7.14.2006

Count your blessings. DO IT!

I do not know what is up with me lately. I have been riding the emotional roller coaster like a fat bearded guy on a Harley.

Or something.

Maybe I am just sick of people.

Like the guy who bought his 16 year old daughter a Hummer because he wanted her to be safe when she drives.

What the fuck?! That is like buying her a shotgun so she will be "safe" about sex. If the little brat cannot be trusted in a car then DO NOT LET HER DRIVE. For gawd's sake do not put her on the road in what amounts to a weapon so she can hone her driving skills around nice innocent people in sensible cars.

And while I am on the subject: If you are bitching about high gas prices and you drive an SUV... SHUT THE FUCK UP! You chose to drive that gas guzzling unnecessary monstrosity and I have no sympathy

Also, lose the attitudes people. In the grand scheme of things we have such a short time here on earth why waste it in an endless pursuit of newer/bigger/better/more?

I like my life, for the most part. I mean, could do with a bit more money because I like to pay my own way as much as the next guy, but over all I am pretty satisfied.

I have a great kid, a beautiful home and a couple of very personable cats. My friends have been my friends for decades and my job lets me wear Birkenstocks and wet hair when it is really hot. I do not need a husband (or even a boyfriend) but a familiar lover and a hotel room makes for a nice occasional diversion. My mechanic is funny AND honest...and so is my Attorney! My neighbors water my garden when I forget to and though my family sometimes makes me crazy I know almost any one of them would take a bullet for me.

My car starts every morning. I have high speed internet. I possess the requisite number of legs and arms and all my physical senses work properly. I have loved and I have been loved. I own an awesome library and an immense CD collection. I laugh frequently.

AND...I've been to Graceland.

All in all that is a pretty damned good life.

A friend of mine used to have an inside joke that when someone was whining to her she would interrupt to say, "I'm sorry, but do you have the tattoo?" This was reference to Auschwitz and the people who were numbered and tattooed like cattle, then sentenced to death solely because of their heritage. She felt that unless you had actually survived some of the true atrocities in this world then you really should shut up about the trivial.

(She also felt a good haircut could solve a myriad of life's problems, but hey.)

Not even on my worst day have I ever been physically tortured or condemned because of my race or religion. I have never had to steal to feed my family, nor have I ever been forced out of my home. I have never had to shudder in hiding or listen to bombs. I have never been beaten and raped just because I went for a jog. I have never had to sit in fear and wonder if my child would come home. I have never had to go into hiding because of something I wrote. I have never had my entire life scrutinized by my enemies and published on the front page of newspapers.

And neither have YOU.

We are all doing better than a whole lot of people in this world.

So, again, I say, Shut the hell up and celebrate your good life.

That is, unless you actually have the
tattoo.

7.09.2006

Elvis is Everywhere!


I like Elvis as much as the next guy - maybe even more. I think he was handsome, had a beautiful voice and some rockin' moves. I agree that he was a legend.

People, let me tell you, there are some
die hard Elvis fans out there. Enough of them to create a multi billion dollar industry of kitsch - the Mecca of which lies at 3765 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee.

It all begins at the ticket office, which is located in a huge plaza across from Graceland Mansion, which is just down the street from
The Heartbreak Hotel, which is just around the corner from the Graceland RV Park, which is behind the Graceland Outlet Store, which is down the street from the Lisa Marie... You get the picture.

At first glance, after hopping off the
Sun Studios shuttle, the line didn't seem that long. And it wasn't, except for the fact that the line we were looking at was the line to get into the building to get to the line for the ticket counter. After 30 minutes in line to buy tickets we were told our "tour" would be leaving in approximately 2 hours.

2 hours until we could get on the shuttle which would take us ACROSS THE STREET.

Walking across ourselves was not an option. I checked.

Okay, so it was suggested that we visit the Graceland Gift Shop (conveniently located near the tour departure gate.)

Several dollars and a couple of large shopping bags later we were done shopping. We still had an hour and a half to wait.

So we headed down the mall (It really is an
outdoor mall!) to eat at the Rockabilly Diner. Do you even have to ask if peanut butter and banana sandwiches were on the menu? (I didn't. They were.) By the time we got our cheeseburgers and commemorative Elvis big gulp plastic cups Furry had staged a revolt worthy of calling in The National Guard.

This is when I learned the following things: Straws and plastic spoons do not entertain toddlers for long. The ketchup and mustard bottles at Rockabilly's Diner are made of glass. Mustard will travel at great velocity and long distance when spewing from a shattered bottle. It doesn't matter how cute your toddler is, people will still hate him if he interrupts their Elvis experience.

But I digress.

Okay, so after lunch we learn that there will be even further delay, as tours are now running another hour behind.

By this time Furry was sick of his stroller and completely disenchanted with the Elvis experience. He was also sweating buckets of sticky southern baby sweat. He began to scream and to do that back-arching-arm-flailing thing that toddlers do when they are upset and want the world to know.

Bojo called a cab. I later learned that it costs $50 and a healthy dose of self esteem to beg a cabbie to take you and your screaming demon child back to your hotel. Bojo said the cab driver actually appeared afraid of Furry.

But back to Little Dog and I, who are now standing in the sweltering heat watching a live Elvis trivia contest take place at the
Sirius RadioElvis stage. We are fanning ourselves with Graceland fliers and believing that $3 for a single 12 ounce bottle of water is not as ridiculous as it first appeared to be.

We walked up the mall. We walked down the mall. We visited the Sincerely Elvis gift shop. We saw the Lisa Marie. We met a nice couple from New York who said yes, they hoped it was worth it too.

And then they called our tour!

We stood in yet another line and eventually a gal came to look at our tickets. Another gal came and searched my purse. (If I'd had a weapon I would have shot myself 2 lines ago.) Then the wait began again.

I'll swear I celebrated a couple of birthdays in that line.

Finally we get handed headsets and the line starts moving bit by bit. Right before we boarded the bus another gal grabbed each of us by the arm and pushed us towards a mural of the Graceland gates. Before I could form the words "What the HELL?" she said "Photoopportunitynoobligationthankyou!" and I realised a flashbulb had gone off.

Little Dog and I stumbled blindly onto the shuttle van and wedged our selves intimately close to strangers. (The lady next to me had on a very pretty bra. The man in front of me shaved his neck...but only to his collar line.)

Okay, so five minutes later we are at heaven's gate...or at least at Graceland's front door.

"Standonthebricksidewalkuntilyouarecalledtothestepspleasenopictures
nowyou'llhaveplentyoftimeforthatlaternoflashphotographyinside"

Did these people ever pause for breath? I went ahead and snapped a few pictures of the porch and entryway just because I'm a rebel like that.

Once inside my very first thought was, "GRACELAND IS AIR CONDITIONED! Thank you Jeezus!"

Okay, so we toured the house. I can only say that it was a very beautiful home. I didn't find the decor to be cheesy at all considering when it was last decorated. Actually, I found it to be very subdued for a man of Elvis' wealth and reputed lifestyle.

Meditation Garden was actually a very peaceful place. In fact, during the whole tour, there was a certain reverence in evidence. People lowered their voices, if they even spoke at all.

The grounds were my favourite part and I snapped some awesome pictures of the details of the barns and the swing set.

We didn't spend a lot of time in the display case areas, as we'd seen our share of Elvis memorabilia in every other museum in Memphis.

We were the first two on the next shuttle back across the street!

Immediately after we debarked our headsets were confiscated and we were directed to the kiosk to claim our "no obligation" photos where $20 bought us an 8x10 and four wallets of Little Dog and I in front of the Graceland Gates with "What the fuck?" looks on our faces.

Best. Souvenir. Ever.

So, in many ways this pilgrimage to Graceland was exactly what I expected, but it was also somewhat sad. I think it is a tragedy that a man who became a legend has had his name so grossly prostituted.

Never again will we have a star of this magnitude. Now, everyone gets their 15 minutes and people become
famous just for being famous.
If Elvis were alive today I think he'd lock the Graceland gates up tight, cancel all this mansion tour hoopla, shake his head and then climb into his fur bed for a long nap.
That's exactly what I did when I got back to the hotel.

7.08.2006

Can I BE Cool in a Minivan?!


There had always been a part of me that felt like something was missing.

I mean, I was 42 years old and I had NEVER been to
Graceland.

That is practically un-American!

So, with that in mind, Furry's mom, Bojo, and I decided to take the kids to Memphis.

ROADTRIIIIIP!!!!!

2 hip mammas trekkin' to the Rockabilly holy land with their boys...SQUEEE! My adrenaline was flowing just thinking about it. We would spend the entire fourth of July weekend (4 days) in the city that birthed rock-n-roll.

I planned the itinerary and Bojo was in charge of the hotel and car.

On the morning we were to leave she pulled up in a rented minivan.

Uh...

If you know me at all you know I am not a minivan kind of gal. I knew a convertible was out of the question and I had immediately nixed the idea of an SUV (Grrrr....) I even took her seriously when she suggested an RV (Graceland RV park? Helloooo!) But no, she got a minivan.


I was going to make my rock-n-roll pilgrimage in a minivan?! Could I be any more uncool?

Let me just tell you that the biggest car I have ever driven was my little Nissan. I learned to drive in a Corvette. My first car was a VW.

Get the picture?

I felt like a freakin' trucker when I climbed into that thing. I could see into the laps of the people in the cars beside me. I wondered if I needed some sort of different class of license to drive it.

But, we loaded it up and buckled in.

Furry was thrilled with his built in car seat. Not only did it allow him to sit in the seat like a Big Boy right by the window, but, more importantly, it gave him a seat right next to Little Dog! We handed him a freshly filled sippy cup and he was content the whole way there.

This child was made for road trips!

I had burned plenty of cds to put us in the mood so the four of us seat danced all the way.

I must admit I learned to love that minivan. It was an incredibly smooth ride and amazingly FAAAAAAST! I have to admit I did 90 most of the way there. Not always on purpose either. I just drove like I always do, but apparently a new minivan will haul ass with little effort.

We made it in under 6 hours despite the fact Google told us it would take 7.

While we were there I welcomed the sight of our silver monster. It was easy to find on crowded parking lots; convenient to change a baby's diaper in and remarkably easy to maneuver on the crowded streets of downtown Memphis.

The stereo was even loud enough to drown out the screams of a cranky baby on the way back.

Heh heh.

While I will not (EVER) be purchasing such a vehicle, I must admit I will definitely consider renting one for the next road trip.

Next road trip......Mmmmmmmmmmm.......

7.07.2006

Bucky


Sunday I worked all day in the yard and was hosing everything down when a beautiful banded pigeon waddled up to assess my work. He seemed quite friendly and not at all afraid. Eventually I had him eating birdseed from my hand and posing while I did an impromptu pigeon photo shoot.

The sun went down and I scattered some birdseed, soaked everything with water and went to bed.

The next morning as I pulled out of the garage I noticed the pigeon strutting around the garden. Some of the mulch was scattered, indicating he had bedded down there the night before.

He was still there when I got home from work.

At this point I was concerned about this little pigeon I had come to think of as Bucky. The bands indicated he belonged to someone who surely must be missing him. So, the next day at work I contacted a friend who works for a local aviation research facility. From her I was referred to a Falconer at the center who referred me to the State Wildlife Association who referred me to the area Game Warden who, to this day, has never called me back.

Along the way I had found out it was probably a racing pigeon, so I got online and googled the appropriate terms until I found the website for the
American Racing Pigeon Union. A very friendly woman answered the phone and when I told her the numbers on Bucky’s bands she was able to determine he was from a Missouri “loft.” She gave me the number to their local chapter, but it had been disconnected. I called my new friend at the ARPU who told me she had no other number.

That’s where things got crazy.

Apparently these pigeon racing people take their sport very seriously. When I commented on how much prettier this little guy was than the New York Pigeons it was explained that the birds are carefully trained, bathed, medicated against diseases and fed special grains. I expressed concern that he may be wounded because I hadn’t seen him fly up into a tree yet. “Oh he’d better NOT fly up in a tree,” she said, as if I had suggested he fly into an open flame. “If he has been trained well he knows to stay out of the trees!”

Who knew?

So, anyway, I asked this pigeon lady to give me the number of a local pigeon racing group. “Why?” she asked incredulously.

“Uh…so I can call them and maybe they will come help the pigeon at my house.”

“But he’s not from here. He belongs to a group in Missouri.”

“Yes, but I can’t get a hold of that group, so maybe someone here can help.”

“Well, no one is going to come get him if he’s not their bird.”

“No one will help him?! Isn’t his owner probably looking for him?”

“Oh I’m sure the owner is looking for him, but since he is from Missouri no group here is going to take him.”

“But you don’t have good number for any of the Missouri groups.”

“No, and they really should keep their information up to date with us.”

“Well, they didn’t, and now I’ve got a pigeon in my garden that needs to get home.”

“Well, good luck with that. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

You have got to be kidding me. Had this lady not been listening?

“I need to find someone to COME GET HIM!”

“Well, I guess you could take hi…..

“NO! I cannot take him anywhere. I cannot pick him up. I mean he’s nice and all, but birds kinda freak me out when they start with the wing flapping stuff. I just need someone who knows more about this than me to come and help him. I don’t care if they keep him or if they send him home. I just don’t want him to be in my garden because it is NOT SAFE for a possibly injured and definitely lost bird.
Please, just give me the number for a LOCAL RACING GROUP!”

“Like I said, they will not do anything. “

Aaaargh!!!!!!

I got of the phone with Nancy-no-help and went back to Google.

I found tons of sites about racing pigeons. Most of them were in England and Scotland.

I finally found a web site for