Hello Darkness, My Nemesis…

Yeti&woman

Last year we sat in Indianapolis trying to decide if we would take my husband, The Turk’s, relocation and start over in New England, The Turk pro-New England and me not so sure. Our evening conversations looked something like this:

Me: “It snows there for like 8 months!”

The Turk: “You born in Iowa. That is like tundra. You will be fine.”

Me: “They have hurricanes.”

The Turk: “Here there are tornados.”

Me: “It’s so far north it’s like Canada. We’re going to freeze.”

The Turk: Slyly eyeing my extra 20-post-baby-five-years-ago pounds, “I think you be fine.”

Eventually I agreed to take the plunge into the frigid North Atlantic, but my climate worries were never truly eased. Since our arrival in June we’ve had winds that made me doubt the Turk’s choice to buy a house surrounded by 40-foot pine trees and rains that made me glad to be far above bog level. But these are small potatoes compared to what  awaits us.

Winter is coming. (Insert Game of Thrones music and other nerd references of your choosing here.)

But before the seasonal horrors I must face such as traversing an insanely steep, ice covered, driveway or dodging snow covered pines as they fall upon my roof, I must contend with last weekend’s horror, (aka the stupidest idea since literally, the dawn of time) the end of Daylight Savings Time. Instead of waking in the dark and enjoying sun well into cocktail hour, we swap the clocks, ultimately screwing up the body clocks of every human and animal in that time zone and beyond. For what? No one really knows. Daylight Savings Time is bad, but the end of Daylight Savings Time in New England is a horror unspeakable.

Last week the weathercasters began bantering about the time change. “It’s almost time to change those clocks New Englanders and you know what that means.” The helmet haired man teased.

To which I would scream, “No! What dose that mean Helmet Head? How ‘bout a recap for the newbies?”

The next day he was at it again. “Day Light Savings Time is almost over and New Englanders, we all know what happens.”

“No we don’t Helmet Head.” I’d scream at the television causing my children to question my sanity. “Some of us have no clue! Don’t be such a Masshole.”

Finally, the morning news explained everything, “It’s about time to turn back those clocks and get ready for 4:30 sunsets.” The beautiful Asian anchor lamented while sharing a forced chuckle with her co-anchor. I’m sure they shared other important tidbits of information but my brain was stuck. The sun would set at 4:30? How could this be?

As most do in a panic, I turned to Google for confirmation. Though she seemed like a credible new source, the beautiful Asian anchor was wrong. The sun didn’t set at 4:30 in my new homeland. No, depending on the day, it set some days as early as 4:12. God help me.

Indiana was the westernmost edge of the Eastern Time Zone. It didn’t belong in the Eastern Time Zone at all but had wiggled its way in against the wishes of many a few years before we moved there. This meant that sunset in Indiana was more than an hour later than most places on the East Coast. In the summer it sucked trying to get kids to bed when it was still light at 9:30 but in the winter, the sun would still be shining to usher you home from work and well into dinner prep, usually setting around 5:30.

Were we spoiled by sun time in Indiana? Most certainly but a 4:15 sunset seems excessive New England. It’s not that I’m a sun bunny or anything. (Especially when said sun is hot and makes my butt sweat.) But I really hate darkness. I hate driving in the dark because I’m old and blind and sometimes see things that aren’t there like a loose moose or a crazed yeti. I hate being outside in the dark because I’m pretty sure there is a murderous madman lurking behind every building, bush or tree. To top things off, I now have a house in the woods and you know what happens in the woods at dark? Sasquatch. Sasquatch goes frolicking through the woods in the dark and now that hairy bastard will be frolicking through my backyard from 4:30 on every damn night leaving his big-ass footprints where I’m trying to re-grow grass. Not cool Sassy.

On the first day of the time change I lamented my newly found horror to a few other parents at the football game. These were all native New Englanders and they had a few tips.

  1. “Get some good fuzzy jammies and get used to putting them on early. We tend to jammie up as soon as we get home and stay that way until morning.”

This seemed reasonable. If I love anything it’s loungewear and staying home. What’s better than an excuse to extend my loungewear time and remain homebound?

  1. “We drink more in winter.”

I think this goes without saying, but hells yes, sign me up. Perhaps I can convert Nugget’s closet into a wine cellar. He’s little and his pants don’t take up much room. It is for survival after all.

  1. “The time change here means you need to do two things, hook up the generator and refill your antidepressants. No shame in happy pills. Everyone else here is on them.”

I liked this acknowledgement of using the pharmaceutical assistance invented for getting through metaphorical darkness to get through the physical darkness of New England. And fortunately, we bought our generator a few months ago.

I’ve tried to keep my panic at bay about the impending period of darkness but I’ve been unsuccessful. The looming sunset is always on my mind.

“Boys, you know it’s going to get dark soon. You better get ready.”

“Mom, it’s 11:30 in the morning.”

“Exactly. You have 6 hours left of this day. You better use it.” (Insert horrific tween eye rolling here.)

It’s 3:30 now so I’d better go. Looks like its time to put my jammies on and pour the wine. After all, if I’m going to make it though my first New England winter I’d better adhere to the advice of the natives. Maybe in time I’ll adjust to the darkness and learn to embrace it by treating it like a sort of hibernation. But for now, I’m going to keep whining as I turn on the security lights in the hopes of keeping a Sasquatch from doing a soft-shoe on my back deck.

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Hotel Horror: Free Breakfast Does Not Trump A Hairy Shower

hotel

If you’ve been following along (And I know you have been because our life has been a wreck lately and you all have gaper delay.) the past few months have been a special brand of relocation hell. The day school ended we loaded up and began the process of moving all of our worldly possessions from suburban Indianapolis to the Boston area, 957 miles away.

Having made it through the gruesome process of loading the moving van (read all about it here if you missed it) it was time to pack up the Hyundai like the Klampets heading to Beverly Hills.

957 miles in a car with two children, one spouse and a cat, provide a gal with lots of time to ponder. It’s not a journey I’d recommend so to save you the anguish, here are a few things I learned during those 957 miles:

  • Fitted with a ridiculously ugly car topper procured from a retiree on Craig’s List, one can fit an obscene amount of crap into a 10-year-old Santa Fe, including a box of things the packers missed and an Instant Pot in case one wants to cook in a hotel. (What was I thinking? Who even does this?)
  • Regardless of how much one researches about the best way to travel with a domesticated feline, if said feline decides he will be free-range on an inter-state journey, he will be free-range.
  • A Turk with road rage can intimidate even a psychotic truck driver in an 18- wheeler. (While simultaneously terrifying all passengers in the car to tears.)
  • When near the Canadian border, one can pick up a radio station broadcasting completely in Turkish. (Though full disclosure, it did stir up a little PTSD from my years in Turkey.)

And most importantly,

  • If a relocation agent says, “I’ve not seen the property but it checks all the requirements,” proceed with caution.

After two days of driving we arrived at our temporary housing ready for much deserved sleep. From the peeling paint and cigarette butts ushering us to the door like a trashy Vegas wedding aisle, we knew doom was looming. Relocations with the Turk’s company never take the discount route so the outward appearance of the dwelling was a big ‘ol red flag.

This “extended stay suite” might have better been labeled a “prolonged misfortune hell-hole.” Though the Turk became hostile the second the door swung open, exhaustion allowed me to look past the ceiling light hanging by a frayed wire, burned foil lining the stove burners with charred food remnants still in tact and the fist-sized hole in the “sitting room” where a television likely once hung. I was displeased but willing to give it a shot…until…I found a colossal pube in the in the shower before we even put our bags down.

Now I can risk death by electrocution by no-longer recessed, recessed lighting. I can put up a solid battle against salmonella on a dirty cook top, but showering with a stray pube from a freakin’ interloper? Ah hells no.

Immediately the Turk had me on the phone trying to sweet talk the good woman at a nearby Hampton into saving our pube-fearing souls. Alas, they were booked up but upon hearing my tale of woe (and of course, I included the ownerless pube for effect) she was able to book us early the next day in a “family suite.” Just what a “family suite” consisted of was yet to be determined and our skepticism was running high but we had no choice. We slept with one eye open, avoided the shower and awaited our new accommodations.

The Hampton family suite was exactly what we needed, a kitchenette with a microwave, mini-fridge and sink, 2 sleeping areas and as requested by Nugget, a hot tub (and pool)one floor away. (No one’s sure why Nugget loves a hot tub since he never gets in but Nugget is an anomaly.) Upon arrival I conducted an immediate ‘pube check’ and after coming up empty I gave the all clear for the team to unpack and commence wrecking havoc on our new temporary home.

We arrived in our new digs on Monday and our truck was expected to arrive Friday. After signing our lives away during the closing mid-week, I threw myself into the horrific process of sanitizing a home following ownership by some less-than-tidy dog owners. (FYI – trying to clean carpet that reeks of dog only makes it more oderifirus than one might imagine. Thankfully, 1-800-EMPIRE really does have next-day service.) I cleaned dog hair from every surface including the depths of the freezer but thankfully, no pubes.

Certain our truck was arriving on time, I strong-armed the Turk into painting the entire upstairs, inclusive of the rainbow stripes in Number One’s bedroom. (I’m love me the Pride flag in every form but for some reason my 10 year-old son doesn’t share my feeling. What evs kid.) I love my family dearly but at that point we were 6 days into sharing a hotel room and the depths of my love were being significantly tested. I was going to be ready when that moving van pulled in. 

Friday came and went with no word from the moving company. When Saturday turned out the same, I did the walk of shame to the stoner who took the weekend shift at our hotel’s front desk.

“Yeah, I’m going to need to extend our stay…again.”

“Whoa. No truck?”

“Nope.”

“Harsh yo. Any word?”

“Nope.”

“I’ll extend you until Tuesday. Positive vibes right?”

I made my best attempt at a smile for the stoner before schlepping 2 kids to the pool alone for the 7th time because the Turk has cootie fears regarding public pools. The man is a water engineer so he probably knows things but still… he sucks.

When Sunday passed with no attempt to schedule an arrival time from the moving company I began to break. Wine, chocolate and even those little happy pills my doctor gave me for the move were no longer quelling the hostility welling within. No woman deserves to share one room with her entire family for 8 days with no end in sight. Never.

Stress insomnia took over as I listened to 3 snoring Turks. I fumed as I pulled out a new book I’d purchased weeks prior. It was the tale of a mother gone mad, who had thrown her kids from a bridge before plotting to kill her husband. I made it through one chapter before determining this tome might best be left for later.

At breakfast, two hours later, the message finally came. Our moving van had arrived. However, it was stuck at the bottom of our narrow, winding and tree-lined driveway. It wasn’t ideal but at least I was getting sprung from hotel hell before I threw anybody off the bridge to Cape Cod. Thanks Universe. I look a little chunky in prison orange.

 

His Baby is Dead and I Don’t Have Time For This Crap

car crash

If I survive this relocation without a lengthy sentence at in some type of mental health facility, I expect one of you dear readers to send me a tiara and sash proclaiming my superiority. Just when buying and selling house was getting stressful, the Turk decided to throw a little more into the mix to test my stress capacity.

Last week, the Turk totaled his car. Impeccable timing right? (If I keep chanting, don’t kill him, don’t kill him, it will sink in right?) Here in Indianapolis there is an epidemic of something the Hoosiers refer to as potholes. However, these are not what the rest of the world might refer to as potholes. These giant missing chunks of road might best be called sinkholes or craters or most accurately, roadway caverns. According to the news, it seems the city neglected the issue for years and now, as one might expect, all hell is breaking loose creating potholes that can knock out a Beamer in 2.5 seconds flat.

You may recall from an earlier post (Here it is in case you missed it but I’m sure you didn’t because you’re a loyal reader of my brilliance.) that The Turk has an unhealthy obsession with BMWs but regrettably he’s got a Kia budget. To fuel his obsession and keep his marriage in tact, he’s learned to rebuild older Beamers with the patience I only wish he’d use on his offspring. The Turk spends hours creeping around nerd sites on the interwebs where dorks like him share tips and tricks about BMWs and I’m pretty sure it’s a cult.

Last year he lost his first “baby” to mechanical issues that went beyond what a simple Turk can do in a suburban garage. “The Ultimate Machine” has been sitting in my driveway since it’s demise as a sort of metal mausoleum. Each time he passed the molding mass he’d shed a tear. Likewise, each time I passed it, I flipped the car the bird. A few months ago he replaced it with a newer version he procured in some shady deal with a couple African guys. (For real, read all about it here.) While the first one was a death trap, the newer version was the one I wasn’t embarrassed to ride in. Unfortunately, driving to work on one of his last days in this city, he hit one of those geological mine-traps. Moments later my phone rang.

“I think I hurt my baby.”

“What?” I screamed with appropriate maternal panic. “What happened to the kids?”

“What? No! My Beamer. I hit a damn pothole. I hate this place. Why there giant holes in the road everywhere? God sakes! We not have roads this bad in Turkey. ”

-Insert hostile gestures and excessive eye rolling on my end of the line here.

“Can you still drive it or are you stranded somewhere?”

“No. I am driving but my car is making very big noise. It might be bad. I am going to BMW dealership.”

This is the point where my eyes rolled back like a cartoon character and my eyeballs were replaced with dollar signs while the cha-ching of a cash register rang between my ears. Nothing cheap ever happens at a BMW dealership.

Fast forward four days, after fighting a 4-day backlog of poor bastards who’d also lost their “babies” to Hoosier-quality potholes (You thought I was exaggerating how bad these things were.) the mechanic finally called with the damage report. $18,000. The Beamer was down and it was going to take nothing short of $18,000 to fix her.

In the midst of a lab in middle school science, my phone rang. Because it was the Turk, I worried something else had hit the fan so with one hand juggling beakers and a “zip-it” gesture to a bunch of 8th graders, I picked-up.

“My baby is dead.”

“Huh”

“They say it cost $18,000 to fix my baby.”

It seemed the epic pot-hole had broken the drive-shaft and sent the broken potion of the drive shaft careening through the transmission case and a few other mechanical things I didn’t care enough to comprehend. Thankfully, due to the presence of children not my own at the moment of receiving the information, I suppressed my desire to spew profanity.

It took mere seconds for my firm decision on the matter. “$18,000? Say goodbye girl. That baby is dead.”

When it comes to handling things like insurance or basically anything that requires phone communication, the Turk is out. “I cannot understand what they say on phone. I sound like idiot.” We didn’t do phone communication when we dated for that exact reason. But I get it. I hate to do anything in Turkish on the phone. It’s one hundred times more difficult to comprehend a second language on the phone without being able to see and read body language. So as I drove to pick him up from the dealership I prepared to spend a few hours on the phone cleaning up the mess.

Much to my surprise, faced with the death of his beloved Beamer, the Turk was struck with brilliance. Similar to when adrenaline allows women to commit stunning feats of strength while in mama bear mode, the Turk had already spend an hour on the phone with the insurance company and all was taken care of. “They will send someone to check on my baby Monday. The lady said it is probably over but I can hope. Maybe it is not over yet.”

I wanted to tell him they were sending someone to pronounce his baby dead on Monday but not wanting to watch him weep like a broken fool all weekend, I lied. “You’re right. Maybe they can fix it.” Then, hoping to share my brilliant fix to the situation, I added, “You know, if they can’t fix your car, you can just take my car and we’ll get a new family car. I mean, you only need to commute to the train station. Seems like a perfect solution.”

Through his fog of depression, the Turk glared at me. “How I drive a Hyundai when I am obviously a BMW man?”

Well, they couldn’t fix his baby and and we are now awaiting a payout for the totaled car. Thanks to life in a city without public transport, we are currently sharing joint custody of a 10-year-old Hyundai and it’s not going well. But we’ve got far bigger issues to deal with over the next couple weeks so we’re sucking it up. We’ll get a car on the other side and hopefully both of us will make it out alive.

And that, my friends, was only one incident of drama in the week. There were many others and in the next installment I’ll explain how I bought homeowners insurance on a house I’ve never seen and drove 3 insurance agents to nearly wet themselves from laughter.

If anyone has connections at Bellevue, reserve me a room. It could be touch and go for the next few weeks.

 

“I Ain’t From ‘Round These Parts.”

gun-totin-hoosier

I have a confession. I’m scared of Indiana. We’ve lived here for close to 5 years now and the only times we leave the Indianapolis-metro area and trek into the great unknown parts of the state are when enroute to somewhere safe, like Chicago or Philadelphia.

I’ve met a few people from the unknown parts and they are wonderful people but I am sure they are an anomaly – those who made it out alive.

My fear isn’t a simple unease. No. It’s a full-on, scardey cat, wussy-wuss, don’t make me go there, terror. In my mind, everything outside of the metro-Indianapolis area is filled with 7 feet-tall, (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Hoosiers as a people are HUGE.) camo clad Hoosiers toting multiple automatic weapons, ready to take out a city slicker with no explanation. I’m certain that if I stopped at a rural farmstand because I wanted to make zoodles for dinner and accidently dropped the word “zoodle” a hostile Hoosier will gun me down with the zucchini still in my hand.

Is it crazy and irrational? Of course it is! But you cannot expect rational thought to suddenly step in and take over my life when it’s never been invited to visit before. And the news is no help. Every night the local news is filled with stories of rural Hoosiers perpetrating crimes so bizarre that they often make the national news. Trust me readers, crazy-ass stuff happens in rural Indiana.

Many people in my life, especially native Hoosiers, find it hilarious that a woman who spent a chunk of her life in a major Turkish city (and let’s be honest, Turkey has never been known as a utopia of safety) can be fearful of the backwoods of a Great Plains state. But the fear is real I tell you.

Over the summer I registered for a workshop to fulfill professional development credits for work. Immediately after hitting “send” I saw the error in my plan. The workshop was in rural Indiana, a little too close to Kentucky. (Don’t judge, everybody is scared of Kentucky.) As the date approached I thought about ways to get out of it- faking a lung transplant. Claiming I was urgently needed in Turkey for family business. Blaming a hostile 4 year-old for losing my registration. I’ve got a good stock of viable excuses.

The workshop was to qualify me as a testing leader for Hoosier Stream Watch, an organization that relies on citizen science to monitor and report on the health of waterways statewide. (Yes, even in the Deliverance Zone.) It’s an amazing organization and I wanted to be involved, if I could find a way to get over my fear of death in the boondocks.

When I signed up, I assumed I’d be standing on the bank of a babbling brook, filling test tubes and maybe swirling a pH strip. That was it.

That was not it. The day before the workshop I got an email with a first line reading, “Don’t forget your waders.” Waders? Hubba-whaaaaa? The term “waders” suggests I’ll be wading and a city girl thigh deep in stream water, deep in the heart of rebel country makes her nothing more than a water-logged, easy to shoot, target.

When I broke the news of what I was about to undertake my husband, The Turk, was not a fan.

“I don’t think you can go.” The Turk proclaimed, the night before my workshop. (His crazy is not as extreme as mine, but he’s not heading to rural Indiana for fun either.)

“Why?”

“Why you stand deep in stream? What if you drown?”

“What??? Drowning? Why did you bring that up? Shot by a redneck yes, but I didn’t even think of drowning!”

“I am water engineer more than 20 years. I see things. One time, back in Turkey…”

“NO! Stop right there. Every time you start a story with “one time, back in Turkey,” someone meets an untimely demise in a horrific manner. Keep your death stories to yourself.” For reals, those stories are the stuff nightmares are made of. The only thing worse are his stories that begin, “When I was in Turkish army…”

“Ok. You go. Don’t say I did not warn you.”

Early the next morning I headed out to meet my doom. If I survived my foray into the backcountry and managed not to get shot, then chances were solid I would drown like a hairy Turk in a wastewater cesspool. Damn professional development.

I immediately learned most of my workshop comrades were homeschooling mothers from local farms, striving to keep their numerous young’uns safe from the heathenistic horrors of public education while giving them a biblical understanding of science…(Oh reader, I only wish I’d made that up.) Thankfully, none of them appeared to have firearms tucked into their mom-jeans.

As we hit the stream I was grateful I’d chosen this workshop during a month-long drought. The stream we were tasked with testing wasn’t so much a babbling brook, but more like a belching stream. I wasn’t going to drown today. But then our instructor sent us around the bend.

From her spot safe and dry on the bank, she instructed, “Next you’ll need to test the velocity of the stream from that spot right in the middle.” The lone dude in the group volunteered to go but he needed a partner and since I only have two children where the rest of the homeschoolers had between 8 and 9 children each (again, totally true.) I was sent to the middle of the stream.

If you’ve never tested the velocity of a stream, (And why would you?) it involves an apple, a stopwatch and math. As my extremely tall Hoosier partner headed into the stream, I timidly waded in. Thanks to my stump-like legs, the mid-calf boots I’d ordered hit me about mid-knee so I thought I was safe and I was, until the apple didn’t move. (Note to self- next time someone says bring waders…bring waders…)

We stood in the stream, stopwatches poised, waiting for the apple to pass the finish line. Thanks to a still day and low tributaries, we waited and we waited and while we waited the sludge beneath my boots began to open-up and suck me in. Like a 70’s superhero, I’d fallen victim to quicksand. (Or not, but quicksand seemed so much more dramatic in the moment.) My boots started taking on water. I was going down.

Then, the apple passed my timing arm and we were safe to head to dry land…safe, were I not butt-cheek deep in stanky swamp water.

After sharing a few new words with my homeschool moms, words they’d likely never heard before and words that likely burned their righteous ears, my man-partner helped me free my boots. While we fought with the sludge, I’m pretty sure the mothers on the banks sent thoughts and prayers into the ether for my nearly orphaned children and their potty-mouthed upbringing. Within moments I was safe on a muddy bank, soaking wet and smelling of stank water.

After another three hours identifying macro invertebrates and learning more about mayflies than I knew possible, I was sprung. I’d almost made it out alive when my joy turned to panic on the interstate ramp. As I was sprinting towards the safety of a northbound interstate lane, I was nearly side-swiped by a large pick-up truck sporting a window decal filling his entire back window. Half of the window displayed a massive gun while the other half read, “Careful, both driver and cab are fully armed.”

An overwhelming sense of justice swept across me. My fear was vindicated. The Hoosiers of the backwoods were just as I’d suspected. My crazy was validated. I could do nothing more than chuckle as I floored it back to the safety of suburbia all the while vowing never to leave again.

 

I’m Goin’ All Patty Hearst Up In Here

Indy500

I wasn’t sure what it was or what was actually happening until a friend kindly offered a label – Stockholm Syndrome. Boom! It was like a light bulb exploding above my head. (Don’t worry, I ducked.) I wasn’t going native after all; I was going Patty Hearst! Relief rushed over me. I kicked my feet back up onto the coffee table and proceeded to Patty away the next two hours.

Almost four years ago The Turk got a new job in the U.S. with the same company he’d worked for in Turkey. (Side note: Be sure that when your potential spouse reveals their career title, you really understand what it means. I did not know what an environmental engineer really did initially, but in our ten years I’ve spent 2 years living at a wastewater treatment plant, had countless dinner conversations about sludge eating micro-organisms, learned exactly (unfortunately) what happens when you flush the toilet and received mail regularly containing trade publications with titles like – Big Pumper, Waste News and Port-a-Potty Today (I only wish I’d made those titles up.)) With the Turk’s new job we also received a relocation package –to Indianapolis. The only thing either of us knew about Indianapolis was the Indy 500 (Even in Turkey you can watch the Indy 500) and neither of us were too excited.

Once we go here we realized Indianapolis wasn’t so bad, as long as we looked past being landlocked in a society of God-fearing gun nuts. Slowly we began to find people a little more like us (Ok who am I kidding? With the exception of Ricky and Lucy, no one is like us.) but in time we did meet a few who never uttered the phrases, “It’s my right to bear arms,” or “I’d love for you to come church with us sometime.” ((No for real. That’s part of why we joined the Catholic church- no one tries to convert a Catholic.) Religious America, why is that a thing? Do you get bonus points for bringing in heathens?)

Though we’ve been able to slowly fade into the background in this land of Hoosiers (No, I still don’t know what a Hoosier is.) the month of May has continually caused us to stand out like a good dancer at a Midwest prom. In May, all of Indianapolis shifts to race prep. Homes are adorned with checkered flags and signs reading “Welcome Race Fans!” There are parades, runs, historical recreations, smaller races and nonstop new coverage in which some of the favorite racers even get their own regular segments. I’m sure this is all very exciting if you’re the kind of person who enjoys watching men (and one lone woman- stay strong Pipa) drive in circles for a few hours while drunks cheer from behind a fence but the Turk and I don’t fall into that category.

The strange part has always been that even if I wanted to watch the race on television, I couldn’t. The Indy500 isn’t shown on television in Indianapolis. WHAT? Oh yes, if you are local you have to wait until the replay that evening, you know, after they’ve already showed you the winner and 3 hours of highlights.“You have to go once to experience it.” Is what’s always said when I share my disinterest in “Race Day.” The Turk did go once but returned sunburned and bitter uttereing, “Vat vas dat?”

But this year, either because it was the 100th running or maybe because someone finally realized the blackout was stupid, the ban was lifted and the race was played live in Indy. It was all very exciting from the press conference announcing the change to mutterings about town, “Can you believe we actually get to watch it?” I think that’s where they got me. After three years surrounded by checkered flag décor (The checkered flag mani/pedi is rampant here.) the month-long media coverage and race cars parked in every store hocking everything from beer to burgers, they got me. By the time the race started, I was actually watching.

I tried to tell myself that this was just research as I’m preparing to teach a 7th grade physics course in the fall and I’ve been recently preoccupied with velocity and speed but I’m not sure that was it. If I have to be honest, the excitement of the crashes and the instantaneous end to a potential win by something as innocuous as a bump from another car was what really sucked me in. (I’m morbid like that.)

As I watched, I worried that by acknowledging the existence of this car race I’d previously ignored meant that after three years, I was becoming a native. If I watched, what was next? Would I too invite people to go to church after stopping off to buy a gun? Would I soon refer to myself as a Hoosier? (Even though still don’t know what that is.) Worst of all, would I ask some woman to paint checkered flags on my big toe? God no. What was I doing? Why was I watching? Worse yet, why was I enjoying it?

That’s when my friend saved the day – I was experiencing a case of Stockholm Syndrome, assimilating to my captors to ensure my survival. While the Hoosiers have been fine with my lack of race day love up to now, it’s only a matter of time before they don pitchforks and march on the home of the foreign guy with the wife who doesn’t like racing in the car racing capital of the world. My viewing bought us some time, I’m sure of it.

I can’t promise I’ll ever watch again, and I highly doubt you’ll see a Welcome Race Fans banner hanging above my hollyhocks anytime soon, but you should try everything once.