Back in ’73

reunion3A couple of weeks ago, I went to my 40th high school reunion at the beautiful botanical gardens in Taylor, Michigan, where I grew up. I don’t live there anymore, but my BFF Lisa was in town staying with us, and we decided it would be a fun trip down memory lane. Was it ever!

That’s Dave Allen and me in the pic above: he was my first love, my first kiss (!). The first kiss was not good. I thought kissing involved a lot of moving your head around, because that’s what it looked like on TV. Dave has no memory of how bad I was at kissing, but over the summer of ’69, he taught me:)

Now Dave is married to Diane. He plays guitar in a band. Like the MC5 shirt Dave is wearing, they kicked out the jams at the reunion, with a special appearance by Mike “Crawdaddy” Crawley on harmonica and vocals. Several ladies took the dance floor, along with a couple of the men, including Jesse Enriquez, another pal from way-back-when. Saw Mike Woodby too. I always loved him; he was so nice to me! He never tried to hit on me like most boys did back then. Not saying I was some beauty, far from it, it’s just guys. They’re like that when they’re teenagers.

Back to Dave for a minute. God, I loved him! I had one boyfriend before Dave, and I never let him kiss me. He put his arm around me at a dance and I thought he was getting fresh! But Dave, I was ready for him. That kiss he doesn’t remember was on the bleachers at West Junior High. Lisa and I drove by there after the reunion. We lived around the block from each other and drove by our houses. Trip back in time. Without the LSD.

So, Dave. I remember sitting in my parents’ basement and him casually talking about “when we got married.” I was thrilled! I remember his mom bringing us cold drinks as we sat on his porch. I remember I went with the family to Cedar Point. This was true love for a twelve year old. Or was I 13? Dave remembered another incident in which I gave him a love bite that was clearly visible to his mom. She didn’t hold it against me.

We were so innocent. All we did was kiss. And love each other lots. The best part of seeing Dave is he told me he sometimes reads my blog! I had no idea he even knew I had a blog. Crawdaddy brought a print copy of The Paris Notebook all the way from Kentucky for me to autograph. That was sweet, too. Just good people, good times, and yes, gray hair.

Murphy & Everything Else

murph2Murphy is visiting. He’s an energetic one-year-old Cardigan Corgi, and he is adorable. Mike and Jessica are here too. Jan stopped by yesterday to say hi. Since she lives right behind us, it was easy for her to pop in. Then Aunt Louise and Marie stopped in bearing many gifts. Four bottles of Cupcake wine, feta cheese pizzas, chocolate molten cakes, pretty little treasures for the house.

Mom called this morning and Dad is cleared to travel (he just got a new knee). They will be here tomorrow night. This is the most I’ve ever got to enjoy having Mike and Jessica here now that her mom is gone to NC and we have a guest room. Mike and Jess are on a month long adventure across the USA. Stops included Montana, Michigan, North Carolina, and California. Probably Arizona too. I’m happy that this is OUR time:)

Al left this morning for his NASCAR race weekend. Mike and Jessica are going to a Tiger game, and I have a work luncheon. But we will all meet back here tonight:) And tomorrow night Mom will get to see her grandson. As she has repeatedly told me, “I just want to see Mike!” So that works out. Whew.

I start work Tuesday and am not completely ready. I want to attend the meeting/lunch before I commit my syllabus to the copy center. There may be new things I need to add. And I’ll be meeting my new dean, who has been very patient and supportive of me during my time off. Also, don’t think I’ll get the next book done before school. That’s fine. You might notice that Mike put the image of Blue Heaven with the other widgets on the side of my page. You click it to buy. But of course all of you who read this should know: Blue Heaven will be free exclusively on Kindle October 1-5!

Now to dress for work…


Contemporary or Vintage?

grandma.mirrorWe recently moved to a new home with a very contemporary feel. All the lighting fixtures, the appliances, countertops, and the general architectural layout scream MODERN. Lots of granite and slate. Problem? I love old things. That’s my grandmother’s mirror in the photo and I still use it every day to check the back of my hair:) It sits on my bathroom vanity and I simply love it. Still, I made a vow when I moved in, this house will be decorated with contemporary furniture.

One reason: my mother just gave me a coffee-with-cream colored contemporary leather sofa in great condition. And three pieces of semi-contemporary light oak furniture. (They’re a little bit French Country). We also have cream colored carpet. So everything is light. The walls are painted in one of those new neutral tones–light moss green that matches the filigree on my other grandmother’s china. No way am I getting rid of the traditional cherry wood china cabinet Al bought for me when I inherited that china.

I love dark furniture, Victorian trimmings, and gilded everything. But I have passed through my lace doily phase, much to Al’s relief. So. No Victorian in this modern house, or if, only mixed in for an eclectic look. Then we went furniture shopping. We have had a Paul Bunyan bedroom set from the day we married 28 years ago. Now it’s in the guest room. We wanted to treat ourselves to a new bedroom and my eye went straight to a French Country set in antique white. I knew it was too girly for Al. He didn’t like the brass headboards I showed him either.

By the time we’d viewed every bedroom in the store we came down to one we both loved. I do not know what to call it, but modern it is not. It’s pretty, not stark. Curvy, not “clean lines.” The headboard and mirror are gilded (yay!). It’s very Italian Rococo. Love it!! Which got me thinking. I really don’t want to have a totally modern home. There’s already the traditional china cabinet and stemware curio in dark cherry. There’s already some French Colonial pieces I cannot bear to part with. And instead of the bedside table that came with the flashy set, I opted for a plain old bookcase my mom and I found tucked in my grandmother’s basement. It’s simple but has a beautiful patina and is just the right height. I’m not getting rid of my grandma’s cedar chest (Pennsylvania Dutch, painted an antique white), either.

So, while I’m making some concessions to the new, I realized I’m just not ready to get rid of the best of my antique treasures. Al and I are still in discussion about the tall French Colonial bookcase, antiqued in a beautiful blue, in the foyer. We didn’t use to have a foyer. We’ll see who wins that one. I’ve got my vintage Shakespeare collection in there! It shall not be removed to the basement! We never had a basement before, either.

However this new house turns out (window treatments to be installed next week–furniture delivered then as well, we hope) I will always love both of my grandmothers’ things and am so grateful to have just a piece of them still in my life. Love never goes out of style.

Our Fortunate Tortured Selves

Remember liberal guilt? The idea that because we had so much, we felt guilty, and so to assuage our consciouses, we were happy to give some back. I still think giving to the poor is a noble cause, but I never thought guilt was what social programs were about. I thought those programs were in place because of  love. Because of generosity.

I’ve been poor, even homeless, but I’ve always worked. My income, when I have one worth reporting to the IRS, has always hovered close to the poverty level, which is now $13,444. My jobs have been waitress, secretary, high school teacher, college teacher, writer. The only government assistance I’ve ever used was a Pell Grant to start my college education. After I married, the Pell Grant went away. I pursued education anyway because I believed it was my way to a better job than waitress, bartender, or secretary.

Now I have two degrees in English, two jobs (writing and teaching) and I couldn’t buy myself a used car. Forget about a house! My husband is the reason I am living in a new house, buying new things to furnish it with, and feeling twinges of guilt. I have so much. Most of the world has so little. It doesn’t seem fair.

Land a man, land on your feet. This uncomfortable truth has been the reality of my life. Yes of course I cook and clean and so forth. That’s the unpaid work we women who marry take on. Well, some of us.

Had I not been married, I would have pursued full time teaching with more zeal. But the way things happened, I was able to teach part-time and write for great chunks of time, taking years off the day job. Without that time  off from teaching, I never would have been able to pursue things like writing for magazines. I would not have been able to write novels or find a publisher. I probably wouldn’t be writing this post or have the time to worry about all the poor people in the world. I’d be too busy grading papers or flying the freeways.

When I told my husband about a post I wrote a week or so ago, all about moving to the country and buying new curtains, he said I should be careful. He said I should not flaunt our situation. He said it would make some people with less feel bad. He was right. And ever since, I’ve been feeling guilty about my good fortune.


New house doesn’t quite feel like home yet. An internet connection would help. So would window shades:) But aside from the material organization, I’ve yet to make an emotional connection to this new place. Maybe because I’m not unpacked and remain undecorated. Maybe because my shoulders ache, my back hurts, and there’s a weird pain in my foot that is shooting upward toward the knee.

Which reminds me that I am close to a lovely yoga studio. I need to get back to class. After I rest the various overworked muscles. And finish unpacking. Then start writing again; I am counting today’s blog as a first step. Had to come out to a bookstore to post an entry. And I’m not the coffee shop type of writer.

I lived in one place for 25 years and didn’t give the move much thought. Well, other than “I can’t wait and I know I will love it!” But 25 years brings another sort of problem to moving house. It’s like packing for vacation. But instead of hunting through a few suitcases, I’m hunting through a bunch of rooms that equal 100 suitcases. Add to that short term memory loss (no big deal, it happens to most people as they get older) and unpacking becomes a challenge.

Then there’s the part about remembering to be fully clothed at all times (windows!) and to shut doors where applicable (windows!) Yes, the new place has lots of windows and I love that about it. I will love it even more when the window shop calls to say my order’s come in and when will they be able to install?

Meanwhile, I had to drive by the old place today. We’d forgotten to give the new owner one of the garage door openers, so I popped it in his mailbox. I felt nothing for the house I had loved for so long. I was actually happy that I did not own the mailbox bombed by bird shit.

I don’t love my old place anymore. I don’t love my new place yet. But I still have my internet home, and that feels just right:)