Ada Theater

I get it. Maybe you’re not so interested in my Dancing with the Stars ravings, or my weekly sharing of a “Downton Tabby” photo, or my steady stream of craft beer push-posts from Untappd. On the other hand, I am only one person. On awards show night, two-thirds of the world is live-posting. That’s hard to get away from and so I take an eighteen-hour sabbatical from social media. It’s a little better since muffling hashtags became possible in Twitter; Facebook really needs to develop some form of that feature. Fear not, gentle reader, the purpose of this post is not to bitch (but thanks for listening!).

It’s true, though, that my idea for this post began with a friend’s link, in honor of the Oscars tonight, to a list of things which you no longer find in movie theaters and his follow-up request to name the first movie we ever saw in a theater.

The first two movies I remember seeing in the theater were Bambi and The Aristocats. I was a tot long before the Disney princess machine sprang to life. Going to the theater was a special occasion. As with other “out” experiences of my childhood, there were no frills. When we ate at a restaurant, we just had water to drink because soda pop or milk was too extravagant an expense. If we went to the county fair, there was no cotton candy or game-playing, because it simply wasn’t necessary. It was fun to be there and just walk around looking at things and animals. At the theater, we didn’t indulge in popcorn or other snacks.

Bambi posterI’m inclined to think that Bambi was my first movie. My mom took me. All I can remember about the experience is that I became hysterical when Bambi’s mom was killed in the forest fire. We probably went to see this movie because my mom loves rabbits, and Thumper, of course, was a major character. That backfired on her.

The Aristocats posterI’m inclined to think that The Aristocats was my second movie because after the experience of Bambi, my mom probably wanted to make sure we saw an upbeat story. I don’t remember much about that movie other than that the lady cat wore a pearl necklace. She did, right?

In conjunction with remembering the movies, I thought about the Ada Theater in which I saw them. You might recall from other posts that I think of my childhood town fondly. The theater was right on Main Street. It still is. This afternoon I found this nice page about it.

My third movie theater memory is from high school, after we had moved back to my parents’ home town in Wisconsin. I was fifteen and my friend was fourteen, and her dad had dropped us off at the theater downtown. I don’t remember what the movie was that we were going to see, but it must have been rated PG, because we were going in on our own, but perhaps it was PG with a racy reputation, because my friend’s dad was inspired to say that I could easily pass for sixteen or seventeen. I thought absolutely nothing of it at the time, but when I was older and recalled it, I realized that it was a kind of creepy thing for him to have said. Don’t worry, I don’t remember any other questionable behavior by him.

So in honor of Oscar, those are some way-back movie memories. In the last twenty-four hours, I’ve watched Secretary, In Your Eyes, and Unfinished Sky. I recommend all three.

Music on the farm

September 29, 2014

photo of Albert and the CD player

I was shot into nostalgia a couple of nights ago when my friend posted this picture of his kid sitting, entranced, in front of Grandma’s CD boombox. Albert is three and a bit. I was fourteen or so when I sat in a similar position in front of my great aunt’s all-in-one record player. I don’t have a photo of it which is why you’re seeing Albert. The essence is the same.

It would have been mid-1977, maybe more toward the end of the year, putting me at 14 years of age or so. Give me a minute, it’s all coming back to me. That was thirty-seven years ago. It would have been while we were still living in Ohio, which would mean this tale took place during a trip to visit my grandparents in Wisconsin. My great-aunt lived 100 miles (161 km) south-southeast of my grandparents.

The difference between Albert and me is that I knew perfectly well what a record player was. I was entranced because I had two new LPs to listen to. You kids probably know them better as vinyl, if you know of them at all. Between Ohio and Wisconsin, we would have detoured down to Bloomington, Indiana, where my dad attended Indiana University in his attempt to earn a PhD (denied). Incidentally, Bloomington was where I had my only live experiencing of an earthquake. If I reread this before I post and jog my memory, I’ll find a link to a report about that mid-continental oddity. I was closer to Albert’s age when that happened and was actually sitting in the back of a lecture auditorium in class with my dad. Isn’t it funny the things you remember? I have only fond memories of our summers (and one full year) in Bloomington.

But I digress.

We called in on Bloomington on our way to Wisconsin. I can remember a lot about my time there as a three- to six-year-old. About this pass-through visit, I can only remember that I dragged my parents upstairs to a second-floor record store, because by the time I was fourteen I had been obsessed with music for a good year. I had always enjoyed music on the radio, from the time John Denver and Neil Sedaka were warbling and falsettoing their biggest hits, and Olivia Newton-John was whispering “I honestly love you.” But I had begun to possess my own copies of music because I had begun receiving an allowance. Don’t get excited. It was meted out in coins, not bills, and certainly not credit cards or iPhones. Also, this was way, WAY before you could steal for free and (largely) without ramification off the internet.

I wasn’t flush with cash, so I could only purchase two of the three albums I was interested in. The one I didn’t buy was Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat. The two I did acquire were Queen’s “A Day at the Races” and Styx’s “The Grand Illusion. I make no apologies for my choices, or that I still, thirty-five years later, love these musics.

We walked back down the stairs. Fast-forward 350 miles (565 km) to my great-aunt’s side room.

Gosh, I could digress to another tangent about how I fond I was of my aunt and her farmhouse. To this day, I am confident in saying that I would be perfectly content living in that house on that land. If only I had been more mature and financially stable when I would have had the opportunity to make that happen.

Aunt Irma was a great lady. She married well the second time around (first husband, deceased); I’m certain the house and farm were already hers, though I know her subsequent step-children ended up living in a house on the hill above the farm. We had family reunions in her side yard. She had a Collie dog named Sage. I inherited her airline-approved, sturdy cat carrier.

I guess I did digress.

photo of record player

Aunt Irma’s record player was a lot like this one. As I recall, hers had a faux woodgrain finish.

My parents slept in one of the extra bedrooms upstairs. I always found the stairs intimidating. They were very steep, and I feel like I remember one time as a tot actually falling down them a little bit. Maybe that’s why I usually was stationed on the couch in the side room. And that’s where the record player was!

I drove everyone nuts playing and replaying my two new albums for the duration of the couple days we were there. More than once, the doors to the room were closed. This was, I might add, in the days when you listened to an album all the way through, or at least the entire side. Record albums are ROM — read-only melting. You had to buy the whole thing, not just the one song you liked. With records, if you only wanted one song, you could hope that it would be released as a single, also known as a 45. But if it wasn’t, you had to get the album. I remember that I ended up with a scratch in the beginning of “Castle Walls” on the Styx album. I know I played each album at least five times over, front and back.

There’s really not much more to my Albert-inspired memory than that.



Photo of Albert by his mom, Jennifer S. Used with permission.

Photo of record player from here, though I saw it on many other sites, too, so who knows who the original publisher is. Used with best intentions.


I got caught doing what?!

September 15, 2013

I’d need a while if I were to recount all of the incredibly embarrassing moments I’ve endured in my life. But whenever the topic comes up, there is one incident that my memory invariably shoots straight to, even though it was, now, forty years ago.

the scene of the embarrassmentI was about ten years old. I went into the Lawson’s Dairy, the 1970s version of today’s convenience store, I don’t even remember why. Maybe my mom had charged me with the important task of buying some milk, or maybe I merely intended to procure some candy with my allowance. I don’t recall that part. I only remember that curiosity got the better of the cat and I innocently picked up a Playboy or Penthouse and started leafing through it all wide-eyed with wonder.

The store attendant, an “older” man (so probably in his thirties or forties) with dark hair, glasses, and a mustache, bustled over to me and grabbed the magazine out of my hands. “You shouldn’t be looking at that!” I don’t know which one of us was actually more embarrassed. I do know that I nearly ran him over trying to push past him to exit the store as hastily as possible, absolutely mortified. It was a long, long time before I’d go back into that store.

Lies, lies, lies, yeah

September 1, 2013

I fib regularly. So do you. If you claim not to, then you’re lying! I massage the facts, I don’t tell the whole truth, I say I like the food or the beer when I didn’t quite. Everybody does it. Then there are the things that I’ll tell to health professionals in whatever field but about which I’ll keep stumm in casual conversation. You don’t need to know some of those details.

But have I ever told a whopper of a lie? I honestly can’t remember. Continuing on the theme that has cropped up the last couple of posts of remembering back to my youth (which is longer ago for me than it probably is for you), I imagine there must certainly have been things that I lied to my parents about. Well, no imagining about it. You’re a teenager, you lie to your parents.

Actually, going back to that list of things that I remember about where I grew up and the peeing along the side of the church incident, I know I lied to my mom about that. She, of course, wanted to know why I hadn’t just come home to use the bathroom. Home was two doors down. I told her that I just had to go so bad that I wet my pants. I didn’t confess that Lulu had shown me how she always did that and goaded me into doing it with her, sans pulling down my shorts.

When I was an older child, maybe eight or nine, I perpetrated some vandalism. I ended up being questioned about it by the administrators of the building and I did out and out lie and say I knew nothing about what happened. I imagine the adults all really did know it had been me because after it happened I was no longer taken along to that place. Don’t ask, I’m not telling more than that!

Some youthful indiscretions I didn’t get away with. The main one I remember was when I stole pocketfuls of penny candy from the drug store. Naturally, my parents wanted to know where I had gotten it all. I could maintain the subterfuge for only so long, and then it turned into a confession, and then into the inevitable kid learning experience of taking the unconsumed items back to the store and shaming myself to the owner.

The other one that I remember “getting away with” was in high school when I had entered into my rebellious phase the second year after we moved. I stayed out all night for the first time ever with my friend Kurt. When my parents and I were having the heart-to-heart in the aftermath I told them everything except where we had actually been, which was behind a rollaway bed in an upstairs back hallway in the Holiday Inn.

I can’t think of any major lies that I’ve told as an adult. Of course I pull the occasional sickie—again, who doesn’t? And I suppose I do have to count the times when I’ve proclaimed “I’m fine to drive” knowing I probably wasn’t actually.

Lying is an uncomfortable thing to think about. What’s your biggest lie?

photo of me not lying about anything

Age 6-1/2, amusing myself at home drawing a picture, which doesn’t require lying. Note how my mom artfully framed me off-center so that she also captured the Christmas decoration on the coffee table behind me.


I really wouldn’t mind being just a little more buzzed as I write this because, you see, I have been prompted to ponder that thing that happened in high school that changed my life forever. I could pinpoint a few incidents* that more directly concern school time itself and the people I knew. But if it is to be boiled down to a basic essence, the only correct response is The Move.


From the time I was one and a half until I turned fifteen (or, more precisely, until two days before I turned fifteen), I lived in a small town in northwestern Ohio. We all were friends to one degree or another, and the way the nucleus divided into various functions as we grew up seemed only natural. I can’t say they’re all completely fond memories, but I remember a lot of things very vividly. (1)

If you actually scrolled down to read the list, you can see it didn’t take long to get to boys. That’s probably because I hadn’t been long into puberty when we moved to Wisconsin.


On the surface it seemed like The Move would be a good thing. I was well-familiar with the (larger) town because one set of grandparents lived there and every summer we’d visit for two weeks. A girl my age lived next door to my grandparents and we had become friends over the years, so I wasn’t starting from scratch. To this day I’m up for a good adventure and at first, then, that’s what it was.

It was a familiar, yet still new, place. I had the summer to hang out with my friend. We could spend more time together doing the things we liked—listening to music, walking to a nearby stream, teasing the boy on the other side of her house.

My sophomore year, my first school year there was a gas. I went from a class of 80 to a class of 750. It was all big and different and exciting. I made some friends and had decent kids in my classes. It was alright and I even ended up with a boyfriend by the end of the year. He had an old red Ford pickup truck. That’s not particularly important but I remember it. Well, okay, I lost my virginity in it.

The aftermath

During my junior year things went to pot. The big, different, exciting just seemed big and different. I began to resent having been yanked away from my childhood and friends and possibilities. I always refer to it as yanked away, even thinking about it thirty-five years later. I acted out in the typical ways. My circle of friends changed to parentally-perceived less desirable kids, including my second boyfriend, mainly because they weren’t that first boyfriend whom I had broken up with but whom my mom couldn’t let go of. I dared to stay out all night. I got drunk with friends who were in college (drinking age was 18 at the time). I smoked pot with a boy two years younger (a lifetime of difference in high school!). My grades dropped.

The other best friend of my original girlfriend got together with my first boyfriend, and my own new (post-move) best friend got together with my second boyfriend before we were out of school. As far as I know, both couples are still together. My mom is still friends with the first-boyfriend-circle of my former friends.

Meanwhile, I maintained a healthy correspondence with my Ohio friends, not only with my two best girlfriends BG and DH (sorry, gals, I’m going with maiden names) but with RB as well. (2) So I got all the lowdown on who was getting together with whom and how I was missing out on it all, which only cause me to feel that it should have been me but that never could be. It poured gasoline on the fire of my feelings of separation. I was sad and resentful and behaved like it.

My best friend BG in Ohio got me a senior yearbook and, bless her heart, took it around for everyone to sign. And bless their hearts, even former adversaries obliged. Of course, all the boys I had had crushes on were long gone (they had all been one and two years older than me), but everyone else was very nice about it. It should be telling that the only class reunions I’ve ever gone to (or attempted to go to—one year I drove all the way from Wisconsin to Ohio but chickened out once I got to the supper club parking lot)—were the Ohio ones. I haven’t kept in touch with anybody from Wisconsin (though I do occasionally “research” people online).


I was able to let go of a lot of it after I attended the fifteen-year class reunion of my Ohio school. Those were the people I still cared about the most and seeing many of them finally put to rest some unresolved feelings about the whole moving situation. There’s no going back (well, there was a little bit of going back with SB, that first kiss in fifth grade), but I was thrilled that they remembered me and seemed to still like me—even my adversaries who, it turns out, claimed not to remember most of my evil, song lyric-leaving deeds. It was the same sort of experience at the twenty-fifth-year reunion. And by then I had taken up golf, so once again it was easy to hang out with the boys.

There are many more related stories I could add to this on both sides of The Move but I think you get the idea. Does anybody know anything about RB?


Fingerpainting in nursery school in the Methodist Church.

LG encouraging me to drop my shorts and pee in the bushes alongside the Methodist Church. I wouldn’t pull my pants down but I peed anyway.

My mom picking some purple lilacs from the back yard and all the little white bugs that scattered out of them when she put them in water.

Being still required to take a nap and when I got up, discovering that all the neighborhood kids were playing on my swing set and my mom yelling at them.

Being told by TM while running a race in our late-gradeschool “Olympics” that I ran fast for someone with short legs.

SA mistaking my art class collage for his, and wrecking my neatly painted black border. LEM chiding me for retying my pigtails myself.

Being kept in from recess in fourth grade to be admonished by my teacher to play with girls more, looking at her with great earnestness, and declaring, “But Mrs Kelsey, I don’t like girls!”

Following that incident up with drawing a diagram of the playground and mapping out in different magic marker colors the different routes that my boy friends and I would take to our secret meeting behind the baseball field backstop.

Receiving my first boy-kiss ever from SB just beyond that backstop while wearing a dress with a gold top and turquoise plaid skirt.

Having to ride with LK to bowling on Saturday mornings, only he always drifted toward the center line and scared the wits out of me.

Playing the Eagles’ “New Kid in Town” on the bowling alley jukebox and wanting to be a bass player more than anything.

Having my sixth grade teacher set me up with RB who had been in her class the year before, for the start of what would be an ongoing, very adversarial, love-hate friendship.

Going out for track in 8th grade only because I had a raging crush on BW, a sophomore, which became awkward because he and RB were good enough friends and RB was also a (legitimate) runner.

Hours spent bike riding around town with RB.

Leaving song lyrics in the lockers of crushes and adversaries in order to convey my feelings, I’m sure not as anonymously as I thought.

In junior high having my best friend push me into boys I liked, such as BW.

Endless summer days spent at the pool with my friends, always with CKLW AM radio on the PA to entertain us.

(2) I suppose it’s telling that I gave you initials of the people in Ohio but not of the Wisconsinites.

*I’ve touched on related subjects to varying degrees previously in this blog, and if I hadn’t had to migrate services it would be a lot easier to find those references and link to them (though I did find this one and this one). On the other hand it’s been a couple years since I wrote regularly, so I guess I won’t beat myself up for repeating some things, and it will come out differently second time around anyway.

Pooh and Pinkle Purr

September 7, 2011


I didn’t anticipate that memories of being a child, reading, would flood over me when I pulled this A.A. Milne anthology from my bookcase this evening. I didn’t anticipate how familiar nearly all of the illustrations would be, as if I had last seen them yesterday. I didn’t remember that I had known and memorized Milne poems that weren’t even about Winnie-the-Pooh.

It takes me right back to our house on Main Street. I suppose when I was a kid I had individual volumes (and they’re probably in a box at my parents’ house). I don’t really remember the vessels, I just remember the content. Sitting on the hassock next to the window that looked out on the front porch, absorbing Winnie-the-Pooh.


I didn’t remember how much there is. Granted, the book I have now is set in a pretty large point size. Nevertheless, it’s a big book! Stories and poems, and so many wonderful illustrations. E.H. Shepard must have tossed off these watercolors like it was nothing in order to be so prolific.

I guess this makes the case for paper books sticking around, a question about which I’ve thus far been ambivalent. I can’t imagine that I’d be having these waves of nostalgia if I had looked at the stories on an iPad. I’ve “read” a Peter Rabbit story on the iPad, and sure, it’s cute that you can tap on things to make them jump or squeak, but I think it’s a novelty that detracts from consuming the words and feasting on the illustrations. I don’t think forty years later I’d be sitting here thinking, “Gosh, those were the days when I touched Peter’s ear and it wiggled.” Or, I’d remember that I could touch Peter’s ear to make it wiggle and not much else.

Leafing through this Milne anthology, I was transported. And it became immediately obvious that I know what book I’m going to read next.

     For a long time they looked at the river beneath them, saying nothing, and the river said nothing too, for it felt very quiet and peaceful on this summer afternoon.
     “Tigger is all right really,” said Piglet lazily.
     “Of course he is,” said Christopher Robin.
     “Everybody is really,” said Pooh. “That’s what I think,” said Pooh. “But I don’t suppose I”m right,” he said.
     “Of course you are,” said Christopher Robin.

(The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne, Decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children’s Books, 1996, 1997)


These two photos are the earliest and latest ones I have of myself. What has happened in between? Funny you should ask. Let’s take a look.

Ages ½–10

I’d swear I remember when the baby picture was taken. I have other toddler memories, such as what the kitchen in our first house in Manteno, Illinois, looked like. Yellow and floral.

We spent many summers in Bloomington, Indiana, while my dad worked on his PhD at Indiana University. He finished the work but his committee denied him of the degree.

To this day I have dreams that involve the house on Main Street in Ada, Ohio, where I grew up. I’d love to get back inside that house for a look. I remember listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter and the Wolf records in the living room on our big, console stereo. It was a big deal when I got to operate it myself. We moved to a different house when I was eight.

Ages 11–20

Our new house was a block inside city limits. Most of the time I’d walk or bike to school, but if I wanted to ride the schoolbus, I walked over to Grandview Boulevard.

I spent countless hours in the city swimming pool. I spent countless hours playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. I crashed my friend’s brand new bike that I rode around while she was inside eating supper. There was a horse at the end of the block, where the town suddenly turned into the country. There was a woods at the end of the block that seemed very big at the time. In it there was a treehouse.

We moved to Wisconsin two days before I turned fifteen. During the first year, my sophomore year in high school, it was novel and fun and not completely awful because it was to the small city where my grandparents lived and I already had a couple of friends. Then in my junior year, I grew to resent having been plucked from where I had grown up. I became a troubled teen. I stayed out all night one time without communicating with my parents. I broke up with my boyfriend which upset my parents who liked him a lot. Their reaction was very formative. I considered dropping out of high school.

I worked as a professional radio deejay.

I graduated high school.  I started college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house.

I went back to college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house. I still have nightmares that for one reason or the other, I have been forced to move back in with my parents at my current age with my youth issues, such as no boys in my bedroom.

Ages 21–30

I started technical college. I transferred technical colleges. I dropped out of technical college.

I moved out of the house. I went back to college. I dropped out of college. Rinse and repeat.

I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to go back to college. I finished college! My mom proudly told a friend that I was graduating at age twenty-six. Her friend asked what my PhD was in. Sadly, it was just my bachelor’s degree, in English, after eight years.

I went to Europe for the first time on a trip with my parents that was a graduation present.

I worked for a year at a job that was pretty dead-end but which got me lots of promotional copies of albums on cassette. I decided to go to graduate school.

I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to go to the University of Wisconsin for meteorology. I learned that a boy who had been one of my best friends growing up and who also went to Wisconsin for meteorology was, in fact, gay and that we’d never have that chance to get together that I had been denied when my parents ripped me away at age fifteen.

I flunked out of graduate school when I failed calculus for the second time. I began to get serious about bowling.

I went to the local technical college, Madison Area Technical College, and met Chris Gargan. I graduated with my commercial art degree and have been a graphic designer ever since.

Ages 31–40

I moved back to Minneapolis. I worked through a temp agency and met my two best friends, Jim and California Rob. I became employed at my current position which I’ve held for over sixteen years. Oh my goodness, I began to grow up!

I became a published author, though not in the way I imagined as a kid. But my name now appears in the Library of Congress, so that’s something.

I went to the United Kingdom for the first time and fell in love with it. I realized that London is my soulmate. I will live there someday.

I got more serious about my bowling.

Age 41–present

Along with other spending, all of my trips to England contributed to my declaring personal bankruptcy. I learned that it’s not actually that difficult, in the big scheme of things, to live without credit. Except for being deprived of more trips to England.

I kept getting more serious about my bowling. People think I’m joking when I say I take three balls with my to league. The people who are really serious take six or eight.

California Rob moved to California. Jim got married. Possibly in the opposite order. I began my descent into curmudgeonhood.

Oddly, still in my bankruptcy, I was able to procure a mortgage and buy my first home, a condominiumized apartment. Gotta start somewhere. The housing market tanked. I am stuck unless I want to take a significant loss in my selling price.

I began to develop my love of craft beer. I hate saying “craft beer” because it’s such a buzz-term right how. But if more people like it, more will be made and that’s not a bad thing. My gateway beers were Bell’s Oberon and the local Summit Extra Pale Ale.

I have slowly and surely been gaining weight.

Last night, I picked up a twelve-pack of Summit’s Silver Anniversary Ale. Then I went to the preseason meeting for my Monday bowling league. Then I stopped at a bar that had a firkin of a special, grapefruit-infused version of Odell Brewing St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale, a current favorite of mine. I was chit-chatting with the young patrons on either side of me about beers in general and India Pale Ales (my preferred variety) in particular. My bartender asked me—almost accusingly, as though I were a spy for a distributor—who I worked for. When I said a small graphic design company, he blinked and said, “You know a lot about beer.”

That made me feel really good.

Tonight, I enjoyed some of that Summit Silver Anniversary Ale.

Learning to fly

June 6, 2011


I had occasion today to recall being brave enough to make my first bike ride without the training wheels. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I can tell you exactly where I was.

This might take a while and I might ramble.

When I was still a squirt (say, ages three through six), we’d spend the summers in Bloomington, Indiana, because my dad was working on his doctorate degree in music theory at Indiana University. It took a while because he only did summers. During the school year, he was a professor of music at Ohio Northern University. That’s a whole other topic, ONU.

There were a few kid milestones that happened during those summers at IU. I won’t claim to remember if they’re in chronological order. But they did happen. Oh blargh, now I’m calling my mom to check. Hang on …

Okay, it was during my ages three through seven that I went. My dad went one additional year without my mom and me.

The main milestone I want to focus on is learning to ride a bike, or more precisely, the day I ditched the training wheels. Because I do remember it. What I didn’t confirm with my mom just now was how old I was, but I feel like it was the summer when I turned six. (I was one of those fortunate kids whose birthday is in the middle of summer and no fuss was ever made in class during the year.)

I had a hand-me-down bike, an old Schwinn from a neighbor. I thought it was copper, my mom said it was maroon. On that momentous day, I was riding up the diagonal sidewalk between the two apartment buildings—the one where we lived, and the other one where my little best friend Angie M lived (Angie was a year older than I). Somebody, probably my mom, I guess, because my dad would have been in class, noticed that I wasn’t putting any balance on the training wheels and said, okay, let’s take them off. And we did. And that was it.

The other thing I remember about that day (and I’m sure it’s entirely possible that I’m blurring events together because, let’s face it, that was forty years ago) is that along that sidewalk, just about where it met the other diagonal sidewalk with which it made an X, I came upon a squirrel that wasn’t too frightened by people and seemed willing to let me walk up to it with outstretched hand. One of the other adults present sternly warned me not to interact with the skwerl because it might be rabid and if it bit me, I’d die. There was some other thing about stray dogs peeing in the sandbox where we kids liked to play. Yay, adults and their scaremongering.

Other things I remember about those years, definitely not in chronological order:

My mom and I would play Poohsticks on one particular little bridge over the Jordan River which ran right through the middle of campus. As you’ve learned, in addition to rabbits, I have a history of Pooh.

We did spend one entire year there, so I attended kindergarten. I got along well with my teacher. She’d walk me home sometimes. In class, I learned the classic “My Napsack on My Back” song (val-da-ree …) On the walks home, she taught me another song that had slightly naughty words, that her husband disapproved of her teaching one so young as I. Maybe she wasn’t my teacher. Maybe she was just a friend of my parents’.

I remember vaulting off a stone wall that I’m going to estimate was at least six feet tall. There were four or five of us kids doing it. We had no fear of mortality.

Angie and I came to be in possession of a shopping cart for a couple of days. We pushed each other around in it, and we turned it over and made a fort out of it.

Angie and I also set up a lemonade stand on the other side of the apartment complex on a busier street. We made a little bit. Angie figured it all out and I remember feeling like I didn’t walk away with as much as should have been my fair share, you know, probably $2.25 instead of $2.75.

IU might also have been where my interest in science kindled. For whatever reason, my dad the music professor had a class in a lecture hall in the geology building. In the lobby was what to me seemed a moon-sized globe, as well as a two-storey pendulum. I found them both to be fascinating. I attended class with my dad one day, and it was on that day that a rare earthquake occurred, the only one I’ve ever been witness to, thankfully. It wasn’t much, just enough to be felt and to cause everyone in the hall to look at each other in “did you feel that?” wonderment.

I think what this boils down to is that I really fondly remember my time at Indiana University. You know, and my childhood.



Post script:
My dad’s doctorate thesis was not approved. He did not get his PhD. Years later when I myself was in college, I took an editing class. We had to come up with a long manuscript to edit and I convinced my dad to let me use his thesis.

Top photo: me, by my mom.
Bottom photo: a youngster who freed herself of training wheels today and was the inspiration for this post but who shall remain nameless, by her dad Tyler, an acquaintance of mine. If I had one of myself peddling around at that age, I would have used it instead.

Cribbage scrimmage

February 7, 2011


Cribbage always makes me think of my Grandpa H. He was the one largely responsible for teaching me how to play when I was just a squirt. To this day, it’s the only card game that I would say I actually know how to play. Sure, we play poker at bowling (one card for a spare or strike, two cards for two strikes in a row), but I always have to consult a cheat sheet.

My grandparents would come from Wisconsin to visit us in Ohio for a couple of weeks each year (as we did them). My memory of my grandfather teaching me cribbage is that it happened on the back porch at our house, which would imply that it was warm enough to be outside, which would imply that it was not winter. But I also remember that our visits to them were in the summer as well. It seems a little strange that we wouldn’t have gotten together for holidays. Then again, with the cross-Midwest drive I guess it’s not actually mysterious that nobody planned the drive for Christmas and winter.

Anyway, my grandpa taught me how to play cribbage and he taught me well.

But not well enough to save one relationship I was in. “He” and I had played a bunch of games over the course of a couple weeks and I had lost all of them, and I finally snapped and called the relationship off. Of course things would have had to have been shakey to begin with at that point for something so trivial to become a mountain, and they were for a particular reason, but my twentieth cribbage loss in a row finally broke this camel’s back.

It’s true that whenever I get out the cribbage board I think of this guy just a little, but enough time has passed (you know, more than twenty-five years) that it’s not unpleasant. In fact, I just looked him up online and he’s still very attractive.

But I digress.

These days, it’s mostly when my mom lays a guilt trip on me during my parents’ visits that I play. She and my grandfather also played a lot, and she and I played a lot. Now, she usually has to pull teeth. I suppose it’s stubbornness on my part. When they’re here, it’s the one thing I can get away without doing right away or at all, because everything else she just pesters until I do it because I get fed up with the constant, um, mentioning. It’s a power struggle.

I enjoy playing, I just don’t want to have to feel like I have to. Evidently my cat feels differently.

Last tango for my eyesight

October 16, 2010


Maybe I’m extremely nearsighted because when I was nine years old, I spent too much time looking at the photo included with Time Magazine’s review of “Last Tango in Paris.” That’s not actually the truth, because I’ve worn glasses since I was six-and-a-half or seven. But I remember spending a lot of time looking at that photo.

I don’t remember what incidence of somebody realizing that I couldn’t quite make it out led to my first visit to the eye doctor. I just remember that it was part of the way through first grade or in the beginning of second grade when I got my first pair of glasses. And being the early 1970s, the frames were plastic and dark. And because at that time, my fashion sense was determined by my mother (who also was still sewing us matching outfits), my early frames always had multiple straight sides. My mom loved hexagons and octagons.


Here are some early school pictures of myself wearing glasses. I think we have ages  seven, eight, and nine. I’m sure the right-hand photo is age nine, because I’m wearing a retainer (also, please note the Winnie-the-Pooh turtleneck). That was a result of the dentist/orthodontist determining that I had small jaws and would need braces, and that all my adult teeth wouldn’t fit. Therefore, four of my permanent molars were pulled, I had black thread stitches in my gums, and I got a lot of mileage out of grossing out other kids with those very stitches.

Age nine was also about the time I would have been going cross-eyed from that “Last Tango in Paris” still in Time, which I usually checked out in the bathroom. Well, that’s where “reading material” ended up. As a girl, however, the previous sentence doesn’t have quite the same connotation as if I had been a boy. Also, my mother was squarely into hexagonal frames by that time.

The photo was of a woman on the left and a man on the right sitting, facing each other, with their knees up and legs intertwined. As I child, I was all atwitter because I perceived that there were breasts exposed.

My eyesight continued to worsen for thirty years. Then the distance vision leveled off but I hit forty, so now I have bifocals. That totally sucks. I’m on my second bifocal prescription and can quite tell that it needs to be updated again. Health insurance only pays for one pair of glasses per year. I have four months to go.

So tonight, because I’m once again way behind on my Comcast bill (cable tv and inernet) and am once again pretending that I’m about to stick it to the man and cancel it all and just watch what I can using city wireless internet (two year city wireless only about $40 dollars more than two months Comcast cable tv and internet) and what’s free on the internet or with a couple of relatively inexpensive subscriptions, I brought home some sushi and a really tasty Argentinean Malbeca, and tuned in to Hulu for a movie and a Comcastless test drive of a movie on the internet.

“Last Tango in Paris” was the first title that came up that wasn’t zombie, slutty, or sci-fi slutty. I remembered that Time Magazine write-up and settled in, thirty-eight years later, to watch the movie that left an impression nine-year-old me.

It was alright (except for the part where free Hulu didn’t show me the last twenty minutes as it asked if I’d like to buy the DVD, erm, no), but nothing earthshattering, other than I got to practice listening to some French.

I know a lot of men just love “The Godfather,” but to be perfectly honest, I don’t see what all the fuss is about Marlon Brando. He has a funny voice, he’s a little bit pudgy, and a lot of it in this movie is done with camera work. However, I will give the ’70s a lot of credit for being less uptight about sex, sexuality, and nudity. What changed?

And, although there was plenty of nudity in the movie elsewhere, what I remember from that photo in Time ended up being one or two feminine curves with nothing much really showing, and four strategically placed knees.

What a letdown!


(Compared to the well-defined actual breasts shown in the movie, the ambiguously smoothed curves in the photo at top are just as my nine-year-old-self remembers them.)