Get Crazy With the Cheez Whiz

This crazy, busy summer continues to speed right along.

It’s hard to believe we will be in Nevada this week. We’re driving to Ely to visit family and friends. And bringing along Audrey, who is in for a serious case of culture shock because she has never experienced small town life before. We’re leaving Wednesday after work, driving to Baker City, Oregon for the night, and then staying three days in Ely and another in Elko before returning home on Monday.

In case any burglars out there are thinking of taking advantage of the public fact that we’ll be out of town, I need to warn you that we’ve got a very large and very hungry animal guarding the place in our absence.


Her bite is worse than her bark, so don’t go gettin’ any bright ideas, okay?

Also right around the corner: Audrey begins high school next week! Where did August go? For that matter, where did May, June, and July go? For that matter, where did her entire freakin’ childhood go?!?!

When August rolled around, I mentioned it was going to be a very busy month. It has definitely lived up to its billing! Last week, we got to see Beck in concert at McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater in Troutdale. This outdoor venue east of Portland is gorgeous, and the weather was perfect that evening. We had a great time; the self-described Loser put on one hell of a show, with a set that nicely represented his two decades of music. Can you believe Beck has been putting out records for 20 years now? I’m really digging his new album, by the way. I like mellow, introspective Beck more than “get crazy with the Cheez Whiz” Beck. The highlight was probably his duet with opening act Jenny Lewis, a cover of Rod Stewart’s cheesy disco classic “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” Pretty much everybody was swaying or singing along to that little ditty.

Great venue for a summer evening concert! (Courtesy of
Great venue for a summer evening concert! (Courtesy of

The evening before, our Sacramento newlywed friends, Heidi and Ross, dropped by for a visit. I suppose the 580 miles between us means it wasn’t “dropping by” so much as making a planned trip north and coming over while in town, but still, we appreciated seeing them again. Tara made a fantastic dinner (roast pork loin and homemade mac ‘n cheese) and we spent hours catching up over wine. Our mutual friend Chris was there, as well. Everybody seemed to really like our new apartment, which was nice to hear.

Speaking of, I was out running errands yesterday and found myself in the vicinity of my old townhouse, so I made a detour through the complex and drove by the place. I don’t know what I was expecting to feel, but it ended up being surprisingly little. It felt familiar, I suppose, but no longer home. It makes me realize how quickly we adapt to change.

Beck. (Courtesy of the LA Times).
Beck. (Courtesy of the LA Times).

A similar thing happened years ago. In February 2007, I had ordered some CDs from Amazon (shows you how dated this story is!) and realized when I got the shipping confirmation that they were going to my old address – the house my ex and I had sold five months earlier while going through a divorce. So I drove over there one afternoon and knocked on the door. That was strange enough. When the new owner answered and invited me inside, that really felt odd. It was like stepping through a time portal and being spit out into the past. Except for the shiny stainless steel refrigerator in the kitchen and the scent of Vietnamese food permeating the air, the place was remarkably the same as when I had left it. Same ugly green carpeting, same Pergo flooring, same wooden pocket doors. And yet, it felt like a lifetime had passed since I had last set foot in there. In some regards, it felt like I had never actually lived there. I blogged about the experience, and wrote,

 It felt weird inside there, and natural, at the same time. As if both sentiments could coexist. The house didn’t make me feel happy or sad, but rather ambivalent. There’s a phrase about a house not being a home, and even though it feels like a bad cliche, it’s true. Did I have happy memories there? Of course I did. And last year, I had many sad memories, as well. I guess perhaps those conflicting emotions cancel one another out. I thanked him for allowing me inside…got back into my car and drove home. To my real home this time.

In many ways, the same sentiment holds true today. Even if I had been invited inside my old townhouse yesterday – and I should point out the same amount of time has passed since we moved out, 5 months – I would feel like it is no longer home.

By the way, the current occupant, according to my former neighbors, is a strange and paranoid man who has turned one of the kids’ bedrooms into “a gun room” and the other is devoted to video games. He takes the battery out of his cell phone every night because he believes the government is spying on him. And, he’s deciding which breed of large and vicious dog to acquire as a pet.

Yeah, the neighbors miss us…


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

10 thoughts on “Get Crazy With the Cheez Whiz

  1. Mark, doesn’t it blow you away with how fast this summer has whizzed by? I can’t believe it’s almost September!? But I’m excited because that means FALL is coming!!!!

    Love the photo of kitty in the bag. Don’t you love how they always like to get inside things like, bags and boxes?

    “I don’t know what I was expecting to feel, but it ended up being surprisingly little. It felt familiar, I suppose, but no longer home. It makes me realize how quickly we adapt to change.”

    It sure does, especially when you’re happier where you are today.

    ” He takes the battery out of his cell phone every night because he believes the government is spying on him. And, he’s deciding which breed of large and vicious dog to acquire as a pet.”


    Have a great time on your trip to Ely on Wednesday. Looking forward to reading all about it and seeing photos when you get back! Happy journey to you and Tara!


    1. My neighbor has suggested the new renter is a drug dealer, and there does seem to be some evidence for that based on what I have heard. In any case, he is a single guy who rented a large 3BR/2.5BA townhouse all to himself because apparently nobody in Portland would rent to him. Red flags, anyone? It’s clear the people who bought the place with the intention of renting it out have no experience as landlords. I wish them luck.

      “But I’m excited because that means FALL is coming!!!!”

      You and me both, brother!


  2. I’ve only been in the southern part of Nevada, so I look forward to hearing about your trip. One of my fave songs of all time is ‘Where It’s At,’ probably because the video is so entertaining.


    1. Now, that was a good drum break…

      By Southern Nevada, I assume you mean Vegas? Trust me, that is a vastly different world than the rest of the state. Ely might as well be a different planet! But I like it much better. I’ll be sure to post lots of pics from the trip!


  3. I know that feeling well – my family moved around a lot when I was little, and whenever we were home we would often drive past or visit our old houses, and I remember that sensation of, “oh yeah… but no…”
    Twenty years is scary: my very first job was as a PR assistant in London, and we worked on the first Elle Style Awards at which Beck won Most Stylish Newcomer. I remember us all wondering who this random American dude was.
    Hope September is a little calmer for you – and I love your daughter’s name!


    1. My dad was in the Air Force, and we moved around a lot, too. But our moves took us from Hawaii to New Jersey to Hawaii to Ohio to Hawaii (see a pattern here?) to South Dakota to California, so it wasn’t logistically possible to see our old houses. Unless, of course, you were motivated enough to take a solo road trip across the country to visit your childhood home 30 years after moving away.


      Thanks for stopping by. Audrey is actually not her real name…I compare myself to Clark Griswold often, and refer to my kids as Rusty and Audrey in keeping with the theme. Although, everybody else’s names on the blog are real. Go figure!


  4. It really is amazing how quickly we adapt. I remember about a year ago driving past my first apartment. This apartment was where I lived with my ex fiance for two years and it is really my first venture to being on my own. I decided to drive in to the parking lot and just watch the people going in and out. I parked in the spot I always parked in but I really felt nothing. It was like looking at a strangers house that I had no connection to. That part of my life was so long ago and the book has long been closed on that relationship that there was no feelings left there. It was an odd feeling because it was most definitely my favorite apartment that I have lived in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly! And three years ago, when I found myself on the front porch of a house I had lived in 30 years earlier, it felt like I had watched a movie of a little boy that lived there once…but hadn’t actually experienced it firsthand. Strange, indeed. And weird to think that someday, the place that is home today will seem every bit as foreign.


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