Those memories come back to haunt me…

“I’ve got two extra tickets to see Bruce Springsteen tomorrow. Do you want them?”

Although i’m getting older, there are times when my reflexes still respond quickly – and i snatched those tickets up in a nanosecond.

Mr. Springsteen provided the soundtrack for my high school years, as well as the words that rattled around in my head through my transition from ‘lost girl’ to ‘over-achieving engineering student’ and on into my reincarnation as ‘wife/mother’.   If it hadn’t been for one line in “Thunder Road”, i might never have found the glimmer of hope that allowed me to begin that transition.

“ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY! When can i pick them up?”

Managed to snag the tickets on my lunch hour, and make the quick turn around after work to cover the 60 miles between here and there. i drove like a maniac efficiently, we found a decent parking spot, and had enough time to pregame with a flask of whiskey in the car before heading into the arena. Just us, and 15,000 fans, navigating wickets and stairways to get to our seats in the rafters. Even though we were in the nose bleed seats, we had a great view of the stage.

No opening act. The show started at 7:45pm, and Mr. Springsteen and the E Street Band played for three and a half hours without a break. He worked through the set – seeming to gain energy and intensity with each song.

Four decades worth of material at his disposal, it wasn’t a surprise that he dug back in the archives for a few. “Badlands”…

“You’ve got to live it every day….. Let the broken hearts stand as the price you’ve gotta pay…”

Words written as a young man. Belted with the same intensity he had as a skinny street punk. Now in his 60’s, that line is just as powerful. Maybe more so…


It was a surprise when i heard the band start up the intro to “The River”. Not one of his pop hits, but the title track to the album that ushered me into the first significant transition in my life. i looked at Studley. “Holy shit! The last time i saw him live was on tour for ‘The River’. That album. THIS song! Jesus… that was in 1980.”

The man sitting next to Studley leaned forward “I know! It was over 30 years ago! I remember it like it just happened! It was only yesterday…”

Mr. Springsteen began to sing…

“I come from down in the valley, where mister, when you’re young… They bring you up to do like your daddy done…”

“Maybe not yesterday,” i said to the distinguished-looking gentlemen to our left. “But just a few weeks ago…”

The man and i were both tripping back in time. Transported by an audio memory…. Feeling the song as we had at 18 years old.

“You look like you could have just left school… like you’re still there.”

As he said that, i caught a brief glimpse of a boy with feathered hair, black concert t-shirt hanging from the skinny shoulders that would fit him better at 50… Made me wonder if he was seeing the dumpy lost-girl with stringy hair, acne and plastic framed glasses as big as her forehead….

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true? Or is it something worse?”



* The first photo was taken by my friend during the concert.  He had much better seats – which is why he offered up the extra tickets…

Gain or loss?

Last week, i had another trip to the east coast.  As if the forces of meteorology are synched with my frequent flier accounts, there was yet another snow-pacalypse in Washington, DC.  What was supposed to be a ‘day trip’ – 6am flight out, 6pm flight home – led to another round of “Escape from an Airport”.

i am 3/3 on the “Trip/Stranded” ratio just for the month of January.  This shit is getting seriously old.

Fortunately, my travel mate for the day was a delightful young scientist, AU*.  Extraordinarily smart as both a scientist and human, this made the ‘stuck’ times far more bearable.

But it still sucked gangrenous ‘nads.

We made a good travel team as we both worked escape plans.  Heavy, wet snow was blanketing the region.  AU was booked on 4:00 pm flight to Atlanta**, and was texting me from the plane, which was still at the gate being de-iced.  i was hoping to catch the 5:30 pm flight – which was still showing “go”.

When his flight pushed back, the gate agents prepared to board our flight.  Anxious travelers gathered near the door, hoping to board soon.  But when i got the text from AU “We’re coming back to the gate.  Word is canceled”, i walked over to the desk, and leaned casually against it… which would put me at the front of the line when the rebooking dance started.

Sure enough, the airport closed, and that familiar chaos ensued!  i was rebooked before AU deplaned, and i snagged coupons from the gate agent to get us nearby accommodations!  Score!  We went to the bar for dinner (table near an outlet, of course), and relaxed for a couple of hours.  i’d been given confirmation numbers for two rooms at a Doubletree hotel near the airport.  No rush. 

Leaving the warmth of the airport to catch the hotel shuttle, we were a bit shocked to see crowds of people at the bus stops.  Word was that traffic on the local highways was gridlocked, and hotel shuttles were stuck.  i called the hotel, and was told that the driver had been en route for an hour – and wasn’t near the airport.  The hotel?  Only 10 miles away.

Uh oh.

The taxi line – for non-existent taxis – was four hours long.  Rental car option?  We weren’t entirely sure we could get through – not knowing the traffic situation.  We had to wait.  And AU only had on his suit – no coat, hat or gloves.  Did i mention that it was snowing hard?

Two hours later, we were finally on board a hotel shuttle, along with other relieved travelers, and headed to a hotel.  Seeing dozens of abandoned cars, our shuttle driver navigated dicey roads with steady confidence.  Tow trucks were in ditches!  This was some serious shit!  It took a half hour to go 10 miles, but we made it!

Needless to say, when the gentleman at the hotel desk informed us that they would not be honoring our reservations, as they had no record of it in their system – and had no available rooms – i was a bit stunned.  And lost my shit – for the first time since my travel headaches started this month.

daisyfae (loudly):  So we’re – what’s the word i’m looking for – “fucked”?  Yes, that’s the word!  “Up the ass without a courtesy spit” fucked?  There are NO rooms for miles, and we couldn’t get there if there were… We’re going to be sleeping on the couches in your lobby.  Maybe you can bring blankets and pillows, eh?  i’ll try not to stink it up too much…

We went to the bar…  Scouted online for other hotels, but there was nothing.  Nowhere to go, we scoped some comfy couches in the bar area, and figured we could settle in once the bar closed.

Around 11:30 pm, AU thought to ask about roll away beds.  Returning from the front desk, he had good news – they thought that they’d have some no shows, and would probably be able to get us rooms.  Relief…

i found myself apologizing to AU for my rant at the front desk.  Probably a little embarrassing for him… 

daisyfae:  That’s probably the worst public outburst i’ve had in a few years.  They used to be a helluva lot worse… but it was still pretty bad.

AU:  Gaining control or losing your edge?

daisyfae: Great question.  i don’t really know… i think it’s mostly because i’m tired.  It’s not worth it to yell any more… too much work.


* i’ve written about AU before.  He’s a gem…

** For what it’s worth?  Your BEST chance to get out of an airport during a weather ‘situation’ is on a bigger plane, generally to a hub city.  The airlines can maximize the number of non-stranded passengers this way, and the regional jets are most frequently canceled in such circumstances.

This Old House

From the outside, it really doesn’t look much different.  Midwestern red brick ranch, 1959.  Small, high bedroom windows.  Tiny front porch, two-car garage. 

Mom and Dad bought it new, just after they married in January, 1960.  She still owns it 50 years later.  Although Dad did some minor modifications to it over the years – a deck out back, some built-in shelving between the kitchen and dining room – the infrastructure has been virtually untouched for half a century. 

While spending a day with Mom, taking her to see her deliciously tasty cardiologist, i had a chance to stop by the old homestead and see for myself how the renovations* are going.  Given that we were still poking our way through a lifetime of her treasures just a  month ago, it was strange to see the house emptied…

And mostly gutted…  BJ, my niece’s husband, has already re-wired the place, bringing it up to code.  Exterior walls are insulated.  Cracked plaster ceilings have been covered with drywall.  New windows installed.  All of the old hollow plywood doors, carpeting and baseboards have been thrown into the industrial dumpster in the driveway.  Bathroom fixtures, interior doors, ceiling fans and kitchen cabinets have been purchased.

BJ does good work.  Being laid off momentarily, he also has the time to commit to the project – at least 12 hours a day, unless he’s picking up side jobs.  i was pretty amazed with the progress.

Talking with Mom today, she’s still in a massive blue funk over the whole thing.  i reminded her for the millionth time that she had options, but chose this one.  That choices have consequences.   That once it is finished, it’s going to be lovely and new.  That there were safety problems that would have likely killed her sooner rather than later…

Mom:  They had to tear out the things your Dad put in… the deck, the shelves in the dining room.

daisyfae:  i know, that’s the hard part…

Mom:  Then they come home and tell me how much fun it was knocking out that wall in the kitchen with a sledge hammer.  I asked them not to talk like that anymore.

daisyfae:  Yeah, that’s gotta hurt.  But if Dad were alive, you know damn well what he’d say about it…

Mom:  “It’s only ‘stuff'”.  He said that a lot…

Seeing just the shell of the house, i was struck by how small it is.  There were six of us living there – three tiny bedrooms and one bathroom.  My poor sister, S, spending her teen years stuck in a small bedroom with her two punk-ass little sisters.  Her psychadelic  “flower child” artwork from the 60’s sharing wall space with our Batman and Hotwheels posters. 

With the carpets torn out, the darkened pine floors were exposed for the first time in decades.  Standing at the end of the hallway, i remembered it as a runway – a place where my sister, T, and i played.  Racing up and down the hallway, skating in our knee socks – with the tops rolled down to make “elf skates”.  At five years old, it seemed a mile long…  Now?  Maybe twelve feet… i was too lost in my head today to walk off the distance.

It was about that age that i got a Fisher Price Circus** for my birthday.  Endless hours of my childhood spent pretending to be the ringmaster, the lion tamer… Riding the circus cart down that damn hallway.   

How small was i?  Could i really ride that little thing?  Down a twelve foot hallway?  Seems like yesterday.  It was just a hundred years ago.

* In case you haven’t been playing along, my Mom has been living on a bed in my niece’s living room since July of last year.  The original plan was for my niece and her husband to build a new home on some acreage Mom bought them in the country, but financial reality struck, and that plan was scrapped for something less hallucinogenic more practical.  They are now renovating Mom’s house, and building an apartment on the back (along with a nice master suite for themselves), and the entire clan hopes to be moved in by late summer…

** Early in the excavations, i rescued the circus from underneath Mom’s bed.  Cleaned it up, and it now resides on the shelf over my kitchen bar.  It seems so tiny, but it was just the coolest toy ever when i was 5…