Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'll Drink to That

St. Patrick’s Day in Evanston dawned dark and low, one of those sinister March mornings that could go either way by noon. It was the first day I really haven’t wanted to be at my new job, a mood having less to do with the work and much more to do with the attitudes of everybody else there. Luckily I have something to daydream about that is proving powerful enough to melt the all ugliness right out of my world, no matter how gruesome the weather.

You may recall that last May I demanded a spring pilgrimage, assuming I’d have to settle for Vegas sometime before August, and instead wound up in Deadwood, South Dakota retrieving Jo’s then-twelve-year-old grandson, Reilly. I did have time to explore the Black Hills and enjoy the Gutzon Borglum museum, shop downtown Rapid City (a surprisingly cosmopolitan and very pleasant place), eat sun-dried tomato bagels, and get a pedicure, all on my own because there was no way I was taking Reilly anywhere public with a two-inch blue mohawk, and there was no way he was going anywhere but straight back to Evanston with one of his grandma’s coworkers, even if I was pretty cool and a damned good poker player. I was also driving Dad’s trusty Buick, which Jo and Deed call the ‘living room on wheels,’ and which probably has a cool factor of negative four. Despite our differences we had a pretty good roadtrip together, since I let him pick the tunes (“watch out or he’ll make you listen to Fifty Cent Piece!” warned Jo). Reilly is a very intelligent but extremely outspoken boy, a guest sports columnist in a local paper in Colorado, and a rabid Democrat, which I only point out because I made the mistake of telling him I was voting for Bush in the November election and you know what we spent the rest of the trip arguing about. I’m sure I got bested in that arena, being pretty much weak in the defense of my stubbornness, but I think I got the last laugh in November, didn’t I? Long story short, I got my roadtrip and learned a lot in the process, especially this: there’s no limit to what you can accomplish when you have loads of dynamite and a whole stone mountainside to play with. Crazy Horse National Monument, anyone? Rushmore?

This spring I’m preparing for an equally enlightening adventure, and I can guarantee you that what is in store for me is going to make South Dakota look like, well, South Dakota… compared to New York City. That’s right, people, the Big Apple beckons! Seven days, six crazy nights, five Broadway shows, landmarks galore, an NBC studio tour, Central Park at night, barhopping with Garrick. Yes! All this with my two favorite cousins and their intrepid, globetrotting don’t-tell-anybody-she’s-a grandmother, who is planning this trip on the heels of a recent Australia/New Zealand/Fiji tour, and her exhausted husband Ed says you couldn’t pay him enough to go to New York. (I suppose this may be confusing because she’s not my grandmother, but her dad was my grandmother’s brother, see, so they’re somehow my cousins… and besides I have three grandmothers- oh wait, I’m down to two, now- so there’s really no point in going into the whole long story, except to tell you that I have a big, remarkable family and I’d go anywhere with any three of them any day, but this trip is going to be really, really great.) So we’re going, and my Vaio and trusty digital Olympus Stylus are going too, and I’ll give you a nightly play-by-play from our room at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square. It’s going to be one hell of a way to celebrate my first whole year of blogging!

Now, some odds-and-ends:

Miss America there on the hayrick is my maternal grandmother Molly (Malka), pitching hay in a dress and probably stockings in the spring of 1938. Yes, that’s snow, and yes, she really was and is that awesome.

Happy belated 26th birthday to Lenny, and I have no excuse for not posting so on the 13th because, believe it or not, I can actually pick up a wireless Internet connection at Mom’s in a town of less than 300 permanent residents (and about 300 transient oilfield workers). I find that unfair because I live in a town of nearly 13,000 and the only place I can log on is at home where I have a wireless router, thanks to said birthday boy, who was, of course, born on a Friday and whose subsequently unlucky life would make even the most skeptical person superstitious. He would tell you it "builds character,” and he would be right. He’s all the proof I need.

I may go down to Kate’s and have green beer tonight and risk being seen with my boss, or by my boss, because if Utah State didn’t play well today he’s going to be pretty cranky (there’s an Evanston kid on the team). Or I may stay home and gather up more things to put in the yard sale Kindra’s going to have to earn $ for State (art club trip). I have to attend defensive driving tomorrow, not because I’ve done anything wrong, but because it’s required for Public Works employees and I’ve sold my soul. This Saturday is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet and auction in Rock Springs, which means another late night, and I have to work Sunday, but even the midnight drive alone on I-80 will be worth it. My family has two tables (so far) and there’s no party quite like a Bertoncelj party.

My Level I Operator’s Certification test is still coming up in May, and I’m getting a bit nervous despite all the studying and hands-on experience I’m getting. I can label the parts of a peristaltic pump, test chlorinated water for Trihalomethanes, color, pH, turbidity (spellchecker hates that word!), and lots of other things that would probably make you less inclined to drink bottled water. (That’s right class, most bottled water is just filtered tap water and sometimes it even exceeds the E.P.A.’s standard Maximum Contaminant Levels. So much for Evian, right? Did you ever notice it’s ‘naïve’ spelled backwards?) I’m finally learning to speak Jeff (“bein’s this here tank’s empty, I’d say wim gotter” or “mimquisitive ‘bout thisser ting”), I can “batch out” solutions of polymer coagulants that smell like model glue and act like honey, and convert things from English to Metric so fast it would really impress my smelly high school math teacher. He tormented me for three years because, even as easy and enjoyable as the rest of school was for me, I absolutely hated math “with the heat of a nova,” a line I had to appropriate from Brent because my God, I’m sure I couldn’t come up with anything as wonderfully expressive. At any rate, it’s important that you wish me luck because a big part of the test is math, and I’m starting to get it but even so, I’m worried. The only thing I really have down is calculating foot-pounds of torque, and that’s only because I read Car and Driver. And so help me, if they call the Mitsubishi Montero an “ugly mutt” one more time I’m going to cancel my subscription. Even if it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing vehicle on four tires, it’s going to drive that VW Touareg into the ground.

Life is going unbearably fast and I’m certainly not steering, but I wouldn’t change that. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t change. My perpetual crush on Richard Dean Anderson, for one thing, and the seasons in Wyoming, for another. Sure I complain about them; no native doesn’t. But this ugly, awful brown month is going to go out like a lamb and melt into an unmatchable Wyoming spring, and then we’ll have three precious months of beautiful prairie summer.

And in closing, I spotted the most ridiculous bumper sticker on Grace Z.'s lipstick-red Exterra yesterday: "If God is not a Broncos fan, then why are sunsets orange?"


Anonymous Lenny said...

Danke. :-)

March 18, 2005 at 12:02 PM  

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