Friday, August 26, 2016

Arrived to Derby City In Time to Experience the Oppressive Heat, Get State Fair Time In, and See All the Wonderful Changes

We have arrived in Louisville, Kentucky. I'm writing before I go to sleep, so this will be a short post. Today, Chitunga and I will tour the University and have dinner with Alice and Charlie. Yesterday, we did the State Fair (oh, how I forget Kentucky) and Vietnam Kitchen.

Win. Win. Win. Sue. Sue. Sue. Win. Win. Win. She always knows what to do.

It is a bit odd staying in the Galt House rather than at a house-house, but I figured it would be best to be centrally located downtown. Our window looks out at the Ohio River and the Mohammad Ali Center, so I guess I made a right decision.

Full day ahead today: Brown, included (and hopefully the Irish Rover).

It's Friday, huh? Well, here's to loving it and making the best. More to come, I promise.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

And Then There Is That Time That You Try to Explain Jello To Someone From Togo Who Has No Context For It.

It's a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Edem and I were driving home from campus listening to People of the United States when there was a report about the different ways states have socials: ice cream, coffee bars, open bars, and then Jello. He cocked his head and me and inquired, "What is Jello?"

I then preceded to explain. Sort of (I'm pausing here so you can think about how you might explain Jello to anyone who has never seen it, tasted it, or felt it. Without any context for the --- what kind of food product is it? --- dessert, it is much more difficult to put into words.

I started with the fruitiness, then switched to a more gelatinous ice cream, but I only received blank stares. I wanted to explain nursing homes and preschool nurseries, but knew I wouldn't get far. I contemplated gummy bears and Swedish fish, but that isn't correct either. The only solution I could think of was trying to make it, but I don't think I've had Jello in years (didn't Bill Cosby promote it or was that pudding?).

It bothered me all night. I couldn't figure out a way to explain Jello to someone who has never experienced Jello. The more I thought about it, the more creeped out I became as to what the #$@#$# it actually is. It seems my mom and grandmothers used to make a strawberry-cream cheese jello mold for particular occasions, but even that surpasses any explanation I might give to someone foreign to the product.

I guess one can only say, "Oh, you'll find out after doing an overnight in a hospital."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When In Doubt, A Face Usually Says It All. Body Language People. Body Language. A Face Doesn't Lie.

Pam really, really wanted to get together after I returned from Syracuse, simply because she wanted to have someone to hang out with. I made arrangements on Tuesday to write in the morning, so that we could run and do errands in the afternoon. I need new sneakers because I wore the treads off the ones I bought earlier this summer.

"Sure," I said to Pam, "I can run to DSWs. And Christmas Tree Shop. And Walmart. And Ocean State Job Lot. And Michaels. And Wine Depot."

I didn't end up buying anything, but I enjoyed an afternoon of store hopping.

Edem, who is visiting from Syracuse and watching Glamis this weekend while Chitunga and I tour Louisville, had a different experience. His face says it all, "Um, what is going on here? Bryan is yelling at pam about how slow she shops, and Pam is telling Bryan that she's keeping a good pace, and the two of them keep on laughing, even though they act like they're fighting the entire time."

Yup, he wanted shopping with the twins separated at birth, and was also treated to an Applebees salad, although we learned that he hates unmelted cheese. Go figure.

It was great to see Pam again, although Chitunga and I are heading right back out. I wish I got new sneakers or that any of the shopping proved to be fruitful, but it was a total bust. The company was good, though, and Edem gotta see Orange and Milford.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This Morning a Song Triggers a Thought Triggers Memories Triggers These Words

1982. John Cougar Mellancamp debuts the song Jack and Diane. I am 10 years old and leaving 4th grade to enter 5th grade. It is Cicero Elementary School and I have Mr. Finster. We have sex education classes that year and all the books make sense. I only have one question, however, which deters my mother's response (Mr. Finster says, if you have questions, ask your parents), and since I do have a question I ask and she responds, "I think you need to ask your father." I understood the books I was given to read (and even the brochures handed to me for 'little brothers" that were in my sisters box of Tampons, although she gets very upset that I read these because she's in 6th grade), but I want to know an answer to my question.,

"I get it, dad. But how do you know when you're done. I mean, how will you know when you're finished."

His answer is quick and he doesn't even get to inhale his Lucky Strike more than once before he tells me. "You'll know, son. You'll know."

Last night, 2016, and 34 years later from the debut of that song, I'm talking to Edem about Blackish and we decide to watch a couple of episodes. In one, "Twins," the story is about how Jack and Diane, the youngest kids, no longer want to be twins and wish to separate from their shared bedroom. Their mother, "Rainbow," explains to the two kids they were named after John Mellancamp's song and she proceeds to do a horrible rendition of -- it is not even recognizable). She explains, "Come on. It's one of the catchiest songs of all time."

Not the way she sings it.

And Edem asks, "What is this song she is talking about?"

Edem arrived to the U.S. from Togo as a 16 year old after losing his parents to war. In a short period of time, all on his own, he's graduated high school and college, and is currently searching for what is to come next. "I've never had a television," he tells me. "I am not used to watching t.v." My t.v. is rarely on except college basketball, Big Brother, and when the twins are in town.

Edem's finds an adventure reality show to watch, where a British man is camping (rough) with Courtney Cox. She's starving and he finds a dead sheep in a pond of Ireland and says they should eat it. The meat is rotting, however, and he says it is no good. He says, "We'll have to eat the maggots." He cuts off the ball sac of the sheep and stores the maggots in them until they can burn a fire later. He will cook the maggots and she will eat them because they are roughing it and she needs protein. I haven't seen Courtney Cox in a decade or so (has Friends been over for a decade?). She is on her way to become Joan Rivers. I'm sad that her face is so plastic...perhaps she did it while auditioning for a part in the Hunger Games - perhaps in the Capital. Courtney Cox tells the Irish guide about her divorce with David Arquette, aging, being a single mom, remarrying, and trying to find a relevant voice in her midlife. For me, I can't get over her cheekbones and the fact that they don't move. Her mouth looks like it is in constant pain. It has been restructured Hollywood style to show no wrinkles, and I'm wondering about what midlife must be like for the rich and ridiculous because they can afford to create the mythology that they are forever young.

And I'm singing,
Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone
Oh yeah say life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin' is gone,
while sharing the music with Edem (on YouTube for crying out loud) so he can get the reference for Blackish, which has had him laughing since we began watching it. He wonders why the kids are named Jack and Diane and why I am laughing at how horrible the mother recreates the song for her twins.

And I text the twins, Abu and Lossine, to see if they've seen this particular episode, but they haven't. I wonder if they know the Jack and Diane song, too. I tell them, "Oh, that song I'm a Boss-Ass Bitch plays when the father gives his oldest daughter her first car."

Feeling old, I watch Mellencamp's video for the first time in a long time (I'm used to hearing it on the radio). I Google the  lyrics that I've heard a thousand times because I'm old and that is a staple in the lives of my generation but I want to know I've been singing them correctly all these years. I'm trying to feel the song for all its memories, but while listening to it in my 40s it has me thinking about how inappropriate/appropriate it was for my generation and, although I'm listening to it as I've done forever, I'm thinking about Edem's question about cultural references and then I have a flashback to a conversation Chitunga and I had earlier in the morning about his dream that was a little off color and, to be honest, timely for his age - uncomfortable for him, but hilarious for me, and I'm thinking about 5th grade. "You'll know son, you'll know."

Actually in 10th grade I knew.

But now I'm 44 and Courtney Cox looks like she's been made by Mattel. She is 52 years old. That Mellencamp song, though.
Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids doing the best they can.
And I'm thinking of everyone I left in Syracuse, especially my sisters, and what that song means to them, and it makes me think of my parents who more than likely heard us singing that song in the car, to and from little league practices and band shows, and it makes me think about youth, 5th - 12th grade, and what my parents must have thought while raising kids when music on the radio was as it was and before Courtney Cox looked like a Pez dispenser.
Gonna let it rock
Let it roll
Let the Bible belt come down
And save my soul....
 

Monday, August 22, 2016

And Just Like That We've Returned Back To Connecticut and Already We're Missing The CNY Love of Family and Friends

Last day in Syracuse and Tunga says to Sean and Jacob, "We're going to take you to breakfast."

Um, okay.

We did.

And the entire trip I kept thinking, "Oh, this is lil' KC and lil' Bryan." They were playing tricks on one another in the back seat like we used to do, and as soon as we entered the Cicero Diner, the table became a playground. Yes, we came for breakfast, but to this age it meant a bowling alley, race cars, Legos, and projectile missiles. In a blink of an eye, Sean built a pyramid out of jelly on the table. Another blink, Jacob knocked them down.

Cool. Well, after the waitress laughed and said it was cool.

We will miss family time from the week and I owe a special shout out to the parental units who graciously opened their home to the their only son and his chaos for the week: friends, Corn Hole, pool games, and noise. I know I interrupted their routines.

Two other shout outs to my sisters for being wonderful women in my life and tremendously supportive of my world.

The third shout outs go to the bro-in-laws, niece, and nephews. Always fund to laugh with you (get ice cream with you).

I needed the break. I needed the running through Cherry Heights streets, the chlorine, the beers at Chubby's and the Clam Bar.

I needed the love and am thankful that it all arrived over the last 7 days.

And now...the transition to the Fall semester begins. Ugh.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Ultimate Athleticism of Susan Marilyn Crandall and Her Olympic Debut with Corn Hole on Sunshine Saturday

There are occasions when SudyRip flexes her muscle and joins the family in physical games such as football, lacrosse, basketball and wrestling. Cynderballz and I have fond memories of the time she played badminton with us and Chippers flew underneath her lifting her in the air so she flew straight on her ass. Dad has memories of volleyball and softball, and even times on the bowling alley.

Yesterday, though, we talked her into playing Corn Hole in the back yard and I was so impressed by her form and willingness to jump in the game. She didn't win, but she looked mighty good trying to win. She did this even with puppy dogs as obstacles.

The clouds came in yesterday, uninvited, but we still got a backyard day of barbecue, games, and pool. Chitunga joined us from Connecticut, dad pulled out bacon-wrapped scallops, the twins arrived with Edem, and Rhiannon joined us after moving things from Apartment A to Apartment B. I'd have to say it was a successful day, although it would have been nice if Casey and Dave could have joined us.

One of the best highlights of the day was when the boys and I were all watching the Women's Olympic volleyball team and Jacob was bored and going through Papi Butch's things. He pulled out a book and showed it to Chitunga and Sean, asking, "Why does Papi Butch have this?"

The title was Having Sex Over 50, and I imagine a practical joke comic book that was given to him 25 years ago when he turned 50. Dad blushed and got mad, while Chitunga just burst out laughing. It was very, very comical

Ah, but I have to report that it is Sunday and time to head back to Connecticut (boo). It's been a refreshing week that I very much needed....very, very much so. I am so thankful to my mom, dad, and sisters for opening their CNY lives this last week. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Catching Up With Mr. Werdi During a Spur-of-the-Moment Lunch at Tullys - from 9th Grade To Junior Year of College

Woke up on a Friday, wrote a few recommendations, went for a run, ordered a sandwich tray for evening festivities, and even met Werdi Mugaya for lunch at Tully's. Mr. Abdi was supposed to show up, too (we made arrangements with him), but he never arrived. He didn't call, in fact, until we were leaving, but we got our lunch in anyway.

Great catching up with him on his summer work at a few camps, his first semester at SUNY Brockport after transferring from OCC (and replacing the twins), and the normal stresses of being a first generation American wrestling between home culture and a new culture. We've been working with one another for around 8 years and it has been amazing to see him grow up as much as he has.

In the meantime, it was a night of pool and ice-cream with the nephews (and a trip to Wegmans....I got my Asian BBQ sauce...a few bottles actually).

Today, with the high temperatures, we definitely plan on a pool and game day to stay refreshed.

Here's to the Crandall chaos.