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Freezing Rain on the Block

There seems to be a big debate out in the world right now concerning whether school gets delayed or canceled for weather more now than it did previously.

This debate seems to come up every year about this time. It takes me back to a simpler time. A time in Michigan between the Blizzard of ’78, caused by regular old winter and the large snowfalls of 2014, caused by climate change. It takes me back to a certain winter, 1989-90, when I was in 8th grade. There was not snow that winter, but endless freezing rain. Freezing rain caused by global warming that no one was talking about yet.

Freezing rain, in case you live somewhere without it.

Freezing rain, in case you live somewhere without it.

My life was very complicated at that time. I struggled every morning with what clothes and jewelry to wear so that I wouldn’t get teased once I arrived at the bus stop/bus/school. I desperately wanted to wear things that would be “in fashion”*. Instead, I tried for “blend in”. Usually, I achieved something just north of “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”. (Although, I assure you, my mom was not dressing me at that time.) Luckily schoolwork came rather easy to me, because I spent most of my time stressing about all the different cliques at my school. And if any boys would ever like me. (Seems kinda obvious now that no boys liked me in 8th grade because I had zero boobs and looked like I was about 10.) Little did I know that my future husband was still in elementary school at this time. My school looked like a prison, with tall gray walls and few windows. Gum chewing was banned. I was lucky enough to be able to say I had 6 friends that year. That is probably the only time in my life I have been able to say that.

My bedroom walls circa 1989, partway through NKOTB-ification.

My bedroom walls circa 1989, partway through NKOTB-ification.

Now that I have painted the picture for you of my day-to-day existence, I must let you know that it was the year of New Kids on The Block. Their presence in every part of pop culture had sling-shotted me into puberty. My asbestos friend and I made a daily pilgrimage to the nearby pharmacy to loiter and read the teen magazines to gain all the knowledge we could about Danny, Donnie, Joe, Jon, and Jordan. (I would marry Jordan, and she would marry Jon, and we would be sisters-in-law.**) When we had some money, we would buy the magazines for research purposes, such as the name of Jon’s dog and their bodyguards. We also hung up the pin-ups all over our rooms. What better way to memorize every line on their faces?

EVERY girl at school had a NKOTB T-shirt. So, of course, I had to get one. As all the fashion was still 1980’s-based, and I was fond of all things fluorescent. The New Kids shirt I bought had a black and white picture of each of them, accented with fluorescent yellow. On the back were hand prints in hot pink (presumably theirs), with a print of their autographs on it. I think only one or two other girls in my school had that particular shirt.

My NKOTB scrapbook

My NKOTB scrapbook

You might wonder what all this has to do with freezing rain. I’m getting to that.

I learned a trick. If you wore a risky article of clothing on a Monday, the other hellions at school teased you about it ALL WEEK LONG. So, I took to wearing risky clothing on Fridays. Then, it would be forgotten about over the weekend. By everyone else, anyway.

So, the winter of 8th grade, I always wore my New Kids on The Block shirt on Friday.

“But, they were popular?” you ask.

Yes, they were. And other girls in the school liked them too.

But just because the popular kids like the same things you did, that still didn’t mean you weren’t safe from getting teased for it. Especially if you had a reputation for being an easy target. (Please, kids. NEVER let yourself get that reputation. It will scar you for life and force you to use your blog as therapy for it.) Although I did once impress a group of girls a rung or two higher on the popularity ladder than I by showing up at school with the first known magazine of Jordan with his shirt off. Of course, they still didn’t let me be in their dissection group in biology class.

Jordan Knight showing off his chest.

Jordan Knight showing off his chest.

And I never knew if I would walk into school one day, and that would be the day everyone else decided that NKOTB were uncool. (It turned out that happened during the summer after 8th grade.)

So, I put on my NKOTB shirt every Friday, ready to head off to the hell that was middle school. And every Friday, for what seemed like all winter, school was either delayed, cancelled, or delayed until it was cancelled, due to freezing rain. I guess something about the roads being slippery and not thinking it was safe for the school buses to drive on them or something. I was a kid. All I knew was that my NKOTB shirt was my “lucky charm” to get school cancelled. If I wore it, I got to stay home! Or, in most cases, hang out with my asbestos friend all day.

Just because the roads were too icy to drive on, didn’t mean they were too icy to walk on, right? My asbestos friend and I would go up to the pharmacy to look at teeny bopper magazines, all the while clinging on each other as we slid along on the ice-covered sidewalks. One time the ice was so bad that she got out her ice skates and skated down the road of our subdivision (i.e. trailer court). I followed along, sliding in my boots. It was great fun, until the sun came out and melted the ice and she had to hobble home in her ice skates on concrete.

One day, I even fell down–which was AWESOME!!

You see, my mother wouldn’t let me cut holes in my jeans, as was the style at the time. But when I fell on the ice, I tore a tiny little hole in the knee of my jeans. I picked and picked and picked at that hole until it went from side to side, seam to seam. (She is still mad at me about that to this day.)

So, you see, that is how winter weather, New Kids on the Block, and fashion are all stored together in my mind.

Oh, I never got to see the New Kids in concert. Still kinda hoping my asbestos friend and I might go someday. But, I did meet one in person!***

* In retrospect, it is all so fucking stupid. We were a bunch of farm kids in Michigan. Why were we trying so hard to dress like the people we saw on TV and in magazines anyway? It’s not like we were going to grow up and be famous models or Miss Teen Michigan or anything.

** As an adult, Jordan seems very self-centered and egotistical. No longer appealing to me. And Jon turned out to be gay. I was always sure that with that high voice, Jordan would be the gay one.

*** I met Joe McIntyre! There is a picture of him hugging me to prove it, but I was unfortunately never able to actually get my hands on said picture. *sigh* Now I think Joe may be my favorite.

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Wedding Jeans

The gazebo in the park we got married at

As a general rule, I do not wear dresses. Or skirts, for that matter. I don’t wear them on a normal day, to work, or to job interviews. The one exception I make is to wear them to weddings. Other people’s weddings. Not my own. Intrigued? Read on…(And no, I did not get married in the nude!)

My then-boyfriend and I had talked about marriage, but he wasn’t ready to propose to me yet. At twenty-four, he still felt he was too young to get married. But I was still thinking about my wedding, anyway. I was not one of those girls who day dreamed about her wedding for years and what white poofy dress she would wear. Nope. I think about high school age I decided my dream wedding would be to get married in Las Vegas by Elvis. I am still waiting for that wedding. *sigh*

So although my boyfriend hadn’t proposed to me, I was still wondering what I would wear to my own wedding. I knew a big white dress was out. I must have thought “If only I could just wear jeans”. And that is how the “wedding jeans” were born.

Reception


Do you remember how I like unusual sewing projects, such as the pharmacy giraffe, Christmas stockings, and the Werecart? Well, you can add wedding jeans to that list too. I bought all the white patches I could find. Most featured flowers or hearts. I put them on the legs and back pockets of the jeans. Then I bought thin white ribbon and iridescent seed beads. I sewed the ribbon along the tops of the pockets, and down the side seams of both legs. Then I sewed the seed beads on top of the ribbon. By hand. Sewing through a denim seam is no picnic. I bent several needles in the process.

Now, when I started this project, I kept saying I wasn’t really going to wear the jeans for my wedding. But once my future husband saw them being made and how cool they were, he told me I had to wear them. That he would make me. It is a good thing I started them like 6 months before he proposed, because I think I worked on them for a year. I had them ready a few months before we were married. My jeans were a little too big. Which was unfortunate, because I couldn’t try to wash and shrink them now, as it would have ruined the decorations. So I made a white and yellow ribbon braided belt for them. Sort of dorky, but it did the job.

Now, the hard part was finding a shirt to wear with it. I pictured something white and billowy, sort of like a pirate would wear. Not my usual style, but it was for my wedding day. I bought three different white shirts and I was unhappy with all of them. I ended up wearing just a plain white T-shirt. (I am still looking for the perfect shirt to this day. And if I found it I just might buy it.) On my feet I wore my favorite sandals–pretty basic, brown leather. In my hair, I had baby’s breath put into a half a French braid. The bottom of my hair was curled and hung free.

Ta-Da! The Wedding Jeans. (Front View)


On our invitations, we put “Casual Attire Suggested”. We had our wedding and reception outdoors in August, so it was a little warm. It was a sunny day, no rain. My husband wore a gray shirt and black pants. My bridesmaid wore a denim skirt. We got married in a city part that was just a block from our apartment. (We walked to our own wedding.) We had our reception in my mother-in-law’s backyard, with hamburgers and hot dogs. I didn’t have to worry about changing my clothes or “bustling” anything. I didn’t have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions (although I am sure that I probably worried anyway). In our wedding pictures, my husband and I have genuine toothy smiles, not the kind we usually give for pictures where we keep our mouths closed to hide our crooked teeth. All out smiles.

Wedding Jeans (Rear View)…Hey, quit staring at my ass!


My advice to anyone is to have your wedding your way. And ask for lots of help. I tried to do too much on my own. No one ever said a word about my wedding jeans. Which means either everyone liked them or knew how to be polite. What happened to Vegas, you ask? Well, we didn’t have our wedding there because my husband wanted his family to be able to come and they could not have all made it to Vegas. So my plan was that we would go to Vegas to get our vows renewed for our 5 year anniversary. Didn’t happen. But we should definitely go do it for our ten year anniversary–8/23/2013.

HAPPY 9th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TODAY TO MY HUSBAND!

Who doesn’t read my blog, but he supports me writing it, which may be even better.

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Pharmacy Giraffe

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The Pharmacy Giraffe. I call him Giraffey.

When I was growing up, I lived within walking distance of a pharmacy. I would go there to buy candy. I would go there to buy poster board for school projects. I would go there to buy my mom Christmas stocking stuffers. I would go there for something to do. When I was a little older, I went there with my asbestos friend to look at the teen magazines, which once in a while we actually purchased. You would think they would have been grateful for my business. No. Instead they watched me like a hawk every time I was in the store, apparently expecting me to steal something.

[NOTE: Now, I know you are thinking, “A whole blog post about a stuffed giraffe? Really?” But if you hang in until the end, it has sort of a nice ending.]

The pharmacy had one corner of the store with gifty items. Figurines. Stuffed animals. And the largest stuffed giraffe I had ever seen in my life. I used to hug his neck every time I went in. I dreamed of taking him home with me. He was for sale, but I think his purpose in the store was more to draw the children over to that area. Which he did very well. I remember the price tag on him being $500. Someone else told me $2000. Either way, no one ever bought him.

I grew up and moved away. The pharmacy was bought by new owners and moved to a new location. I remember going in to the new pharmacy once and thinking how sterile, bare it looked. And I was sad to find there was no giraffe there.
A number of years later, after my asbestos friend had left town and moved back, she convinced me to ride on a Noah’s Ark-themed float for her church for the town festival [She is always tricking me into doing things like that. She is a bad influence.]. Anyway, I met her pastor, who was dressed up like Noah. And looked about nineteen. And his wife, who looked more like Mary looking for a manger than Noah’s wife [She was pregnant at the time].

As you may have guessed, they had animals on the float. Wood-cut outs, along with stuffed animals. The best one, if you asked me, was the stuffed giraffe. I told my asbestos friend that it reminded me of the giraffe from the pharmacy. She replied that it was the very same one. It made the eight year old in me a little excited. It rained that day and he got a little wet, but it didn’t seem to cause him too much damage.

Three years later, I was pregnant with my son. I saw a stuffed giraffe at work. I decided right then and there that my child’s room would not be complete without one. I hoped to get it for free or discounted through work, as that was a big benefit of working there. But I didn’t really want to spend the money. The giraffe work was selling was also way smaller than the one I was used to from my childhood.

When I mentioned this to my asbestos friend, as I do with all my obsessions, she told me that the pharmacy giraffe that had rode on the church float was still sitting in the church basement. It had flooded down there and he had gotten a little wet, but it didn’t seem to cause him too much damage. After a quick call, she confirmed that the previous owner no longer wanted it. But, the previous owner said it was CURSED!

From what I remember, as the story goes, the previous owner bought the giraffe at auction when the pharmacy closed for her mother. But apparently the mother said it was too big and didn’t want it. The previous owner had tried to get rid of the giraffe several times. But, apparently, every time someone tried to take him out of the Blissfield village limits, they would experience car trouble, or some other kind of incident.

I took my chances with the curse and hauled him home. Not a single terrible fate befell me. That tells me it was fate. I was destined to own him.

Once I got him home, that was not the end of the story. Do you remember how I said I used to always go in to the pharmacy and hug his neck? Well, I was not the only one. And it appeared that most people chose to rub his nose, because there was not much left of it. It was time for another one of my unusual sewing projects (ex. Werecart). I spent a Sunday very carefully reconstructing his nose, knowing that if I screwed it up I would be destroying a cherished part of Blissfield history of my generation. Even with all that pressure, it came out quite good.

Before


After


I truly believe the Law of Attraction is how the giraffe came into my possession. I wanted him so badly back then and truly believed he should be mine that it became reality. I can no longer ever deny The Secret of the Law of Attraction. Of course, once I put a bed and a crib and shelf and a dresser in my son’s room, it because clear that there was no room for a giraffe as well. So, he happily hangs out in my dining room for now. And maybe the old ladies at the pharmacy knew something I didn’t. I do have something from that store that I didn’t pay for after all:)

The End


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