Archive for the ‘other folks’ Category


Posted: 2 August 2011 in other folks
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I work in one of those sorts of places where the toilets are automated.  I walk in, take a seat and, when I stand again, voila!  Magic happens.  That toilet flushes like that’s it’s job.

Wait a minute!  You mean you’re supposed to flush after use?  Why yes, gentlemen using this building, you ARE!

We are not of the if it’s yellow let it mellow crowd.  And in the unisex, you may find that you don’t trigger the auto-flush doing whatever it is you’re doing.  But why, WHY, don’t you go ahead and hit that spiffy black button that makes it go manually?  Let me tell you, I don’t need to see your business first hand.  And, while I appreciate your effort to save water, you’re failing since no person in their right mind would want to sit down there and risk encountering your splash back.

Really.  Just hit the button.


Note to the college students of today: the correct terminology is check-out, not rent.

As in “Hello Ma’am.  Would you be so kind as to check-out this book for me?”

Not (moan, emo-lurch, sigh, lack of eye contact) “Uh…Can I rent this book?”

No, seriously.  Rent is reserved for things which you borrow for a fee.  This book?  It’s free for a short time once you type in your number.

You are not renting anything.  Please.  For my sanity’s sake.  Stop trying to rent these things.


Posted: 22 March 2009 in Charlottesville, House, joy, other folks

The house is finally bought.  The house we’ve talked about for more than a year (Let’s buy in DC – no, too expensive, too many crackhouses – let’s buy in Charlotteville – no, too expensive, we don’t know the neighborhood – prices are down – we’ll be here awhile, right? – let’s buy in Charlottesville (again) – that house is ghetto – so is that one and that one and that one – and seriously, do they have houses under 300 thou that aren’t brick? – why are the windows so high and, uh, prisony? – ooh, how about that one?  yes, that one!) is finally bought.

It’s in a great Charlottesville neighborhood packed with 50s ranch houses, bungalows and a mix of youngish UVA professionals and lived-here-since-it-was-built folks.  The old trees make up for the predominantly brick houses and the streets are quiet.  It’s close to school, so we can bike to work if we’re so inclined.  Sure, every last feature of the house is original to its 1956 birth date for better (gorgeous floors and windows) or worse (terrible pipes and closet space).  But the immediate neighbors seem nice and the yard makes up for every last interior issue. 

I’m not sure we can withstand the withering glares of the two houses over neighbors who were standing in the street yesterday aghast at the fence building.  There are fences in the neighborhood, but none on that side of things.  What’s more, the people that had lived in our house had lived there since it was built – probably the same length of time as the folks who were standing, gaping, at our fence.  I can hear them now:

“Well, Harold, you know Betty never would have put up such a thing.  She must be rolling in her grave right now!”

I’m looking forward to checking out the earth around the yard for a garden.  At least I won’t be digging up any of Betty’s bulbs – she was clearly a bit more low maintenance.  I like that in a woman.

While watching Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998), I was struck by the wrinkles in the film.  Nearly all of the adult actors and actresses had worry wrinkles on their forehead and smile lines around their mouths.  At first I thought they looked funny, couldn’t quite place my finger on what didn’t look right, and then I realized, they looked normal. 

Normal people with signs of age, joy, happiness and sadness.  Eva Mendes is in the film and she looks ten years older than she does today, ten years later.  I don’t think I’d realized how different film and television stars look today in comparison.  No lines or circles, no dark patches or freckles.  Blank canvases for displaying emotion rather than evolving, living art. 

Mind you, this is an assessment of Children of the Corn V.  Children of the Corn V.  It’s no award winner (unlike my childhood favorite, Children of the Corn I) and likely didn’t have the need or budget to camouflage any flaws.  But I think I’d prefer to see a few more people who looked like me on screen.

Maybe my hopes were too high when I signed up for a travel writing class.  I had some secret goals (make new friends, stop being crazy) and some not so secret goals (write).  Apparently I didn’t know or had forgotten that adults taking writing classes are at best quirky and at worst pretentious assholes.  Unfortunately, my class was not split so evenly down the middle.

Points for not automatically assuming I’m one of the pretentious assholes.

I don’t know what it is.  Perhaps it’s a way to distinguish oneself.  Look at me, I’m incredibly creative, I’ve been all these places and I’m really into this writing class.  So much more into it than you.  It’s the “than you” I take issue with.  It doesn’t seem to be enough to just be the most shining light in the class.  Some of these folks need to be the loudest, the funniest, the most well-traveled, and deliver the most fantastic turn of phrase.  The most polite description I can think of (other than pretentious assholes) is teacher’s pets.

As the kid who always did well enough to escape notice but little to stand out, I wish these grown up children would give up already.  I did accomplish one goal: to write.  I enjoyed that bit.  I did not make friends.

As a side note, I also did not get less crazy. When the writing prompt is to write about some place you’ve been and you end up writing about an African morgue and then your next three pieces are about burning trash heaps, dead babies and motorcycle accidents, you begin to wonder if writing is enough to remedy the crazy inheritance from your former job.

I’ve got two classes left but I’m not going back.  On the other hand, I have a medicinal herbs class beginning this week and I’m thrilled about that.

Writing Class

Posted: 18 February 2009 in observations, other folks, writing

I’m taking a writing class to pass the time and to get out of the house a bit, giving both D and I some much needed space.  The class is a nice balance of reading and writing, though I wish there were a bit more reading of our own writing.  I’m surprised I’d even say that, since I’m wary of strangers, cautious of easy praise and hesitant to read my stuff.  Right now we’re reading quite a bit of published writing and I like the out-loud tactic the instructor has taken.  You really can feel the words sink into your skin when you can hear the sound of them.  It’s one of the reasons I deeply enjoyed listening to books on tape during my commute.  I frequently regret the passing of the 40 minutes, as much as I appreciate the time and gas saved.

Perhaps smaller groups would make it easier to read.  With a pack of 15, a few voices pop up over others.  Some people don’t like to sit in silence.  Others can’t talk without a good settle into silence.  I did volunteer last week and read, voice shaking, a bit about my mother’s infatuation with bacon.  I was surprised to hear my voice shake (as much as I was by my rash decision to volunteer) and felt the praise press on top of me uncomfortably.  I tried to be gracious and say thank you, but I feel like it makes me sound prideful and pretentious.  It feels self-indulgent to even be talking about it.

Class is tonight and I haven’t done the homework, despite writing here and elsewhere.  Originally, I chalked it up to a homework phobia after two years of grad school, but I think I’ve settled on the alternate and very real reason.  I’m afraid to write poorly.  If I don’t do the homework, I can’t possibly face any criticism or disappointment.  My talent can remain unjudged, pristine, a glittering diamond in a hillside.

I’m full of shit.


Posted: 12 February 2009 in Charlottesville, other folks

I’m not sure why we tell children about the boogeyman.  When I was little I always sprang into bed when the lights went out, certain that one stray toe would set off the resident body snatcher.  Every child knows that sheets are like armor and being fully tucked in the dark was a monster guarantee.  What my mother should have warned me about was home inspectors.

Sinister devils, they parade about in full sunlight, snapping pictures and hmming and haing over ever crack, wire and pipe.  There’s no protective sheet.  The criticism of your potential house is so forceful and unrelenting that it’s worse than a boogeyman.  Home inspectors make boogeymen look like cherubs. 

While I’ve certainly been through more awful things, home inspection is near the top.  Oh I know you’re thinking that I must have had it easy until now.  You, in particular, you’re thinking about my soft, sweet life on layers of downy cushions with nary a pea to disrupt my languid, lioness-like snoozing.  But it’s enough to say that there have been more than enough peas.  In this world, the home inspector is my lentil. 

Sure, his handshake was firm enough and he had a nice name – Bob.  But Bob came bearing what sounded like one bit of bad news after another.  You see here, your retaining walls are bulging just a tad.  And over here, that’s a dripping pipe a’right.  No, no water now, but water is a home’s worst enemy and that water, m’dear, is at your gates.  The exhaust fan in the bathroom doesn’t work?  Tsk. And what’s this here?  Oh well, you might as well replace the whole house in just a few years, y’know they don’t last more’n fifty years.

Oh Bob.  You dream shatterer.  You bringer of bad tidings.  You’re the sword in my stone.  The thorn in my toe.  The pea in my mattress.  But, like the boogeyman, I suspect Bob and his nightmares are fleeting.  After all, there’s always a good dream, right?  That dream is this new house.  It’s comfy.  It doesn’t seem the have ghosts.  It’s warm and welcoming.  And there is not room for Bob.