Vacation…

…in the Allgäu.  (That’s pronounced “al-goi” and not “al-gore”.)

I don’t really deserve it, since I’ve worked so little this year.  But my wife and son deserve it, and I get to go along for the ride.  I’ll blog a bit when I get back.

jj

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Vending Machines…

…make me nastalgic.  After writing my last post, I went to  game room antiques  and looked for the kind of vending machines my mother bought her “pop” out of.  Here’s an example:

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Now doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy all over?

Sometimes I love the internet.

jj

Peanuts in a Bottle

I’ve been listening (once again) to a Tim McGraw song over and over again. That’s how I listen to music. That’s how I play music. It annoys my wife when I play the same song for four days, but I always say, “I’m practicing”. When I’m listening to music, however, rather than playing it, there is no excuse to make. But I think this is totally normal. (I remember when I first moved to Germany, my upstairs neighbor would listen to some Celine Dion song for an hour straight, over and over again. Pure torture for me, but apparently heaven for her.)

The song—which I’m listening to now—is called “Back When.” Good, honky-tonk style country with sentimental lyrics.

Stop.

Let’s back up a bit.

Next week my parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. My sisters and myself were requested (read: put under pressure) to write speeches for the celebration which my parents’ church is organizing, and the three of us agonized over the project. All of us wrote nice things, of course. But we also became somewhat contemplative about our childhood. 50 years of marriage, by necessity, includes a hell of a lot of dissonance as well as harmony.

I think what my parents would have liked would have been for us to write our fondest memories of family life, in order to confirm their role as loving parents. I included no memories, though one of my sisters did. I just said nice things.

And would they understand my fondest memories, anyway? What memories I am fond of are not always the nice moments. I absolutely cherish, for example the memory of my mother—who had just cause, for I had just given her some inexcusably nasty adolescent lip—whacking me upside the head with the rag she had been using to dust some furniture. I still fondly remember it as the “Pledge Rag Incident”. It was lemon scented, by the way. She denies all memory of the incident, yet I smile every time I think of it.

Or my father….

When I lived in Michigan, I had obtained some porno mags from my friends. In a totally irrational fit of conscience, I tried to burn them in a gallon-sized coffee can…in the basement. (When you want to feel humble, you think about such things. Holy Lord! Was I an idiot!) Okay, I managed to somehow get by the smoke problem. But a few weeks later my father called me into the living room for a private conversation. He pulled a few pieces of charred porno magazine fragments from his pocket and asked me what had happened. I told him the truth. He said, “Boys will be boys” and advised me that I should be extra careful to keep such stuff from my mother, and that I should have flushed the charred remains. This I remember as “The Coffee Can Incident”.

I could have hardly recounted these memories for a church audience.

But I do have innocent memories which I just hadn’t thought of, at least until listening to Tim McGraw:

Don’t you remember
The fizz in a pepper
Peanuts in a bottle
At ten, two and four
A fried bologna sandwich
With mayo and tomato
Sittin’ round the table
Don’t happen much anymore

Peanuts in a bottle?

My mother used to put peanuts in her cola bottle. I have no idea why. She would take a first swig, then empty one of those small foil packages of salted peanuts into the cola. I don’t know what she drank back then: Diet Rite? Diet Dr. Pepper? RC? Pepsi? All I remember—and my goodness, is this a fond memory—is going to gas stations, where they had these soft drink machines with a glass window through which you saw the caps of the glass bottles lying one above the other in different compartments as if on different floors of a skyscraper. She would buy a bottle and dump peanuts into it.

Why?

Is this what Tim McGraw is singing about?

Some fond memories have no rational explanation.

jj


			

So…where have I been?

I am alive. I am still unhinged. But I’ve got a job.

Yes, faithful readers, I have been working. Not that blogging is incompatible with employment, but I started blogging as an unemployed man, and doing both would have been a bit much for me recently.

The problem is not that I don’t have enough time to write. I write very, very quickly, as those who track my spelling mistakes (like my sister) can probably guess. No, the problem is that when I’m working as an English teacher, my mind is unfortunately filled with nonsense—like grammar—which is nothing to blog about.

Or maybe I should! Maybe I should blog about the real philosophical connotations of the “ing” which English speakers use to confound the rest of the world. (Continuous? Gerund? What?) But that would be too clear a subject for an unhinged mind, and I’m not going to do it.

No, no.

Here I will stick to the them of my own mind’s undoing.

jj