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Sunday, March 4, 2012

I have walked 500 miles...

Actually, I've driven 200 miles - and that was just yesterday. Know where it got me? Back home.  It always gets me back home and, as of late, I find this rather dispiriting. Home consists of antiquated electronics, brown carpet, broken down brown furniture, a sink full of dishes and a bedroom full of laundry. Home is where the cat pees on the base of the coat rack. It's where I spend my week-ends, the two days off I get after putting in five days at a mind numbingly unrewarding job, doing laundry and cooking and cleaning the fridge and shuttling my family back and forth across the state because I'm the only one who drives.

This, btw, may not look like a thesis statement, but it is. 

It's also the time I spend doing inane homework assignments for idiotic online professors who think no one managed to get past 2nd grade. One of this weeks assignments? Pick a topic, do a google search on it and find a reliable source to use as part of a research paper. Explain how you applied what you've learned in this course so far to your decision to eliminate as a reliable source and no, using your brain doesn't count, you really need to learn how to use this weeks mnemonic: CRAAP.  Because eliminating Rush based on your previously gleaned knowledge of Rush and your intuitive assessment that his recent comment describing a young adult woman who is in favor of her health insurance covering birth control methods as a "slut" and a "prostitute" doesn't really qualify him as a reliable source on much of anything doesn't meet the course criteria for effective research.

Next: Go to the school library and search your topic. Look at an online paper and then check out a book on your subject. This should take up to 90 minutes, so plan accordingly. Well, okay but I guess that means I'll have to return the books I checked out for the LAST research paper I did so I can start all over the learn how to use a library.  That was the research paper that brought me to the Central Valley of California, to Salinas, to the National Steinbeck Center, to a rainy morning in the archives with files everywhere, pictures everywhere, information everywhere and two hours with the Center's Volunteer Archivist, a fascinating and friendly man named Herb who says he's "not a Steinbeck scholar" but, for my money, is selling himself short. This is the paper that was 4500 words and I had to force myself to stop, the paper I eventually want to expand into a thesis, a dissertation and a book, the paper that was supposed to be about Steinbeck and the Great Depression and ended up being about Steinbeck the journalist because I became completely immersed in a series of newspapers articles I previously was only vaguely aware even existed.

But only if I can master checking books out of a library first. Oh, and learning how to write, I have been informed I have no "writer's voice" and my grammar and vocabulary are atrocious and need improvement and it would "behoove" me to learn these methods of study. In the first place, Syllabus is so badly worded it takes two readings to figure out what, exactly, the guy means, he uses WAY too many articles and words like "behoove." I'm not Steinbeck, but dude, I'm better than THAT. Perhaps this is what age brings, the arrogance to say things like "I'm better than that."

I'm also becoming impatient with rudeness and elitism, which brings me back to yesterday and the 500 miles. Okay, I exaggerate, it was more like 200.  I plowed through horrendous traffic with a car load of young people and dropped them off at Disneyland. Or, as it's now known, the "Disney Resort in California as opposed to the really big Disney Resort in Florida." I shoved them out of the car and burned rubber getting out of there. I drove down Katella to Beach and then turned toward Knott's Berry Farm. Okay, it's not a berry farm anymore, I know. Well, I swung into the entrance, past the ticket booths and past the left turn toward the paid parking lot, which is just fine with the people at Knott's. I slowly cruised past the Marketplace and, seeing that the parking on the curbs was full, went about 20 feet past the stores, turned left into a parking lot where the first three hours is free to enable one to take advantage of the things that made Knott's what it is. I walked under the big, wooden roller coaster, crossed the small, basically access street and went into the "Chicken to Go" door where I ordered a small bucket of Mrs. Knott's fried chicken, some homemade biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy and a boysenberry pie. These are the things that made Knott's what it is today, btw, I remember as a little girl seeing the commercials for Cordelia Knott's Restaurant on television, they didn't take reservations and the wait was usually three hours or more. The theme park sprung from the wait, the Knotts family started to put up stuff, like the old ghost town, to give people something to do while they waited for dinner.

I poked around the "Emporium" which is full of the stuff one would expect to find in an establishment called "The Emporium" - in short, this area, open to the public and readily accessible to anyone without purchasing a ticket offers pretty much everything the theme park has, except rides.

It's customer friendly, it's accessible to the neighborhood. People were popping in for chicken to go, for jams and jellies, for biscuits and pancake mix, pulling out and going about their Saturday business. I pulled out of my free parking space and headed home with my dinner, just me and the hubster for the first time in years. The drive got me thinking. Thinking about the kids at Disneyland, the place where it costs a C Note to get in the gate. And the elitist pass holders that populate it now, the customers who claim that going there is a "privilege" and that if your not special enough you shouldn't complain. No, I'm not making this up, I could quote, chapter, verse and writer, the people who have said this, and then some. I have seen people post, in great detail, why Disneyland is SO special and wonderful and basically restricted to the rich that no one should even THINK of complaining that Disneyland considers 9 year olds ADULTS and, if said 9 year olds family wants to provide that 9 year old with an annual pass that enables him or her to enter the park with their family on Christmas day then that 9 year olds pass should include parking, just like all the other special adults who enter that special hell called "Disneyland". Downtown Disney, an area of overpriced restaurants and charming shops which will make up your 4 year old like a streetwalker and sell you a $300 sun hat does provide three hours of free parking. The last time we availed ourselves of it we waited in the exit line for almost 20 minutes while the attendant tried to fix his broken ticket machine. While we waiting in this backed up line 80% of us watched our three free hours tick over the 3 hour mark and we all were forced to pay for the overage upon exit.

This, I was told, is perfectly acceptable because it's a privilege to to to Disneyland and be treated like CRAAP. Because only the best people are allowed in, you know. if I didn't like being stuck in a line that's run like a drive thru window where no exit is possible, well, I should leave an hour earlier to avoid problems like this. Which, to give the devil his, or her. due isn't beyond the realm of possibility because there's not much to DO in Downtown Disney except go broke. Free parking ain't really free, you know. Not only that, you can't even buy a churro out there, for that you have to shell out for admission. Disney used to offer a "shopping pass" - you gave them your credit card and the gave you an hour in the park, so you could go in and buy stuff. If you went over your hour they charged your card for the price of a ticket. That was eliminated years ago though. Too many people were buying stuff on Main Street while their kids took a quick ride on "Pirates of the Caribbean" and exiting the park within 60 minutes.  This made the guest feel welcome while Disney felt a missed opportunity for the price of admission. Nipped THAT in the bud.

This is why I buy fried chicken from the late Mr. and Mrs. Knotts. They're happy to sell me chicken and biscuits and say "see you next time" as you walk out. Disney says "Thank you and enjoy your trip home to Kansas, thanks for the extra coin."

And now I have an essay to write, laundry to do, a carpet to clean, a drain to unclog and dinner to cook. But I DO have a bucket of cold fried chicken for lunch. Now THAT'S  a week-end. 

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