Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I was reading today about a new study about how damaging bullying is, and I really never thought it applied to me, as I never bullied anyone in school. A few months back, though, a classmate died and everyone was saying how well-loved this man was. That was true as an adult, but not as a child.

As a child, he was a total outcast. I think it was a few years out of high school when he gained some recognition for work he did on racing car engines that he became cool and went on to become very cool in the racing world. (When he died, I googled him and some racing magazine called him an icon.)

One memory I had of him goes back to fifth grade when we went on a class picnic to the grandmother's house of another classmate who lived on this mini-estate on Long Island Sound. We weren't supposed to go in the house, but this kid did to go in the house to go to the toilet. When the girl whose grandmother's house it was found out that this kid had contaminated the place by peeing in the toilet, she was just shrieking. I so clearly remember that -- her absolute horror and disgust -- and thinking how disgusting it would be to have this kid pee in your toilet.

Fast forward to a week or so ago, and I was having lunch with two classmates from that time, and his name came up. Their memories of his being an outcast matched mine. I said, feeling a bit defensive, "Well, *we* didn't bully him." And we all nodded, but then my one friend said, "But we didn't stop it either."

I don't know if children have the power to stop it. I just remember totally, passively accepting the fact that he was the outcast. That's the way the world worked.

I did see him when I went to a reunion a few years back, and spoke with him (see, I'm trying to redeem myself!) Turns out he was dyslexic and that's why he was so "dumb" and didn't know he was dyslexic -- well, who knew back then? -- until he joined the Navy and they tested him.

My own passive behavior does bother me -- enough to write about it here -- and I do think about all those kids today who are suffering like he did.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rainy Tuesday

Same weather except for heavier rain and a tornado warning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainy Monday

Today would have been a good day to sleep late and then spend the day reading a novel with the rain as a backdrop. No sun today. Just gray, dreary rain.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bathrrom Anecdote

When I stopped to use the restroom in a turnpike stop in PA, I didn't notice a sign on the first stall I went to, but inside there was a big toilet and a little toilet, side by side. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew it wasn't for me, so I closed the door and then noticed the sign which read "Mommy and Me."

I went to the stall next door, but then heard a mother and little girl in the Mommy and Me stall. The mother said something like we each have our own toilet, and the little girl said in the most exhuberant voice, so sincere, "Oh Mommy, this is so cool!"

A few seconds later and the little girl was finished and I guess exploring the stall and found that little shelf that pulls down for your purse, and she said, "What's this for? [and then answered her own question] Oh that's if you want to eat lunch here. Can we eat our lunch here?"

It was so sweet, really. I have noticed in my travels what's now called "family bathrooms" which really does make sense. This was my first "Mommy and me" bathroom.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Home Again, Safe and Sound

I had one busy week at my client, and then doing work on behalf of other clients at night. So I left around 3pm on Friday and got to my hotel at about 8pm. Last time I made this trip, I stayed in a dumpy but functional Econolodge for something like $45, and this time, same town, I doubled it and stayed at the Ramada, which definitely was not worth the upgrade. It was not worth double.

It's just an old property as you can see below -- seemed like a lot of locals partying as well as transient construction workers sitting outside drinking beer. I was assigned a smoking room by mistake and I was parked far away from the front desk and just didn't feel like going back and lugging my stuff back to the car. I will say that the pillowcases and sheets were impeccably clean -- looked like they had been ironed even.

Here's my circa 1964 hotel.

Left this morning around 9 and just did a leisurely trip. It was gorgeous day.

Stopped a few times, had to wait a long time to get gas on the last rest stop in NJ to fill the rental car up. Then there was very heavy traffic coming across the George Washington Bridge and I made the mistake of believing a sign that said the onramp to the highway I needed was closed (it wasn't) and I ended up totally and I mean totally lost in the Bronx.

Finally kept asking directions and made my way back, returned the car and all is well. It will be great to sleep in my own bed tonight! There's no place like home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Road Trip Day Two

This is the view from my hotel window. Second floor overlooking the Holiday Inn next door and a shopping mall.

Had a nice drive here today, through the cool of the Pennsylvania mountains where the leaves were just beginning to turn, right smack back into summer in Cincinnati where it was in the low 90s today. I listened to a complete audio book that held my attention for two days. Near the end, I was ready for it to be over, and it got to be a joke -- that it would be the narrator announcing "Chapter 75" and I'd think how the hell many chapters are there? I think it was over 90. Not great literature, but a mindless passtime.

Two bonehead moves of mine:

1. I forgot a comb. You'd think I'd keep an extra in the toiletry bag, but I don't. I will from now on. I heard the maid outside my door and I stuck my head out and asked her if she had one on her cart. Actually since my hair is so short, I was able to comb it with my fingers and sort of fluff it into style. She didn't have one, but unasked by me, she went to the lobby and got me one. Which I appreciated.

2. When I stopped today in a rest area on the way here, the handwashing sinks were freestanding -- no counters -- and my purse kept falling forward when I would try to wash my hands and so I realized the one sink was totally dry so I plopped my purse in the (dry) sink which activated the water to be turned on so I got a second or so of water right inside my open purse. Camera, phone, wallet, etc. but everything was OK luckily.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Road Trip Revisited

I realized my last two trips were during the height of summer vacations, and it's a whole different scene now. In fact, when I stopped for lunch there was a virtual empty parking lot and a space right by the front door. I kept looking to make sure it wasn't a handicapped spot. The place was totally empty except for these guys.

Later, this family of Mennonites (I think) came in. The women had what you might call the Little House on the Prairie dresses down to their ankles and the white caps. They went to Burger King which strikes me as so anachronistic -- I expect them to open an old-fashioned picnic basket and take out fried chicken, a whole pie and drink lemonade out of a mason jar.

I don't know much about Mennonites -- I should read up. I remember Mary reminding me that this girl we went to college with from Gettysburg was a Mennonite and took off her white cap for school. However I don't remember her as particularly pious.

At this rest stop, I got a pre-made Ceasar Chicken Salad sandwich -- which was basically chicken with Ceasar dressing, romaine lettuce and tomato -- no anchovy. I always thought lettuce is lettuce, but I am ready to officially go on record to say I do not like romaine lettuce. Like much romaine lettuce I have eaten in the past, the piece on this sandwich was all spine -- it's just not something I enjoy eating.

Mary's Trip Home

One of the best parts of urban life, to me, is that totally unplanned moment of fun or interest that is around any corner. Here's Mary's moment from today:

This is a little blurry with the sun going down but this was so much fun. I came out of the restaurant and I heard this brass band a la New Orleans, right in front of the metro. You cannot be sad when you hear that - then this young couple started dancing. I wish you could have seen them, they were clearly trained dancers and they were having fun, sort of cake walk meets hip hop. Brightened my evening!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coming Attractions

I'm so old that I remember when trailers for new movies were called "Coming Attractions." I was talking to someone -- I think it was Mary -- who had found a television show of old newsreels and was enjoying them... so we were reminiscing about going to the movies and seeing a newsreel, a cartoon, and Coming Attractions in addition to the movie.

These days, we could all use a cartoon. Every so often, late at night, I'll stop and watch a Tom & Jerry cartoon -- I swear there's some weird channel that runs Tom & Jerry cartoons 23 hours a day.

So here are my Coming Attractions. I leave tomorrow for a road trip/client visit to Cincinnati. Mary will be sending photos of her dragon boat races from this weekend, and who knows what other happy adventures may happen this week.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

True Tales of New York

Two quick New York stories:

There's a Rat in My Toilet: No, it's not urban myth. Today I attended the annual meeting for my co-op and we were talking about the mice in the neighborhood who were made homeless when the Second Avenue Subway came along. Mice has been a big problem in many buildings.

The conversation moved to its always inevitable conclusion: At least it's not rats!

This man who is in building management talked about receiving a phone call from a woman who saw a rat coming out of her toilet. She slammed down the lid, and the rat was pushing against the lid so she put a stack of books on top of the lid and was screaming into the phone. He thought it was funny; I didn't. My body would be slumped on the floor, out cold.

So then this other building management type said he had a pet groomer commercial tenant who killed a rat that had come out of his toilet with some sort of weapon and hoped that no customers saw the incident and thought he was killed a little kitty or pooch. Both of them said yes, this can happen. The rats come up the sewer pipe.


#2 "I don't collect pennies"

So I come home from my meeting, and it's twilight, an absolute beautiful night, post-rain storm and the air was cool and sweet and lovely so I decided to sit outside on my steps for a while.

Along comes a guy collecting cans and bottles and I feel as if these guys work hard going through the garbage and he greeted me and then came up close to me and asked me very respectfully if I would give him 50 cents.

I really don't typically give out money, but I had a bunch of change in my wallet since I use so little change, and so I said that I'd give him some change and I scooped out probably 15 coins and he started counting it, picking out the quarters, then the dimes... and I said, "No, no, you can keep all of it" and he picked out the nickels and I would say there was about $1.75 and he had four pennies left and he extended his hand for me to take the pennies.

I hesitated, since I was thinking "You've got to be effing kidding me" and he said, "I don't collect pennies."

So I said, "Well I do" and I kept them.

Ok, I hate that I was judmental, but man, if you're picking through garbage, asking people for money, is it really wise to turn down even four cents? Maybe my feelings about pennies is out of date; maybe it's time to retire the coin totally.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hat and Glasses

Had my eyes checked today in advance of having my driver's license renewed and decided to go for a proper eye exam and not just the cursory DMV one. Everything was OK, and I did like this woman, especially since she said that buying my reading glasses at the drugstore was ok. I have a very slight astigmatism and she did demonstrate the difference between my reading glasses and what the lenses would be if I got a prescription pair. I could barely detect a difference.

However she did reprimand me for not routinely wearing sunglasses and a hat. I think that has to do with macular degeneration.

I only occasionally wear sunglasses, typically when I am driving, never in winter, and I never wear a hat. I look dopey as heck in a baseball cap so I'll have to keep my eye out for something suitable. If I can only find the right hat, I am quite sure I would look just like Audrey Hepburn (below).

As I was leaving she called to me, "PUT ON YOUR SUNGLASSES!!" I had already forgotten about it.

Since my eyes had been dilated, it was interesting to experience what my visually challenged friends experience. I was hailing a cab to go home. I was in the middle of the block, but I could only see for the rest of the block and then it was a blur and I couldn't really see cabs coming beyond that point.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So Long Half Bottle of Nyquil

I decluttered my medicine cabinet and bathroom vanity today and decided the only thing I wanted in the medicine cabinet was medicine. I threw away a whole lot of stuff, and once I had isolated just the medicines, I checked the expiration dates and have to say I was pretty surprised that more than half the stuff had expired.

Is there anything worse than not having Nyquil or cough medicine or sinus headache pills in the middle of the night? I think having my little supply makes me feel secure, but all that is gone. I guess I should be happy that I haven't had to use this stuff, but it kills me to chuck it, but I did. You won't see me on Hoarders: Buried Alive!

Actually I think watching all those shows does help me throw things away. Probably there is nothing wrong with Nyquil that expired in 2009, and I would note my thought pattern today, justifying why I should keep something that's expired and sounding just like a hoarder so I guess I'll buy myself a new supply of what I may need.

And, of course, I have been opening my medicine cabinet and vanity to admire the emptiness of it all. Only good stuff remains.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Are You Nuts?

I had my hair cut yesterday (thank you, Stephanie!) and I mentioned it to a client this morning who asked me what I did over the weekend, and he had gotten his hair cut as well. I said by way of conversation, that I love the feeling of my hair being cut. I guess "feel" isn't the word, but the sensation of it.

He said he hates having his hair cut and says that at the place he goes they put oil in your hair and massage it in, prior to washing it, and he tells them to skip that step.

Are you nuts?

I am a total slut when it comes to any kind of massage, would never skip it. In fact, once I was in a Korean manicure place and there was this Korean man there and the women told me he did "special Korean head massage" -- well, heck, how could I say no to that? It was something like ten dollars for ten minutes, and this Korean man actually massaged just my head for ten minutes. It was amazing. I think it made me smarter -- all that blood flowing around my brain!

Of course, when he was finished, my hair looked like my head had been in a combination blender/wind tunnel but I loved the special Korean head massage. He was only in there that manicure place that one time so I never had it again.

Walking with Mary

Here's where Mary went today. Mary's comments are in italics.

This is the Government Printing Office right around the corner. They have an amazing amount of information they publish. I wonder how much is still printed.

Don"t know if you can tell, but these beams are literally holding up this empty building.

This is the Victims of Communism Memorial at Massachusetts and 3rd Streets NW.

Pat again: Mary has motivated me to go take some of my own pictures! I have to find that computer cord, though. Anyone else reading who wants to see their photos posted, just send them along to me with a description.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Overheard on the Street

I was returning home today at 3 pm, just as a grade school (or whatever they call it these days) let out in the next block. There was a cute little boy walking with his mother who said to her (in a sincere way) as I passed, "One thing I didn't know about second grade is that you can't get up whenever you want."

This is how it starts. First, you can't get up whenever you want; Next... well you know how it goes.

What Mary Sees on Her Walk

Mary has been taking lunch time walks and I asked her to send some photos of interesting things she sees. Here's the first:

I walked an odd route, up H street where there is this overpass crossing the railroad tracks and the wall along the street is covered with these mosaics of children playing. I always find it cheerful in an industrial setting kind of way - when you come out of the Union Station parking garage,it's what you see. The DC Children's Museum used to be at the end of the bridge

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Don't Hold the Mayo

Here's a twist on the iconic BLT. A friend was saying he loves his BLT, but instead of mayo, he uses Thousand Island dressing.


I must be a purist. I like Thousand Island dressing, but I'll stick with a nice glop of white mayo.

Ok, and for you grammar buffs out there -- would you capitalize Thousand Island?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Favorite Part of Infomercials

I admit to a certain fascination with infomercials, and as I'm coasting around the dial, I'll stop for a minute or two and watch. I love the fakeness of the enthusiasm. I love the fakeness of the awe the bystanders have, but most of all I love the demonstrations of the "old way" of doing something.

For example, there will be a commercial for a gadget that slices tomatoes, and you see tomato after tomato being perfectly sliced with this gadget ... then the film goes to black and white and there's some ham-fisted woman with stringy hair trying (of all things) to cut a tomato with a knife and she squishes down on the tomato which goes flying across the counter. It's hilarious.

Just now saw one for a file folder that expands into a lap desk and there are all these pockets in it for your papers. The "old way" is a woman who can't even put her scattered papers that are on top of her desk in a pile without ripping her hair out as the papers go flying.

I bet the infomercial people have a name for this segment -- I don't know why I love it -- I think just that people can't do the most basic things -- like pouring water into a glass, and the water will go all over the counter. I love it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Taste Sensation

When I went out for lunch yesterday, the bartender told me the cook had come up with a new appetizer I may like. Oh yeah, what?

Deep fried pickles!

He knows I like pickles, and he brought me a bowl of them (for free -- I wouldn't have ordered them.) Imagine fried onion ring batter on a pickle chip.

I can't say whether I liked it or not. My mouth couldn't decide. I liked the sweetness of the batter covering, but the pickle was warm which I didn't like. However I liked the taste of the pickle.

He brought me about 10 of them, and I probably ate four. I've read about all sorts of deep fried food, so this really wasn't that strange -- no stranger than tempura.

Perils of Working Alone

I am basically content living alone and working alone, however, I sometimes miss having a colleague to yell a question to across the cubicle. I am compiling a first-person account (not mine) and came upon this sentence:

My job has allowed me to travel to 40 of the 50 United states and to four foreign countries.

I went back and forth about whether states should be capitalized. There are not 50 "United States" but there are 50 states within the United States. This is the water cooler discussion I would have if I had coworkers.

Feel free to pretend you're my coworker and weigh in with an opinion.