Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, November 10, 2003

In a region full of the brightest minds in America…

…in an age of indescribably powerful GPS guided computer mapping programs, you would think that SOMEBODY would be able to give a relatively accurate set of directions to a place, using exact mileage and place descriptions, without once having to use the word “about”. As in, “about five miles.” Which ain’t.

Got off the famed exit 8, and knew to turn left only by having looked at the route ahead of time, and then to turn left once again at the traffic light, again only by having a vague recollection of the need to backtrack alongside the Interstate. Good thing I looked at the map beforehand, because the directions were more like the quiet, vague, little voices in my head. Smart Rocket Scientist Folks, please give us mere mortals a few more details when describing your driving directions.

Took off for the Liberty landing site, which consisted of driving a long way in the dark, turning right, driving a long way in the dark, driving right on past the designated subdivision sign (which was not lit), becoming punchily giddy about turning around at Highway 72, turn around, go back a short ways, turn left at the subdivision, tear down darkened subdivision streets, screech into parking lot at Liberty Middle, and bask in the glow of moonlight and the whistling sound of leaves skittering through an empty parking lot. (Evocative, ain’t it?)

Well, poop. (Which is what I said out loud. In my head, it was a stream of cruel invective that would have made Acidman cower in a corner for days.)

Wrong park.

Rolled my dice, came up craps.

It is now exactly 5:35. We have to get to the unknown land of Randolph-Garth, which I had neglected to scout out ahead of time. Which meant I would have to rely on the directions.

Resisting the urge to burst into tears like a girlie-man, I whipped the Odyssey back down the dark streets, back on the dark main drag, headed back south to the main, MAIN drag, got to the interchange and wheel… “I HAVE TO GO PEE!!” ::sigh:: Wheeled into the Chevron station, which only had one restroom, thankfully unlocked, which was quickly filled with a tiny little ear-infected heathen child. Oh no. The entire mind-bladder-sleep deprivation interface broke down to the suggested release of excess fluid—sort of like when you see someone else yawn and you have to also. Suddenly, I had to go, too! Bad! NOW! AND NOW BOY DID, TOO!

Both of us jumped out and were outside the door, madly doing the Magic Dance of Bursting Bladders, and I did a quick Man Look for unstructured release spots. None. Of all the unlit roads we had just went down, the interchange and the entire grounds of the stations were lit up like Times Square. If it had only been Times Square, I would have felt at home using the great outdoors as my own personal toilet, but this being Madison, I figured it would be a bad thing to do to get arrested for public exposure. Finally got Reba to unlock the door and Boy and I bursted in and started wrestling with belts and zippers and buttons and AHHHHhhh.



“CATHERINE!! PLEASE turn toward the door until Jonathan and Daddy get through!” It seems that in our rush to talk to a man about a dog that Catherine managed to lag behind Mommy just long enough to get trapped with us. Ooops.

She dutifully turned around and asked why Mommy had left her. Awwww. Poor thing. “She’s not gone, sugar, she’s just outside.”


So she opened the door and walked out.

Hello, Madison!

Hopped back into the van, all of us now comfortably unladen of our previous imbibications and it was off toward town. Clock ticking, we do a nice dirt-track slide through the exit to Memorial Parkway, scream down to Drake Avenue, turn left, head out to the vague hinterlands, manage to find Garth Road, and finally pull into the fields “about a mile” down the road on the left. 6:15. Whew.

Unload Bec and send her on her way with her bag and start unloading ourselves.

Boy, it sure is COLD!

Now, I realize it’s not the same at Minnesota—but for someone who only has on a tee shirt and jeans and a thin flight jacket, and when the wind’s blowing at 20 knots—yeah, it’s COLD. We sat down on the bleachers and tried wrapping up the kids in our blankets and their coats, but the wind wouldn’t leave us alone. SO, back to the van. We were parked where we had a good view, so I turned on the heater and we patiently watched the game.

For about five minutes, when cabin fever set in on the one with ear troubles, who decided to reenact several of the scenes from the famous movie The Exorcist. And then she had to pee again. And not a single solitary place anywhere. Except for the plastic cup we had in the back. Believe it or not, it’s harder for little girls to go in a cup than it is for boys. ‘Nuff said. All finished, Reba hopped out and killed some grass with Cat’s leavings, then we bundled back up to watch the game. And listen to whiny Catherine.

We plied her with various stories and toys and promises of Great and Wonderful Things, which worked not at all. I, now frazzled beyond my abilities to withstand the effects of a cranky six-year-old, decided it would be better to stand outside and freeze to death. So, out I went into the chilly night air, hoping that what they say is true—that you just sort of crumple down and go to sleep.

Well, it’s not true. You get involved in the game, and decide that maybe if you stand right beside the wheel well, you can stay warm enough to catch the whole thing. And then you see your poor wife with a wiggling first grader in her lap, looking like she could use a rest, so you decide to punish both yourself and your unruly child by letting her get out and stand with you.

She actually kind of liked it, and at least the wiggling was used not to make anyone else miserable but to create body heat. We walked around to the back of the van a bit to block the wind. It got to be halftime, and I looked around at the park. Over toward the back of the parking area was a wooden enclosure like you see around dumpsters. Over the top peeked a white plastic roof, with a little tiny vent stack. ::sigh:: A portable toilet. Discretely hidden lest rubes and yokels from the hinterlands come in and try to use IT instead of a plastic cup. Oh well.

Second half of the game, and we wind up losing to the Mountain Brook Angels 3-1. Pretty good game, although our girls were having trouble breaking over into the other team’s side of the field. Good effort, though, and our girls never quit or got discouraged.

Back into the van, and finally a bit of time to relax as we drove back the way we came to our hotel. Same place as before—Holiday Inn-Research Park, and same type of digs—king bed, folding sofa bed, and a rollaway. The only difference was a nasty dank funk right at the door. Smelled like old laundry. Blech.

Bathed some of the kids, made beds, collapsed, listened to Oldest fight with Boy over blanket, listened to Tiny Girl laugh in her sleep, felt every knot and lump in mattress, managed to wind up getting about four solid hours of sleep.

It would have been better had they been contiguous.

Episode Three, coming right up!

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