

That’s all the news my tired fingers will type. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long, but I promise to share more adventures as they happen. I wish I had kept a travel journal on our way to Florida, but I never would have had the energy for it. The trip itself was exhausting, and we haven’t had a recovery period yet.

Love, love, angels.