Friday, April 21, 2006

Score One for the 'Burbs

One of the nice things about working in BaCo (my affectionate term for Baltimore County) is that a bus will stop at a crosswalk in the middle of a busy road to allow pedestrians to scoot across the lanes. And I'm talkin' about intersections with no crossing signal, no light, no nothin' except the diagonally striped safety zone.

In DC, I think a bus will actually aim for pedestrians, daring the fragile meatbags to enter into a ten-stone versus six-ton game of chicken. Guess who begs off first?

Like I said, it's nice for a public service vehicle to follow the rules of the road.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cleanin' Out My Closet...Sorta

A few weeks ago, one of my friends gifted me with loads of clothes that she didn't want to move to her new place. The collection comprised her "maybe I'll fit into this again someday" wardrobe. As she says, reality checked in: if she does return to this particular size, she's going to want to go on a spree and reward her reduced dimensions. Since I'm the sixth of seven children, I'm no stranger to hand-me-downs, and I eagerly accepted the goodies.

But oh, the jumbled clutter that my bedroom became. The overstuffed shopping bags tipped over and spilled their contents all over the floor. Honestly, I nearly wiped out a couple of times trying to hurdle past the piles to pick out a pair of shoes.

On Monday, I couldn't take it anymore, and decided to clean out my closet. Not Eminem-style, mind you. I literally cleaned out my closet. Flinging the windows open so the lush scent of Spring would inspire me, the closet carnage began. My rules were simple:

  1. If I didn't were an item for a full season, it goes in the Good Will box;
  2. If the item looks better on the hanger than it does on me, it goes in the Good Will box;
  3. If the item looks like it should belong ot my sister and not me, it goes in a shopping bag that will then go to her.

What could be easier, right? For the most part, it was. I mean, I can't imagine why I've held onto that mock turtleneck for so long. Or that cami; I mean, I cannot walk around without a certain degree of support, and camis aren't so good at keeping Victoria's secret. One of my favorite wha-huh? articles was a paisley print button down. Paisley? Paisley hasn't been in style since about 1989. It's not comin' back (dear God, at least I hope it isn't). That stuff all got pitched without any hesitation.

Then it got hard.

There's that henley that I bought for my husband (then boyfriend) for our first Christmas together in 1997 (and then stole back from him). And the Aran sweater that my parents picked up for me when they went on their anniversary trip to the Emerald Isle. And the tattered concert t-shirts that aren't really fit for wearing anymore: Depeche Mode, U2, Nitzer Ebb, Rush (one of these things is not like the other one....).

These items aren't just things. This stuff is autobiographical. It's tangible evidence of who I was at 14, at 17, at 20, at 30. So, they are neatly folded and resting comfortably in a dark, difficult-to-reach corner of my closet. Sure sure, I've heard that the things we own begin to own us. But I'm not sweatin' the three cubic feet that owns me. Well, not yet anyway. We'll see where I'm at when I'm 60. For now, though, I'm just satisfied that I can see my floor again and that wire hangers aren't sticking out from between my clothes at every angle.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blood Is Thicker than Etiquette

It's a glorious spring day here in the 'burbs of DC. How did I spend the morning? Strolling along the Mall? Sailing the Potomac? Dining al fresco at a waterfront bistro?

Nah. I went to one of those franchise medical services joint to have blood drawn. Nothing serious, just routine bloodwork. Seeing as how high cholesterol is as prevalent in my family as blue eyes, I like to keep up with it.

Anyhoo, the joint opens at 8:00 a.m. Silly me, I thought I was being an early bird by arriving at 8:20. Boy oh boy, was I wrong. When I got there, you would've thought they were handing out $20 bills to the first 100 customers. Seriously, the line stretched out the door. For medical services. On a Saturday morning on Easter weekend.

Come to think of it, that's kind of an ironic link-up.

So, there were about 30 people in front of me on the sign-in sheet. And there were about 20 seats in the waiting room. Know what that means? Yep, time to stand. Not that I minded the standing; I figure it burns more calories than sitting, so I might as well roll with the opportunity. Besides, I had my trusty Entertainment Weekly with me, so the time would pass quickly. Right?

Um, wrong. Hugely, unequivocally wrong. I was standing and waiting for an hour before the receptionist called me to the front desk to hand in my insurance information. And EW, much as I love it, is kind of a cotton candy magazine, so I'd finished with it at about minute 35. This left me with oodles of time to observe other folks in the waiting room. Know what I figured out? Common courtesy is not exactly alive and well.

At least six people got cell phone calls in that hour. They all tried to answer them, and the receptionist had to bark that no cell phone calls were allowed in the waiting room. Yeesh. Could you imagine that many people having conversations at once? And since I live in a pretty diverse area, these conversations would've been conducted in at least four different languages. One woman actually just went to hang out near the door to the place, like it was not as big a deal for us all to hear her conversation since she was almost outside.

There were no fewer than 10 children there. I think one of these kids was a patient. The rest of them were chillin' with their parents. Now, I totally get that some of these folks might not have childcare on a Saturday morning. But I can't think that lurking in a medical office was exactly fun for them, especially since there weren't any magazines, or kids books, or televisions. Seriously, if your ten-year-old son is entertaining himself by locking the front door of the office, maybe you need to re-think bringing him to places like this.

And finally...I wasn't the only one standing. Not by a long shot. Admittedly, I can't know what the seated folks were there for, and maybe they really needed to hunker down in those chairs. I passed up the opportunity to grab a chair when one opened up, causing my standing compatriots looked like they might need the chair more than I. But no one even offered to give up a seat, and there were more than a few hale and hearty teenagers, men, and women clutching their chairs like they were life preservers.

Maybe people just don't do that kind of stuff anymore...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Family Ties

This has nothing to do with anything, but I have a theory that 90% of Americans have an Aunt Nancy and an Uncle Bill, either by birth or by marriage. I started out with an Uncle Bill, and married a fella who has an Aunt Nancy. My sister did the same. A friend of mine had neither, but when she got married -- WHAM. An Aunt Nancy and an Uncle Bill.

I guess it's not all that shocking, considering that "Nancy" was one of the top 10 girls' names from 1935 to 1955, and "William" has never really left the the top 20 since the time that the Social Security Administration's been collecting this info.

Can you tell it's the Friday before a holiday and that things in the office are S-L-O-W?

Christian Passover?

For awhile now, I've thought that Christians could legitimately celebrate events associated with the Old Testament. I mean, it's the first half of the Bible, right? Christ, through Joseph, is a direct descendent of some of the major playas in Judaism, correct? And Jesus was a Jew, yes? So it seemed logical to me that Christians could participate in Hanukkah, Passover, etc.

Here's the thing, though. Folks need to celebrate these miracles, these deliverences, with a deep and abiding understanding of their meaning. I mean, these are not secularized traditions in the Jewish culture, like Christmas trees are in Christian culture. Sure, I could whip up a Seder (hey, I was always in charge of the matzo ball soup at Jess'), invite some pals over, and imbibe some Manischewitz. But after having attended a coupla Seders in college, I know that there's more to it than that. It'd be like non-Christians grabbing an Advent calendar and gobbling up the goodies without paying attention to the messages.

And making Christ the central focus of predominantly Jewish traditions, as described in the WaPo article, seems wrong. My limited exposure to Passover celebrations left me with the feeling that the gathering is supposed to be a remembrance of shared miseries and the wholesale deliverence from them by God. But to spin it into a metaphor for what Christ endured pulls the focus away from the people who endured centuries of slavery and abuse.

Clearly, I need to ponder this some more. And I swear, I'm not looking to add eight days of gifts or a rich meal to my calendar.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Scrabbled Memories

Why wasn't this happening when I was in middle school twenty years ago? I wouldn't have pestered so many family members to Scrabble with me if I coulda joined a club.

Wait. Was middle school really twenty years ago?