Alternate Universe

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Car shows. Ever been to one? Do you have a vintage, rare, or muscle car that you’ve either kept in pristine condition or brought back to beauty from rust and rotten rubber?

I do not. However, my brother-in-law lives in this alternate universe, so my husband and I occasionally journey through time and space as a show of support. The parallel universe we visit is strange, other-worldly and peopled by aliens who appear human, but with whom we seem to have little in common.

As we wander among the contestants, (there are always trophies and prizes for various categories) we see cars from seemingly every decade, stretching back to the first Ford. Without fail, music from the 60’s (why this particular decade? No idea) fills the air. The scents of charcoal and hamburgers waft on the breeze.

To my uneducated eyes, the 1970 Volkswagen Bug has been restored to like-new condition. According to BIL, this is far from true. There are problems–here–he points to an area in the trunk, and here–to a spot on the rear bumper, and of course–anyone can see this blemish–on the inside of the drivers door.

The famous yellow Bug
The famous yellow Bug

Admiring attendees stroll by, many stopping to ooh and aah over the Bug. My BIL accepts these accolades with grace. There’s nothing like the approbation of other car-show aficionados to confirm your deeply-held belief that this is worth the work, the money, the hours spent in pursuit of perfection.

Most car shows are sponsored by communities, local clubs or other entities and serve as fund-raising mechanisms. Fees are charged to car owners who wish to participate, and that grill is usually selling those burgers, sodas and chips to add to the days take.

Regular participants find this a great way to make new friends. They save parking spots next to each other, notice and comment on the latest additions and efforts expended on others cars, and trade insider info about who’s selling what, for how much and whether or not the item is worthy of the asking price.

Like yard-sales, one can find a car show every weekend. Unlike yard-sales, no one at the car show wants to unload last year’s bundle of National Geographic, last decade’s VCR player, or last century’s TV. They want to bask in the glow of sun reflecting off paint so lovingly waxed it gleams, in the smell of upholstery installed to perfectly match the original and kitschy additions that make observers smile. The vase of fake flowers on the VW’s dash, the surf board on the Woody’s roof-rack, inflatable hydrant near the rear tire of the 1969 Chevelle.

It’s an odd, wonderful universe, one I never realized existed. Thanks to my BIL for inviting us to enter. We don’t visit often, but when we do, it’s always amazing.

Having Friends Who Understand is the Best Thing Ever

As a writer, I often find myself sitting alone in a room, trying to decide the best way to torture my characters, throw roadblocks in their path and otherwise make them miserable before they finally win through to their happily-ever-after.

The solitary art of making things up doesn’t come easily, and I’m often frustrated–or distracted–by other things. Any shiny object in my peripheral vision (I’m easily diverted) throws me off the track.

When this happens, I reach out to friends in my writing community. They are always willing to listen, offer advice, give me figurative pats on the back and generally redirect me. We share excerpts from our works-in-progress, discuss craft, conferences, editors, the state of publishing today, and our plans for the future.

In future plans, we’ve discussed a retreat to a Swedish summer cottage. Spending several days writing, drinking wine, sharing, and exploring the countryside sounds conducive to writing, doesn’t it? It does to me. I can’t wait. Of course, the planning, arranging, packing, and all the rest that goes with an overseas trip will take time–time that could be used for writing.

Did I mention I’m easily distracted?