Monday, July 23, 2007

This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun!

My parents have owned the above canvas dinosaur for as long as I can remember. If you guessed that it is a geniune 1969 Starcraft Constellation Pop-Up Camper, you'd be correct, and quite possibly also a child of the 70s. Back in that wacky time there was no "minivans" or trips to all-inclusive family resorts with special schedules and activites designed specifically by age group to enhance or build on skill sets to create the next generation of adults with no idea of how to occupy themselves without an agenda.

In fact, if you started a family in the 1960s/70s, I believe you were issued one of these beauties with a station wagon (wood trim optional) a love of plaid, and a man-of-the-house that insisted that driving around the country was an "exciting adventure", "the only way to see the country" and "one of the best educational experiences we can give you kids."

I have many a "fond" memory of that camper. "Fondness" in this case referring to there being enough years past now that the sheer torture of being hauled around to significant bridges and historical creeks and staying at campgrounds with no swimming pool, video arcade games and grossly understocked canteens staffed by elderly folks who had never heard of "Pop Rocks."

Sadly, it is to be sold by my brother I've been informed. No more mustiness to greet me when it's unfurled. No wet canvas smell that seems to permeate everything for the whole weekend even though it rained for only 15min. No horrid cans of faded peas heated to lukewarm on the pseduo-stove before it ran out of butane. No fighting over who gets the "better end" to sleep in or making forts out of the day-glow floral seat cushions!

Okay, I'm really not quite that nostalgic!! ;) But, it was a fun little tormenting device of my childhood and thus has earned a wistful *sigh* at it's passing.

On a scary, weird, strange, funny bizarro note; while searching for my brother's craigslist ad , I ran across another similar model being sold in Mankato, Minnesota:

"For Sale: Nice 1974 Jayco Pop Up Camper. This camper is in good usable condition. It has a heater, three burner stove, sink, water tank, fridge/ice box, 110 volt inlets/outlets, excelent frame/axles, good tires, new spare tire, tows very nice. This camper is 33 years old, and is not perfect, but it is in good condition. $750. Cash or trade for firearms of equal value."

Curious, I looked up on a gun site to see what $750 would get this delightful militia -minded moron. Turns out, not much...while he could get most anything from the lines of the shotguns, handguns and rifles, only very low tier semi-automatics were in that price range. And machine-guns? Only if he had 3-4 mint VW Beetles to go along with his classic camper!

Monday, July 09, 2007

And he looks so cute, in his little red suit...

It's been a long, long night boys and girls.

After getting off work at the ridiculously easy hour of 5 o'clock this eve, I rode no less than SEVEN times on Chicago's rarely lauded Transit System in 4-hours; it would have been NINE if another bus and train had fallen in line!

Quick shorthand for Chicagoans in the know: Red Line: (Roosevelt to Lake, Chicago to Fullerton), Buses: (#74 Fullerton/Riverside, #74 Riverside/Elston, #74 Elston/Belden, #36 Broadway to Addison, #36 Broadway to Argyle)---the missing two were the Red Line: Lake to State (it was rush-hour, couldn't even get in the station!) and #22: from Fullerton to Belmont.....the Clark bus was only traveling Southbound in pairs, it MUST be mating season!

Anywho, the question at hand is why oh, WHY was I such the mass-transit aficionado?

A lovely gal at my current place of employment is with child and the company is throwing her a surprise luncheon party tomorrow. I had received the memo notifying me of this last week and made a lame attempt to procure a present last Friday only to talk myself out of it---what in the HECK do I know about showering a baby?????

Alas, upon returning to Old Navy tonight to procure the my previous idea, I was greeted with empty metal brackets, the entire metropolis being now sold out of frog-headed hoodie bath towels!

After a dead heat race through the remaining State Street shops and the few Mag Mile boutiques in my tax bracket, I was still without a present de babe. It occurred to me then, that Chi-town, on the whole, is quite single-centric. I am sure there are LOADS of strips malls, mall-malls and outlets stores catering exclusively to swaddling bundles out beyond in "Chicagoland", but for a friend of an expecting urban gal, I was screwed!

Case in Point: One of the premiere spots for many "singles" to shop is The Shops @ Northbridge on Michigan Avenue. Would someone please tell me exactly what one gives a newborn from The Body Shop, Ann Taylor Loft, Forever 21, Kenneth Cole or Swatch?? (yes, to those smug folks who double-checked me, while some stores DO have a token "infant department", I dare you to justify $40+ for a set of booties!)

So, I wandered from Target to Marshall's, to TJ Maxx, to yet another Old Navy and finally to Kohl's where I finally procured a non-sex yellow footed onesie with "Sailor Ducks" and some terry-cloth "Duckie" washcloths. I followed that up with a panicked phone-call to my mother for other drugstore "essentials" to pad my gift, with needed but oft-forgotten items. She provided "Baby Magic" wash/lotion (which I remember from the 70s, but cannot find ANYWHERE in Chicago, anyone?), Baby Oil, Baby Wipes, Butt Cream (this may be a good time to mention that while I think this gal is KICK ASS, as she is one of the few grrrrls in the joint who isn't obsessed with what is on sale @ COACH online or what is acceptable to eat at this week on Stage blah-blah of South Beach and drove a SAG wagon at this year's MS ride while 8+ months pregnant, I still only know her as an occasional creative director on some of my assignments; we're not in the "Hey, didn' t you just LOVE that breast-pump I got you" territory yet.

It should also be mentioned that the super lady in question does not now the sex of her offspring and is Jewish, which frowns on (quite sensibly!) Baby Showers as they are an assumption of what is not here yet. Even with modern technology, birth is still an awesomely supernatural experience and no guarantee of anything.

There was one thing my mother (the nurse) discouraged, which I did not know: Baby Powder.

Apparently there is issue with Talc being inhaled and causing lung problems from to pneumonia to progressive diffuse pulmonary fibrosis, and while corn-starch based powders contain slightly larger particles, it is still better to rely on an oil, cream or even just the built-in wetness protection of conventional plastic diapers than use them.

Who Knew????????

Not I. I guess I bypassed that phase in my life somehow; presently having friends that are either quite a few years from even pondering procreation or already having done the deed.

I have never attended a Baby Shower. I am 33 years old.

The closest I came to showering was an honorary dinner for former freelance cohort C and her hubby B at Heartland Cafe in something like '01? My friend H had a lovely boy last year, but since we had lost contact, there was no shower/gift to attend to. Other than that, it's just family and I've been either in classes, out-of-state, or taking my ACTs.

I guess the point of this whole entry is to highlight the unfortunatness of being pregnant (as I'm sure maternity shops are equally scarce!) or the compatriot of a gestating one in Chicago....I guess we ship them off to the 'burbs to fend for themselves? It seems weird that this is yet another "life experience" for which I was not given any 'heads up', by formal education or famial nurturing---am I to learn of all this "magical" babiness only upon my own procreation?

That just seems a little odd, maybe it's just this past weekend of laze watching "The Crucible", "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Piano", but it seems like while repressed in some means, women in past centuries were better educated about what should be done at what time, innately...not just as a midwife for birthing, but as just a well-wishing neighbor; when a casserole was appreciated, when teething was starting, when to offer to babysit etc.

Is is just me? Anyone else clueless out there?
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