Monday, June 27, 2005

Journey part 6: Seattle!

Originally, our plan was to drive all the way into Alaska, up the Alcan (Alaska-Canada) Highway. We were going to talk to people along the way, find our way to some fishing town and get jobs on either a fishing boat or in a cannery. Sharon’s plan was to set up house for us, get a job as a topless dancer and basically be Mom. Her favorite cousin (her mom’s bad girl younger sister, the black sheep) had worked as a topless dancer in the 70’s and Sharon had romanticized the idea, picturing herself making tons of money off boobie-starved fishermen in some nice, clean bar in a fishing town. Sharon had the boobies to do it too. She had visions of making dinner for us all, having it ready on the table when we came home at the end of a hard day in the factory, all slimy and fishy.

We met up with some guys in Montana, outside of Yellowstone who had actually worked in Alaska. They told us driving up into Alaska was a big waste of time – what we needed to do was find our jobs in Seattle and the fishery would get us to where the work was. Plan thus revised, we drove on, by now so road-weary and zoned that a reduction in the amount of time we all had to spend living out of my car was quite welcome.

We got into Oregon and drove to Eugene, where Amanda was from. We spent a day there, which is hazy in my recollection (I’ll leave you to figure out why) and spent the night at Amanda’s house. Eugene’s snapshot is a comfortable, unpretentious, land of VW bugs (the old ones), patchouli and friendly people. Not any place I could live (I’m far too jaded and unfriendly for that) but a nice place to visit.

We spent the night with Amanda and her mom, said our goodbyes and headed North again, towards Seattle. On arrival in Seattle, we immediately found a place to set up camp and began scouring telephone books for information on fisheries. We quickly located the section of town where most of the fisheries had their offices and planned to begin making application the next day.

Back at the campsite we set about making sandwiches and s’mores. A few campsites up from us there were a couple of German guys who had written on the back of their car “HONK WHEN YOUR HORNY” so of course we made quite a show of honking our horn every time they passed by. We found a few boys to party with, who were preparing to leave for their fishery jobs the next day. They spent a few hours with us, filled us in on the job requirements and left us with a massive bottle of Goldenseal. We all took a handful and went to bed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Journey part 5: Idahoda

Late in the evening in Idaho, we decided it was time to stop and followed signs from the highway to a campground, somehow ending up on a residential street driving through somebody’s backyard with the sprinklers on. We knew we weren’t in the right place and wondered exactly what did Idaho have against good signs and street lights. They could learn a thing or two from South Dakota. We found our way to a gas station, asked for directions to the nearest campsite and, following those directions we ended up in what looked like a town square. Large, neatly trimmed patch of grass in the middle of town with a fountain in the middle. Um, I hardly think we’re going to pitch a tent there. So we found a cheapo motel and sent Sharon in to make arrangements (she had the credit card). As it was more expensive for more than two people, we told the suspicious woman and four cats behind the desk that there were only two of us. After asking about 7 times if there were really only TWO PEOPLE, she gave Sharon the key and we pulled around to the hotel room. Polina and Amanda covered themselves in sleeping bags in the back seat as Sharon and I unloaded our bags and brought them into the room. The plan was that we’d wait until suspicious woman and cats had gone back to bed and then give the all-clear.

Sharon and I set about getting ready for bed. We changed our clothes and got cleaned up and noticed somebody out by our car! It was a poorly lit parking area so all we could see was a dark figure (Sharon said it definitely wasn’t the suspicious woman) with a flashlight, looking in the windows of the car. We held our breath, hoping Polina and Amanda were doing the same. Shadowy Figure finally tired of looking at what we hoped was a large pile of sleeping bags and walked out of our line of sight. We waited a bit more and then went out to the car to retrieve two very large walking sleeping bags. We were all a bit freaked out but completely exhausted and slept well.

In the morning, we got up earlier than usual so Polina and Amanda could shower and exit the room through a bathroom window while we loaded up the car. We picked them up a couple of blocks away. At the Town Square.

As we passed the sign saying “Welcome to Oregon,” Sharon, video rolling, yelled “GoodBYEEEE Idahoda!”

Amanda spit diet coke through her nose, I fell over laughing, Sharon said “What?!” and Polina kept driving.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Journey part 4: Yellowstone

I have been wracking my brain for a day‘s worth of memories of Yellowstone. I mean, we planned our trip so we would have a day there. I remember arriving. I remember driving through the post-huge-Yellowstone-fire devastation. I remember seeing deer and buffalo and prairie dogs and Old Faithful.

I remember that I wanted, more than anything, to tip a buffalo (Yeah, yeah, I know - American Bison. So sue me, I called them buffalo back then). I knew of cow tipping and somehow I thought it would be fun to tip a buffalo. The buffalo were in the process of losing their winter coats then, so they looked pretty mangy and I could smell them from 100 yards away. Probably wouldn’t have actually tipped one, since it would have taken all four of us and I think I’m the only one who cared to tip. Then I discovered that tipping cows can result in broken pelvic bones and injure the animal. I thought we’d just knock one over and run away…jump over the fence or something so it couldn’t get us. But I didn’t want to hurt it.

So I ended up buying a little plastic buffalo to keep inside the car (now that Chip was our hood ornament we needed a new dashboard friend). I named him “Tippy” and tipped him frequently.

I remember Horehound stick candy.

Perplexed over lack of sunshiny Yellowstone memories, I called on Polina. Follows is our abridged IM conversation:

Me: I'm up to Yellowstone but I don't remember much except that I didn't get to tip a buffalo but bought a little plastic one. We saw old faithful and the result of the big fire and fed prairie dogs. Doesn't make for very interesting reading, but how can you gloss over Yellowstone?

Polina: You can borrow my bad memory excuse but we were in Yellowstone for like 3 hrs! We zipped right through. The fire and charred trees…

Me: Really? God, I thought we planned the whole thing around Yellowstone

Polina: You don't remember how listless we were by then? We drove in, then went to that visitor center with the geyser and it was all packed with people and then we just drove a bit more, stopped like twice, and then headed the hell out it was this sense of like - we're supposed to be doing something here, but what?!?

Me: Crazy. That's pretty much what I remember, but I thought - there's no way we went through yellowstone between lunch & dinner.

Polina: we weren't that into it.

My final Yellowstone memory is that we stopped for dinner as soon as we got out of the park in Montana and Sharon ordered a Buffalo Burger.

Friday, June 17, 2005


I will continue with the Journey in the next couple of days, but here's what I want to know today:

Jackalope Posted by Hello

What's the deal with Jackalopes? Why is it funny? Why do people buy stuffed jackalopes and jackalope postcards? I just don't get it...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Journey, part 3: South Dakota tastes like Horehound

The cute guy at the AAA office in NJ had told us “You’re going to stop at Wall Drug, right? You have to stop at Wall Drug!” We didn’t know what Wall Drug was, but since the guy was cute he wouldn’t steer us wrong; and anyway the place had Drug in the name.

Posted by Hello

Two seconds into South Dakota we started seeing the billboards for Wall Drug. Sharon tried to catch them all on her video camera, but there were too many. In my mind the landscape of South Dakota is all Billboards. So we exited the highway, lured by the promise of “Free Ice Water” with an 80-foot high dinosaur pointing the way.

We pulled into the Wall Drug complex – a western-themed chunk of Americana in the middle of nowhere. Every type of kitchy roadside tourist trap junk was sold here: “rattlesnake eggs” (jelly beans in a burlap bag); scorpions, snakes and spikers frozen forever in lucite; “invisible dog on a leash;” bobbleheads and jackalopes. We took turns having our picture taken groping a life-sized painted wooden Old West Hooker, ate ice cream cones, and bought a sticker for each state we had passed through. I bought a large supply of stick candy in my favorite stick candy flavor – Horehound. We all bought postcards and took our free Wall Drug bumper sticker. We drank our Free Ice Water and got back in the car.

We stopped at Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial We took pictures of each other and couples who stumbled out of their RVs in their Bermuda shorts and “I’d rather be fishin’” caps. It was a hot, dry day and we pondered what exactly people from Missouri really wanted us to show them.

That evening at our campsite (chosen for the well-advertised All You Can Eat pancake breakfast we would have the next morning) we applied the state stickers along the top of the trunk of my car – a visual of our journey thus far. We wrote “Alaska or Bust” in permanent Magic Marker underneath that and on the rear panel of the trunk, above the rear bumper, we wrote in huge letters “WANDERLUST.” We christened her Lustmobile. Finally, we decided that our mascot (a naked rainbow fuzzy-haired troll named “Chip” for his stripper-like butt) really needed some air. Almost as much as we needed a hood ornament. We crazy-glued Chip to the hood of the car, thinking it was probably a good thing we got through the Land of a Thousand Lakes first.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Journey to Alaska, part 2: DE to SD

We left from Newark, DE, driving to Cleveland, OH on our first day. I had a cousin in Cleveland, then in her early thirties, who was willing to let us crash at her place. Never mind that this is my most annoying cousin, we were Road Trippin’. We arrived in the evening and wandered around Cleveland a bit. Nice bookstores and cute little indie shops. Annoying Cousin put us all on the floor in her living room in our sleeping bags and went off to bed, farting all the way. The next morning, we all went out to a little coffee house for breakfast before leaving. Annoying Cousin wanted to make sure we had everything we needed (oh, we did – and then some!) and insisted that we take a can opener from her. We already had three can openers but she really seemed to want us to take something, so we took the stupid thing.

We left Cleveland and the next several days were snapshots of places most of us had never been. Our only real plan was to arrive at Yellowstone with most of a day ahead of us, so we’d just drive until we decided to stop and then look for campgrounds. We had picked up maps, camping and accommodations books and a triptik at AAA before we left so we had some resources, but still some of these campgrounds weren’t easy to find. We learned how to put up our tent in the dark and that s’mores truly are a necessity.

Indiana was uneventful. We managed to drive through the center of Chicago at night, admiring the lights and the city and wondering why the streets were thronged with people - it felt like Mardi Gras. (Later we discovered that the Bulls had just won a championship game.) We took the requisite trip on LSD (Lake Shore Drive) and moved on.

Posted by Hello

We spent a delightful afternoon in Madison, WI, sitting on the green writing postcards. Beautiful sunny day in Madison – our collective snapshot memory of Madison is postcards, cheddahead hats – in fact, cheese everywhere - and a city seemingly populated with big, healthy, corn-fed people. Riding bikes, walking, hiking – a living advertisement for Clean Living. A bit too clean for us, in fact, and we moved on. Minnesota was remarkable only in that the "Land of a Thousand Lakes" means the land of a gazillion bugs. We had to stop frequently to clean the windshield (it's extra gross when you actually hear the splat) and when we stopped to eat we realized that the license plate was completely black with dead bugs. On to South Dakota: the Land of Billboards.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Journey to Alaska, part 1

We walked through the door and stepped out onto the factory floor. Our new brown rubber boots and green raingear were fresh from their packages, having been opened not an hour earlier. We had our hair tied up and baseball hats on, and we felt a mixture of fear, adrenaline and anticipation. Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” started up, blasting through the loudspeakers as the Foreman gave us the tour around the factory floor. The irony of it didn’t escape us. The smell of blood was overpowering and as we stood watching, somebody opened up the doors to a huge freezer which sent a layer of mist out over the factory floor. The scene was surreal and we looked at each other, wondering just what hell we had gotten ourselves into.

We were four women in our early twenties, fresh from University, on an adventure designed to delay the start of “real life.” We had spent a psychedelic mushroom-induced day in a field outside of Boston with a good supply of water and magic markers for tattooing ourselves. It was Senior Week and nobody knew quite what to do next. We had seen the ads in the back of magazines for working on fishing boats in Alaska and decided this was just the diversion we were looking for.

Lancaster Cow Posted by Hello
So we piled into a 1980 Chevy Malibu - four women, two hundred bags and a guitar – and headed west. We would camp along the way and figure out the rest as it came up. We sang “America” by Simon and Garfunkel, counting the cows on the Lancaster Turnpike, made truckers pull their air horns, read smutty magazines, ate in greasy spoons along the way and it took all four of us to close the overstuffed trunk of the car. Sharon had been given a video camera for graduation and we quickly got used to being recorded.

We were on our way.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Crow Birdie

American crow Posted by Hello

When my first daughter was about 18 months old, she encountered her first crow. It was sitting on the driveway of a friend's house. We got out of the car; she was fascinated by this huge black bird. It gave a mighty squawk and moved a few feet away. She walked toward it again, eventually scaring it away. But she was smitten.

At this age, she had a special laugh reserved only for animals. It was a laugh of pure delight, from the belly and full of joy and wonder. For the rest of the day she'd say "Crow Birdie! Squaawwwwkkk!" and laugh her special laugh.

On the way home, that day, she made crow noises in the car. When I asked her what the noise was, she said "Crow Birdie! He's in the car with us. Sitting right next to me."

I thought my daughter had found her totem. How interesting that a mommy with a Bluejay totem would have a daughter with a crow totem.

The funniest thing is that truly, although I admire many things about birds, I'm really not a bird person. I don't go bird watching, I hate seeing birds in cages, don't like to park under trees full of birds (for obvious reasons) and have no desire to get very close to them. As I was growing up, my favorite animals were all mammals, and if asked, I'd say my favorite animal was a lion. In high school, I discovered the e. e. cummings poem above and identified with it completely. After many years (and a bluejay tattoo) it became clear to me that the bluejay was my totem animal.

So now my 18-month old daughter had a crow totem. This went on for about 9 months, the crow birdie our constant companion. Crow birdie was in the car, crow birdie was tucked in to bed, crow birdie everywhere. She even had a special crow birdie dance.

Then we rented the movie "Walking with Dinosaurs" and she discovered pterodactyls. Bye bye crow birdie. No more imaginary friend; my daughter decided she *was* a pterodactyl. Interestingly, the pterodactyl screech and dance were very similar to crow birdie's.

When she was 4, she informed me that for Halloween, she was going to be a rhamphorynchus. I said, "A what?!" A rhamphorynchus, she informed me, was part of the pteranodon family but differed in that it had a longer tail for steering as it flew over the water, and curved teeth for scooping fish out. OK, one rhamphorynchus costume coming up.

She is now seven years old and no longer believes herself to be a pterodactyl but maintains her intense interest in dinosaurs and even corrected a guide at the Museum of Natural History on the differences between two similar dinosaurs. I still have a special place in my heart for crows, and I'm quite sure she does too.

The other day my 4 year old daughter, named for my love of lions, walked into my room with an empty bowl which she announced had antelope and ostrich meat "to feed my lion."

Long as lion doesn't eat any crows or bluejays, I told her, it's all good.

Friday, June 10, 2005

On a happier note

Thankfully, it's friday. And this was the first thing that made me laugh out loud today. And even though I have PMS and feel fat, tired, grumpy and headachey, the weekend is coming up and...

I have hairs like that. Lots of them.

hee hee

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Get the rape kit.

I know this is a truly unpopular subject, but I feel it's oh, so necessary to discuss it.

Fact is, if you live in this world and you know women, you know at least one woman who has been raped.

Statistics are unreliable, because so many of these go unreported, especially Date Rape. Oh, how we've been trained to guilt ourselves into believing rape is our fault. Short skirt? She was asking for it. Too much makeup? Drinking alcohol? Flirting? As far as I'm concerned, no still means no. Not one, or even all, of the above behaviors, gives a man free rein to force a woman to have sex against her will. Nobody ever asks for that. And yet, put a woman on the witness stand dressed as she was that night at the bar and who will find a man guilty? No, we must dress her in a suit, little or no makeup, hair very plain... Oh, listen I could go on and on. This is a societal issue and there are times when I believe the media would have us all dressed in burqas so as to protect ourselves from men who can't control themselves.

At any rate, the focus of my post today is on the rape kit. There's a story in NJ news right now about a man who previously had been convicted of sexual assault, served his time and is now living as an "upstanding citizen," working in a hospital and saving lives. Except DNA evidence has linked him to two, and possibly as many as 10, rapes in the last 7 years. How is this possible? The rape kit.

The rape kit is highly controversial, as it's a cold, humiliating and emotionally devastating procedure. It's medical rape, all over again, while reliving experiences one would sooner forget. It's exposing yourself to more strangers, being probed, answering questions about the incident and lifestyle in general. It's a photo shoot. The other half of the controversy, of course, is that lack of funding is letting many of these kits sit untested, with vital DNA clues sitting around in bags.

Still, I say: I hope with all my heart and soul that neither you nor anybody you know ever has to go through this, but if you do, please...Get The Rape Kit.

DNA evidence lasts for a really really long time. Refusing the kit more often than not allows the rapist to walk away and usually, do it again.

All this is swirling through my head every single time I hear about this story on the news. I really feel it needed to be said.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

crazyjayblue Posted by Hello

Blogging 101

So. A few months ago I had no clue what a blog is. I don't know HTML, and this promises to be a massive learning experience for me. Through my experience with a certain message board dedicated mainly to fragrances, I have learned more about the cyber world than ever before. Truly, this was the first message board I have ever belonged to!

And I have met an amazing group of people, mostly women. I have learned about perfume, relationships, women, life...gained knowledge on a whole variety of topics and forged several relationships that I hope will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Many of these women have their own blogs and it was reading these various insights and stories that inspired me to create a blog of my own.

So, dear reader, please bear with me as I fumble my way through this entirely new (to me) world of blogs where I will share my thoughts on pretty much whatever happens to be on my mind as I sit down to type.