What I did on my day off.

Students everywhere are returning to school and writing the all-popular essay, “What I did on my summer vacation.” I’m writing about the thrills and chills I experienced yesterday, on my day off.

For the first time in several years, I made the hour drive to visit the town where I did most of my growing up, and where my mom and stepdad still live – Topeka, Kansas. Yes, the capital city that boasts the worst state government in the nation.

This photo is intended to highlight Forbes Air Field, south of town. I think it does a much better job of illustrating the fact that this is truly flyover country. Seriously, don’t stop here – you might be tainted for life.

My stepdad, a mechanical engineer, owns a metal fabrication shop on the north side of town. The Husband is now driving an hour to work every day, joining him in the business. It’s a good situation for all of us. And now I can occasionally ride along with him on a Friday (my day off) in order to spend time in Topeka with my mom.

Time with my mom: good.

Time in Topeka, Kansas: not good.

This billboard is right across the highway from my stepdad’s shop. It does a beautiful job of encapsulating just what, exactly, is the problem with my state.


This is the best shot I could get. The words underneath “The Holy Bible,” which are mercifuly unintelligible here, are something like “Timeless. Truthful. Final.” I don’t remember the exact wording because upon reading it I was overtaken by severe fundamentalist-induced nausea and vomiting.

What I didn’t manage to get a shot of (HAHA!) was the billboard right next to this one, which celebrated the awesome power of gun ownership and the God-given right of each of us to “pack.”

I loved hanging with my mom yesterday. Pure leisure. We went out for coffee, did a little shopping, then came back to her house to make lunch, chat, peruse the latest IKEA catalog, play with the dog, and knit. At the end of the day we picked up our husbands from the shop and went out for Mexican food for dinner. Just lovely.

But the Mexican place we went to was dangerously close to the capital building. That view, and imagining the ignorant, selfish, and backwards lawmakers who hang out there, kind of put a damper on my appetite.

Today I’ll have to shake off the taint with some classical music, good books, and NPR.

With luck I’ll survive that day off.

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5 thoughts on “What I did on my day off.

  1. I actually lived in Topeka for my sophomore and junior year of high school at Topeka West somewhere around 1995-96. Ugh. My stepdad’s family lived there, but my parents finally threw in the towel and moved us out of there. I still have family there and in the southwest corner of Kansas. Ugh. It never changes.

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    • Oh my gosh – you’re kidding! I graduated from West in ’82, then except for summers during college, thankfully never lived in Topeka again. Way back then we actually had decent lawmakers – even the Republicans were reasonable. Now it’s a contest to see who can pander most obsequiously to the Koch brothers. I would love to hear your impressions of West in the 90’s. 🙂

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      • Well I was an angsty teen when I lived there so I don’t have favorable memories all though I have kept in touch with some of the friends I made in the short time I was there. I had my first experience with homophobia when the Phelps clan called my sister and I (identical twins, clearly sisters) some slurs as we walked into a store together. I didn’t even know I was gay then. Lol. There was racial tension at Topeka West during the time I was there which was odd for me because I had been in South Florida where it was much more diverse. I know my parents are very liberal and they struggled with Topeka a lot which is why we ended up moving. I worked part-time at Taco Casa, which an old friend told me is still in business today. I think Kansas in general has really changed so much. Most of my family is in Kansas in various corners from Topeka to Dodge City and it is so culturally different, I struggle to go there to visit. There is no room for reasonable thinking in politics anymore. It is really sad.

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  2. Sounds like a great way to spend time with your mom. The billboards made me laugh…and people pay for crap space to litter our highways with. (shaking my head)

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