Friday, July 9, 2010

The Matron vs Commerce + He Who Cannot Be Named

Yes, the Matron had several complete psychological breakdowns during the two and a half week epic family road trip, totaling 27,400 miles (not that she's counting) and seven states. Most of these schisms were directly related to the volume in the back of the van, where children were arguing--not a lot, really, but just enough to make her want to rip someone's scalp from the bone.

She was calm that way.

But the one organic, completely internal psychosis involved chain stores. At every stop -- and there were many -- sat a McDonald's, Subway, Wal-Mart, Target, Radio Shack, Super America, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's and more.

Merrick: "Can we have Buwgew King?"


He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN): "Hey!! Hey! One more McDonald's. I can't believe we've been on the road for five days and I haven't eaten at McDonald's. Man."

Matron: "HWCBN, I would consider that statistic a source of pride rather than a bone of contention."

Merrick: "Does 'c-tention' mean we get to eat at McDonald's?"

And so on. The Matron put her pretty little foot down on commerce: no franchises, no chains, no big business. If they had to put food in their bellies? A mom and pop place, even if it meant waiting more than four minutes and eating lard (that happened). In NYC? NO chain stores. Only the hole-in-the-wall delis and local restaurants.

However, halfway into the trip, she relented and allowed the family into the Gap on Times Square. After half an hour of bad music while staring at sterile jeans and white walls, she fell to her knees in rage and cemented her resolve: no big commerce.

And there was none.

HWCBN, yesterday: "Mom? I haven't been to a Target in about three weeks. This is very disorienting. I feel a little queasy."

Matron: "Hearing that observation from you? Me too. The queasy thing."

HWCBN: "You should get off the grid if you feel so strongly, Mom. Seriously. We could grow our own food and generate electricity by solar power. I'd help. It wouldn't be too hard. We could have solar panels, compost all our garbage, raise chickens--maybe a goat or two -- and burn wood. I could learn to sew. It would be completely do-able if we're committed."

Tick-tick, tick, as the Matron considers how much she likes her hair dyer, movies, espresso, shopping, bookstores, air-conditioning, heat and minimal attention to how these things are made possible. She thinks about how she doesn't know where a sewing needle is at the moment and how happy that state makes her. Chickens? Aren't those white lumps in bags at the grocery store? Don't the other, live kind make noise and - poop?

Matron: "Actually, Target's not that bad. We can totally go to one."

HWCBN: "Your predictability makes my life so much easier. Thanks for that."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ruby Slippers

Home at last!

She tapped three times and 27,400 miles and all dreams came true. After a two week epic family road trip to the East Coast and many sites beyond, all three children are sound asleep, spent, in their beds.

More creative stuff tomorrow.



Thanks for being here for the journey and beyond. . .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Notes from the Road

The Matron has discovered the most unpleasant tourist attraction in the United States –and there’s a lot of competition for that title.

The armpit of consumer culture?

Niagara Falls.

First, let her acknowledge that her expectations and reality were pretty much separate planets. She was thinking state park, roaring blue falls, white caps, crystal skies and the sound of water and sea gulls. Sorta sanctuary-like.

Instead, her family stumbled into an enormous plastic city built around the falls—a city defined by junky trinkets, trashy clothes, fast food, candy, and outrageously expensive services. Truly, she had no idea so imagine her shock when instead of chirping birds and an oasis, she drove into something resembling Las Vegas; yes, there are casinos and hotels along the falls (and a haunted house, how logical).

Perhaps the road-weary Matron took the capitalist blow to the belly a little harder because of extenuating circumstances:

· Air temperature? Nearing 100 cloudless degrees

· Holiday? Check that, too. Monday was the official national day of rest following the fourth and people were spending it, well, like she was – at Niagara Falls.

· Road-weary and in search of respite? They’re back on the road, heading from New Jersey to Minnesota.

· Three days in the minivan with the three children? No comment necessary

After a gruesome two hours, the family crawled back to the minivan and escaped. Yes, yes the falls themselves were astounding – beautiful, majestic, bright, and all that. And, He Who Cannot Be Named enjoyed the opportunity to hone his skills as a cultural critic, skills that are shaping up to be razor-sharp and insightful. Much like HWCBN himself. The Matron enjoyed watching that brain at work.

But the Niagara Falls pink princess sweat pants with “Fall For This” written on the butt or the mini-driver’s licenses or “I luv NY” plastic leopard print purses?

Not so much. . . .