DMV Nostalgia

Kansas license plates and tags were governed by the alphabet – annual registrations were due based on the first letter of your last name. Since my last name started with “S”, my renewal was in October. I usually waited until the last day of the month on purpose – just so I could go into the DMV wearing whatever wacky costume I’d decided on for the year.

Usually, the staff at the DMV was also dressed up. Everyone was a little happier and smiled a little more, as we all let our inner children come out and play.

Part of me misses that…



When I was a kid, there was a TV show called “Kids Incorporated”. I used to catch it on Saturday morning, right after the cartoons were over. Then it moved to the Disney Channel. It was about a group of kids who had their own rock band, and whose life was like a musical – as in they’d have something going on in their life and they’d break into song about it. The show had a few breakout stars you’ve probably heard of – Stacie Ferguson (Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas), Mario Lopez, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Martika (singer of “Toy Soldiers” in the late 80s/early 90s). I loved this show. I wanted to live this show. I tried to live this show.

I wanted to be a singer. I wanted my life to be a musical. I used to sit on the playground singing to myself. My classmates would tell me I had a pretty voice and ask me to sing for them. I would. Then they would go make fun of me. I tried to make an after-school rock band with these same kids. Couldn’t seem to get it through my head that any time any of them went along with me, it was just to make fun of me later.

I have obsessions. If I like something, I have to find out everything I can about it. I immerse myself in it. One of my biggest obsessions is Star Wars. My parents joke that they took me to see it at the drive-in as a 6-month old baby, and it’s been over ever since. While my passion waned during the prequel years (which I refuse to acknowledge), I am throwing myself a birthday party this year and inviting all my friends to go see The Force Awakens for my birthday, since the movie is opening on my birthday weekend. I’m planning a special Star Wars outfit.

In school, I wrote a series of papers in 3rd grade about Star Wars, just substituting the word “Star” for whatever we were supposed to be writing about. One I definitely remember is “Lion Wars” – a rehashing of the Star Wars plot, set in the Serengeti. I was Princess Leia for Halloween for two years in a row. My parents wouldn’t let me be her for a third. As a matter of fact, I tried to find a picture of the plastic costume and mask I wore, and ended up buying a duplicate on eBay. Because I want to have it. I used to play softball in the summers. I would imagine that my team was the Rebellion and the opposing team was the Empire. The fate of the galaxy was on the line at every game.

I started going to sci-fi conventions a few years ago, but I’ve stopped now. I’ve discovered that in order to enjoy them, I need to go with a group of friends. If I go by myself, my social anxiety takes over and I end up sitting in a corner the whole time. Or leaving altogether. I need someone there to work as my “fun ambassador”. I can’t approach new people or new situations on my own, but with friends there, they can break the ice, I can get comfortable and then be able to enjoy myself. The last few times I’ve gone to the local convention I used to enjoy, I end up hiding in corners or leaving altogether, unable to deal with the people around me, or to approach the groups I might enjoy.

My ex-husband worked for a company that put on a lavish holiday party for employees and spouses every year. There was a joke that it was “prom” for grown-ups. We’d all get dressed up, go to a hotel ballroom, eat a good dinner and drink and dance the night away. Except he would abandon me to talk to work friends as soon as we walked in the door. My introvert tendencies would take over and I’d go sit by myself until dinner, unable to mingle with people because I didn’t know them. When dinner ended, he would ditch me again. And I’d usually approach him within the hour, in tears, begging to just leave. I get so frustrated with myself when I can see everyone having fun around me, and I don’t know how to insert myself into the group to have fun too.

I took one of those online “this is not a diagnosis, but if you score high, maybe you should talk to your doctor” tests on the internet. And yes, I take it with a whole salt shaker. But according to the test, I would score on the autism spectrum. The diagnosis wouldn’t surprise me – my suspicions along those lines are what made me take the test to begin with. But the results actually gave me a little peace. Like, maybe I’m not completely broken. Just different.

Friendly Predicaments

I was chatting with my mom the other night, and we were talking about a party she had recently attended. There was a teenaged boy there that we were both familiar with, and she mentioned that he was hanging out in the yard with his friends for most of the party, while the adults visited in the house. This kid has what I’ve always considered a “difficult personality.” I made an off-handed remark that I was glad to hear that he had friends. Mom said that they could’ve just been there for the food. And I responded that no, if they were hanging out with him, the food was a perk. If they were just there for the food, they would’ve stayed closer to it and distanced themselves from him. Mom laughed and asked why I thought that way. And then I said, “Because that’s what always happened to me at parties.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone. And then my mom said she didn’t know, and she was so sorry that had happened to me.

I accepted her sentiments, and told her a couple of quick stories – how as a kid, my classmates were either forced to invite me to parties or invited me to play tricks on me. I was nearly drowned at a pool party. I was humiliated at a junior high “boy/girl” party. I was ostracized at a sleepover when they wanted to watch a movie that I knew my parents wouldn’t want me to watch. That was resolved with them watching the movie anyway, and me hanging out in a bedroom reading for several hours.

I’ve had several of those people reach out to me via social media over the years. Most have apologized to me in some way or another. I’ve even been invited to class reunions, because “everyone would love to see me again.” And my inner 10-year old always reminds me that these overtures of friendship are how they’d lure me into position as a kid…why should I trust them now?

G is for Gardening

It’s no exaggeration that my thumb is mostly black. Especially when it comes to houseplants. I have 3 that I haven’t managed to kill in the last few years, which may actually be a new record for me. Most die a slow death.

That said, I still love the feel of soil in my hands as I put something pretty into the dirt. While my last few apartments had balconies that let me plant a few annuals each year (because I know that a perennial will never survive), I don’t have that luxury in my current apartment. Instead, I’m thinking of trying my hand at an indoor herb garden in my kitchen. I have a nice bright window. I would just need to get a few small pots and a shelf to give it my best shot.

Is there anything better than the taste of something you’ve grown yourself?

F is for Fiddler on the Roof

I love musicals. I blame my dad.

When I was little, my dad had a copper oil derrick music box that played “If I Were a Rich Man”. And he would sing the song. Then he showed me the movie.

A few years ago, I was able to attend a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” with Topol performing as Tevye (reprising his role from the movie). Fun fact: Topol was 36 years old when he starred in the film version of “Fiddler on the Roof”. They did a great job of making him look much older. When I saw him perform, he was 74 years old. Watching him on stage was just like watching him in the movie. He’s been performing that role for over half his life.

When I was home sick over the weekend, I happened to turn the TV on in time to catch the very beginning of “If I Were a Rich Man”. I fell asleep again sometime between “Little Bird” and “Anatevka”.

I really need to buy that movie.

And every time I watch it, I think of my dad. :)