Friday, December 19, 2008

The Big 3 and Me

I grew up in a suburb near a GM town. However, even with growing up in that area, and driving mostly GM cars (and a Chrysler or two), my family history lies with Ford. My paternal great-grandfather was a racecar driver and mechanic who worked for Barney Oldfield, the racecar driver who made Ford famous. Great-grandpa was able to race at the Brickyard and later opened his own garage. I still remember visiting Auto World in Flint (a car themed amusement park—see the movie “Roger and Me” ) and going on the car history ride where my dad started getting animated. In the ride, there was a display on the ride of a cigar chomping, scarf wearing Barney Oldfield inside a car while it was worked on by a mechanic. My dad started excitedly pointing to the mechanic saying, “That’s my grandpa! That’s my grandpa!” as he almost fell out of the little amusement park car.

My dad later told us when he first heard his grandpa had been a racecar driver, he cracked up saying, “But Grandpa, you drive so slow!” To which his grandfather responded that back in the day, before the new cars could go fast, he once outran a cop on horseback in a Model T. I like to think Great-grandpa added, “Fresh-mouthed whippersnapper,” after telling the story, but I can’t verify that happened.

Ford also played a role in my maternal great-grandfather’s life. He came to this country and took a job working in a mine in Pennsylvania. He worked there a few days before realizing that wasn’t the life he wanted. He and his brothers packed up and left and Great-grandpa decided to go to Detroit where he got a job at Ford. He didn’t speak much English, but he would never say anything negative about his workplace saying (in broken English), “Henry Ford pays a good wage.”

Ford made Detroit what it is and gave it a rich history. As kids we all spent time at the Henry Ford museum or Greenfield Village, which showed us the life of Thomas Edison and encouraged us to not just dream, but to be like Henry Ford and Edison and dream big.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was visiting the Ford Home (Edsel’s) all decorated for the season. Some of my family members have worked there over the years for the family. Plus, the Ford family (Henry II, Christina, etc.) made for some excellent gossip over the years. I once was seated next to one of the hairstylists of one of the Ford wives and I learned some fascinating things...okay, fine, good gossip, but I learned things! Mrs. Ford’s driver however was loyal (yawn) and only spoke highly of her (Edsel’s wife) although did say she could be demanding.

Dodge has also been a big part of Michigan and visiting Meadowbrook (the Dodge home) was also a big highlight for me as a kid. The Dodge’s might not have had a gift wrapping room a’la Candy Spelling, but they had a section in the hallway devoted to it which fascinated me as a kid.

This isn’t just about a few auto plants here and there going bankrupt. It’s about the history of Michigan and the part it played in so many families’ lives. I watched a man on TV who worked for Ford in Dearborn saying he was a third generation Ford auto worker. He said it was more than a job to him—it was part of his family legacy.

I agree with the arguments against bailing out companies, however the Big Three are asking for loans, not a bailout and there’s a difference. Loans get paid back. Why is it okay to bailout Wall Street, but not give help the Big 3? If we don’t help out the auto industry, we’re only hurting ourselves. It’s not just about a bunch of automotive companies, but it’s about families, tradition, and a culture that helped make America what it is today.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for life here. The two people who gave me the best insight about military life were my friend, Jen B, and my cousin, Bill. Bill told me just when you get settled and make friends, either they’ll leave, or you will and that’s becoming the trend. In the last place I lived, I went to more farewell parties in less than a year and a half than I had in my whole life. But here it’s a whole different story. Most people are here for only two years, unless they’re single or unaccompanied, then it’s 18 months. So by the time you arrive, a lot of people you meet are on their way out. I have already said good-bye to the people I was closest to when I first arrived. I didn’t expect to make close friends in such a short period of time and then I did and, poof! Now they’re gone, too. It almost makes me wonder if I would have been better off not getting as close so it wouldn’t be so depressing when they all left. However, then I wouldn’t have made the good friends that I did.

It kind of reminds me of a semester in college. You get to know people really well, see them day in and day out, and you’re having lunch together every week day, and getting together on weekends. Then the semester ends and you hardly see each other anymore. You keep in touch, but your schedules are now so different (or they’ve moved an ocean away), so you’re not each other’s priority anymore. But they say everything has a season, and I think there are people who come into all our lives’ for only a season. Maybe so we can both learn something from each other or they need someone like you or me in their lives at that time. Then there are the “keepers,” the people you’ll stay in touch with even if they move to Mars.

Now as I write out my Christmas card list, I’m seeing more and more addresses have changed from last year, but the most important thing is that the friendships stay the same.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Haunted Bloggy Carnival is Here! Over $3726.00 In Prizes! International Too!

Haunted Bloggy Carnival is Here! Over $3726.00 In Prizes! International Too!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

New article

I thought I'd share one of my newer articles.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Survey Says

I was sent this survey and thought I'd share my answers.

Survey says...
Current mood: animated

What does the last comment say?
=== It was from The Big Bopper--how awesome is that that the Big Bopper would write me from heaven? Shut up, that's my story and I'm sticking to it

So what do you want for your birthday?
===I'm still waiting for that pony I asked for at age 3

What color are your eyes?
===that's a very personal question. Are you phishing for credit card info? Police!

What are you thinking about right now?
===That it stinks in here and why do I hear a church organ? Are the angels coming to take me away? Or did I leave the TV on?

When is the last time you were embarrassed?
===When I thought this woman was somebody's kid, but she was the mom.

Are you artistic?
===I can mime like nobody's business

What was the last item you bought?
===A Fabrege egg that has a carousel inside with each member of New Kids on the Block riding a different horse as "Step By Step" plays. Why? What did you buy last?

What would you do if your best friend told you they were moving?
===Take me, please take me with you!!

Apple bottom jeans or hollister gift card?
===Isn't saying you have an apple bottom an insult? Like the Phat jeans. How do they get people to look past that?

At what age do you want to be married?
===I was going for 68, but married a little sooner than that

Where is your mom right now?
===Dort Hwy...if you're not from Michigan you won't get it, but those that do....

What do you currently hear right now?
===Construction workers in the hallway who obviously don't feel the need to use their indoor voices.

Have you ever had your heart broken?
===Reconstructive surgery can do a lot to help that. I know a guy if you need his number.

Have you ever not been able to get someone off of your mind?

When was the last time you wanted to punch someone in their face?
===Right now

When was the last time you swam?
===Last summer. There are jellyfish here & someone I know got stung twice.
Plus Joey from "Friends" would have to twinke on me and that's sick

Monday, August 18, 2008

Autumn Memories

Why didn't I go to Carleton College in Minnesota? Sure I just found out it existed like, this minute, but that's no excuse. It's all picturesque like someplace one of the Wakefield twins (probably Liz, Jessica's too wild for that town) would have gone. Or where Nancy Drew would have gone to college during brief breaks of crime fighting and mystery solving.

Instead, I went to school in the inner city just blocks away from the gang-infested ghetto and a stone's throw from Crack Alley, the sun dappled lane where all the drug/rehab meeting are so conveniently located near the drug houses. Brilliant planning on that one. Sure my school had it's perks, but it wasn't all cutesy. And, if I went down to the main campus that had more charm, well, let's just say that the old “charming” buildings stunk. They reeked of charm literally. And downtown Ann Arbor has never been my favorite place although if you want to try Ethiopian food and get a brownie from a place that reeks of incense and has a Wiccan symbol on the menu, then that's the place to go. Oddly enough I prefer my brownies witchcraft-free, but I'm a little stuck up that way.

Maybe it's because it's almost fall and I know that I won't have the usual red, yellow, and orange leaves to look at and there will be no hay rides or trips to apple orchards that I'm getting all nostalgic and wanting that new school experience in the autumn. Or maybe I shouldn't have gone to a school that had a river they once dragged for a body while I was in class. Ahh...memories.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't Blog Angry & the Field trip

I haven't blogged in a while because I think, as a rule, people shouldn't blog while angry and I've been less than enthusiastic about life since the flood in our place two weeks ago. I had been so excited to move into a renovated apartment and then, just 2 hours into the move, water came up from the sewer drain in the laundry room. I would hold a funeral service for my clothes, shoes, books, and scrapbooking things, but I fear it would be too emotional. So we were eventually moved to a new place across the hall (not pleasantly, mind you) and then our neighbor's place flooded as well. So I'm trying to be positive and not wait for the other shoe to drop. So I'm not even going to mention that fact my bathroom stinks like Snuggle when my upstairs neighbors wash or the fact my new garbage disposal doesn't work or the lack of a drying cycle on my dishwasher. Not even going to bring it up.

On to more positive things that don't leave me weeping silently (or not so silently) in a corner. I went to a Portuguese Mass in downtown Praia today. There is a man from another island in the Azores that took us on a nice tour last month and today he offered to take us to Mass. I went with another woman and her two kids. One thing I've noticed about the churches here is that they seem enormous and then you go inside and realize much of the space is devoted to the altar and side altars. As big as this chapel was, there were only a handful of pews for sitting. It had two altars side-by-side and only one side was lit with candles. There were statues off to the sides, and when I got up close to the altar I saw a life-sized statue of Mary with Jesus carrying the cross. When I say life-sized I mean Mary standing was taller than me. The church was from the 1500's and had old paintings which had a strong aroma and not in the good way. I also noticed the statues of Jesus on the cross were more gory as the wounds were open and bloody opposed to how we normally see it depicted in the States. I witnesses two women go over to the cross and one woman kissed his feet and another kissed her hand and touched Jesus' hand. It reminded me of my wedding when I took flowers over to the Blessed Mother.

I had been wanting to go to a Portuguese service for a long time and had been told I'd get nothing out of it since I wouldn't understand anything. I have to admit the sermon was long (it went on forever and he had 4, yes 4 typed pages of things to say...single spaced) and I didn't understand it, but I was able to follow everything else since it was the same. And they even say a few words the same. It was also interesting to see the sacristy and read about the statues. St. Rita is very big here. I've found the churches here, even in poorer communities, tend to be quite ornate. Another local church is literally half altar, which is very different from American churches that tend to focus on seating rather than grandeur.

I'm really glad I went out and experience some of the local culture. Sure it meant kneeling on wooden planks (I miss cushioned kneelers), a 4-page sermon and the lack of A/C, but I also got to witness a lot of interesting things I would not have seen in the States. I hope we get to go on another “field trip” soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The 80's --a subtle time for fashion

There have been so many reunion tours lately that I can't help reminiscing on those days and wondering if Debarge will go on tour...and whether or not that would make the Horsemen of the Apocalypse show up.

After the Spice Girls tour did so well I figured the NKOTB would tour again and now they're even doing a single with New Edition. NE was a little before I got into music and I didn't discover them until Bobby Brown went solo and then Johnny Gill came along and they kept talking aobut their old group. I loved Johnny's voice, so I became a NE fan by default. I even went to a New Edition reunion concert...along with a NKOTB one (before they felt too stupid to be called "kids"), a George Michael one, Color Me Badd (in my defense they were performing with Paula Abdul...does this make it better or worse?) and I even saw Tiffany in concert. Jealous? Thought so.

However what I wore to the concerts was a crime against humanity. I distinctly remember an outfit consisting of a short white ruffled skirt with suspenders over a NKOTB t-shirt and a black Samantha Fox/Debbie Gibson hat. (everyone called it a Debbie Gibson hat, but I thought I was more mature and sexy than that, so I used Samantha as my style role model. Really all pre-teens should look up to women who gained fame as topless models). Naturally I wore this with pairs of socks (red and blue with one folded over the other to pick up the colors in the shirt) with those loafers you didn’t tie just wrapped up the laces. And no one laughed at me…probably because they were too busy bent over pegging their pants to notice my outfit.

I also had several pairs of colored jeans. My favorites were a pair of white jeans with flowers all over them that I either wore with a matching short sleeved jacket or s pink jean jackets. Add my slouchy Guess book bag (the one that looked like I washed it with a piece of hot pink chalk) and I thought I was hot. Hotter than hot. Hawt. Sadly I miss those pants. And my lavender jean tote bag. And my electric blue jeans. Frankly, if missing those things is wrong then I don't want to be right.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh Boy

Well, they're not going to let Boy George into the country to tour. Sigh. A great lost for all of Americans. I'd wear a black arm band to protest, but I'm much too lazy to go find a piece of black material...cut it into arm band...I'm getting tired just thinking about it. Instead I will sit in the dark and listen to "Karma Chameleon" and "Bow Down Mister" until the neighbors complain. My only hope is that he'll be able to tour in the States in two years and then I'll be in the front row of the concert. Until then I'll just have to admire his talent for applying eyeliner (seriously, nobody does it better) and enjoy his music on my own.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Now?

When do I leave the country? Except for a brief trip to Canada here and there, practically never. So why then are George Michael, New Kids on the Block (they only call themselves NKOTB because they feel stupid being called "kids" at 40-something) and now Boy George touring the U.S.? Answer: to be cruel. I would love to go to see all the acts on tour, but no, stick me on an island far away from society so I can't. I'd like to think that since all of George Michael's arrests came immediately after I got engaged and then married, that he was struggling to deal with the pain. That being said I do own some lovely real estate known as the Brooklyn Bridge. In my sick mind I can rationalize that it was too painful for NKOTB (especially Jon, he was my favorite) and George to tour with me out of the country because it would be too painful to see me now.

But really I'm owed a NKOTB concert. I did go to one as a kid, but at the height of their popularity my cousin, who as a former drummer for a band, (no need to mention which one--think 80s), had backstage connections and said he could get me backstage to meet the NKOTB. So I go to school and tell all my friends because my cousin's mom is telling me, "No problem." And of course, instead of being happy for me, the girls all get an attitude with me. So as the date of the concert nears (it was in January) and I'm drooling in anticipation, his mom calls to say he has just been promoted at work and that's his first night taking over the new job and it wouldn't look right...blah, blah, my heart broke, blah, blah."

So naturally half the people I told felt bad and the other half thought I made it up. Fast forward a few years to a funeral in 2005. I hadn't seen said cousin for a while since he had moved across the country. Meanwhile, every time the band was mentioned in the last decade, I bring up the heartbreak of that story. So, at the funeral he asks my mother, "I wonder if she remembers I was supposed to take her to a new Kids concert and had to cancel?"

My mom held her tongue and said, "You know, I think she might," which was the politically correct version of, "She only sullies your good name anytime you or the band is mentioned. And you're lucky she's showing restraint right now or else you'd find your brakes cut."

However, seeing as it was a relative closer to him than me, I didn't claw his eyes out because I am classy and reserved that way. Oh, but the pain will never die.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Has a Parade at 10:30 at night?

When we first got here we were told to explore the island and, "don't worry, you can't get lost on an island." Lies. You can get lost on an island especially when they have detours that take you down teensy tiny streets with no street signs and no indication if it's one way and, if it is, which way you're supposed to go. We've had a few issues trying to navigate around those narrow streets, but thought we were getting to know our way around. Then came Sunday.

One thing about this place is there's always a Portuguese holiday and there's always a festival. So on our way home from exploring some volcano rock (I used to go to museums, now I look at steaming rocks, what's wrong with this picture? And does my insurance cover volcanic eruptions?), we found the road we needed to take blocked by a festival. It was ten p.m., and this place doesn't believe in adequate street lights, so we took a tiny, narrow road, ran into traffic confusion (if it's a one-way street, how about marking that and letting you know which way it goes?) and, a half hour later finally found a main road to help us get back home. We thought we were home free...until we came upon a parade blocking the next street. Who holds a parade at 10:30 on a Sunday night? Back to the tiny side roads and gritting my teeth as we nearly sideswiped walls.

Since there are hardly ever street signs, it took us forever to get back and, without decent street lamps, we couldn't even see the part of the island where we were. When we did get back I started thinking that this was my kind of culture. Festivals all the time, parades that only start after dark, stay up late and sleep in...I might just fit in here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I'm Moving Where?

When I first found out I'd be moving to the Azores my response was, "Where is that?" I'm not a geography master, but I had never heard of it. I even misspelled it when I tried to "Google" it. Then, when I finally found it, it appeared it was right off the coast of Portugal. I imagined myself taking a little ferry over to mainland Portugal twice a week where I could shop and wander around the downtown wearing fabulous European clothes and heels. Then I was at a furniture store and looked at a globe. Apparently much like mapmakers like to stick Alaska and Hawaii at the bottom of the page as if they're south of California and within yachting distance of each other, the map I saw was off...900 miles off. There is no way to take a ferry from the Azores to Portugal unless you have a death wish. So I found out the cruel reality that I was going to live in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

As for me wandering around downtowns in cute outfits and shoes? The downtowns on the island have hills and cobblestone. I, who once only owned one pair of sneakers (a pair of Sketchers I only bought because they were cute), now live in a pair of sneakers. I watch in amazement as the Portuguese women navigate the cobblestone streets in stilettos. It had become a sick goal of mine to walk the streets once in heels without breaking an ankle. The initial goal was to do it without breaking or spraining an ankle, but I'm a realist.

So I hope you'll check in to see how I'm handling island life.