Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Growing up in a small town during my teen years, it was up to us to find things to do. We had school all week and many had activities at the school in the evenings, and by Friday night we were all ready to have fun with our friends. For me, it was girls night out. Many had dates for Saturday nights, but Friday nights always were reserved for the girls to be with their girl friends and the guys were with their guy friends.

As always, we had "no particular place to go", so early in high school we would spend most of the evening in the parking lot of the local grocery store (we didn't have 24 hour stores then). Most of the night was spent sitting on the hood of the car checking out the guys on the other side of the lot and they would spend their time checking us out. Once in a while someone would drive by and remind someone of some juicy gossip, or a carload of guys from a different town would pass through leaving us with talk of which guy was the best looking and trying to guess where they were from.

As we ventured further into high school this just did not cut it any more, so we would pile in the car and drive to the bigger towns and "cruise the gut". Now there was somewhat of a ritual of the goings on before we began cruising. First of all was the car wash - the car HAD to be clean to even get guys to look your way. Secondly we would go to the drive-in hamburger joint and have something to eat so we could endure the hours of cruising. My specialty was usually shrimp in a basket. All of their meals came in a basket - a plastic basket made to look like a woven basket with paper laid in it with your food on top. Always a ton of french fries and of course a soft drink served in a real glass mug. You would have to roll up your window about 3 to 4 inches so they could attach a tray to the outside of your car with your food piled on it. After eating, you would start up your car and that would cue the waitress you were ready to leave and she would come to the car and lift up the tray and off you would go.

There was a 30 minute drive to Lansing from our tiny town, so we had time to smoke cigarettes and slug down some Boones Farm wine. The alcohol content was weak but it loosened us up enough to actually talk to others and insure we had a good time (at least that is what we believed to be true). We would discuss the probability of some of our favorites being there and hope we could actually stop and talk to them.

Upon arrival there would be 6 blocks of cars loaded with people our ages with no particular place to go. We would drive down the street - two lanes going in opposite directions - each going about 5 or 10 miles per hour and would hang out the windows and talk to the guys (and an occasional friendly girl) going in an opposite direction. The cars carried fares of guys with horrible pick-up lines, hunks you dreamed about that would just look knowing your heart was aching to talk to them, to others with whom you traded insults. The cruising would last from about 9:30 until midnight and then the "gut" would become empty again until next Friday.

The ride home was always a noisy one with everyone talking about the people we had seen. We went there to meet guys but what we really gained was some great friendships with other girls and of course, a strong feeling of independence. Together we went, together we left, and stayed together the entire time. Pretty cheap evening as our meals would cost less than $2.00 and gasoline was 35 cents per gallon at the time. The Boones Farm was $1 a bottle plus whatever we paid the person who bought it for us and cigarettes were about 50 cents a pack. Today I have some great memories of those days and when I run into some of my old cronies we talk about "cruising the gut" and struggle to remember the names of the guys we felt we couldn't live without.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


When I first looked at this challenge I just drew a blank. I felt I had nothing to contribute to this one. . . then I kept it in the back of my mind for a couple days. I have many "Lost My Mind" moments, I will share a few with you.

After waiting outside the K-Mart doors at 6:00 am on Black Friday, surrounded by a crowd of determined shoppers, the moment came and they unlocked the doors. We all pushed through the doors to sprint to the item we had sacrificed precious sleep to obtain. Running to the electronics department to get that $110 VHS player for $30, my heart beat rapidly hoping I would be fortunate enough to be one of the lucky recipients. As I approached electronics there they were, in the aisle, a neat square of numerous VHS players ripe for the picking. My heart soared as I grabbed one and clutched it to my chest, victorious in my quest. I looked through the store for more bargains but found nothing that enticed me so I made my way to the checkout. Standing in line with the person behind me pushing her cart into my ankles I thought, "have I lost my mind"? Christmas morning I got my answer when I watched my daughter's face as she opened the gift she had wanted most.

I was the manager of a fabric and crafts store for 10 years when the news came - they were closing my store. It was a large national chain who felt the small, hometown stores no longer were of any value to them any more. My heart broke when the day came to lock the doors one last time. I enjoyed unemployment for about 2 months when it became evident I needed to find a new job. The job market at that time was in the toilet but I managed to secure a position as a barista at a new coffee shop in our town. It was only part time but at least I would be out with people again and feeling useful. We had to go through 2 weeks of training before the store opened, and there I sat with my training manual in front of me anxious to learn how to make all of those coveted beverages. I took a moment and looked around the room at my co-workers, every one either in high school or college, and at the age of 57 I thought, "have I lost my mind"? Regardless, I stuck with it and made it to the actual store opening and beyond. The fun I had with these young people and their surprise at how I had kept up with the times and actually knew what an RPG game was were some of the best work days I had ever experienced.

My youngest daughter and I have always had a difficult time dealing with each other. In retrospect I have come to realize a lot of our trouble came from our being so much alike. She became pregnant and I was excited to become a new grandma. She wasn't married and when the time came for the baby's arrival we stood at her bed with her current boyfriend holding her hand and the baby's father stood at the foot. Suddenly, as is typical with babies, things became complicated and she had to have a C-section. We all left the room as the nurse discussed the matter with my daughter. Upon leaving the room the nurse called me to talk. Deeanna had asked that I be the one to go into the delivery room with her. Me - the one who has a history of fainting in the hospital every time a loved one went through surgery. I would make it in the waiting room just fine, but when I would go to their rooms after they came out of recovery I would pass out cold and spend the next 4 hours in their emergency room. But she was my daughter, I had to do this. As I was scrubbing and the nurse helped me with my robe and booties I thought "have I lost my mind"? I entered the operating room and grabbed a stool and began stroking her forehead as she got sick over and over during the surgery. Suddenly I looked up and there she was, my precious granddaughter, in the hands of the surgeon handing her over to the nurse to clean and measure and weigh. I was instantly and hopelessly in love with that precious bundle of joy. After calming my daughter as they closed her up and I got a chance to hold my granddaughter, I reluctantly left the operating room so dad could hold his little girl. I had made it! No trips to the ER for me this time!

Yes, there have been many more of those "Lost My Mind" moments in my life, and it has become evident to me that I was never more blessed than in those moments I had questioned if I had lost my mind.