Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bates Motel(s) and the Ann Arbor Art Fairs

Somehow, it gives me great pleasure to have a poster for Psycho next to a photograph that is the craziness of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.

Yes, Fairs. That is not a typo.

For those in ignorant bliss, the Ann Arbor Art Fairs descend onto our smallish city of 100,000 or so, swelling our ranks to a good half mill over a period of four days.

Not only do we gain fanny pack-wearers, water bottle merchants and approximately 500 artists' RVs, but we have oodles of opportunities to buy art on a stick. Anno did a brilliant description of the horrors of the Art Fairs on her entry today, but I'm going to sing the Fairs' praises, instead.

The Fairs are called such, because they are actually four separate official fairs, rounded off by several smaller, unofficial fairs (such as King's Chosen). If you learn the ropes over the years, it's easy to enjoy the Fairs, and you absolutely get to see some marvelous art (minus the black velvet paintings and the stuff on sticks). I'm planning to share some of my favorite things about this year's Ann Arbor Art Fairs on tomorrow's Friday Fifteen, but for now, I'll just say that we had the right Art Fairs weather (threatening to storm, and therefore keeping foot traffic down), the right parking space (one of the garages, centrally located, so we were also able to come back with library books and Zingerman's baguettes) and a great people-watching spot for coffee (Primo - best coffee spot in Ann Arbor).

But I'm really discussing the art fairs only so I could have the excuse to put the two pictures together. So more on them tomorrow.

My real topic today is our Bates Motel(s) experience at the family reunion:

My hubby and I were honored to be invited, once again, to my BIL's wife's family's week at the lake house. Now, with all those possessives, you'd think this was complex enough, but it's even more so. My brother-in-law is the father of my nephew, and my sister was his former wife. Tragically, my sister passed away in 1997, and my BIL had the great good fortune of meeting, and falling in love with, a simply wonderful woman, whom he married in 2001.

My new SIL and her family have welcomed our family with open arms and we can't be more grateful. They're also great fun and we always enjoy our times together. As an added bonus, my son has inherited a whole group of new surrogate aunts and uncles, and we've inherited two wonderful surrogate nephews. So, it's always a good time when we can all get together.


...that the last time we visited them at the lake house, I slept on a couch there and did something to my back that lasted about 3 months. So, this time we thought we'd splurge and get a motel room.

So I went on the internet, found a couple of motels in the area and went with the local, non-chain one. It looked clean and pleasant (on the internet), and since we try to support local growers and businesses, that seemed the right choice.

We got to the reunion and had a great time. My nephew was there, along with my surrogate nephews, and we all played games, ate burgers, romped in the pool, checked out my nephew's new girlfriend, talked about everyone who couldn't come, etc. In other words, typical family reunion. To make it even more special, my SIL's family all thought it was my b'day and they got me a cake and cards. They even found a guinea pig card. They are the best! (And we must be really family, because absolutely none of us can get dates right).

Late afternoon, DH and I drove the five minutes to check into above-mentioned local motel. It was bare, but basic, and seemed pretty clean.

In the daylight.

It was also a killer humid day, but the little air unit in the room cooled it nicely during the five or ten minutes we spent there.

But by later that evening, after burgers and too much sun and a final gelato trip (we admired the cake, tasted it, and then all went out for amazing ice cream) DH and I staggered back to our motel, ready to crash.

Somehow, the somewhat cheery, okay, pretty clean place by day had turned into The Bates Motel by night. The lighting didn't work. The room was set in shadows. The room was damp and hot and the little air unit that could, couldn't. House crickets (which I despise) hopped across the floor. The threadbare towel in the bathroom was damp and grey. The sink had an odd smell. There was a spider convention near the 7" TV.

No problem, though. DH and I have slept and traveled in many places throughout the world, this place was clean(ish), dry and doable. We were tired.

We crawled into bed and turned off the shadowy light.

I tried to sleep. The bed was tilted at an angle, so my feet were lower than my head. The burgers were coming back to haunt me (I rarely eat beef). A situation with my writing group was causing me a mental canker sore. The sheets felt sweaty. I imagined I was being bitten. The clock slid from 11 to 12 to 1 to 2 to 3...

And finally I sat up. I couldn't take it anymore. I knew sleep wasn't happening, but I didn't want to wake DH.

Except that he sat up. Apparently, he was having the same experience I was.

So, we did something very uncharacteristic. We were decisive. We got OUT.

We left and decided that since we had cancelled all other summer travel for this year, we could afford to get another, similarly cheap motel room in a chain.

We threw our "local" principles out the window and drove up the road to the Motel 8.

Ah, civilization! Dry sheets, clean room, bright lights, no crickets. Bed at the angle it should be. Quick check first on e-mail and cell phones, having first access to such things since we'd left Ann Arbor. We wallowed in our stupid, spoiled selves and took until 4:30 to really get settled and turn out the lights, again, to go to sleep.

5:35 a.m. That's what the clock said when the fire alarm started going off. Yes, started. And kept going, and going, and going. Like the energizer bunny, we were warned repeatedly that something was wrong.

We stumbled around the room and packed up our stuff. We opened the door, shuffled down the hallway and down the stairs, and entered the lobby. And found ourselves the only ones there. (And keep in mind, please, that this alarm had gone off about 23 times, and it was not quiet.)

The nice lady at the desk explained to us that this happened frequently. The other guests had probably taken that for granted. We tumbled back up to bed and got under the covers again.

Sun was streaming in my eyes. We'd set the alarm for 9, so we could rejoin the fun at the lake house. I looked at my watch. 11:20!!! Check-out was 11 and the desk sign clearly said that those who stayed later would be charged for another day. I lurched awake. Awake, awake.

I was really awake.

I grabbed my watch, ran over to the slit in the curtains through which the sun was streaming and found out that it was 7:05. And I was awake.

And an hour later, so was DH.

My own bed felt really good last night.


anno said...

oh dear. I'm so glad you're back to the comfort of your own home, and the crazy pleasure of the Art Fairs, too.

Anonymous said...

Hey.. thanks for your comment on my 15 things.

It's so great that your BIL's family has accepted you all and kept you included. There are so many people who wouldn't have been as gracious.

DeniseUMLaw said...

What a great story; what a great writer!

Sounds terrible, but it's an experience we all need once or twice in life -- helps us appreciate how good we've got it otherwise. ::grin::

Jen said...

Jenn - thanks for stopping by! And yes, it's totally great that they're so accepting. And even better than that, they're so much FUN. I really, really like them. And my SIL has been great for my nephew. And I adore her sisters and parents. We feel very, very grateful.

Denise, thank you for stopping by! And yes, it was one of those, "yup, I'm spoiled" moments. Thanks for the compliments on my writing.