Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Living Life Through Polarized Lenses**

I was wearing my sunglasses and standing on the train platform this morning. It was a hazy, hot August morning. The sun was doing a slow burn warm up, just beginning to melt away the clouds. It wasn't really bright out, just morning. Early morning. Most of the people were not wearing sunglasses. Because of this, I occasionally feel like a douche wearing them on the platform and on the train. But I have to be honest. I just don't like the glare. And sometimes I feel all mysterious and not so douchey.
However, today I was sort of feeling the later and was considering caving to the peer pressure of the Train Station Mean Girls and their sensible shoes.* But just as I reached up to remove my sunglasses I noticed that the clouds around the sun were an amazing deep blue color with brushstroke like wisps of white and grey. Sort of like one of those beautiful Painter of Light paintings without the religious connotations. And to the left of the sun was a half moon rainbow. It was faint but there. A tiny sliver of a perfect rainbow in a crescent moon shape. I lowered the lenses and peeked over the top and the rainbow was gone. I checked the lenses to be sure the optical illusion wasn't caused by the refraction of light through a glob of moisturizer. Assured that the lenses were clean,  I put them back on and there it was. 
Tiny, secret rainbow.
All at once, I felt happy.
I peeked over the frames again and the rainbow was absent. But with frames up...there it was. My own private joke on the people who were squinting into the Eastern sky, wishing the train would arrive so they could, finally, open their eyes all the way.
And it got me thinking about these sunglasses. You see, the lenses are polarized. According to the eye-wear professional at Lenscrafters, this will assist in visual acuity and offer my eyeballs all the protection they deserve. I like my eyeballs so it was an easy sale.
She failed to mention that the polarization will prevent me from seeing most LED type screens including but not limited to the Dollar Amount on the gas pump and the ATM screen at my bank. The first time this happened I thought perhaps I had gone blind, or at the very least, suffered a very specific stroke.
But no. It was just the polarized lenses.
So. I left my sunglasses on. Because, seriously, who really wants to see the dollar amount on the gas pump or the actual balance on the ATM.
And who doesn't want to see a rainbow?

*In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I was wearing flip flops. I do not work in flip flops, but on days when it is 80 at 0700 AM I wear them to and from work.

So this is me, in my sunglasses. Very Lolita, don't you think?
**And wouldn't this make the most awesome title for a song? cough cough *Jimmy Buffett* cough cough...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Love smells like Coppertone

My Love smells like Coppertone.

Sorry Sir Paul but it's true. I hear the song My Love – I smell Coppertone. I smell Coppertone I hear My Love. Its like a Mobius strip of swimming pool flashback. Coppertone, frozen Milky Way candy bars and the radio. For me, this is a sure fire way to put myself back into a Summer mood.

I recently read an article claiming that the Beach Boys song Surfin' USA was the number one Song of Summer. Oh sure, it's about surfing and the ocean and it's sung by cute tan boys with blonde, windblown hair. Whatever.

Here on the Coast of Illinois the only waves we have are those amber ones of grain. It is nearly impossible to surf on those. Sorry Beach Boys. You are just not relatable.

Smokin' in the Boys Room – that's a summer song I can get behind. And Layla. Those put me smack in the corner of the dining hall at Lake Calhoun. That's when the lake association held dances for the poor teens who were stuck there in campers with their parents. I loved the music. I hated the dances. This was prime 1970's. Girls wore mini skirts and heavy bangs with stick straight hair or flowing hippie skirts with stick straight hair.

I, however, embodied the Janis Ian model of gawk. Frizzy shag haircut, dorky denim overall-shorts. I would stand in the dark corner and imagine how awesome my life would be if I had been born with hair like that girl form camping spot B34. Her and her perfect bangs and headband. With all the cute guys hanging around.

She probably put out.

As a more mature adult, the Commodores became my summer trigger. These were the years when my husband, who was into rock climbing, and I would load up our hatchback and head north to Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. We would leave the Coast behind around 8pm, after work and school. Around midnight WLS would get in a Commodores mood. Stuck on You. Still. Three Times a Lady. I hear those songs and I am transported to a truck stop on the toll road outside Joliet.

Ah, memories.

These days, I lean more toward beach oriented music. Sheryl Crow's Soak Up the Sun was big the first time we took our kids to the Gulf of Mexico. I hear that song and I dig out my pukka bead choker and ankle bracelet. For a chick from here in Cornfield USA, she can sure evoke a nice beach mood. In fact, this song is the title of one of my favorite playlists.

Which is how I listen to music now. I rarely listen to traditional radio. Its satellite and Pandora around this house. And of course, the ipod.

And, according to the ipod – Banana Republic is my current Number One with a Bullet song.

It's an old Jimmy Buffet tune about chucking it all and living the ex-pat life in the islands.

Now that is something I can relate to.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Awesomest Thing I Have Seen In a While

I was recently lucky enough to get a free pass weekend from the family. They gave me use of the 'good' car and I took myself on a little road trip to see my best friend from high school. It was a four hour-ish drive. (If you factor in the occasionally zoom down the highway at 80MPH for which I practiced a variation of the Hagar defense – I am sorry officer. But I just can't drive 65.)* Plus, I was super excited to see my friend.

She is one of those people who just wrap you into their lives and even though I had not seen her in over a year, it was as though it were 1978 all over again. Of course, that doesn't mean I still wasn't nervous. I stressed for weeks that we wouldn't have anything in common. Except that we have nearly everything in common. We both have two kids who are all within two years of one another -graduating college, looking for first jobs, dating. We all own boats – her a fancy power boat, me a laid back sailboat. (which is a weird metaphor for our personalities. She zooms around at 300Hp, jumping waves and leaving a wake a mile wide. Me, I drift here and there with the wind. And we both have husbands. Which leads me to:

mostly because it is not in my house!

It has been suggested that we have an 'odd' collection of decorative items in our house...three foot wooden otter, papier-mâché shrunken head, zombie finger puppets... But nothing prepared me for:

mostly because it is not in my house!

This is why you never leave a husband unattended.

Yes, this is an aquarium diorama. Yes, it is in the stairwell of my High School best friend's basement. Yes, her husband put it there. (While she was out of the house.)** Several, but not all of the fish were caught by him and his buddies. The turtles and frog were mail order. Every time I walked past the stairwell I had to stop and study it. And I always saw something different. And this could only happen because her husband is so amazingly handy and had spare time after putting in their beautiful new floors and re-doing the kitchen.

But now that I think about it, I did not see any tiny Barbie scuba divers floating around in Jacques Cousteau mode.

Looks like that thank-you gift will be going in the mail today...

*No tickets were issued in the driving. And in my defense, I had no intention of going that fast, I blame it on McD's  lattes and those little licorice bites.

**Did I really need to clarify that she was out of the house when this was installed? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coast of Illinois: Wait for it...it's an Anniversary and a ...Hairnet...

Coast of Illinois: Wait for it...it's an Anniversary and a ...Hairnet...: It is mid-August. It has been a quiet summer. And I just realized that this blog has been up and running for an entire year! That's t...

Wait for it...it's an Anniversary and a ...Hairnet Update!!

It is mid-August. It has been a quiet summer. And I just realized that this blog has been up and running for an entire year! That's twelve full months of Hairnet updates and stories about the sometimes ridiculous, sometimes poignant happenings here on the Coast of Illinois. Thank you all for your support and tolerance. And thank you for your Hairnet photos.

That's right.

The Hairnets are back. And they are flocking. And using public transportation. Again.

Today, I walked down what is now going to be known as Hairnet Alley, that four block stretch of side street surrounded by parking lots and a rehab center. At the rehab sign I noted three Hairnets of varying sizes lurking and plotting to take down the next poor person on crutches just trying to cross the road at the designated crosswalk hoping to make it to their rehab appointment. In the next block I spotted another trio of Nets loitering by the side entrance to the Creepy Garage.

Security is becoming an issue. Recently a rare albino Net was spotted caught in the treacherous chain link at my train station. The Metro gaurds were ridiculously nonchalant. However, I expect a series poster for What to do in a Hairnet Emergency  to be showing up soon. After all, I called the emergency number given me by the clearly reliable woman on my train who was given a 'direct line' to Metro security after she conducted a feasibility study on riding the train while looking fabulous but without a ticket. And answering that hotline as "Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center"...nice cover. Kudos.

Fences. Keeping Hairnets captive since ...the invention of fences. and hairnets.
I have also received word from a diligent Spotter that the Nets are heeding the words of Horace Greeley and 'going West'. It seems a rather large rogue Net was spotted in Kansas City, where everything is up-to-date. The brave Spotter risked her very life (and the life of her mother) to snap a photo,. But the photo has suspiciously disappeared. I fear it is a conspiracy between ATT and The Hairclub for Men. Whatever you do – Do Not – I repeat – Do Not – attempt any hair restoration or removal until this threat has been thoroughly investigated. 

Should the need arise, a notice will be posted here advising the institution of the Foil Hat Protocol.

So stay tuned. Life on the Coast of Illinois continues with plans of sailing the fifteen foot sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico, taking the family to the land of the Kardashians for a wedding and seriously finishing that ^&#($* novel manuscript, it promises to be...hairy.

Stay Safe. Guard your Follicles. And Do Not attempt to upgrade your phone until the designated time.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Sound of Summer

Every homeowner fears it. Opening the windows on a beautiful summer day only to have your ears assaulted by Justin Beiber or Gangsta Rap or ~Insert your brand of offensive music here~. It happened to me today.

Unbelievable Sunday morning in August with temps in the low 70's. Completely unheard of here on the Coast of Illinois. But, there it was. I decided to take advantage and do a little pruning. I gathered up my plastic water cup, my serial killer pruning shears and my Pandora Radio tuned to Jimmy Buffet Island Rock. But our neighbors with the pool beat me to the outside. And they had beaten me to the musical punch.

However, here is where it gets real on the C of I. Rather than dealing with the muted tones of Selena Gomez or Brad Paisley I was welcomed with the comforting arms of Hocus Pocus...by Focus. (DISCLAIMER – I only recognized this song by the yodeling and truly thought it was Ozzie Osborne. I will blame that on the haze that was the 1970's) (DISCLAIMER, PART TWO- The only thing hazy about the 1970's for me was the smoke caused by my dad's Pall Mall butts when he would toss them out the car window and they would promptly fly back in and proceed to set the passenger seat on fire.)

That's right. My neighbors listen to Classic Rock and they are proud of it. I can tell when summer has officially started by the melodious arrival of Kshe95 Real Rock Radio drifting into my backyard. I know it is going to be a good day when I put the cat out on his leash to the whine of Joe Walsh's guitar or fire up the grill to the electric piano styling of Styx. I am taken back to lake club dances, Brownsville Station and bell bottoms with bells so large you could hide your entire foot inside.

Some days Motown wins out and we are treated to Marvin Gaye, the Temptations...its like Barry Gordy is in charge of the soundtrack of our lives. This from the neighbor in the front. While the classic rockers are fueled by chlorine and pool toys, the neighbor across the street gets the groove going with restored classic cars. That's right. When its Car Show season we all walk in choreographed steps to the mailbox, execute the three quarter turn/knee-to-floor/quarter turn and shuffle.

The music in always just loud enough to recognize the song and sing along but not so loud that you can only hear the bass. Should I choose to play my own music – no worries. Jimmy Buffet and my Island rock station is welcome too.

And this is why I love my neighborhood. It is a diverse mix of nothing fancy with a splash of awesome. So Rock On Neighbors! Play your Loverboy and your Gladys Knight. I'll groove to Scott Kirby and Peter Mayer.  Because isn't music really about bringing us together?

SweetMeat concurs! Let those neighbors play their Rock and Roll!

For purposes of transparency - I have to let it be known that here the Coast of Illinois, all music is welcome. Okay, most music is welcome. Certain types are tolerated. And lets face it, if you hit it big before you turned 16 (with the exception of Stevie Wonder and Stevie Winwood) or were on American Idol, I am most likely not going to listen to you. Unless you too are named 'Stevie'.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The World Inside My Head. And a shameless promotion!

If you happen to call your local library to ask if they have a summer reading program for adults DO NOT ask "Do you have an Adult Books reading club?"

If you are lucky the clueless librarian will  rephrase that question for you, responding "do you mean an adult reading program?"

If you are me, you get the creepy guy who volunteers at the library and responds "the terms of my court order say I am not suppose to discuss that anymore...but we meet once a week in my basement. This week's theme is role playing. Bring your favorite props and a snack to share."

I do not call the library very much anymore. We all prefer it that way.

Sorry. This did not really happen. Except in my head. 
I blame the TODAY show for their program on summer reading programs. And honestly, the librarians I grew up with should shoulder a little bit of the responsibility. I mean, come on. How cool did they make using that date stamper look? 

What are you reading this summer? 
So far I have started World War Z~Max Brooks~ having a little trouble getting through it. Not because of the book but more because of the weird dreams I have when I read or watch anything having to do with zombies.
I finished Let's Talk About Diabetes With Owls ~David Sedaris~ hilarious. But nothing to do with owls. Or Diabetes.
I also read Double Indeminity ~ James M. Cain ~ which was awesome. However my husband is a little concerned that I read it so quickly. 
And currently I am reading Tales from Margaritaville ~ Jimmy Buffet~ fun, quick and silly; and In Search of Nirvana ~ Daryl L. Bradshaw ~ an interesting mystery in the Dan Brown genre. (Plus he is the husband of a friend (Daryl, not Dan. and it is his first novel and again - what better way to use a blog than to promote a friend!)

And - if you are not reading anything, why not give the library a call...