My Hometown

I visited my hometown yesterday. I was born in raised in a small town in California. I lived in the same house on the same street until I went to college. Yesterday I visited my hometown after a 8 year absence. Nothing was the same. Everything looked smaller, and closer together. Why is that? I mean I was the same height 8 years ago and yet my memory immediately goes to when I was 9 or 10. 

As we drove through this once “quaint” town, Bruce Springsteen’s song “My Hometown” kept going through my head:

My hometown…

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to your hometown

The town is far from quaint anymore. It’s ugly. We drove by one of my elementary schools to find it boarded up. My school boarded up! Most of the town is run-down and it is obvious there has been some poor planning. The house I lived in for my first 17 years of my life is now a daycare. Some of the birch trees I used to hide behind in the church yard on the corner are gone. The mortuary on the corner opposite the church looks much nicer. I think they’ve been getting quite a bit of business. From the looks of the town I can see why they would.

At least Jerry’s restaurant’s sign hasn’t changed in hmmm, 60 years? I just hope the food isn’t that old. I guess it isn’t good to go back to your hometown. Goodbye, Hollister, California. Goodbye, Jerry’s restaurant, goodbye.   

Vacation Sans Luggage

I just read an article on the NY Times website about the rise in nude vacations. I thought it must be a joke. I lived in Europe for almost seven years so I am quite used to the topless beaches. Now there are men who are thinking, all right gotta love that. Put this thought into your mind: most of the topless women were 60-year-old German women. The article, anyway, mentions that as people become more close to nature they are wanting to be more natural. Many hotels and even cruise-lines are catering to these nature buffs.

What I found incredibly interesting was the type of activities at some of these open resorts. One optional clothing vacation was a biking trip. Am I the only one who thinks this could be a problem? I remember biking with my friend who was a serious biker. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was in elementary school and decided to go with her (fully clothed) on what she called a little ride. Miles later, I stepped down off the bike and have never walked the same. Don’t biking shorts have padding for a reason?

One of the quotes in the article was a lady who said she liked the nude vacations because when everyone is naked you don’t know the class of people. In other words, you won’t be able to see how much money someone makes by the clothes they are wearing, and that it makes everyone seem equal. I understand not being able to see the rich man’s $1000 italian shoes; however, we still rank people by their looks don’t we? Isn’t an ugly naked guy going to be less popular than the handsome naked guy?

There was also a reference by the writer to the Olympic games. It was indicated that the Greeks were nude for the first games. I have done my research and cannot find proof of this so-called fact. I haven’t found even one photo of nude shot-putters, high-jumpers, javelin-throwers, or figure skaters. There is a story about a nude sprinter; however, the facts aren’t clear if he was intentionally nude or simply lost his shorts or maybe his chlamys (toga). Spartans are believed to have competed in the buff. Leave it to those Spartans to want to throw a discus without cumbersome robes.

Thankfully, these vacations haven’t become family vacations. Well, they tend to be couple vacations; however, they don’t bring the kids along.  Even older parents can’t seem to get their 40+ children to go with them on these trips. Imagine that?

This does, however, remind me of Spain. Our neighbors behind us were interesting people. The man loved to blare his Jesus Christ Superstar CD out into the back yard. It was quite entertaining listening to him try to sing it in English. His wife was even more intriguing. She was a topless sun bather. Well, that isn’t quite doing it justice. She was a topless summer person. Toplessness does not have to be secluded to sunbathing. She felt a certain freedom, I guess, when she swept her back porch in her bikini bottoms. It was a sight I to this day try to block out of my memory. My favorite memory had to be when their son invited his girlfriend over for the afternoon and they decided to pose for pictures. I could just imagine the girl being an American and showing the picture to her parents back home!  

Dr. Thunder on the Rocks

When we lived in Spain I had cravings for things I couldn’t get in Spain. Most of the cravings were so stupid because they were things that I wouldn’t normally buy here anyway. I remember wanting Dr Pepper. By the way, the period was deleted in the title in the 50’s so is it really a doctor or just a dr?  Do you know how many times I have consumed Dr Pepper since I’ve been back in the states? Maybe one time if any (I did crave Reese’s cups in Spain as well,  and sad to say I’ve had one or 50 of those since I’ve gotten back). Now that I can buy Dr Pepper everywhere it isn’t appealing. I am not a big soda/pop/carbonated beverage drinker anyway. I have some friends in Spain that are huge Coca Cola drinkers. The Coca Cola has to be the right temperature and just opened. There is no way to tighten that top tight enough for them to want to drink it again. Once that top is opened I think they only have like one hour to drink it at its peak of perfection.

Usually, the only time a carbonated drink sounds good to me is with pizza. Today I was driving through a parking lot and saw an older gentleman putting a case of Diet Dr. Thunder in the trunk of the car. I immediately pictured him going home and asking his wife to pour him some Thunder on the Rocks. I actually thought it might be a good shot for a Viagra commercial. A little Thunder, a little Viagra and some more thunder… oh, sorry, forget that thought.

After seeing Dr. Thunder I started to wonder about other imitation “Dr Peppers” out there. I had no idea there was the cult like following of Dr Pepper. I found these websites devoted to Dr Pepper and their quest to reveal the copycats.

Supposedly there are something like 70 Dr imitations. Some of the interesting names are: Giant Eagle, Dr. Skipper, Mr. Green (isn’t this environmentally-safe cleaner?), Dr. Perky, Mr. Pig,  and Mr. Sipp. to name a few. Oh, and the women aren’t left out — there is also a Dr. Lynn. I wonder if Mr. Pig and Mr. Sipp are really imitating the old Mr. Pibb who was imitating Dr Pepper. Also before Dr. Thunder was a doctor it was Southern Lightening. I can see the progression from Southern Lightening to Dr. Thunder can’t you?

Now, I’m no Pepper or Thunder expert, but I have read that some Dr. Pepper devotees believe that the Thunder is quite close to the original Dr Pepper. In summary, when I was a young girl my mom had us put vanilla extract in our pepsi, coke, whatever to make it taste better. It was like a vanilla coke. I guess that wasn’t in summary of anything, but I thought it would be nice to have a growing up/nostalgia story in this post.

 

Tired?

I have to admit it, I’m feeling this blog is a bit tired. I feel as though my writing has gone down hill. I’m torn between two blogs, feeling like a fool…

I remember when I first started this blog back in 1995…okay, a year and so ago. My first posts were such a rush. I was so excited to be writing and feeling this excitement that people I didn’t know would be reading my blog. And then when the first comments came it was also a thrill. Then I went through the “why am I blogging stage?” and…okay, I still go through those moments. I’ve gotten tired. Unlike those first few posts where there was excitement to see if any one read my words, now I am looking to see how many people read my posts and rating my writing on the response. The excitement is gone and I’ve gotten off track.

I started blogging because I wanted to write. I still love writing. What I don’t love is checking out job postings for bloggers and writers that pay .02 a word. I realize that it used to be a “penny for your thoughts”, so it has doubled, but that is crazy.

I also don’t like that writing can be tedious at times. Some times it is as if the words just pour out of my fingertips and other times I spend more time hitting the backspace key than anything else. I have a degree in accounting, so why can’t I just pound numbers all day and be done with it? Because, I still believe that I am suppose to write. Even if no one reads my words, even if people roll their eyes in my attempts to give someone a smile, no matter what, I am supposed to write. That is what I must focus on. Even when the rejection letters come in the mail, and my writing is far from entertaining, even then I must write.

(Bring up the music, dramatic ending, fade to black)

 

Our Humbling Hour of Fame

I changed my clothes at least 50 times that day. I heard that the camera puts on 10 pounds and already felt as though I was carrying an extra 10 pounds. Oh vanity, I even put on some make-up and worked on poses that would reduce my double chin. I actually have no neck. All my life I was cursed with a profile that has a chin that slides into an area where a neck would normally go. I always dreamed of a  slender and elegant long neck. Oh well, back to my story about myself. So I worked hard to try to appear like I wasn’t trying to look good on television. I also didn’t want to look like I spent all day trying to write words for $ while chasing my 2 year old around the house, and breaking up the arguments of my other two precious kids.

It all started, you see, when my husband and I tried to schedule some movers for our big move to the country. We had a few communication problems. My husband and I having misunderstandings is quite unusual. You see, when your personalities are the opposite you tend to see things the same way, and don’t have to talk through things (right). So, I thought he was checking out the movers, he thought I was checking out the movers, and then next thing we know, we are standing outside arguing with some idiot on the phone about not paying seven times the moving quote we were given to get our stuff into our house.

I can laugh about it now–well, sometimes. However, when you are helpless and all your belongings are locked up in a truck and a man is telling you to pay almost $5,000 to get it out, well, things aren’t so funny then. So, here is the link to our family’s moment on television, where we show the world (okay, mostly Fresno, and really just those few viewers that happened to be watching the show) that we are suckers, idiots, fill in the blank. I can’t link directly to the video, here is the link to the page and you need to click on the video link under “CBS Investigates: Moving Scams” and you will see me and my family. Also, please read this article I wrote on how to prevent this nightmare from happening to you–being scammed is actually easier than you might think!

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