Shopping with the Muslims

This was my world, supposedly; but as I looked around me I realized that suddenly my long reddish hair and casual jeans marked me as the outsider.

I called it "Shopping With The Muslims."

Jeff would laugh every time I mentioned it, with that rich, cackling, my-crazy-spouse-cracks-me-up laugh that means both "I love you" and "You're insane." It's a laugh that reminds me of why I like my occasional flashes of eccentricity; while there is one kind of satisfaction to be found in living up to the expectations of others, there's another kind to be found in occasionally turning those expectations on their collective ears.What's the fun in living when, from day to day, you do nothing but exactly what your friends, spouse, and family expect you to do?

Nevertheless. The story, Amy, the story.

Eggbeater Jesus

You just thought I was teasing you with a subject line such as "eggbeater Jesus." Trust me. I'm not.

You know how every town has its share of odd and bizarre landmarks? We've got our share. If you ask most residents about the most memorable landmark in Huntsville, anyone who has been here for five minutes will tell you that the full-sized rockets standing upright by the Space & Rocket Center are the most memorable sights in Huntsville.

*Anyone who has been here for five years will laugh at the idea of Sprocket being the most memorable landmark in town. Any old town, they'll tell you, can put up a fake rocket (see also, that little visitor's center on I-65 at the Alabama/Tennessee border just north of here). They'll drive you down I-565, turn south on Memorial Parkway, take the Governors Drive exit, and tell you to keep looking to your left.

It takes a truly special town to have an Eggbeater Jesus.

Eventually you realize

Every now and then, this town catches me by surprise.

The first six months I lived here, I hated it and wanted to go 'home' - home, of course, being the quiet swaddle of friends and familiarity that was my collegiate life in Arkansas. But, with everyone graduated and moved away, 'home,' as I remembered it, no longer existed.

Without my friends, Conway was nothing but a collection of streets that connected a series of dormitories.

Without prior notice, part 2: Life synopsis

(Part 1 may be found here.) It's taken for granted that nobody living in Huntsville is actually from Huntsville (Kat being our resident exception). There is no single 'Huntsville accent,' just a variously-lilting amalgamation of the various Southern accents of the engineers who have found their way to this town. But the lack of a specific accent does not imply a lack of commonality in the way the locals speak; go far enough away from standard 'Southern' and the questions begin to pop up:

As some random Southerner has undoubtedly said in some overblown novel, "Ah don' thank they's from 'roun heah."

Without prior notice (part 1)

I sometimes wonder if we realize how lonely most of us are, or if after only a couple of generations of suburbanization, we have begun to consider the isolation of our homes and subdivisions as integral parts of adult existence.

In our cul-de-sac, there are six houses. If you drove down the street, we would be the second house on the left. Unremarkable, except that of all six houses, ours is the most likely to have a number of cars parked in front of it. From the point of view of our front door, there are five houses: our neighbors to the left and right, and then the three houses directly across the street.

The sky isn't falling. That's just rain, dear.

Should I be so blasé about tornadoes? Perhaps not, but any inclinations toward reasonability that I might have are generally blown away (pardon the bad pun) by the ignorance and histrionics of the local weather forecasters.

Don't get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for tornadoes. I remember the one that touched my parents' house when I was a child. A house a mile away was blown to bits, but all it did to our house was delicately lift the cap off of the chimney and set it down in the yard. I've seen tornadoes ravage my home state, seen friends' houses destroyed, spent time frantically calling friends to find out if they and their families were okay.But I only get upset or worried when there's a need to get upset or worried.

This snippet of text, taken from a satirical column in the Huntsville Times, sums our one of our local weather forecasters up well: