Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is This What Tracy Chapman Meant?

Last Friday Cory and I headed out for an adventure of the Rockford, IL persuasion. We left at 7pm. It's a four hour drive. And we hadn't even had dinner yet.

No worries. I couldn't wait to click that seat belt. A 4-hour drive with no kid-chatter? Sign me the heck up.

He had a fast car. And I had a plan to get us outta here. We wouldn't have to drive too far. Just cross the border and into the city.

Of Rockford.

Oh, and his car isn't really fast. It's a 1995 Pontiac Sunfire with the windshield wipers stuck straight up.

But whatever.

Exactly 1.5 hours into the trip, we hit a snow storm so fierce that the wipers went momentarily horizontal. I don't know if I've told you this before, but I'm increasingly skittish about the Toll Road. Toll Road + snow + gale force winds + truckers blowing past us like we're strolling the shoulder with two walkers and false teeth? I'm done.

We pulled over and went looking for a hotel.

Cory ran in to the first one we found. A Hilton Something-or-other. Mid-grade. Nice-ish. 100 big ones for a night. He ran back out and called a Best Western, which clocked in at fifteen dollars less. He reported that both had a free continental breakfast, and we set out to save fifteen bucks.

But we had trouble finding it and I suddenly became so astonishingly tired that I didn't think I could drive one more mile, so we turned around and went back to Paris Hilton.

We got a luggage cart and loaded up 2 duffel bags, one pair of boots, one camera bag, one purse, two loose apples, a magazines and a box of Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal - maple flavored.

On the way in, the wind stretched my cheeks back like in the movies. I don't know which movies, but I remember seeing it before.

Inside, Cory pulled out his credit card just as I caught a large, looming sign. "Breakfast served 7 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. $7.95 per person."

Me (whispering): The breakfast isn't free.
Him: Oh, it isn't?
Him (looking at the lady about to swipe his card): Is the breakfast free?
Lady: No, it's $7.95 per person. Full omelette bar, fresh waffles, fresh frui-"
Him: I'm sorry, I think we're going to head on up the road.
Lady: Oh??? (awkward pause) Sorry. (hands back the credit card)

Let me say, there's no graceful exit when all of your crap is on their cart.

We headed back out to the storm and I don't know what I was thinking, but I immediately jumped back into the passenger seat. I leapt, really. I didn't move a solitary item from the cart to the car. It didn't even cross my mind.

Cory noticed, though.

The Best Western was... drab. A tinge depressing. We watched a little Fox News, a little Chelsea, a little House Hunters. We fell asleep spread eagle on our own personal Queen size beds. Don't hate. It's a personal kind of luxury to have all my toes hanging off the edges of the bed.

Somewhere around 4 a.m. we woke to the sound of a crying baby.

Cory: You have GOT to be kidding me.

Next day, I realized I had no hair conditioner. No hair styling product.

I did, however, still have the two loose apples.

Incidentally, the BW doesn't offer complimentary hair conditioner.

I would be greeting my friends with flattened hair. Flatter'n flat.

I threw it in a wet ponytail and we headed out for our highly prioritized free continental breakfast.

Only there was none.

The food was gone. And it was only 8:30.

Cory kindly pointed out the lack of food to the lady with the dark brown lip liner. She glared at him. "I just re-filled it FIVE minutes ago."

And that was the end of that.

But at least the storm had cleared.

If I ever own a steel plant, I'm painting it aqua and I will only allow red and yellow trains to carry my cargo.

A few hours later, I was face-to-face with this beauty. I used to stock plastic shoes with her in the Meijer shoe department, about eighteen thousand years ago.

We looked like this, only we were usually wearing red button-down smocks and Mollie was always with us. (Hey, Mol! Wish you were there.)

Now we're actual ladies and we wear cardigans and hold babies and fry bacon.

And we both married boys named Cory.

Hey, look! It's The Corys! That's what we called them - The Corys. Don't they look happy together? They're real techy and smart. I love The Corys. Some more than others.

Sarah accompanied me to Courtney's book signing for A Sweethaven Summer.

 I was so proud. And she looked so pretty! And my hair was so. dang. flat.

Also, I just decided: I'll not be wearing my scarf like that, moving forward. I'll stick with my traditional multi-loop. It looks too chokey. Like I'm hiding something.

Later that night Sarah and I hit up the town with The Corys for a fireside dinner and beverages. Then we headed to Dixon, IL for Courtney's book release partay.

 But first? A trip to Ronald Reagan's statue. How could we not? We couldn't not, that's how.

The party was quite swanky in a little art gallery. I wanted to buy an oil painting of a cow face, but I didn't have an extra $270 with me.

And the punch.

I've never fancied myself much of a punch girl. Until that night. It was cranberry juice on crack. It had floating apple slices. I drank four cups.

I wish you could at least see it. It's hiding right there behind me and the Fancy Author.

Courtney was a superstar. People came in droves and I felt simultaneously proud of my friend and  jittery-jealous that I couldn't shove all of her admirers out the back door so we could sit at a tiny table and talk for an hour or two. And drink punch.

Ah well, we'll always have Dallas.

 This here? Well. We smiled for a picture (see above) then I said, "Now just get some candids."

Cory: Candids?
Me: Yeah. We don't want a bunch of posed shots. Just get some candids.
Cory: But you're just....sitting on a couch. Talking.

So then we started pretending to be candid. And then we got to laughing and all of our chins came out and Sarah started waving her hand like a laughing grandma and I scrunched up my nose because it was so dang funny. And Cory got the shot.

In hindsight, I may have romanticized the whole "candid" idea. But I sure was happy.

That's the kind of weekend it was.


  1. i could not love ANY of this more. great story. free hotel breakfast?? it's a must. grouchy breakfast ladies?? almost always. good times. :)

  2. that's the only way i ever wear my scarf. now i'm ashamed. i demand a loopy scarf tutorial asap. save me from my hiding something scarf wearing self.

    and go Courtney!!! can't wait for my autographed copy, i feel so spoiled.

  3. um you just changed your font in the middle of my comment. but i like it.

  4. You're so.dang.funny. And your hair was pretty flat. But cute. You're always cute!

  5. you are hilarious! The punch sounds delicious...for us people who don't go to book signings, we think that half and half cranberry juice and 7up is just about like heaven on earth. getchoosome:)

  6. bedtime was hard tonight with our I REALLY needed this laugh.

    just so you know, when I have these kind of nights, your blog is the first one I go to bc I'm always sure that your humor will bring me back from the bedtime despair. :)

    can't pick a funniest part....maybe the part about not wearing your scarf like that anymore bc you think it looks like you're hiding something..or maybe the fact that you were honest about you and Cory sleeping on separate beds.....(thanks for keeping it real...we've totally done that, too!!!)

    OR maybe it was when you said y'all took back your credit card and everything off the luggage cart and headed BACK into the storm. HILARIOUS. We would've totally left, too.

    you out did yourself tonight. :)

  7. I love your weekend.

    And will love any extra chin you ever have.

    I'm still upset about your breakfast.


  8. Your stories make me laugh. And smile. And yearn for punch. Good job not just going home, but doing the work of finding a hotel and all that!

  9. girl, you crack me up.
    my grandparent's and extended fam lived in good 'ol rockford, so i grew up going there
    A LOT.
    and let me tell you, not that you can do anything about it now, but you missed out on
    swedish pancakes on the entire planet.
    i can say that because my grandparents were swedish and i'm a darn good swede pancake cook.
    they were/are at the stockholm inn in rockford.
    you know, in case you ever go back.

  10. i fry bacon EVERY SINGLE DAY. i am an actual lady.

  11. someday i am going to fix this so that i am not always logged in as my daughter. emma stover aka melissa stover

  12. Gotta love ladies with dark brown lip liner. Sounds like a fun trip, though!

  13. Ahhhh...a weekend away from my kids...I wouldn't care a lick what we did...or didn't...ahhhh...a weekend away from my kids...ahhhh

  14. you had me rolling on this one tonight. we totally would have done that wen we found out it didn't incluse breakfast, too ; ) but we mighta snuck back down to the Hilton the next morning for breakfast though....

  15. I adore you. I love that you pose for candids...dangit if candids are not impossible to get! I also love that I see that Lay It Down cuff in every picture of you. It makes me smile all the way to my toes.

  16. Dearest Farmgirl/Rentalgirl, You have the coolest friends, authors an such. I love every time you write about them. What kind of punch will you be serving at your book release? Peoples out of state have often said to me, "oh you live so close to Chicago, do you go often?" Not to much, you have to take the toll road to get there!!! My husband used to be the perfect driver until he drove me into IL. several times. I made him fear the big trucks just like I do. He tells me he's not afraid of the trucks, but more my yelling at him as he's passing them... Please have your book signing on this side of 933.

  17. Oh shannan this was just what I needed. I've been indirectly going through some tough family things and I just laughed through most of this!! You and I could be real life friends. I just know it. How many times have I done the "candid shot" poses or been a little too excited about Ricky and Lucy beds in a hotel room or demanded free continental breakfast if I'm gonna pay upwards of a hundred bucks for a mid-grade niceish hotel room. Too many times. Thanks for sharing your weekend with all of us!

  18. I loved this story! It sounds like something that would happen to my husband and me. Like the time we booked a beautiful hotel in Fort Wayne for our anniversary and when we got there...two single beds. No more rooms available. Let's just say we had the luxury of toes hanging off the beds too. Ridiculous! Sounds like a fun and memorable weekend with good friends and hubs.

  19. You know how to tell a story.
    All the chins. Why do the chins come out like that?

  20. The Paris Hilton, all the chins, the chokey scarf. You slay me.

  21. Flat? There are lots of ladies who spend an hour every morning ironing their hair flat. Not me, of course, but then my hair is a tad bit off. It matches the rest of me.

  22. If we lived closer I could see me hanging out with you because we like so many of the same things with the exception of Fox and Reagan but that is such a small thing :) Wanted to say that your hair did so not look flatter then flat it looked great.

  23. How fun! Nothing like good friends! :)

  24. You are so funny. Looks like fun. The hotel story is so funny. Last summer we had to stay in a hotel on the way to Hilton Head. It was $100. It was dirty. The air vent was off the wall. Who knows what kind of critter could have come in there. Behind the bed was nasty. The bedspread was thrown off the bed. In the night I got up to potty and crunched something under that bedspread. In the morning I asked my Hubby to see what it was. I asked it it was a cock roach and he saud, "No, but from the same family." Shouldn't $100 get you a clean room with a free breakfast.....geez.

  25. man. can i be your new best friend? you are so fun. this was a delight to read. :)

  26. I totally woke up on the wrong side of the bed (us momma's can do that, too, right?) and I NEEDED this laugh today!! I've so done the whole "ok, candid photo time..." and it was WAY more awkward than posing! LOL!

  27. great story!!! i love the way you tell it, too. i feel like i was there with you!

  28. Girl, your story pulled me in. You and the Cory know how to have an adventure. I'm all kinds of mad about your lack of breakfast. I will officially boycott Best Western now.

  29. Tears....rolling down.... my face.... I am laughing so hard. (My daughter is staring at me from across the room.) You are the BEST story teller.

  30. Oh - Rockford and Dixon - you were so close to my hometown. That is a kinda lame comment after your lovely post. So sorry. :)

  31. I was driving to Illi-noise last Friday and it was scary; glad you two made it safely and had a wonderful time there! I'm also glad that Cory had a credit card for the hotel. (If you don't use a cc and pay cash on arrival, the kid working on Friday night may use said cash for a pizza party and not tell the morning people that you paid and they may not want to let you leave in the morning until you pay again...don't ask me how I know that, I just do. #worsthotelintheworld)


  32. Thank you for recommending your friend's book A Sweethaven Summer. I read your earlier post, ordered it from Amazon, got it and read it in 2 days. What a great read!!

    1. Tami, thank you SO much for ordering it! (And reading it!) :) This just made my day!!

  33. wait. I wrote a comment on this post...where'd it go!!??? I'm sure there was a FNL reference and a comment about how low cut my dress appears in that last picture!!! Where oh where did it go??!!

  34. I have read your blog for a long time and I am laughing right now as I read about your Rockford trip.I live in Rockford so, I was definitely excited to read about your adventures there. Then I saw a picture of your friend, Sarah, and I thought I know her but I can't remember how. Then you showed a picture of her hubby, Cory and then I remembered. My husband and I were his youth sponsors when he was in high school. I just saw Cory the other day...small world. They are great people! Thanks for sharing about your trip. :)

  35. This whole post made me laugh.

    I believe I was in Mexico when you posted it, am just seeing it now.

    The BW story, the Hilton with the $7.95 breakfast...trying to make a gracious exit when all of your crap is on that cart...the BW being OUT of breakfast before 9AM = Good Stuff!

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Hoping Calvin is getting better. :-)

  36. This comment is soooooo late -- I have my reasons, though. I wanted to say...I wonder if you spent the night in my town. We have a Hilton right off the toll road (80/90) and also a Best Western a bit down the road.

    AND, that ugly blue steel plant -- for sure, I know where that is.

    So close....!!!

    I would have come to the event at the Nappanee library several weeks ago but it was on a night when we had church. Bummer. I so would have been there. :)

    Take care!

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