Category Archives: Daydreams

Back to school

Once again, I find myself apologizing for my silence. School started last Monday. I had a good week, but it didn’t leave much time for blogging, as I had commitments to attend to every evening and most of the weekend.

The fact that I am still conscious at this point may have something to do with the fact that I can see a soft blue light shining at the end of the tunnel.

My kids are watching Field of Dreams in class. Daydreaming New Mexico, I understand Moonlight Graham’s line: “Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again.”

If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the hot, dry wind stirring the high desert air, twisting my hair into a mass of careless tangles, whispering peace and the land’s ancient incantations into my ear as I rest on an old metal lawn chair, drawing strength and inspiration from the eerie songs of distant coyotes and the familiar hum of neon transformers, storing New Mexico in dreams like mental Mason jars to open and devour when life becomes too complicated and I need the scents of pinon and sage and green chile and magic to drift through my mind like tumbleweeds and send my spirit soaring through a cobalt sky somewhere above a timeworn alignment of Route 66 in the land of Baca and Anaya and Hillerman.


People will come

View from the top of the Ferris wheel. Out in the distance, past the flash and glitter of the midway, lie the lights of the refineries that built southwest Tulsa; at left, cars approach on historic Route 66.

This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

— Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams

I saw something beautiful this evening.

For the first time since I began traveling Route 66 a decade ago, I saw the parking lot at Crystal City shopping center filled with cars.

A small carnival is in Red Fork this weekend, offering a midway full of food, rides, and barkers.

Almost everything you remember from the parking-lot carnivals of your childhood is there: the carousel …

This thing sort of frightens me.

… the Ferris wheel …

… the scary rides …

… the baby ride with the little glittery cars that carry bewildered toddlers in slow circles while their parents encourage them to smile …

… the corn-dog stand, the cotton candy, the funnel cakes …

… the win-a-goldfish game, the shooting games, the balloon dart game …

… the game of chance with the little numbered ducks that float by (every duck guaranteed a winner) …

… the strongman game with the sledgehammer and the bell …

… the weight guesser …

… it’s all there. The only thing that seems to be missing is the Tilt-A-Whirl — unless, of course, this Toy Story-themed contraption is some newfangled hybrid of the Tilt-A-Whirl and the tubs:

Ron and I grabbed our cameras — my Rebel, his Flip — and headed over to document the fun after dinner.

As I stood on the midway in the golden light of early evening, watching the crowds and waving to a student who’d just called my name, a snippet of dialogue from Field of Dreams popped into my head — something about what was and could be again — and I suppressed a sudden urge to burst into tears.

This, I thought, shivering just a little in spite of the warm spring air, must have been what Red Fork was like when Route 66 was young. This must have been what it was like when the Zingo was in the parking lot and everybody came to Crystal City to do the weekly shopping. This is what it could be again.

Red Fork is coming back. I can feel it. And people will come. People will most definitely come.

It’s going to be a very good summer.



Twenty years ago this week, I met a man who doesn’t exist.

Let me explain.

On Martin Luther King Day in 1991, I was a bored high-school sophomore. For reasons I don’t recall (but which probably involved either icy roads or another abysmal performance on an Algebra III test), I was stuck at home for the entire day. Casting about for something to do, I went rummaging through a closet and liberated a few records from my mother’s vinyl collection.

While I was listening to one of those records, I closed my eyes and conjured up a vision of a depressed has-been singer-songwriter wandering along a lonely beach, delivering an existential tirade to no one in particular, while a pretty young fan stood just out of sight, waiting for an appropriate moment to make her presence (and admiration for the singer) known — a revelation that would, of course, effectively end the man’s apparent midlife crisis.

I wrote my daydream up as a short play. It was pretty much crap — start with some Norma Desmond-style denial, mix in a double helping of angsty 15-year-old naivete, and express the whole thing in dialogue so hackneyed it would make Anne “Oh, oh, Louis, my dark prince” Rice cringe, and you’ve got the idea — but it didn’t stop me from falling in love with the main character.

I’ve been writing about him, in one form or another, ever since.

Happy anniversary, Morgan. Thanks for tolerating my poor attempts to commit you to paper — and thanks for refusing to cooperate until I had enough life under my belt to do you justice. I think we’re getting close to that moment, and I can’t wait to see what our next 20 years together will bring.



I forgot to mention this last night, but we went to the Circle Cinema yesterday evening to watch Howl. It was amazing. It deals with the obscenity trial over the Allen Ginsberg poem of the same title.

I’ve loved Ginsberg’s work since I was in high school, and the film definitely does it justice. James Franco plays Ginsberg, and the movie includes many scenes of him reading the poem in a spot-on imitation of Ginsberg’s weird cadence, sometimes in black-and-white before an audience of hipsters, and sometimes narrating a visually stunning animated interpretation of the poem.  The poetry reading scenes are interspersed with footage of Franco-as-Ginsberg being interviewed about his life and work and scenes from the trial, which feels particularly topical and timely in light of the ongoing Prop 8 trial. I find it interesting that 55 years later, the government is still wasting time and money trying to justify immature decisions based on homophobia, while the intelligentsia are still eviscerating the arguments in favor of such decisions and making their proponents look ill-prepared at best and silly at worst.

If the art director doesn’t win an Academy Award, I’m going to stop paying attention to the Oscars altogether.

Sometimes I secretly wish I could open my own private school for the children of subversive iconoclasts. Kids would be required to read at least 100 banned books in order to graduate, and we’d have an entire course devoted to the study of Quentin Tarantino movies. We’d also have a linguistics class that would include a study of profanities, their etymology, and the sociocultural reasons one word becomes a socially acceptable euphemism, while its synonym is declared “dirty” or “vulgar.”

I’m pretty sure our test scores would be off the charts, and disaffected teenagers would be lining up like soccer moms at a Black Friday sale to try to get a spot on the waiting list….


Feeling creative

I feel a massive creative outburst coming on. Awesomely enough, it looks as if I might have a little bit of time this weekend to indulge it. I’m not sure exactly how it will manifest itself. Touch up the hood of my car and then design something crazy for the passenger’s side? Record myself reading a bunch of children’s books and poems for Jamie and Hazel and Ollie? Break out the watercolors? Finish the last few details on the still-unfinished Wild Things mural on my office wall? Head to Hobby Lobby for paint so I can work on the Lorax mural I started but never quite finished on the side of the garage? Work on a more permanent design for next year’s dragon-in-the-garden sculpture? Paint another random butterfly on the kitchen wall? Paint another lawn gnome? All of the above?

My boss is trying to get permission for me to paint my classroom ceiling. I want to cover it with test-taking tips and vocabulary words and all manner of educational craziness. My goal is to plan it now, then haul a bunch of tiles home, paint them over Christmas break, and put them back up when school resumes in January. I think the kids will get a kick out of it.

It’s funny: People think my fondness for painting on every available surface is strange, but it doesn’t seem at all unusual to me. My mom painted Winnie-the-Pooh characters all over my bedroom walls when I was about 4. When I was 9, I had to have a rainbow, so she broke out kitchen sponges and colorful paint and turned my whole bedroom into the sky. At 12, I developed an inexplicable fascination with palm trees, so Mom covered my wall with a vibrant sunset over the ocean, with big palm trees silhouetted against it. Somehow it never occurred to me to think it was odd that I lived in a house full of murals. It was just something Mom did because she loved us and wanted us to be comfortable in our surroundings.

How awesome is it that I can look back on my childhood and go, “Oh, yeah — we just took it for granted that there would be giant murals of whatever we liked on the walls”? And how much more awesome is it that both my husband and my boss are cool with the fact that I’ve never outgrown the need to have my favorite things painted all over the place?


Folk Friday: Lennon

This week’s Folk Thursday offering is a Google Doodle:

Let’s pretend that I delayed Folk Thursday on purpose so I could celebrate John Lennon’s birthday. (In point of fact, I missed Folk Thursday altogether because I was busy taking a nap, during which I dreamed that I was the world’s first female Cub, and I was being interviewed by Gloria Steinem, who was getting very frustrated with the fact that I kept answering her questions with references to sabermetrics instead of offering up politically charged quotes filled with feminist rhetoric that would sound good in a Ms. Magazine article. But that sounds kind of lame, so let’s just roll with the Lennon excuse, shall we?)

Here’s the full video for “Imagine”:

In other news, the area superintendent walked into my classroom this afternoon for no apparent reason, discovered that I was teaching the movie Field of Dreams as a literary text, and proceeded to give my kids a little lecture about how awesome I am. The kids, who had no clue that this was my boss’s boss, responded by telling him that I was their favorite English teacher EVER. Guess I should bake them some cookies this weekend, eh?


City Farmer

This garden is about 3,500 miles from Red Fork, but I hang out in it all the time, thanks to the magic of City Farmer’s excellent Webcam feature. City Farmer, based in Vancouver, B.C., is an urban agriculture program whose comprehensive Web site (so comprehensive that one site couldn’t contain it all, so it was expanded into a blog) taught me how to raise red wiggler worms in a plastic shoebox under my sink and showed me an environmentally sound way of managing the waste generated by three dogs

Although the program focuses primarily on greening up Vancouver through community gardens, composting initiatives, and the like, a lot of the information on City Farmer’s two Web sites can be used right here in Red Fork — or anywhere else in the world.

The Webcam updates every hour. Go check it out. Click here to see a nice time-lapse slideshow of the garden and the changes it goes through in a year.

If I ever became a millionaire, I think I’d blow my money on Webcams for places I love but don’t get to visit nearly often enough: Makanda (especially Dave Dardis’ garden), the Blue Swallow, the open-air arts market at Tijeras, La Posada, the Turtle Playground, the City Museum, Venice Cafe, Viviano’s, the Gloss Mountains, the Painted Desert, Roy’s, the Ludlow Coffee Shop, Fender’s River Road Resort, the Wigwam Motel, Uncle Fun’s, the Start Your Day With PORK barn, Mom’s yard (you never know when Jamie might stop by to see the bok-boks), the Hamel cross, the Sidewalk Highway, Eisler Bros., John’s Modern Cabins, and a thousand other spots. I’ve never been to the Lost Gardens of Heligan (WARNING: chirpy bird sounds in link), but I was pretty excited to discover their wildlife-centered Webcams, too. 

Where would you like to have a Webcam? Discuss.



I have decided that I absolutely must have one of these for my living room.

The challenge, of course, will lie in convincing Ron that we need to spend $2,400 on a chair with built-in speakers to accommodate my iPod.

Perhaps if I explain that an Eero Aarnio original would set us back $6,500 or more, he will understand that this knockoff is actually an excellent bargain….


10 on Tuesday: Places to Go

Today’s 10 on Tuesday topic is 10 Places You’d Love to Travel To (That You Haven’t Gone to Yet)

As I told Brigid a minute ago: I’ve got reeeeeeeal refined tastes. Her list is full of places like Russia and Egypt and Ireland. Mine revolves around the Seven Wonders of Roadside America and various other oddities:

1. Dillon, S.C. (home of South of the Border — one of the Seven Wonders of Roadside America)
2. Spring Hill, Fla. (home of the Weeki Wachee Mermaids — a suitable replacement for the late Aquarena Springs, which was one of the Seven Wonders until it fired Ralph the Diving Pig and turned into some uppity research lab)
3. St. Petersburg, Fla. (home of the Salvador Dali Museum)
4. Alliance, Neb. (home of Carhenge)
5. Wall, S.D. (home of Wall Drug — another of the Seven Wonders)
6. Bethel, N.Y. (home of Max Yasgur’s farm)
7. Boston, Mass. (home of the Mapparium, among many other things)
8. Cabazon, Calif. (home of the Cabazon Dinosaurs)
9. The Lincoln Highway (all of it)
10. Bisbee, Ariz. (home of the Shady Dell and its collection of fabulous vintage Airstreams)

Where would you like to go?