Fashion-Senseless…

My Mom was a clothes horse. She could still out-shop me when she was in her late ’60’s. She loved clothes, enjoyed wearing nice things and always looked really put together. She preferred shirt-jacks and blazers and most of her blouses had a bow at the neckline. Mom wore dresses until the mid-70’s when Hillary introduced pantsuits to the world. She might have owned a dress or 2 after that, but Mom had found her comfortable nitch, and rarely strayed from her usual ironed slacks (in every color imaginable plus multiples of white), a loose fitting jacket or blazer (she always thought her butt was big, it never was).

Great aunt Lena, Mom w/bow & loose jacket and Uncle Floyd…

When I was in school, it became important to Mom that I dress nice, and I did. Most of my clothes were not bought though, but hand tailored. That sounds ritzy but it wasn’t. Mom knew a gal who lived across the street from the First Reformed Church in Rock Valley. (I believe she was a stay at home mom with several children. She had an enormous amount of sewing talent. Think this was her way of working from home and helping the family budget) Her name was Mrs. Van Holland. (No first name that I can recall. Rock Valley women usually went by Mrs. So & So. I vetoed that option day 1 of marriage to Hubs).

One of my many hand knit sweaters from Mom…

Mom would get an idea about an outfit for me. Most of her ideas revolved around whatever fabulous sweater she was knitting for me at the time. She might want a pleated skirt to complete my ensemble. Mom got on a shorts kick for a couple of years while I was in high school. Not for her, I never saw in her in a pair of shorts, though I do believe she owned a pair of culottes. Notice I said she got on a kick, not me. Most of this was Mom’s doing. Dead of winter in northwest Iowa, 20 below or worse and that crazy Gerritson girl came to school wearing shorts. Oh Neese. They were bermuda length, always wool, fully lined (thanks Mrs. Van Holland for lining those itchy things). Actually, probably warmer than skirts. Knee socks were popular, so basically only my knees were exposed and showing. Mom also had a thing for orange, her favorite color. She knit me this orange mini skirt. As I remember it was pretty darn short even though we were coming to the age of hot pants and really mini-skirts.

But I’ve never been on the cutting edge as far as fashion is concerned. I guess I’m slow to accept new things. By the time I’m ready to embrace something different, it’s been out of style for a year-minimum. Sometimes I’ve never been on board for what is perfectly accepted apparel. Here’s a great example. I love jeans, always have. Mom never owned a pair of blue jeans or a t-shirt. Different era. I still prefer jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt. This is a casual outfit, no matter how dressy the jeans or top. Why would anyone wear high heels when you’re wearing jeans? Makes no sense and I think it looks dorky and dumb. Tennis shoes, flats, boots, sandals go with jeans, not high heels.

Even my saddle shoes matched…

I don’t like to be the center of attention. Makes me uncomfortable. Stands to reason I would never lean towards outlandish or fad clothes. I don’t want to spend money on a seasonal trend, say a jacket sporting some weird trim or odd shaped sleeves that surely will be out of style in 6 months. Just not me. My grandson Landon mentioned he liked the t-shirt I was wearing recently. Plain, gray Nike swoosh. Landon will be 17 in a couple months. My Nike t-shirt is older than him by a couple years. And still one of my favorites.

2001 with Landon. My Nike t-shirt is several years old already…

So last fall I was in JC Penney looking for work clothes. I buy easy care clothes for the daycare. I get drooled on, snotted on, spit on, pooped on, spit-up on, peed on, and baby food-ed on by those lovable little rascals. Everyday. Everything needs to be washed after my 6 hour shift, including me. And we’re only allowed to wear jeans on Friday. That’s if we pay for that privilege. Boo-hiss. I don’t mind paying, in fact I’d give a buck a day to wear jeans everyday. I’ve never owned so many non-jeans clothes in my life! Anyway, I found a couple of tops that were wash & wear and was ready to check out when I noticed some clearance jean capris. A dark blue pair just past my knee with a cuff. And several holes-on purpose-all over. Cute. But too young. Should be worn by gals much younger than-this-then-soon-to-be-great-grandma. Hmmmmm. Tried them on. Fit nice. Cute. Hmmmmmm. Five bucks. Sold. I’ll just wear them around the house, and if somebody sees me, they certainly will think I came by those holes the old fashioned way, hard work and wearing them for 20 years like my Nike t-shirt.

What was I thinking?

I haven’t worn slacks with a pattern since the wacky 70’s. I don’t know if it’s becauseI think they make my butt look huge, or that I’m just too much of a chicken. To wear printed pants. That’s just plain crazy right? So this loner-introvert bought a pair of herringbone print slacks (on clearance, duh) for work this winter. They hung neatly in my work closet while my I gathered courage to actually sport them for a day being peed, pooped, well you know what happens to me at work. The slacks are kind of loud, not exactly fushia, maybe cranberry and black. No one noticed. Maybe a few of the babies. They’re all into textures and colors and seemed to like my loud pants just fine.

Since it was October when I shelled out that enormous wad on beat-up capris, I didn’t give much thought to them over the winter. In May when it was time to change my dreary winter closet to spring/summer duds, I spotted them again. Didn’t feel foolish or flamboyant when I wore them either. Until Ari came over to pick up Jovi. As she was heading out the door said, “cute capri’s gram.” Oh-boy, a sure sign they’re too young for this great-grandma.

Kerrie, Kelli, Shannon w/hot-pants-mama-me, Christmas 1971…

I was not done with impromtu/foolish purchases just yet. Wandering around the aisles of my favorite department/grocery store Meijer this spring, checking out the clearance racks. My weakness, jeans. Something called boyfriend jeans. Kinda baggy through the legs, with a cuff. If they really are supposed to be your boyfriend’s jeans, that’s the way they should fit I guess. No boyfriend around, but dang if those jeans weren’t sporting similar holes, rips, frayed spots, and something that definitely looked like a patch. Cute though. Hmmmm. Fit cute. Hmmmmm. $2.80. Sold.

Let this be a warning to anyone (of a certain age) considering a similar purchase. These holy jeans and capris can be deadly. Here’s the scoop. Gospel truth. It’s a few weekends ago, and my goal for the day is finishing a story for my blog. Don’t think I’m leaving the house, so it’s a safe bet the boyfriend jeans will be seen by no one other than the Hubs. I lounge around in sweats, reading the paper and finally decide I’d better shower or the day will slip away.

Grab my $2.80 jeans, a comfy t-shirt and head to the bathroom. Shower, dry off, and ready for clothes. Undies, check, shirt, check and now for the new jeans. Got my left leg in, (remember they’re kinda baggy) and I’m sliding my right leg through when my big toe hooks that darling, on purpose knee hole. (Due to my profound hearing loss and Meniere’s Disease, my balance is dicey at best). I start to lose that delicate balance, yet somehow manage to catch myself before flailing into our new glass shower doors. I miss a perfect 10 face plant by an inch above the water level of the toliet. My right arm hits the rim pretty hard causing my head to bounce back up. Gulp. Close, but no I didn’t gulp any water. Still don’t know how I managed not to get seriously hurt. I must have had my dumb foot going through sideways instead of straight up and down. My 3 dollar jeans almost cost some new teeth and a pretty smashed up face. Lesson learned. This old gal will be making no new fashion statements (no matter what the bargain price) anytime soon…

Obviously I need to sit when pulling these on..

Listed…

Hopefully, sometime far into into the future it’ll read something like this:

1. She was a big chicken.
2. She tried hard, but fell short frequently.
3. If cotton candy was involved, she could out-eat a dozen kids-put together.
4. She dearly loved and was enormously proud of her family.
5. She would love the chance to make just one more list…

One of my favorite treats…

Did you guess this might be me? It was the cotton candy that gave me away, right? Maybe an adequate description on my headstone? It’s a bit wordy, so might not fly. Not exactly normal mainstream epitaph. Then again, not much about this wife, mom, grandma, and great grandma has ever been normal. As you can see, I’m not a risk-taker, but clearly a list-maker. Neese-no-taka-risks-but-maka-lists.

Reading list in order of a series of books I need to catch up on…

This story is about number 5. I don’t remember when it started, though I’m sure one of my kids, or Hubs would testify under oath, “she drove us nuts with her crazy lists. She’s made them forever. About anything and everything” Which is true enough. I don’t remember a time in my life when I was list-free. My life revolves around lists. No, I don’t have post it notes evenly spaced covering an entire wall in the spare bedroom. And no, I’m not gonna prove that to you. But if I want to accomplish future tasks, recall things that tend to slip from my small brain, rest assured, it was written down somewhere beforehand. Just the way stuff gets done in my world.

Possible story for my blog in the future. List this list for 6 months…

I think I’m an orderly person. And I don’t like to forget things. Lists help keep my strange little life sane. My world is better when I’m organized. Anything concerning a grocery run, general errands, upcoming events, Hubs-to-do, due dates for bills, or blog post ideas. I make lists for all of the above and so much more. It’s rare for me to forget a list as I’m heading out the door though it does happen on occasion. I’m more inclined to misplace a list somewhere in the house after I’ve written it. Might be something obscure like the probability of what canned goods I’ll be working on during the next 6 weeks. Why make a list about something so bizarre? I’ve no idea, yet I’m compelled to do exactly that on a regular basis.

The reason a list might go missing in this house is caused by a fetish of mine. Tablets. Not like my iPad. Tiny free mini pads from hotels where we’ve stayed. Geez, they’re like crack. My heart rate is accelerating already just talking the little buggars. As soon as I walk in a hotel room, I snag the petite pad of paper and pen. Stash it in my purse, tearing off one measly sheet (this pains me dearly) on which I write, “thanks for the clean room, have a great day.” Heaven help the misguided cleaning lady if she does not set out replacement pad the following morning when she picks up the money as she spiffs up our room. I wouldn’t say I have hundreds of mini-tablets throughout the house, but that total’s pretty close. Whenever Shannon’s out of town (frequently for Landon’s (Drew to the rest of the world) basketball tournaments, I can count on receiving all her token tablets. It’s like Christmas. Almost every weekend.

Love, love my stash of tiny tablets…

I have a routine list I’ve been writing which makes my life more manageable. On the top of the sheet pad I write: A week in the life… On it I list the days of the week, chores, cleaning, errands, Landon’s games, Peyton’s dance classes, work, meetings, Jovi, groceries, shopping. Not all things listed will be checked off or completed by the weeks end. They never are. But if I deem it halfway important, it will surely be re-routed on the following week’s scheduled list. Somehow I’ve found ‘dusting the furniture’ can easily be moved from one week to the next with nary a guilty thought. I rarely feel bad about skipping it either. Because my intentions are good and sincere, though it remains one of my least favorite chores.

Sounds like many of these should be on my calendar, but when there’s more than a couple things listed on it per day, my little alloted squares on the calendar gets too crowded and makes me twitchy. Besides, I already have birthdays and important dates I want to remember on the calendar. When planning my week in the life, I tend to bunch stuff together. Why? Basically I’m a lazy slug. If I plan is to run out for an oil change, I’ll get gas, money from the bank, stop at Goodwill for that cheap platter I need, and buy groceries. If this possibly means spending a full day at home instead of running around again, I’m in. Face it, I’m an introverted lazy loner.

A frequent mistake-2 lists on the same sheet, oops…

Not everyone in my world fully appreciates my ability to create these masterpiece award winning lists. Hubs routinely tops my list of non-appreciative folks. He might even go as far as saying he hates, abhors and detests the 2 sentences, starting with the words, “here’s my list” or worse, “let me make a list for you.” This from a man after almost 50 years together is still unable to find a gallon of milk in the fridge. Maybe I need to start a map division for my hopeless, hapless guy. But just hand him any kind of new-fangled gadget. He can draw you blueprints, build machines to make the product, cost out all the parts, determine when the machines will be paid for, start production before the deadline, have the finished products shipped efficiently and as cheaply as possible, and soon be making money. Long before he finds that elusive gallon of milk in the fridge. Dude.

High school buddy Bob Smith, shooting the shit with John, 2016…

I’m never without a running grocery list on my kitchen counter, especially on a canning or baking day. Adding sugar, flour, eggs, baking soda, whatever, whenever I start running low. One of my top pet peeves is running out of anything. Neese, the quantities shopper. My grocery list resembles hieroglyphics. MW means Miracle Whip, AM, Aunt Millies, BC, birthday cards, seedless usually means watermelon or red grapes. I’ve written my list this way for decades. I fully realize one day I could very easily end up in Meijer, staring at my list and not have a freaking clue what any of this gobbledy-gook-gibberish means. And yet it’s written in my own hand. That day would be the time to give my car keys up.

I have begged John to add whatever items he wants, needs, craves or sees we’re running low on to my list. But to no avail. He tends to remind me of what I’ve missed about 24 hours after writing a huge check at the grocery store. (I spend a lot of money on groceries, we rarely eat out, but eat very well at home). Invariably, whatever he needs is something I don’t eat or use, so of no consequence to me. Hubs will say, “hey, I couldn’t shave this morning, out of razors.” Or “could you buy some chunk cheese and Club Crackers again? We’ve been out for months.” (To simply avoid this Hubs, put it on my dang list).

I don’t yell and tell Hubs to get his own shaving cream or whatever because I truly enjoy shopping. Crazy, I know. I can waste more time wandering up and down aisles in Meijer. But only when I’m not in a hurry and they’re not super busy. (Always have to check the end caps for clearance items, these items change frequently). But it does kinda tick me off that Hubs can’t simply put the items he wants or needs ON MY LIST. SOMETIME BEFORE I GO TO THE STORE.

Hubs is not good at making his own lists. Much less following, admiring, appreciating or adhering to mine. Constant supervision and encouragement are needed (often with a gentle nudge from an electric cattle prod) when giving Hubs a list or insisting he make his own before running errands. If I feel further instructions necessary, his brown eyes glaze over and the headlights grow dim. I know he will need some Saturday morning cartoons to decompress before moving forward. Recently however, one of Hubs favorite childhood treats has appeared on my lists. Written in his own hand. And it stinking cracks me up. Almost weekly. OK, he sees my list on the counter everyday, yet somehow this is the only addition he sees fit to add. Walnut Crush? Dude.

Hubs crazy additions to my grocery list. Do you feel my pain?

Although it’s crystal clear my use of constant lists drives everyone around me crazy, the exact same lists continue to keep me sane. I consider this a win-win…

The Blog Days of Summer…

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing,
But then I know it’s growing strong.
Was in the spring, then spring became the summer,
Who’d believed you come along. Sweet Caroline. By Neil Diamond.

I know, another yawner…

This song! This verse! It explains everything I need to say. How does Neil continue to fulfill my blogging needs? Taking you back to June 2014. I was full of discord. Retired, bored, twitchy, frustrated. I hesitantly embarked on an experiment. Under the tutelage from my long-lost childhood friend, Marlys Kempema Keatley, and after copious instructions from her concerning starting a simple blog. I had just purchased a new mini-iPad with the most memory, most storage, packed in this cute little red leather Michael Kors case (love Michael Kors, but the iPad case was a huge disappointment, leather cracked within a month). Marlys helped me pick out the blog background, layout, and decide on a name for it, Storyteller from a One-Stoplight-Town. Basically, this was a short trial run on blogging. I thought by the end of 2014, I’d be out of words and stories. Nothing more to say.

But once I got over the jitters and started telling my story, my head filled up faster than it was emptying. Every time my brain got near the one quarter full mark, and I’d think my blog had run it’s course, weird stuff would happen. Or an old memory would pop in my head out of nowhere. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine after 3 years, there would still be stuff I wanted to say. Maybe not worthwhile stuff, but that’s never stopped me before has it?

I remember how fast & furious the words were in the beginning. Like I couldn’t get the stories out of my head fast enough. Now more than 160 stories later, they’ve slowed down some, but I’m not ready to call it quits. Been pondering when to make a book out of my stories since I finished writing the first few posts. Just gonna be one copy for me. Gotta have my life (the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between) in print to lug around for my stint in the nursing home in a 20 years. First I thought certainly after 50 posts, then 100. Now I’m kinda afraid when I finally decide to publish, I’ll post an amazing story, AND IT WON’T BE IN THE BOOK! Probably what keeps me writing. Waiting for that one great story. Ha. Foolish little Iowa girl.

I wanted to acknowledge what I consider an accomplishment for this ne’er-do-well. Do I regret any of my stories? Not really, though there’s probably a dozen I’m not very proud of. Most should have been left unwritten and stuck in my head for as long as I continue to breathe. There are a few stories I’m satisfied with, maybe even a little proud of. The rest, just a mish-mash of the mundane life of Neese. But I’m still glad they’re written down. When I was visiting Josh a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned something from a recent post. I was surprised he had read it.

OK, I’m done tooting-my-own-little-out-of-tune-horn-with-the-ill-fitting-and-inappropriate-mouth-piece. First a couple of short subjects that need to be aired but are not worthy of their own full story. You remember my friend Rosemary? She passed away at age 46 from breast cancer in 2010. She had a great job, terrific boyfriend, and had just finished building a fabulous new home near Lake Michigan. I’ve blogged about her a couple of times. We were quite close. I was like a mother figure to her. Rosemary was quite a bit younger than me and had lost her own mom when she was in her mid-20’s. Her mom was in her mid-40’s when she too passed away from breast cancer. Tough. Anyway, Rosemary’s brother Brian gave me quite a few of Rosemary’s possesions after she passed away, which I cherish. Probably none more than her coffee mug. I’ve used it and her little Fiesta sugar bowl every day for almost 7 years. I’m so careful with it. Never put it in the sink, but leave it on the counter until I’m ready to wash it for tomorrow’s cup of joe. One day this week as I picked it up from my soapy sink, I noticed a big chip on the rim. I’m just sick about it. Still using it, but my days with Rosemary’s beautiful coffee mug are numbered. Sorry Rosemary.

Only word that sums it up: shit…

This one has bothered me since we bought our first VCR in the mid 1980’s. We were totally smitten with the thing. Joined a club at a movie rental store, think we got a discount after a certain number of rentals. Maybe 2 billion. Which we hit after the first month. Everytime we started a movie and they got to the disclosure parts. It wasn’t the one stating, “copy this you could go to federal prison.” That’s pirating or something. Yikes. No the one that’s tormented me for over 30 years comes after that I think. “This movie has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your screen.” Do you know how many TV’s we’ve had since 1985? I would cautiously say at least 8. How the heck do they know all my TV sizes? Feels like Big Brother is watching me a little too close. Gives me the creeps. Stop spying on me in my house. Freak.

How about a little Jovi tale? Little peanut is 5 months old already. She absolutely cannot get any cuter. So last week was probably Hubs last regular day to watch his favorite great-granddaughter, although he and Shannon may share her on Friday’s this fall. Ari is out of school for the summer, and after Labor Day, Jovi will come to daycare 4 days a week. I was working that day and got home about 1:30. Jovi and grandpa had a splendid day so far, but she was delighted to see her great-grandma walk in. John hasn’t attempted to feed her solids yet and she was nearing her threshold of tolerance. I got her oatmeal ready and she yummed her way through that lickety-split. Then we made a tour of the house. She loves walking through each room, stopping, me swaying just a bit while she observes everything in her line of vision. Mirrors are right at the top of her favorites, and we have a ton of mirrors. It’s not that I enjoy seeing me, but most of our antique furniture have mirrors on top. Jovi does not mind that the mirrors are far less than perfect. They’re very old and she seems to appreciate that resilvering would take away from their value and charm. (She’s very bright). After completing the tour (yes, even the bathroom, big mirror and no distortions cause it’s brand new) Jovi is thinking a bottle is in order. We get comfy, she scarfs a gallon (slight exaggeration, only slight though), burps like sailor, and toots for 34 seconds. (She’s quite at ease in our house and does not put on airs-well except for all that air-tooting).

Jovi, happy to spend the day at our house…

Her head is under my chin, her butt on my belly when I notice a bright green stain on my fushia blouse. Goodness, that was no toot, that was the real deal. Do you know how many diapers I change at work everyday? I should wear a counter for a couple days to be sure, but I would guess between 8 and 12 on my shift. One third to half of them poopy. Doesn’t bother me at all and trust me I’ve uncovered some doozies. I yell at John to bring some paper towels to the spare bedroom. We keep a beach towel, wipes, diapers in there for Jovi. He lays the paper towels down on the towel and I ease Jovi down. My shirt is a mess. I wipe off as much as I can, take it off, put on my nearby trusty flannel and see about cleaning up the poopster.

Doesn’t look that bad, just oozing out of one side of her chubby leg. Grab a handful of wipes and a new diaper. With my left hand I secure her kicking legs by her little feet. She’s having a good time, throwing her arms around, squealing with delight. About what, I’m not sure. I start wiping away. It’s just SO green. One more wipey ought to do it, and I’m 99% done when out shoots a green geyser that covers my hand. Completely engulfs my whole hand. Gosh that’s warm. And gross. And yet such a pretty shade of green. I yell at Hubs, “more paper towels please. Now please!” John comes sprinting through the hallway, stops dead in his tracks when he sees my hand (looks like it belongs to the Hulk at this point). He tosses the towels, (better than his cookies I guess) says, “man I’d be so sick if you weren’t here right now.” Meanwhile the most beautiful baby is the world is still throwing her arms around and gurgling, something she does when she’s really happy. Like purring. John’s now gagging, I’m giggling and Jovi thinks our strange antics are still worth gurgling about. Had it not been the most beautiful, precious little girl in the world, last Thursday just might been described as shitty…

Jovi on my lap wearing WHITE shorts, minus anything green…

Unrequited…

I’m a jumble of conflicting emotions. Something’s been brewing for a long time and may have finally peaked. It has not made me feel better or given me any satisfaction however. I will likely find a plateau and remain there until I croak. Sounds rather dubious, but it’s not. Part of my story, so here goes.

Yeah, this is about the time it started…

My feelings/wide spectrum of emotions-warmth-yearning-guilt-euphoria-nostalgic-sadness-love-acceptance started 50 years ago in my mid-teens. I chalked it up to normal teenage-girl-hood. By 1970, these feelings were safely stashed away. Kicked to the curb. I was after all, a happily married woman. To Hubs. More importantly, I was with child, soon to be a first time mom. I had enough on my plate, no time for far-reaching, fantasy daydreams.

I have never really been attached to the TV. Do I watch it? I do. Could I live without it? I believe so. There are a few programs I enjoy. But they have never been as important to me as music. Listening to music that moves me and my soul in all different ways. Hearing a song from my past, remembering where I was, what was happening in my life. Sometimes accompanied by remembering certain smells. I do have some goofy songs by current hip-hop artists which keep my feet (and big ass) moving when I walk. Hymns that cause a lump in my throat and make me cry every time I see them in the hymn book. Yes, music has been an important part of my life.

Mommy & Shannon bath time, Hinton, Iowa 1973…

Until I lost a big share of my hearing about 20 years ago, I had the radio on constantly. Would not drive anywhere unless my favorite station was playing loud and clear. I listened to the top hits until Shannon was in high school during the mid/late 80’s. It suddenly hit me. I wasn’t enjoying the artists/songs like I used to. The search was on for the stations that played the songs I grew up loving. Music from the mid-60’s to the late 70’s. I was chided, scolded, tormented, and teased by my kids. When they were in the car they constantly begged me to change the station. New rule. My car, my gas, my insurance, guess who gets to pick the radio station? Me. Little shits.

The Beatles, Dave Clark 5, Buckinghams, Simon & Garfunkel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Kinks, The Doors, Animals, Monkees, Mamas & the Papas, The Hollies. I could go on but now you have the general idea of my tastes in music. In my humble opinion, The Beatles were the best band ever and made the biggest impact in the music world. Hands down. As much as I have always loved their music, or how stinking cute I thought Paul was, The Beatles pale considerably to the number 1 music love of my life.

It finally occured how much this unrequited love interest of mine really meant to me. A weird TV show, ‘Fantasy Island’ premiered in the late 70’s. “Ze plane, ze plane.” By now, John and I were about to become a family of 5. I was nearing my 30th birthday. No longer a love sick silly girl. But whenever I watched Fantasy Island, I knew in my heart what my own fantasy was, and freely told everyone. I wanted to be on a desert island. For my own personal concert. One fan. Me. One-super-hot-songwriter-singer-serenading-me. Neil. Diamond.

At this age, the kids drove me crazy with the car radio…

I’ve no clue why I fell so hard for Neil. A possibility perhaps, his personal, touching, written lyrics. Or one could assume, it’s his heartfelt, unforgettable accompanying music. Probably a mixture of both, making instant connections with millions of fans. Neil, one-of-a-kind-sexy-voiced-rocker-crooner-ballad-singer. As an extra added bonus, his incredible drop dead gorgeous good looks. Other than that, there was nothing really special about the man. He had me at Solitary Man. (Which I thought meant he would never marry because I was his number 1 love (whom he would never meet because I was getting married to another. Now that’s been a bitter pill to swallow. He’s on wifey number 3, the two-timing, I mean three-timing scoundrel). Then again, maybe he’s just never been satisfied because he couldn’t have ME! My story. Sticking to it.

Play Me… Neil Diamond
You are the sun, I am the moon,
You are the words, I am the tune
Play me.

Neil starred in a movie called The Jazz Singer, in 1980. He plays a Jewish Cantor, struggling with his marriage and religion while being pulled into the secular world, writing music and performing. While the movie was not a blockbuster, (though it remains one of my favorites) the movie soundtrack got rave reviews. Love on the Rocks, and America were 2 of the hits. When I got one of Diamond’s later CD’s as a gift, I got into huge trouble. At the time I was driving a ’92 DeVille with a Bose stereo system. Blew out one of the speakers learning the words to Neil’s new songs. Hubs was not at all pleased. Maybe jealous? Or he thought singing at the top of my lungs (along with Neil) inappropriate behavior while driving a Caddy. Whatever.

Concert stage at The Palace for Neil Diamond, 6-2-17

Until this week, I laid eyes on my main (secret-but pretty much everyone knew) squeeze twice. First near Chicago around 1985 when we were living in Davenport. Neil was in his mid-40’s. His concert garb was brightly colored beaded, sequined shirts. And he wore them well. Very well. The second time I saw him in concert was about 10 years later in Grand Rapids, with Hubs about 1997. I immediately noticed my feelings for my favorite singer had not diminshed one whit. His concert was even better than the first time. It wasn’t long after hearing Neil in Grand Rapids, I started going deaf. The decade (not the day for me the music died). Instead of listening constantly to an oldies station, the radio now remains off.

Beautiful Noise…. Neil Diamond
It’s a beautiful noise
And it’s a sound that I love
And it fits me as well
As a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does.

Months ago I noticed Neil was going on his 50th anniversary tour (in the music business) and stopping in Detroit. I just had to see him again. One more time. My concert buddy, fabulous-daughter-in-law Erica graciously agreed to go with. She’s a music freak. And she would pick out where to sit, buy the tickets and let me know how much I owed her. Not to be. Turns out Erica was going to Japan for 2 weeks for Nissan. Figured we’d just forget about Neil (as if). But Erica, being the thoughtful soul she is, didn’t tell me there would be no concert date. Instead she enlisted (blackmail or old-fashioned arm twisting was more than likely involved) a co-worker/good friend of hers, Jeff Van Wormer to drag this old lady to one of the few concerts he probably didn’t care if he attended or not. Jeff is cut from the same freaky music cloth as E. Erica also arranged for my granddaughter Ariana to take her place at the concert with me. Poor Jeff. He was such a good sport. If Ari wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of watching a 75 year old man sing his heart out for 2 solid hours, she hid it very well. I saw no time checking, impatience or eye-rolling from her or Jeff throughout the night.

My Golden Ticket…

It started a couple of days before the concert. This mish-mash of emotions. Although extremely excited, there was almost a feeling of dread. Gone was the heart-throbbing, goofy crush once and for all. And it didn’t feel morbid, but there was some sadness and angst. I just knew this would be the last time. I would never get to watch, listen, sing along, enjoy, reminisce with my dear old friend Neil again. That was the part I was dreading. Not that I had planned on seeing him since the concert 20 years ago. Still, I knew this was gonna be the last time.

Our suite was furnished with great snacks…

Jeff managed to secure a suite for our concert experience. Wow. That’s definitely the way to enjoy a show. The suite was enclosed and could hold 30 people. There were 3 rows of great seats outside the room. And center stage was directly in front of the chair I claimed. Inside, we had our own bathroom, fresh fruit, veggies, chips, dips, popcorn, desserts, and nachos. Plus pop, wine, beer and water. Heaven. I grazed for a solid hour.

Song Sung Blue… Neil Diamond
Song sung blue, everybody knows one
Song sung blue every garden grows one.
Me and you are subject to the blues now and then
But when you take the blues and make a song,
You sing them out again, sing them out again.

The Palace of Auburn Hills was absolutely packed. Even the back of the stage. In a written review the next morning, this was the sentence that stuck with me. ‘Neil Diamond’s been selling out arenas longer than many people reading this review have been alive.’ Neil might have moved a little slower (as do I), maybe played the guitar a bit less than I remember. His songs have always struck a chord (ha-ha, a little guitar humor) with me, but I was completely unprepared and surprised by the tears. For many of his songs, I stood, rocking back and forth, singing every word (that’s a switch in my most recent concert ventures, usually it’s me who doesn’t know many lyrics) with my buddy Neil. For others, I cried through the whole set, song after song. Neil will never realize the impact he’s had on this little Iowa girl’s life for the last half century. But I do. Thanks so much for all the great music Neil. I remain your number 1 fan. Forever in Blue Jeans…

Forever in Blue Jeans… Neil Diamond
Money talks, but it don’t sing and dance, and it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me,
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans.
Honey’s sweet, but it ain’t nothin next to baby’s treat
And if you pardon me, I’d like to say, we’ll do ok
Forever in blue jeans…

Special concert night with Ariana, 2017…