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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Orange Cones of Impending Confusion

Every now and then, I don’t know where I am.

This is to be expected.

I was prepped for it as a child, where directions were given by the locals more often than not by referencing people and events from well before our arrival.

“Carlson’s farm? Sure! First you go north, just past the old Schmidt place, over there by where the feed mill used to be. You’re going to want to head east on the second possible right – not the first! The first right will take you to Carlson’s milk barn, and you don’t want that. Go past the first right, go east on the second right, then go until you hit the dirt road. It’ll be easy to spot, it’s just before the oak that was hit by lightning, the one split down the middle. If you go past the split oak, you’ve gone too far. Go until you see the Raabe’s mailbox – it’s shaped like a cow’s udder – then go another mile or so and you should find it all right. You’ll know you’re there when a pack of dogs runs alongside the car from the mailbox to the front door. You’ll want to honk your horn and let Arne come and get you. Them dogs are a bit friendly.”

Excellent directions! We’ll pack a lunch.

And so I became accustomed to being lost. We moved yearly (“It’s harder to hit a moving target!” chortled my father); and while the trailer we moved from park to park remained the same, the view outside the front door was always different.

“You’re not lost!” my dad would say. “You’re being challenged. Are ya goin’ to rise to the challenge, Miss Pearl?

But you don’t have to move to another town to be personally challenged.

You could simply follow the orange construction signs.

Minnesota is infamous for the time and money it puts into road construction. With the weather’s freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw pattern, the roads are capable of going Mesozoic at any time; and every year, whole cars disappear down potholes only to reappear, if the rumors are true, in China.

Everybody knows that those really deep holes go straight to China.

With road construction comes road detours. Detours that lead up and around, sometimes through. Detours for roads that used to go over there but now have plans to go over there.

One minute you’re driving from Point A to Point B and the next minute, via a large orange sign, someone’s tossed in Point C.

I don’t remember this, do you? Do you remember this road looking like this? Where am I? There’s an intersection that looks just like this in central Wisconsin. I couldn’t be in Wisconsin, could I?

No, you couldn’t, you silly person.

All over the world, people are frowning through their windshields, wondering if they’ve taken a wrong turn, perhaps having ended up in central Wisconsin. We’re out there, aren’t we, thinking we’re heading in one direction, sure of our destination, only to sometimes find ourselves surrounded by orange construction cones and unfamiliar territory.

Too often we ask ourselves if we are lost, but perhaps the real question is whether the markers are still relevant to our search.

Because we’re not lost, you know. We’re just being personally challenged.

27 comments:

Kr√ęg said...

Once those pothole fill in with enough cars, they will no longer be a problem. Unless the one on top has a sunroof... that probably won't hold up.

Pearl said...

Good thinking, Kreg!

Anything Fits a Naked Man said...

Ooh, that got deep in the end...I LIKE it! As someone who is consistently lost in towns I lived in for YEARS, I can certainly relate to this post! I hope I can do as well in real life with "going with the detours."

Thanks for this!

Pearl said...

You're welcome, AFANM, :-) I'm feeling a bit contemplative lately.

I blame the winter. :-D

Charlotte Ann said...

I have to have a GPS to find my way home in the town I live in and it's really not that large a town and I'm hoping someone that knows me doesn't read this as it's very embarrassing and a constant source of laughter for my daughter.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

My dad still gives directions like this and its exactly why we use GPS when we go to visit.

Wow, you just sent my head into an analogy trance! Now if I could construct a witty remark to describe it, we'd be set!
Nope, not gonna happen. But thanks for the brain wedgee!

Marla said...

Everytime my kids would get worried we were "lost", I always said the same thing.

"We aren't lost. We're on an adventure!"

Molly Potter said...

There's a town near here that I swear has more roads going in than coming out.

I think your head is so hyperconnective that even in going from A to B I suspect C to Z all get a metaphorical look-in. There's the road and there's the Pearl mind-map. It's all in the receiving.

Which brings me to potholes. We've had some this year...it's been an exceptional winter in the UK but we definitely don't have mailboxes shaped like cow udders - as far as I know.

Molly Potter said...

That was an observational comment. I like to categorise.

Secretia said...

I am lost I really am, it's not challenging, it's hopeless. I like it that way, that's why it's hopeles!

CatLadyLarew said...

You can easily get turned around in St. Paul and end up in Wisconsin before you know what happened! For years we vacationed in Minnesota and both my sisters lived in Minneapolis... but I still get lost regularly trying to circumnavigate the city.

mapstew said...

Pearl, I had a specific destination almost 30 years ago, but a surprise 'detour' put me on a different path. The many 'detours' that followed not only made my journey more interesting, but has taken me to a place I could never have dreamed of all those years ago. :¬)

xxx

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I gave a girl a ride home to her place in the country once. After some cookies, milk, and bible study I left while it was still dark and got lost driving around the dirt roads. I decided that instead of getting my self even more lost that I would wait till the sun rose and head east to my home. While listening to the radio I picked up that stupid coast to coast show where they had people who record phantom voices on the air. They played those voices and I was so frightened I ran from the car. Then realized that huddling in the back seat with the tire jack was probably best. I was never so happy to see the sun again. So being lost sucks. When you are lost that is how they 'GETCHA!'

Fragrant Liar said...

I've been going in circles for many years, and though I've vowed to cut that shit out, I still wanna always go left. How nice it would be to have our own lifespan GPS to get us from Point A to Point Z without getting all those flat tires.

MJenks said...

My uncle and father were notorious for this. They'd give me directions based on how the town looked in their youth.

"Go past Central High School, make a left."

Just telling me it's on Swan street isn't enough, is it dad? No, you have to guide me to the destination by using landmarks from your youth. Sure, the building is still there, but it's a completely different name now.

And for the record, Central High School is now Eastgate Elementary.

Flea said...

I finally live in a town where I won't get lost and wander into a forest and over a bridge to nowhere. It rocks. Getting lost in central Wisconsin would rock even more, though.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

The map is not the territory as they say. We recently had a rash of road construction going on. I loved the sign they used...Road Rehabilitation. Sometimes even the journey needs help. Either that or Robert Downey, Jr. passed his problem along to our asphalt.

Pearl said...

Just for the record -- and particularly for Cal's edification -- I, too, once was lost in a rural area. Central Wisconsin, I think it was. After a night of mild debauchery I headed home. Rural roads: pitch dark. No street lights, no small towns, no glow in the sky from a nearby town. I drove for HOURS and by the time I found my way out the cows were leaving the barns and heading out for a hard day of grazing.

You know you've been up late -- and possibly been lost as well -- when there's a line of cows heading down the side of the road for the day.

Tempo said...

Hi Pearl, Ive had a few personal challenges lately...in the form of a PC virus from the depths of hell! New hard drive time... Ahhh!
We have those deep holes here in Oz as well...but ours come out in England. (the north of England actually..where it's COLD) ..and we Aussies sure dont want to go there...

savannah said...

i look at it this way, sugar, i know where i am, i just don't know where anyone else is...that's my story and i'm stickin to it! xoxoxoxox

Lo said...

Hell.....if my car didn't know the way I would never find my way home.
Love, Lo

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Mapstew said what I was going to - sometimes being lost is the best thing!

Gadjo Dilo said...

"Let's get lost" as Chet Baker once said. Hmm, maybe his example was not the best to follow though...

Hogday said...

My wife is a great driver. But give her a map and she wouldn't get out of a car park. I guess its a seat-of-the-pants thing. But as I always think when I swing my leg over the big bike, "The journey is `Nirvana`, so I must already there" ;)

My name is PJ. said...

This was sooooooooooo funny! Been there, done that...kinda.

Where I was raised (NY), people think they're funny.

You'll ask for directions.

They'll say, "Do you know where the corner of 3rd and Lex is?

(you'll nod)

And then they'll say, "Well, it's no where near that."

We get used to traveling THE SCENIC ROUTE.

OG said...

The roads down here in naples are so easy to get around you couldn't get lost if you wanted to. There are no surprises...I think that's what happens when you design a town to accomodate old people.

The Retired One said...

This reminded me SO much of when I started home nursing in the U.P....I'd call up the patient and they would do the same thing..."You know where the Carlson's farm is, right? Well go past the blue barn and take the second 2 rut road..." It is a wonder I didn't get stuck more often than I did...it was before the days of GPS! Now, if that thing tells me ONE MORE TIME: "redirecting" or "turn around when possible" I am going to throw it out the window!!!!!