Saturday, July 08, 2006


I say this as I lay my head upon my formerly jelly-bracelet covered arm: I am getting older.

Not old. OldER. The fact that I still contend with zits on a regular basis does not negate the reality that a nieghbor's child, whom I am absolutely sure was born about five years ago, just started an internship with GE.

There are certain virtues, however, to being older. You acquire a particular kind of wisdom. You gaze back upon the vast expanse of your life and certain aspects of it are placed in a unique perspective that leads you to discover that you acted, in your youth, like a complete and total loser. For instance, it has occurred to me that:

•The New Kids on the Block were not, perhaps, the musical geniuses I once perceived them to be.

Here were five young men, currently employed at a Wal-Mart near you, who rose to stardom on the following lyric:





This is not to say, however, that the New Kids did not devote themselves to artistic growth throughout their stellar three-year reign on the cover of that sublime journalistic masterpiece, “Bop”. In their most recent album, “Step By Step”, the New Kids participate in admirable consciousness-raising by asking us,

“How could you play me

Like a champ, a tramp, a cramp

Girl you did me worse than a food stamp.”

To the New Kid’s credit, this courageous musical stance has deeply affected the way I conduct my adulthood interpersonal relationships. “One of the things I love about Mary Beth,” my friends are always saying, “is that she never does me worse than a food stamp.”

•Upon further review, poofing my bangs to heights where they required flashing airplane warning lights was not particularly flattering.

Never was this more apparent to me than in college, when I helped DJ an 80’s music event for a campus radio station. Spinning the greatest hits of Richard Marx, however, (both of them) meant I had to dress the part. This entailed entering into major curling iron negotiations with my hair, which, in a fit of self-defense, adamantly forbade me to poof it. “You and I have already discussed this issue,” said my bangs as they stubbornly refused to tease skyward. “We’ve BEEN through this. We agreed this is not a good thing. BACK AWAY FROM THE PICK.”

•In retrospect, it may have been a waste of money to attempt to smell like Debbie Gibson.

Once, long ago, I received for Christmas a tiny spray bottle. Inside this bottle was a neon pink fluid, and floating within this fluid was a plastic flourescent lightning bolt. This fluid was: Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth” Perfume.

Miss Gibson, for those of you who are currently $15.00 richer than the person who purchased this for me, was a musical entertainer whose work approached the quality of, but was not quite as exquisite as, that of the New Kids on the Block’s. The Gibson scent “Electric Youth” was inspired by the Gibson song “Electric Youth”, which announced that the teenagers of America were, quote, “Zappin’ it to ya.”

If my rapidly ageing olfactory senses serve me correctly, if both Miss Gibson’s song and scent accurately reflected my generation, we zapped it to ya smelling like inexpensive prostitutes. The overpowering odor of “Electric Youth” could be detected from several miles away and quite possibly contributed to the 80’s greatest bulk of hole-growth in the ozone layer.

•Arraying ourselves in entirely neon may not, styisitically, have been the best way to go.

I am told that the top career route for my generation is geriatrics-- training ourselves to care for the even-older-than-WE-are Baby Boomers. I predict that the big-money field for our children will be optometry, specifically cornea replacement surgery. It will be a necessary part of life for our generation after so many years of exposure to fluorescent clothing.

I myself at one time had a wardrobe that enabled me to impersonate the following:

-Chernobyl resident

-Cyndi Lauper’s hair

-The sun

Our sole source of comfort, my fellow aging breakdancers, is that with growing older comes the ability to buy alcohol. So join me for a margarita and a rerun of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” the episode in which the Duke boys are falsely accused of a crime and several car chases ensue. We may reach a state where we can forget that “Punky Brewster” ever existed!

Otherwise, as Michael Jackson grows more gender and racially confused by the day, simply be thankful that you’re closer to natural death than you ever were before.

building this city at:

Friday, July 07, 2006


What are you reading right now?


-Label of Microsoft Office Suite CD, as computer has suddenly decided it severely dislikes Word, not that I can blame it

-I am trying to get to know my new Papa, so bedtime reading is "Salt of the Earth," a very long interview with "pre-16" Pope Benedict when he was but a Cardinal. Awwww, BabyPope! It is tough going, since it's translated from the German and my people are not known for succinct communication. I think I saw maybe one sentence that was less than fifteen lines long.

-Because people have been bothering me to read him for years, Meal Reading is "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide" by Douglas Adams, which I find alternatingly brilliant and exasperatingly over-the-top. I'm on the third book. You won't believe this, but... it's better than the movie. Man. That NEVER happens.

-For editorial reasons, my own crap. Over. And over. And over. And. Ov. Er.

die software creator die at:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


There were tunnels beneath The Womb, subterraneous veins through which only the students and female staff were allowed to flow. It was dark down there, and drippy, but ninety percent of the time this was preferable to the South Bend weather aboveground.

Our brother school had the Good Year blimp seven Saturdays a year, but we had this, the ability to walk below tree roots and emerge squinting in the weak winter sunlight. The tunnels connected dorm to bookstore to library, and the roaring stuffiness was sometimes so intense around the hot water lines that often when I emerged land-side to take on the last few hundred feet between me and the class room building, I stepped into the biting outside air bareheaded, sweatshirt sleeves pushed up and carrying my stadium jacket through the falling snow.

Some artistic souls took to decorating the tunnels; murals, club advertisements, class signatures. So every fifty yards or so would go like this: Grey grey grey enormous blue French Cross; grey grey grey quote from former College president; grey grey grey Look! It’s multicolored wrestling worms! Abstract Art! grey grey grey.
There were spiders anyway.

Some said the tunnels were haunted. The only ancient spirit I experienced was that of an aged nun’s. I was caught behind her at a shaft in the system in which the tunnels were too narrow to pass; I trailed her all the way across campus, underground, weaving behind, room keys clicking impatiently against my backpack. Her ankles were the thickness of a spaghetti strand, fiberoptic thin. I stared at her weedy ankles in her sensible shoes as my tattered sneakers tailgated her. Move! Move! Move! I was eighteen! With things to do!
She reached the end of the corridor, touched the door, turned back to smile at me, then slid past and walked back the other way.

The tunnels were glorious stealth, an echoey form of transport. We liked walking unseen. It could be midnight, one AM, four; we were still able to glide silently through the campus without the night ever knowing about it.

We laid our honor down before the tunnels. Parietals, we snapped with the ease of a Pixy Stick. There was an… understanding about that; we felt it was a stupid rule, and so we massaged our actions around it, when necessary. Man In the Tunnels, there was an understanding about that, too. Dates were rarely taken down there.

The administration shut down the tunnels soon after I graduated. Security risk, they said; codes, and regulations, and all. When I read the news, I sat back in my big-girl, real-world chair, sorrowing. The students who had taken my place would have their jackets on all the time now.
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Two years ago today, I was walking down a Main Street parade route at the Magic Kingdom, hoisting a gigantic American flag with some 200 other people who have attained the stringent requirement of owning a pair of white sneakers and checking in anywhere over five foot three.

“Wear sunblock,” a co-worker warned me. “That flag isn’t going to protect you much.”

O! Irony! The sheer symbolism! Beneath her words, was she telling me that my political ideals, strong as they were, could never shield me from strife and pain…. or did she mean that patriotism was blinding me from the problems of my country…. or was she implying that we as a nation were hiding behind America’s greatest accomplishments, resting on our laurels when we should be striving forward?

Or perhaps she was merely saying: You are the whitest woman I have ever met; perhaps the palest person in the universe, and without SPF 75 you are going to fry.

I think we are well ready for the Fourth again, peering cautiously around the looming terror of 9/11 and prepared to simply let summer be in all its lemonade and bottle rockets. We are weary; we have been torn and bleeding and are just now checking beneath the bandages to find that the scars aren’t so crimson anymore. I think, especially after the last election, Americans just want to…. be.

Most people with a conscience or the merest glimmer of spirituality have gained a new appreciation for normal life over the past two years. We drive to work in a traffic jam and think, “Isn’t it wonderful that I have a job.” We inhale, feel the strong breath and not the shaking gasps of fear. We automatically slip off our shoes in the airport security line, delayed but not disgruntled. We hurry to pull out of the way for a wailing fire truck, less annoyed, more grateful.

Go ahead and hoist a corn on the cob on me today. Make the cold beer your own and leave the fretting for another day. Inhale. Rest; for sometimes a gigantic American flag is merely a gigantic American flag.

land that I love at:

Monday, July 03, 2006

How was your weekend?

Mine was roary.

There is a great deal to be upset about in this picture; whatever that is I'm kneeling in, for instance, and the fact that there is now photographic evidence that I wore a fanny pack TO A NASACAR RACE, but above all I'm excited that the newspaper didn't print my age in the caption.

BLONDECHAMPAGNE SCAVENGER HUNT EXTRA: Find Josh the Pilot and Oogie in the picture!

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