I go to Michigan for a week: a very long post pondering the discontents of they and them.

Last year when I went home for my folks’ anniversary I got bumped on a flight and got some travel coupons. They were good for a year and by the time they were expiring I hadn’t thought of anywhere fabulous and romantic to go so I just went home again.

When I went to take the flight out the security lines at ATL made me glad my plane was a few minutes late. Chatting with folks in line I said something like “We could send a man to the moon but we can’t get a better system–” and the guy behind me said “It’s all these foreigners–every time I look around I see more of them!” which shocked me enough I nearly said “Dude! I thought you were Hispanic!” just, y’know, from his looks (dark hair, dark eyes, stocky)…it’s a story that reflects poorly on both of us. I could also have said “Dude! my grandparents were immigrants!” but since they were from northern Europe he probably would have thought they weren’t the foreigners he was talking about.

On the plane a woman asked what I was knitting (a sock) andΒ  sounded a little annoyed that I was allowed to–I explained the recommendations on the FAA website (boils down to “don’t bring the scary needles”) and how it was still up to the TSA guys in the airport, but it didn’t make her happier.

My parents have a cool back yard.

My parents kept asking me what I wanted to do when I was there but weren’t satisfied with my answer: hang out, knit, play cards.

Dad keeps a picture of a pretty girl in his shop.

They had stuff to do early in the week, so I got to walk around and take pictures of Spring.

They do a right nice Spring there.

Holland had an early Spring too, so while it was great for me to see the tulips, the Tulip Festival in May might be a Stem Festival this year. Mom had said it had been warm, so I only packed short sleeved shirts, thinking “Georgia Warm,” not “Michigan Warm,” which was overoptimistic of me.

Sunset on the Holland pier: brrr.

Mom and Dad took me to Grand Rapids, so see the Meyer May house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Rocking the neighborhood Prairie Style.

Most of the other houses in the neighborhood were Victorian, except for another that had been built by Meyer May’s in-laws, who hired Wright’s firm but not Wright himself.

At home.

The house had been added to and divided into apartments since it had been built, but when the Prince Corp. bought it in it still had about half its original Wright furniture. The house has been restored to its original condition and is free to go through. Prince uses it for entertaining, but that seems fair. Prince has done a lot for Holland, too, putting a lot of money into downtown development (the downtown is livelier than the mall, imagine) so thanks, Prince, for acting as responsibly as Republicans think all corporations act.

We also went to a small contemporary art center that was encouraging people to draw on the walls:

Dad does his bit.

Dad's bit.

Mom's bit.

I drew this.

I did not draw this.

We also went to Meijer Gardens, where they were having the butterflies.

Orange butterfly.

They have the sculpture garden too.

Mom and I pose under the big hoof.

The little kids were taking turns to lay under that barely-raised back hoof. Dad said Fred Meijer, founder of Meijer’s, liked horses, so there were a few of them in the garden. This one was made of bronze even though it looks like driftwood:

Nazgul. Totally.

Dad said he’d offered the city additional land to move the zoo out from the middle of town but Grand Rapids voters didn’t vote in the funding. When I met up with my best friend from high school I told her that the biggest things to get used to in Georgia had been the food and the bugs, that the religion and politics were pretty much the same: no new taxes means I haven’t had a raise for four years. Of course, on the other hand from the Princes and the Meijers, there’s a lot of things in Grand Rapids named for the DeVosses and VanAndels, founders of AmWay, which…yeah. Maybe they do have excellent soap powder. And one of the Prince kids is Eric Prince, founder of Blackwater, so there’s that.

At the end of the week we took a little trip, going down to South Bend for Good Friday. We went to the Stations of the Cross service at the Notre Dame basilica:

  1. all the buildings at Notre Dame look like churches
  2. outside the basilica is a very large statue of Mary in honor of “the victims of abortion”
  3. the service was prayers written by Cardinal-now-pope Ratzinger, and had quite a bit to do with the plight of the poor
  4. protestants genuflect awkwardly, but with 14 stations we got some practice

We saw the “Touchdown Jesus” on the way in and I had to wonder if when it was built anyone thought “a Christ with His arms raised visible from the end zone of the football stadium–awesome!” or if its ref-ness was a surprise to all concerned.

It was cheaper for me to fly out of Lansing than Grand Rapids, so we went there a day early, and went to Potter Park. Admission is $4 for Ingham County residents, and $10 for nonresidents–while we were in line I heard someone say “I wouldn’t pay ten dollars for this place,” but c’mon:

There was this.

And these guys.

And these guys.

…so, price of a movie? I got no complaints. (Okay, Dad paid.)

I didn’t get a good picture, but there was a small tiny bobcatty feline who stalked around her cage growling I will cut you. I swear I will cut you. and there was this guy:

Not blurry in real life.

…who made the naughty teens behind me say “Dude! I can hear faces!”

We also went to Les Miserables at the Wharton Center. This was the new production that eliminated the famous turntable and instead used Victor Hugo’s drawings projected on scrims (coincidentally much easier to take on the road, but let that go)–the last Les Miz I went to had a “here’s yer show, now get out” attitude, but everyone in this production seemed happy to be there.

Les Miz: yes, it is a 2.5 hour earworm. Before I left for Michigan I’d been talking with a professor here about what a dramaturg does–help a theater company understand the play, essentially, and I’d been thinking that might be a cool thing to study as a second career, but I realized watching the show that what I really wanted to be was a Dramatermagant, taking a rolled up newspaper to the noses of characters who annoyed me: WHAP Students! The people never rise! WHAP Marius! Stop being so wet! WHAP Jean Valjean! General principles! WHAP

I do like the show, it’s just…a lot of trouble could have been avoided if Javert died in act one. Also I realized that if I were a dramaturg for Les Miserables I would prolly have to read the entire book, which seems daunting.

On the way to the airport I asked if we could stop at a store so I could buy some aspirin and get some cash for the trip, and Dad handed me a bottle of tylenol and Mom handed me a twenty. Like magic. When I got home the cats were all “What, you? is this the new new normal now?” but we’re okay again.

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6 Responses to I go to Michigan for a week: a very long post pondering the discontents of they and them.

  1. Laurie says:

    Your tulips photo is really lovely, and I adore your observations. Especially the bobcatty feline one.

  2. Jaypo says:

    It always shocks me when people spew out actual, true-to-life prejudice and hatred. Maybe something in the line of “And where are your grandparents from?” would have made a point…?

    I love your photos and comments and the Lilliputian people with the giant horse. And your drawing made me laugh. πŸ˜€

    • pegoftilling says:

      Thank you! I know I should have said something, but an airport security line seemed like a bad place to have a come to Jesus moment–I just wanted to get on the plane!

  3. Lauri says:

    I love this post!
    I live in this dear state and have never been to Holland or Grand Rapids or Meijer Gardens. Now, I feel like a boob. I had never heard of the awesome horse statues….the one so totally Nazgul!
    Your parents DO have a totally cool back yard and the Wright house is so cool. Your dad rocks, having a hot chick in his workshop….indeed having such a cool shop at all. πŸ™‚
    Lol about Notre Dame.
    And a dramaturg. I have never heard that word. But, I’ll bet you before the week is out I hear it again.
    Last week I was reading a novel which explained what a “deiner” is. Never had I heard of that before. Just a few days later a guy I am working with says “I was a deiner in high school.”
    I almost “Elained” him and yelled “Get OUT” and knocked him across the room, but I settled for yelling “I know what that IS” instead.
    I can’t wait for “dramaturg” to show up! πŸ™‚
    I laughed so hard at the thought of you WHAPing people with the newspaper. So many people need that done.
    Thanks for the great post and the laughs!

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