I Blame Texas. But Not Really.

I like music.  I love music.  I greatly esteem music.  The first site I crank up on any given morning is last.fm.  (Spotify has too many ads.)  Even before facebook.  Or real-life coffee.  That’s big.

While my musical taste is kind of eclectic, my first music-love is country.  I love it down to the ground.  Or the red dirt road.

I know it isn’t cool to admit to liking country.  At least for me, growing halfway up on Long Island, New York.  I’ve heard all the country music jokes.  And I actually think this one is funny:

What happens if you play country music backwards?

Your wife returns to you, your dog comes back to life, and you get out of prison.

But that’s the difference between laughing with and laughing at.

I blame Texas.  But not really.  Because I’m not ashamed to say I like country.  And anyway, it’s not my fault.    I was born in Dallas, and according to my father, country music was all that was played at the hospital during my stay.  Funny, that.

After they sprung me, the first song I actively remember was You Are My Sunshine, as sung by my Grandparents.  To this day the Johnny Cash version makes me cry.

As I got older, I remember the local country station blasting out of the windows of my father’s Blazer.  I am a Garth fan from way back.  And I got a standing ovation after lip-syncing Kathy Mattea’s Eighteen Wheels and A Dozen Roses for my third-grade talent show.  Complete with suede-tasseled cowboy boots.

The best love songs are country love songs.  As a teenager, I would listen to a bunch on repeat, wondering what it would feel like when the lyrics to the happy ones actually meant something to me.  I’ve since figured that one out.

When I left for Uni, it was The Dixie Chicks blasting out of my Dad’s car windows.  When I got there, I’m kind of ashamed to say I began to use my CDs as coasters.  A bunch of them don’t play anymore.  I blame myself.  And Peach Schnapps.

These days, Sarge keeps his CDs well away from me, and that’s OK.  He doesn’t like country and I don’t like most of his music.  It’s healthy for couples to have different interests.

If my music is on when he gets home from work, he might greet me by saying:

‘Is it raining?’

‘No honey, that’s the song.’

Take last week for example, I had shut down the computer for the day and the house was too quiet.  The silence drove me to download a song on my phone.  It’s the first song to live in my phone.  (I don’t have an ipod/earbuds for the same reason I don’t wear contacts.  Because why would you voluntarily poke yourself in the face?)

Anyway, I might have been playing my downloaded song when Sarge got home from work.

‘The hell is that?’

‘I downloaded a song.  I’m working on my wedding music choices.  The .69 is a wedding expense.’

He raised his eyebrows.

‘Hey, country has Celtic roots.  Be nice or I’ll play it again.’

This was the song.  Kinda my new favourite:

Do you like country music?  It’s OK if you don’t.  Bless your heart.

PS.  This is my 200th post.  If you’ve ever wondered why I ramble on here, I blame Texas.  But not really.

PPS.  This post does not imply that if you are from Texas, you must love country music.  But if you are, and you do, hi.

On The Road: The Nerdy Backpackers

Em’s puppy. And our stuff. In a car I did not get sick in.

‘We look like a couple of nerdy backpackers.’

‘That’s because we are.’

On Monday, Sarge and I went to Newcastle (ish) to visit a friend of mine from University (the first one). She was the friend from this post and featured in the beginning of this one. Through no fault of our own we’d seen each other all of twice in five years. Before Monday, Em hadn’t met Sarge, and we are going on three.

Because I don’t have a job, and Sarge had a week off from his, we boarded a South-bound train after packing George and the robot and bumping into some coffee on the way.

Now. Another little known fact about me is that I can actually make myself sick with excitement. Really. Being happy/nervous/excited about anything makes me throw up. Or dry-heave. When I was a kid and the carnival moved in next door, I had to breathe into a paper bag before we left the house. One fateful night, I got to the top of the ferris wheel and threw up. I was up there with a friend who was a boy who decided then we should see other people. The whole experience left me with a phobia of vomiting.

These days, Sarge knows to either hold my hair back or get out of the way. And I do my part by skipping breakfast on what I call ‘high excitement’ days. And so, I didn’t have breakfast or lunch on the train.

When we got to the station, I got a text: I’ve had to stop the car and throw up. Be there soon. Xxx

Snap, I thought.

‘See’, I said to Sarge. ‘It isnae just me.’

So we went to the station pub. Sat for awhile, getting updates from Em. ‘I’m in the bathroom, waiting on Mum to drive us back now.’

‘This reunion is like ripping a Band-Aid off.’ I said, deciding to have a beer.

Her Mum found us first, recognising me by my hair.  It’s still big.

After staring at each other for a while we got in the car. I was in the back. Now. Maybe because of my aforementioned phobia, I’ve only been carsick once. On my thirteenth birthday. On the way to the zoo. Very exciting. We never made it to the zoo. Still, it was one of the best days of my life.

The point is, sitting back there on Monday, I didn’t think I’d get sick. Until I did.

We got to Em’s house. And her stairs were too narrow for me to walk up, so I went up on my butt. Another throwback from childhood.

As I actually dragged ass over the threshold, I said, ‘We’re staying awhile.’

We had curry and chocolate and Em told Sarge the unabridged versions of some rather legendary stories.

The next day, Em had stuff to do, so Sarge and I went exploring. We ended up in a book shop, of course. Sifting through the second-hand ones, Sarge found me a Hemingway. ‘For you,’ he said.

We left the shop after they checked and double-checked Sarge’s Scottish money. ‘This IS a different country.’ I said.

We went to Em’s Mum’s house for a roast dinner. ‘We’ll have to move the trampoline so Lorna can get through the garden.’ That’s not a sentence you hear every day.

That night Sarge was schooled in how to julienne carrots. I didn’t help because the last time I touched a carrot I julienned my fingers. Em’s Grandma and Aunt arrived and it was lovely and weird to sit in on someone else’s family.

I dragged ass back up the stairs and fell asleep before more embarrassing stories could be told.

The next day I made a great discovery. Nutella and banana pancakes. Any extra calories were burned on the way down the stars.

Em took us around more quaint little shops. Everything I saw made me want to trade in our Ikea furniture for more grown up pieces.

We found a pub where I had a sneaky slice of cheesecake and then went home to make a dent in the bottle of rum we brought as a housewarming gift.

The next day, before tackling the stairs for the last time, Em and I might have made Sarge watch Practical Magic.

‘You’re Aidan Quinn,’ I said to Sarge.

‘Who?’

‘Him.’

‘Cool.’

Before we headed to the station we took a picture of The Oma on Hadrian’s Wall.

It was raining when we got home to Edinburgh. Not very exciting. I didn’t even throw up.

Here are some more shots from the trip!

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It’s Not A Tie

When I was a kid, and Father’s Day or his birthday rolled around, I would buy my Dad a tie.   Or a wallet.  I wasn’t very creative back then.  At Christmas, people would get something from the craft-fair at school.  Nothing with glue or dried macaroni on it, because I thought that was a waste of food.  But if my Grandparents needed a magnet or a bookmark with a purple tassel on it, they knew I would hook them up at Christmas.

The big decision for my Dad was whether the tie would have stripes or zigzags on it.  Or how many photo slots would be in the wallet.  Would this year’s shirt have one of those little green alligators on it?  Who knew?  Ask Grandma.

My father doesn’t like surprises.  Back then he would use sneaky tactics such as the Alphabet Game to find out what I saved up my allowance to buy him.

‘Does it begin with a T?’

I looked at him sideways.  Because I could.  ‘Yes.’

‘Is it tiger?’

‘Yes, Daddy.  I broke into the Zoo and got you a tiger.  Because six year-olds can do that.  Real guesses, please.’

‘Is it a tie?’

‘Yes!  How did you know?  Oh, no.  Now you know.  I’ll have to switch it for a wallet.’

This happened every year.  One year, I was particularly devastated.  I had kept THE SECRET for two whole days.

Since he knew about the tie, I also got him a heart sticker.  Which he put on the dashboard of his Blazer.  I have never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl, but I loved that heart.

These days, I ask for a list of books he wants to read.  One year I found him a not-so-tiny model car.  And the year I surprised him with The Sopranos box set, Sarge and I watched it first.

I’ve always known it’s not about the stuff.  I like gifts people will appreciate.

For the past few weeks I’ve been going to spend Tuesdays with Dad.  Watching old movies or tennis after his radiation.  I’ve always loved hanging out with my Dad.  I appreciated him before he got cancer, and I still do.  I cherish all my time with him.  But I wish we didn’t have to share this time with 24 different medications.  And even though this stuff will make him better in the long run, I wish he didn’t have to take it in the first place.

The only thing I want to give Dad for his birthday in a few weeks is, ‘Dad, you are cancer-free.’  That and a six-month supply of his favourite rice pudding, as it’s the only thing he can eat right now.

That’s it.  And it’s not a tie.

Well, there is one more thing I’d like to give him.  I figure Sarge and I can work on that next year.

Proof that Dad and I have kept up the sappy-but-still-true magnet tradition.

Always Choose To Dance

Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa had his own tattoo by this point. And my Dad has a version of the same one.

I spent much of my first year at University pulling all-nighters with my friends.  We would raid the vending machine down the hall, try to stuff each other into the washing-machines and make plans to go bungee-jumping.  I also had them draw me a hideously clichéd tattoo.  Of course.

Some more time was spent figuring out how I might get inked without actually climbing the walls.  The Plan involved getting drunk and stoned.  What was the plan?

Anyway, my point is this.  You can say I’m grateful for my heightened fright reflex.  It has kept me from hideously clichéd, teenaged tattoos that seemed like ‘an amazing idea’ at the time.

I’d like to think my taste has changed.  I used to be attracted to men who said ‘the sky’ when I said ‘what’s up?’  I thought they were sages.  I’ve learned they were assholes.  My point is, I’ve matured.

And so has my idea for a tattoo.  For years, I’ve been thinking of getting a WWMD? on my wrist.  Not for Marilyn.  For Madelyn and Molly, my Grandmothers.  And for me.

They were both Big Deals in my life, and their earthly absence has changed who I am and how I do things.

Every decision I’ve made, I’ve wondered what they think.

Don’t quit school, you’ll see.  Thank God, he’s gone.  He couldn’t even use a fork.  Use a fork!  We like that one, he’s the one.  But I’m not sure about the cheese thing.  Oh, go on.  And always choose to dance.

I sit in front of Madelyn’s picture and ask her to guide me.  To be with me.  I have Pizzaiola for my birthday, but it’s never as good as Molly used to make.

I wish every day that all four of my Grandparents knew Sarge.  They’d love him.  A little weird, but so are you, they’d say.  And so, good for them, they’d say.

I’m loving this wedding-planning thing.  Really, I am.  But every decision Sarge and I make is something else my Grandparents can’t share.  And that’s hard for me.  Really, it is.

When I chose a dress, I asked Dad, ‘Would Grandma like it?’

‘What would Nana think?’ I asked Mom on the phone.  ‘Have you considered beading?’ she asked.

See, I haven’t been planning my wedding since I was six, but I always thought Madelyn and Chuck and Molly and Pete would be there.  I made them promise.

I know that they held on as long as they could, that incomprehensible things made those pinky swears impossible to honour.

But the kid in me, the Granddaughter who lived to make each of them smile in their own ways, wants to cry: but you promised!

When I was a kid, I ploughed into them after playing Munckin Number 3 in the Wizard of Oz and then again after various talent shows.  How’d I do?  How’d I do?

Nana and Poppy, looking around. With some Aunts and Uncles. At a wedding, I believe. How apt.

I’d like to think, on my wedding day, sitting there with my husband, they’ll say:  You did good, Lorna.  You two keep dancing.  We’ll be here.  Now, about that tattoo…

Confessions of a Girl Scout Reject

Sharon at Hyperactive Inefficiency and Susan at LostnChina have given me the Versatile Blogger Award.  This means a, you really, really like me or b, my ramblings are truly aimless or iii, I am Waffley Versatile.  I can take all three.  Thanks a bunch.

In the name of blogging community, I’m going to share yet more random factoids about myself.

Here goes:

I used to think that I was born in the wrong era.  I have since made peace with this one.  My favourite musicians are still old or dead.  I can name that tune in one note and it’s usually More Than A Feeling by Boston.  Don’t ask, because I don’t know.  And that ‘s OK.

I get high on life, the smell of books and paint and gasoline and cigars.  But not intentionally.  It just happens.  In related news, I smoked pot at University, but I wasn’t co-ordinated enough to do it more than once.

When I ‘graduated’ from the Brownies, the leader suggested I ‘might not want to move up to the Green Uniform.’  So I didn’t.  I’m a rebel from way back.  I guess she doubted my commitment to Sparkle Motion.

I’ve said before that I quote my favourite movies in everyday conversation.  I’ll say now that most of the time, it makes sense.

Wine gives me heartburn.  This is probably a good thing.

I don’t like chocolate, either.  Unless it’s expensive.

The stack of books by my side of the bed keeps threatening to hit me in the head as I sleep.  Currently reading:  Fante, The Tiger’s Wife, and Two For The Dough.  Because I’m versatile.

More random factoids can be found here, here  and elsewhere within my posts.

I’m supposed to tell other bloggers to do this.  You can, if you wish.

What I will do now is mention some folks who I think should start a blog.  Because I would read it.

My Dad:  Everyone needs his philosophy on life and baseball.

Sarge:   He wants me to write lyrics to go with his music.  And because I want even more insight into the workings of his brain.

My cousin Karin:  I want to be like her when I grow up.  And I told her so.  Yes, I am that corny.

The Old Country

I don’t know why I’m writing this.  Wait a minute.  Yes I do.  I’m writing this because right now I can’t be anything more or less than I am.  I don’t feel like making something up, and pretending nothing happened.  This is not fiction.  Although I wish it was.

I am an American.  Usually I don’t like to bring that fact into a conversation.  I don’t know why.  But there it is.  I am an American.  And a New Yorker.  I am from New York.  I am an American.  I am a New Yorker.  That’s why I cannot, this time, make anything up.

I used to choose not to say the pledge in school.  This past week, I’ve said it twice.  In front of my television set.

I’m writing this because like every other American kid, I went to the World Trade Center on a school fieldtrip.  In the sixth grade.  And then again to show some tourists around, the only other time natives line up to see their own landmarks.  It was a must-see.  For tourists.  I am not a tourist.  We thought it would always be there.  It wasn’t like some bastard was goint to crash into it or anything.  Well.

I’m writing this because I love that skyline.  The best view in the entire world.  I’ve seen it how it’s meant to be hundreds of times.  And not just on a postcard.  The Towers weren’t just part of a beautiful view.  They were a livelihood for thousands of people.  People that can never go home again.  Times like this, I want to go home.

I’m writing this because I don’t know what else to do.

The streets are supposed to smell of pretzels and roasted almonds, not flesh.  Those people were supposed to go home.  Landed and had airport moments with their families, or gotten in their cars after another day at work.  But they can’t go home.

I’m writing this because everything else seems so small; like the view from a plan window 20 thousand feet in the air.

 

From my journal, written in the week that followed September 11th, 2001.