Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shellback

Who uses it: Sailors
What it means: Someone who's crossed the Equator in a boat. Those who haven't are called Pollywogs. Boats that carry first-timers across the Equator usually make a big ceremony out of the crossing, subjecting the first-timers to all sorts of initiation rituals and awarding them elaborate certificates with Davy Jones' signature. My father's certificate is as large as his college diploma, and hangs framed on his office wall.
How you can use it: To describe a world traveler.

For as much time as I've spent on the road, I often feel that I haven't been anywhere. Yes, I've seen a good chunk of the United States, but there's a big section (Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota) that I've never seen. I've never been to the southern Hemisphere, I've never been to Asia, I've never seen Paris or the Northern Lights.

But today, home again and not feeling particularly well, I don't care if I never go anywhere again. I am very, very tired, so much so that I wonder whether I picked up some bug along the way yesterday.

"When's your next trip?" someone asked me a few days ago, and I said, "Not for a while" -- but then I added, "But I always say that, and then I always wind up going somewhere." I have promised to go back to Washington, DC in about a month, will be back in Westchester and Litchfield Counties in mid-September, and am supposed to go to Bouchercon (in Madison, Wisconsin) at the end of September. And sometime between now and the end of the year, I was hoping to get back to Los Angeles for more than a long weekend.

Right now, though, I'm just glad to be back online, with all my phone lines working and my faithful dog asleep behind the couch. The heat wave's broken, at least, and I may take a nap in an hour or two.

First five random songs off the iPod this morning:

“The Old Apartment,” Barenaked Ladies. Except for the house on Nebraska Avenue in Washington, where my old housemate Megan still lives, I’ve never returned to a house or an apartment I used to live in, and I doubt I would. I think it would upset me, which is what this song is about.

“Skyway,” The Replacements. Minneapolis is one of the few major American cities I haven’t visited (the airport doesn’t count). I’d like to go, one of these days.

“Buffalo Soldier,” Bob Marley. If you went to college in the 1980s and have never owned Legend in some format, I'm not sure we can be friends.

“Chocolate Jesus,” Tom Waits. No idea what this song is about, though I like the banjo. I gave Our Chris a glow-in-the-dark Jesus nightlight for Christmas last year, and think about buying one for myself every time I’m in Reny’s.

“Everything is Good for You,” Crowded House. After I mentioned that my music collection included nothing from the Finn brothers, my brother-in-law Scott hooked me right up. Thanks, Scott!

4 comments:

Peggy & Scott said...

No prob! Even though a certain sister of yours cringes every time she hears them, they've always been one of my favs.

JIM LAMB said...

From one old shellbaack to one of his favorite polywogs, I am now in Miami and everything is more or less on time.

I'm having a ball. Don't worry! I wrote a long post for my blog on the train today but it disappeared into the ether when my link failed.

If I can't finnd it in the morning I will rewrite it.

Love, Dad

Will Robesky said...

Hey Clair!
I'm sure you already know this, but people who cross more than once are called Golden Shellbacks and get to be King's or Queen's of the Sea during the Polywog ceremony. By the way Sarah and I really enjoy your blog.
Love,
Sarah and Will Robesky

AnswerGirl said...

Actually, I didn't know that -- thanks, Will!