Last summer when I went to visit my friend Melissa on the east coast, I was plunged into nostalgia. Partly because we spent a few days at her family’s house on the Jersey shore, where she and I lived during the summer of ’99, but also because she and her mom were having a garage sale my first day there. Garage sales were a big part of my youth. My family would often stop at sales on the way home from church summer Sundays, and we’d have a huge sale ourselves one weekend every year. But after spending much of my twenties living overseas, many of my American cultural habits faded away. Going to garage sales was one of them.
Caveat: This post is long and a bit of a ramble. It has a lot of ideas in it that aren’t fully formed and should probably be split into several distinct posts. It’s more of a thought exercise about the role of place in one’s life, which is the focus of a new writing course I’m taking. The point is to get writing and generate ideas without a lot of self-censorship at this point. I’d love to hear thoughts from my readers if anything here resonates with you.
When I was young, I thought Buffalo, NY was the absolute best place in the country to live. Some of the reasons I can remember included:
- bars were open until 4pm
- we had a waterfront (although it was undeveloped at the time)
- we could use Canadian coins interchangeably with American ones
- our shitty beer was Labatt’s, not Budweiser or Miller
The 2018 A to Z Challenge is over and I hope you had as much fun reading my posts as I did writing them. Thanks to all who checked out my blog and especially all those who took the time to comment. I wrote all my posts in advance so I’d have time to check out other blogs during the month, and I was able to visit almost all of them. So for my wrap up post, I’m linking to the most enjoyable post I found each day.
The A to Z Challenge theme reveal was technically yesterday, but I’m still recuperating from two weeks out of town (stay tuned for my next post), so here I am a day late already and the challenge hasn’t yet begun. Not good! Fortunately, over the years I’ve become wiser about participating in the challenge and all my posts for this year are just about finalized already. Is that cheating? Maybe. Or maybe it’s about making sure I have 26 thoughtful, well-written posts that I’m proud of.
Progress continues, full steam ahead! We have written 31 total scenes now, and we started doing some compilation and review work. I’ve also been doing some more research and thinking in general about this book.
Our book deals with some heavy themes, so I’ve been reading some of the most popular YA books from 2017 to get a feel for how certain topics are being handled. I haven’t read YA in such a long time. Honestly, I can’t say that I remember reading YA when I was in the target age. I seemed to skip from Anne of Green Gables and Trixie Belden when I was in middle school right to Stephen King and other very adult books in high school. Continue reading →
On a very special day in second grade, an unexpected visitor came to our classroom and told us about his farm and the undoubtedly adorable little white rabbits he had for sale. I had to have one. After a serious discussion, which I barely comprehended, about the responsibility of owning a pet, my dad drove me to the farm that weekend. The rabbits were darling. I selected the whitest of white rabbits with the pinkest of pink noses and named him Snowball. It seemed the best possible name for such a rabbit.
Working side-by-side, my dad and I built a little hutch for Snowball that leaned up against the east side of the garage, protected from the wind and other horrors of the Buffalo, New York climate. The thought of my little rabbit living outside all alone saddened me. We also bought a harness and leash for him so he and I could hop and frolic together all over our lawn. Having a little creature all my own thrilled me. We also, foolishly, built a play area for Snowball out of chicken wire so he would have more room to kick out his bunny legs untethered to my overexcited eight-year-old self. I thought my bunny must be so excited about his new life. Continue reading →
I arrived for my first riding lesson wearing brand new beige jodhpurs, just like the ones Caro, the slender, older blond with the popular boyfriend and the prize-winning palomino Arabian, wore in Horse Crazy: Horseback Summer. Emily was the heroine of the book, the freckled redhead whose recent ascension into puberty and, by extension, womanly hips, left her with only ratty jeans to ride in but whose wisdom enabled her to see through Caro’s phony attempts at friendship meant only indebt Emily to her in a big way. But I wasn’t going to be Emily. In an effort to leave the young girls of 1980s America with a moral lesson worthy of the Girl Scout and the 4H clubs I had dropped out of after just one meeting each, Virginia Vail, I was certain, had painted a very slanted picture of Caro. I knew that being Caro was better than being Emily. There were no Arabians at the barn I went to and I was a brunette, but at eight years old, I had read between the lines of enough books written by Vail and her peers to understand the rules for getting to the top of the tween pecking order. Those jodhpurs, ordered from a real tack catalog, were a good start.
They couldn’t, however, compensate for the ridiculous vision of my 50 pound, four foot self atop a thoroughbred that stood over 16 hands tall. My legs, splayed into full cowboy posture by the horse’s girth, didn’t even extend halfway down his belly and my fingers could barely wrap around the reins. I was an ant atop an elephant. Wearing an emerald green hockey helmet. My parents had been willing to pay for the jodhpurs, but they were not going to pay for a proper riding helmet until they were certain I was going to stick with horseback riding for the long term. I had a habit of quitting. Quitting art contests, quitting the flute, quitting my interest in having a little sister. If my imitation of Caro had been unrealistic before, it was downright farcical with the green hockey helmet. Caro, of course, had a velvety black show helmet with a red satin interior and a leather chin strap that smelled every bit as delicious as her Arabian’s saddle. Continue reading →
It’s over! To close out the A-Z blog challenge, I’d like to offer 26 things that I’ve been right about for a very, very long time.
American cars. I don’t give two hoots about your generic Mercedes or Lexus or BMW. Give me an American muscle car any day of the week. They are way sexier.
Board games. Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Parcheesi, Mousetrap, Scattergories, Risk, Clue, Mastermind, Taboo, Uno (yes, I know it’s a card game), Othello, Chinese Checkers, Simon, Operation, Yahtzee (yes, I know it’s a dice game), Trouble, Candyland. And don’t forget Hi-Ho Cherry-O!
Carol Channing as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland. 1985. Look it up. She’s amazing. Continue reading →
Because there were five, sometimes six, and sometimes even seven children in my household, my parents were more than happy to send us on a rotating schedule a mile down the street to sleepover at our maternal grandparents’ house. And we were more than happy to take our turns and get away from the herd for a while.
One summer evening, when I was probably 6 or 7 years old, it was my turn to vacate, so I packed up my Lisa Frank backpack with all my favorite woobies and my light cotton summer pajamas with the pastel yellow pants I loved so much and made the long trek over in our Chevy Malibu. I spent a quiet afternoon playing with the same Mr. Potato Head and Pick Up Sticks and ViewMaster that my mother had as a child. Then I had a nice dinner at 4:30 and went to take my bath before the late night TV shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy came on. Continue reading →
I was very involved with the Christian church when I was a kid. Part of the reason was that I really liked it. Sunday school and other Bible lessons were kind of like regular school in that we were memorizing information and doing activities and having contests about what we knew, and since I liked regular school, it’s logical that I enjoyed Sunday school too. The church I went to also had a lot of fun events geared toward kids – Vacation Bible School, snow camp, and a youth group that met regularly at a private rec center where there was mini golf, rolling skating, a gymnasium, and a pool. There was a no shortage of entertainment, and I had some good friends in the church. But another part of the reason I was so involved is that it was an unwavering part of my microculture. My parents went Sunday morning, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings, so did I too. That’s just how my world was. My parents are firm believers and so much like when they told me the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny were real, when they told me all the information in the Bible was true, I took their word as, well, the gospel truth. It just took me a lot longer to stop believing in Jesus Christ the Savior than in the rest of the mythical creatures. Continue reading →