Archive for October, 2011

Walking: A Primer

It is very hard to walk.  98% of Americans would disagree with this statement, but 98% of them are in my way, so….  I am, what you might call a fast walker.  Not Olympic Speed Walker fast, or anything, which, sidenote:  speedwalking looks very weird and like you’re about to poo your own pants, and other sidenote: the Olympics are about 9 months away now.  Definitely not enough time to become a world-class speed walker.  Despite the fact that I will probably never walk competitively, I like to think that I’m pretty good at it for an amateur.  And I would like to offer some tips to other people who apparently are less aware of how to walk.

1.  Slower traffic keep to the right.  Much like long-haul tractor trailers, drivers over the age of 65, and anyone driving a vehicle made in France, slower walkers should stay in the right lane.  And by lane, I mean press your body to the right side of the sidewalk, hallway, stairwell, or any other space in which you may be attempting to traverse while upright.  This lets people who AREN’T taking a scenic stroll through their workday (read: WINNERS!), which, sidenote:  it has taken me this many posts to bring up crazy old Charlie Sheen.  You’re welcome. get past you and on with the business of being VERY IMPORTANT.  Which, I am.

2.  Know where you are going.  This one, I have understanding of, if no patience for.  It is ok to not know where you are going.  It is ok to stop and think about it.  It is ok to consult your information Phone, your GPS device, and your honing pidgeon.  But not in the middle of the sidewalk, hallway, stairwell, or any other space in which you may be attempting to traverse while upright.  Doing so makes your problem my problem.  And people, I’m a Judger with a capital J.  Meyers and Briggs have no idea.  And I do try really hard to be less of a “J” but you have to do your part.  Like not giving my “J” side undue opportunity to appear.  Once “J” gets going, well, it’s not pretty and it’s usually not short-lived.

3.  Have spatial awareness.  Are you teenie tiny?  9 months pregnant?  Carrying a giant laptop bag?  Snuggled up in a stylish puffy coat? Which, sidenote: if you are, check that.  I just saw the finale of Project Runway and looking like you have a giant polar bear wrapped around you didn’t appear to be in style.  Being a size 0 and nearly naked is where’s it’s at.  So, yeah, I’ll be wearing my puffy coat this weekend, too. Anyway, all of these situations require varying berths.  Figure that out.  No matter how teenie tiny you are, taking up your half in the middle is simply not to anyone’s advantage…well, maybe yours.  But definitely not mine.  And unless you’re trying to be the next reality star on Narcissists Anonymous, let’s not hog the whole sidewalk, hallway, stairwell, or any other space in which you may be attempting to traverse while upright.  Because people, that’s tres neanderthal.  And I don’t think those guys traversed upright.


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As technology pervades more and more of our lives, the way we access and interact with information, data, and news continually evolves.  One truth, however, remains constant.  Local news is the best of times and the worst of times.  I grew up near Roanoke, Virginia and was a devout viewer of NBC’s Channel 10.  When I went to college in Blacksburg, pictures of high school friends weren’t the only touch of home that went with me.  The Channel 10 news crew came too.

The height of my college news viewing was during my junior year when an illegal tire dump caught fire and burned for months.  Yes.  You read that right.  Someone in the automotive industry had illegally been disposing of rubber tires for literally years over a steep ravine somewhere in southwest Virginia.  And somehow it caught fire.  The channel 10 news crew was on the scene for days and days in a row.  Their best newscast was when they stationed four reporters at the coordinate points of the fire and let each one give an update from their vantage point.  “This is Sally Smithers, reporting from the north side of the tire fire where tires reportedly caught fire two weeks ago today. The smoke is black, billowing, and expected to continue for weeks.  Let’s throw it to the west side of the fire, where Bill Jones is standing by…”  “Thanks, Sally.  This is Bill Jones reporting from the west side of the fire, where the tires are indeed, still burning.  Now let’s head to the east side of the fire where Tom Harris is ready to fill us in.  Tom?” “Thanks, Bill.  I can confirm that I am here on the east side of the fire where tires are…burning” …and so it went.  The crescendo of the event was when the news crew, desperate for a new angle after several days of burning rubber, interviewed a local neighbor in his pickup truck.  They asked if he was concerned about the fire and when they played the clip of his response, they displayed his name at the bottom of the screen and in place of his title or affiliation, they put “Not Scared,” as in “Bob Brown, Not Scared.”  My roommates and I howled with laughter.  Every night.  For weeks and weeks.  I haven’t lived in Southwest VA for more than seven years, but I can bet those tires are still burning somewhere…

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Naked Neighbor Show

When I was very little, as in, still young enough to take baths with my brother, my aunt was visiting and coined the phrase, “Naked Neighbor Show.”  As in, “wrap up in a towel and stop standing in front of that window if you don’t want to be on the “Naked Neighbor Show.”  Which of course sent my brother and I into collapsing, hysterical laughter.  She said “NA-KED!”  This may or may not have evolved into a song and dance that went something like, “It’s the…NakedNeighborShow..the NakedNeighborShow…the NakedNeighborShow!”  Remember, I said, may or may NOT have evolved into a song and dance.

When I was eight, my mom remarried and we moved to my step-dad’s farm and we stopped worrying about being on the Naked Neighbor Show.  Partially because our closest neighbors were a mile away, but mainly because I was very grown-up at 8 years old and I definitely was NOT still taking baths with my brother.  One, because we were way too old, and two, because he smelled like a goat.  I was totally convinced that my brother smelled all the time.  Not like a sweaty, unbathed smell, but more just a “personal-musk-smell”.  And for the record, I didn’t know what a goat smelled like…until my brother turned 6 or 7, and then I just sort of KNEW.

Fast forward to this summer, when I was throwing the ball for my dog-dog, and chatting with my next door neighbor across the fence.  “Where is,” he asked reluctantly, “your bedroom?”  “On the other side of the house, ” I answered.  “OH.  GOOD.  Because I have been worried that sometimes when I leave the blinds open, you guys can see into my bathroom.  I thought your bedroom might be through that window,” he said, pointing to the second floor.  This led me to an “Oh, no, No, NO…definitely not” and then I invited him in for a house tour.  All the time we were showing him our three bedrooms and bathroom, and whatever else, I was having a mini panic attack.  On the inside.  Over whether or not he was truly concerned about his own “Naked Neighbor Show” or whether he was just trying to tell me to stop running to the basement laundry room in my underroos to get clothes to wear to work.  Kind of like when you generously offer a pack of gum around the office in hopes that the close-talking colleague with road-kill-breath will accept a piece.

I have adopted a two-pronged strategy.  I walk around my house in a snowsuit.  And I chew gum.  All. the. time.

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Paper or prozac?

I like to think of myself as smart.  And capable.  I was a nerd in high school.  I went to college.  I have an MBA.  I grew up on a farm.  I can change a tire, drive a tractor, and swing a hammer.  And yet, I am totally slayed by a trip to the grocery store.  I make a list.  I try to organize it.  I try to have a plan.  And yet, it is almost guaranteed that I’ll break out in a cold sweat at some point during the shopping trip.  And I’ll want to rock back and forth in a corner by the time I am finished.  I definitely have a problem.  And the problem’s name is “my husband.”

When we got married more than six years ago, hubs and I tried to set up a division of labor that minimized our exposure to “chores we hate the most.”  I hate lugging laundry baskets up and down the stairs.  He hates folding laundry.  Divide and conquer.  I hate going to the grocery store.  He loves it.  Guess who is supposed to do that chore?  We both enjoy cooking and for the first few years of our marriage, we divided that semi-equally.  Until I went to graduate school.  Then hubs cooked and I sulked and studied.  Fast forward four years and guess who is in graduate school now? That’s right.  Not me. Guess who is studying?  And guess who is shopping and sulking and cooking?  Yep, Cinder-!@#$ing-ella.  Being not only a sulker, but also a control freak, I quickly determined that if I’m going to plan and prepare most of the meals, then I need to be doing the grocery shopping.  And then I realized that OHMYGOSH do you KNOW how expensive food is these days?  And so, now I’ve started clipping coupons.  And using them.  My goal is to save enough to buy copious amounts of wine.  Or Prozac.  Depending what’s on sale.

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It has come to my attention that an anonymous blog reader is not impressed with “Hubs,” the moniker I have adopted in place of my spouse’s name.  Let me submit to you, gentle reader, a few of the proposed nick-names that failed to meet with his approval:

1.  Man-meat

2.  Lady-killer

3.  Boo

4.  Big Daddy

5.  Money Maker

My husband is an introverted IT manager who would rather fly under the radar screen than have me pimp out his daily activities for the sake of my own literary fulfillment.  Weird, no?  He also has career aspirations of something greater and he feels that utter transparency on my part might jeopardize his chances of ultimately scoring a C-level position at a successful regional company several years from now.  I haven’t the heart to tell him that my need to “live out loud” and my inability to fake graciousness is going to be a lot harder to overcome than me calling him “Big Papa” on my blog.  He doesn’t know it, but he’s in a race against time, because if I turn these psychotic musings into a book and get it into Oprah’s hands before he secures a position that requires confidentiality agreements, well, well, well.  There’s no telling what Dr. Phil will make of me.

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When my husband came to Virginia from Connecticut to go to college, he confesses that he had never seen so many attractive women in one place at one time.  Apparently, he was talking about a time of the year that was before September 15th.  Because after the middle of September, it officially becomes open season on FLEECE in Blacksburg, Virginia, and summer dresses and espadrilles are forced into hiding until at least mid April.

This fall, we have been to two home football games in Blacksburg and I have drawn two critical conclusions:

1.  I am no longer in college nor could I under any circumstances be confused with someone who attends college (except by a lady in Kroger a few weeks ago when I was buying some groceries in a VT t-shirt.  She asked if I went to Virginia Tech and I said, “Yes, but a long time ago.”  She was confused and asked if I was a student NOW.  I almost hugged her.  Then I realized that she didn’t speak-ah-the-English-so-good and just wanted to talk about her daughter, who is there now.  And of course, I automatically became a HOKIE AMBASSADOR again (Yes, I was a student tour guide.  It looked good on a college resume.  I’m full of southern hospitality.  Suck it, ok?) and told her what a great academic experience I had at Tech and that 5 million people in my family went there and that I met my awesome husband there and ohmygosh, it is the greatest place on earth.  She was happy.  And she was the only person within 100 miles who would think I could still be any kind of  a college student.)  We were in town for a game a few weeks ago and walked through the student center on the way to the game.  OMG.  When did they start letting middle school kids attend college?  Holy hell, you mean those are STUDENTS?!?  It’s not that I thought I was still a student or could fit in with the students, but it wasn’t until that very depressing 3 minute walk that I realized how far away I am from a time in my life that seems very recent.  I. Felt.  Old.

2.  The second conclusion is that Virginia Tech is not the school for fashionistas.  Unless they take inspiration from Eskimos.  Because it is too. darn. cold.  During a football game on October 1st, it was 45 degrees.  In the DAY time.  When ladies at VT get dressed to go to a game in boots and ponchos, they are not talking about wearing skinny jeans, Uggs, and knitted wraps.  They are talking about Carhart overalls, thinsulate-lined hiking boots, and rain ponchos, printed with Hokie-bird-turkeys.  If that getup doesn’t bring all the boys to the yard, then I don’t know what will.  I only know that getting dressed for the game made me happy that I’ve snagged my man and that he’s been with me long enough to know that my fashion inspiration for a football game is much more “Great Pumpkin” than “Southern Belle.”  I. Am. Old.

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