Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Weekend Report



It would have been easier to stay home and mix my own drink.

I went out to a local bar last night to hear some music
.
My marriage was happier than this bar, I said to the friend I was with.

Ice, we need ice, the bartender yelled every fifteen minutes or so and it was lugged from somewhere in a yellow bucket that may or may not have been exclusively meant to haul ice.

Every other minute a member of the wait staff slipped behind the bar to fill water glasses for a table.
Get out, the bartender would hiss, you know the rules. You don't belong back here.  It happened over and over again, and the bartender went nuts every time. One waiter was particularly adamant with his rebuttal. Apparently there was no water for the wait staff to access wherever it was that they were supposed to get it, and the bartender could just fuck himself.

Kitchen staff came out of the kitchen, hot and desperate to quench their thirst. Get out, the bartender told them too. They weaseled by him and stuffed the bar water nozzle into a glass.

It took forever to get a drink.
The place ran out of the beer it shared it shared its name with.
The bathroom needed toilet paper.

The bartender laid out his tickets from the tables as the waiters put them in. We're out of ice. I don't have a martini glass. We're out of lemons. We're out of limes. You don't belong back here. Get out. I'm really busy he told any patrons at the bar that dared to usurp his attention to order a drink. He made two guys who wanted only a Bud Light and Corona wait until he'd filled the tickets laid out in front of him.

Waiters begged for their drink orders. I'm busy, the bartender would snarl. If people can wait an hour for a cheese sandwich, they can wait 15 minutes for a pina colada.

A guy I guessed to be the owner appeared. He reprimanded the bartender, sliced lemons and limes, hauled in another keg of the eponymous beer, all while looking slightly suicidal.

I finally got the fries I ordered after asking for them a second time an hour later. They were delicious.

The music was fantastic. Everybody in the bar was grooving there in the Kingdom of the Cranky Bartender. It was all of us against him. We won.

How was your weekend?

Have you read THIS yet? George Saunders writing about Trump. Left Land vs. Right Land. I recommend it.



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Room With a View

This is the view from my motel room in Fremont, Nebraska
That's a soybean field--and there in the distance, the curve of the Earth.
It's flat here and the eye travels easily to the horizon.

I spent the 30 years of my marriage visiting my in-laws here at least once or twice a year. It's surprisingly different from the countryside in Iowa where I grew up. But I've spent most of my life in big cities, so I can see the Nebraska countryside through city-dweller eyes too. It can look mysterious. Even a bit eerie.

It's a great place to contact aliens.
Or imagine animatronic dinosaurs or skeletal insects devouring the earth.





But I didn't come here this trip to write stories. I came to bid final farewell to my ex-mother-in-law. I made a terrible first impression in 1975. Braless and in short-shorts, I was wild girl with even wilder hair cavorting with the son that was meant for the seminary. 

She and I found common ground though and I treasured her. She was one of the most likable people I've ever met. 

Today after her funeral, after witnessing her ashes put into the ground in her husband's grave, I gave myself a tour of her yard. She gardened with both a reverent and a fanciful hand. She loved "garden junk,"especially and I do too, though most of my own treasures now come from the beach. 





 There's a row of towering evergreens that she planted as tiny saplings.

One summer she requested custom stepping stones with the handprints of her grandchildren.

She burned her trash--but only what could not be composted or recycled. 



Her hard work yielded much beauty. And while the yard certainly is not at the pinnacle of its glory years, her hand is still evident. I stood in front of her tool shed for a bit this afternoon, wanting to open it, but I didn't. She put me to work there during my first visit post divorce. I remember the smell of dirt and oil, but I can't remember what it was she had me do, only that I felt safe there in that small dark space that housed the tools she used to create her art.


Mildred was the most fervently religious person I've ever known. I may have been one of the most irreligious people she ever knew. Yet, somehow I believe that she resides now with her God, the angels and the saints. May she rest in peace.