Monday, December 24, 2007

That One Elephant

Remember the elephant on 38th Street I wrote about several days ago? Tonight I was once again traveling the 38th path home from the boyfriend's place. I glanced at the elephant as I drove past and to my surprise it was no longer standing. The poor thing lay on its side, legs broken and separated.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another "on the job" moment...

As I was telling this story at the dinner table tonight, Dad gave it the following headline: Hopefully not on News at 11.

I'm typically friendly with customers throughout the work day. I collect moments as I watch people interact (unfortunately, most of the moments don't make it past my mental collection box) and listen to them communicate. This afternoon as I was walking toward the water cooler, a 50-something man at a table struck up a conversation. He told me he'd been visiting the store frequently because he's trying to keep his mind occupied--he'd been laid off a few days before. I offered my sympathy and remarked what a good place the store is to keep occupied what with so many books to peruse and people to watch. He agreed and shared an anecdote with me. We had a pleasant interchange and I wished him well in his job searching as I moved on to something else. But I wished he could realize how intriguing he was to observe because the following books were his choice for perusal on this recently laid off, mind occupying day: Killers and Airguns. I hoped his amenable nature was genuine and he wasn't using the store as a strategic planning facility. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Wonderland

This morning when I woke up I looked out my window. My view was up as I was lying in bed still. I noticed tiny icicles parading themselves like cave dwelling stalactites and snow laden evergreens standing tall and still, statues along the driveway.
When I was a kid I loved icicles and snow. My sisters and I would bundle up in 10 pounds of winter wear and tromp out the door with arms slightly raised from the bulk. We'd drag our sleds to the 2-foot incline at the edge of the yard and slide down--it felt like a thrill ride. We'd flop ourselves backward (our protective layers almost gave us a little bounce as we landed) and spread our arms and legs to create myriads of angels. We'd scoop handfuls of snow and press them to our cold-reddened lips and the taste was as good as cotton candy (we did know to avoid discolored snow). We'd break foot-long icicles from the car bumpers (I now realize how gross that was) and suck on them like Popsicles. We build lop-sided snowmen that looked as perfect as Frosty to our winter-colored eyes (children don't need rose-colored glasses to see beauty and perfection, they just need changes in the season). By the time we'd left our boot tracks all over the yard, our faces would be stinging cold and our bodies toasty warm.
I still find joy in the beauty of winter, but not the same unabandoned excitement of my childhood. I love how the soft, white powder muffles the noises outside and I love the freshness before it is mussed by passing cars and boot tracks. I even venture out in a sled every now and again (our hill is a bit more than 2-feet now). But I have to admit that winter has lost some of its magic because now I have to drive in it to work. I can now longer just stay at home and enjoy the winters in my own backyard.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Out my car window

I really am a good driver; I've had no tickets and no real accidents. However, I say of myself that I probably like to look around a little too much while behind the wheel (as my previous post about writing and driving might indicate), but really, imagine all I'd miss if I didn't let my peripheral vision swivel my head a few times?
Tonight I observed the following phenomenons while driving home from the boyfriend's place--mind you consistent un-December like rain slicked and shined the pavement and it was close to 11 p.m. In the parking lot of a furniture factory store was an elephant. No cars, nothing, just a life-size elephant looking to be occupying at least a couple parking spaces. This was no fake blow-up, it looked quite realistic, except that it was motionless. A sculpture, I guess. But anyone that knows 38th St. knows it isn't a sculpture kind of road. And why at a furniture store? Secondly, about halfway home I encountered a street sweeper. I did mention earlier that it was rainy, right? What good is street sweeping going to do except push around the slush on the road and spray it onto passing cars of which I was one. Plus, we stopped at a stoplight and the sweeper stopped--briefly--and then continued on through the light as if it were a stop sign. Is there a law that states street sweepers do not need to comply with the general rules of the road?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Public Punctuation Mistake

A week or so ago I was walking into a thrift store and noticed this sign on their door: "No" public restroom. I'm not a particularly brilliant grammarian, but I commented to my companion on the strange use of quotation marks. Once inside the store I saw this sign: No "public" restroom. The inconsistency tickled me, but also caused me to ponder at their use of quotation marks at all. What do you think they were indicating? (As an aside, the obvious misuse of quotation marks made me think of a Friends episode where Joey is taught what quotation marks mean and how they are used, which of course he promptly misused.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Witnessed and Recorded in Transit

Although I was soundly chided for recording the following while I was driving (I really am a good multi-tasker, but I do understand the risk of writing while driving), I knew that the moment would pass and I'd lose the word image that appeared in my head. This is a "first draft" and therefore not nearly perfect, but I still like the concept.

In a facade of clandestine meeting, smokey blue and salmon greet each other along the horizon, kissing briefly as if they are the star of the show and then bid each other a 24-hour farewell. They part for the sun's grand entrance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

13 years ago

13 years ago today, I had braces affixed to my teeth. It was a rather cruel realization that I would not be participating in the Thanksgiving feast as my teeth would be sore. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love all the food that Mom prepares and the noise of everyone sitting around the table eating mounds of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberries. I can only guess that the appointment maker in the house didn't connect the dots between braces and Thanksgiving. I spent Thanksgiving that year eating raspberry jello and mashed potatoes, and while I do like both of those, I did miss out on many other once a year delicacies. I have, of course, forgiven my mother for that mistake, but I do like to bring it up every once in awhile just because I like to watch her response. And since I survived my almost food-less Thanksgiving, I figure now it makes a pretty good story. Seriously, what kid gets their braces put on the day before Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 18, 2007


~Last night the half-moon hung suspended near the tree line and it looked like a glowing paper lantern.
~Babes (a strip club of some sort) had this announcement on their sign: Opens at 3pm.
~My little town already hung all their Christmas decorations.
~Very boring but rewarding shopping--sock shopping.
~4 day work weeks make me happy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


People intrigue me. I think they always have. I'm the girl who is distracted from conversation in restaurants because I'm people watching (it's fascinating to see how people chew, how they talk with they're hands, how they generally interact).
Tonight as I was driving home from work (it took me nearly 45 minutes), I drove over I-74. A few cars were parked on the overpass and there were at least 6 people milling around watching the interstate below. At a quick glance all I could see were several fire engines, an ambulance, and absolutely no moving traffic. And the people above were so interested in the issues down below that they just stopped to watch the details unfold in the fading sunlight. Do people not have destinations? People to go home to? Appointments to keep? How can they just stop to satisfy their curiosity for so long?
Perhaps I am too tied to time constraints and therefore do not afford myself the luxury of stopping to watch disasters.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Head in the Clouds

After the dreary, drippy start to the day (my awake time started even earlier than normal with mighty thunder waking me in the 5 o'clock hour), the sky brightened into a late evening sunset. As I was driving to church, I noticed a fling of cotton candy clouds shaped like a two-headed rabbit (one head at each end with the body between) with ears pressed back and paws stretched forward. It was leaping in an arc. For a fleeting moment I wished to be that rabbit.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What happens when I'm gone 8+ hours a day?

Last night after I got home from work and book club, I sat at my desk to check email. Perched in the corner of my desk, just a few inches from my computer, was a lime green BB pellet. I just cleaned--dusted and vacuumed--Wednesday and my room is mostly closed to through traffic. So, where did that little bugger come from?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Tuesday in an Image

As I was walking towards my section at work today, I passed a boy waddling because he'd peed his pants. Sure enough, when I walked to my cart, about a foot away was a darkened circle of pee on the carpet.

And so the week goes...

(P.S. I won't do these image posts everyday, but there have been such fitting ones this week.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Monday in an Image

At Target tonight I lifted up a box of colored stationery; the bottom opened up and papers spilled all over the floor.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Well, somehow my last entry disappeared and now I'm losing my momentum to re-type. But, here goes...

I am an avoider of confrontation. Probably to a fault. However, last week I received a credit card bill that required unusual attention as I had a surprising fee charged to my account. So, earlier in the week I put on my confrontation hat and called the 1-800 number. I got a voice message system that wouldn't take me to a person. I found another number on their website and when I dialed it took me to the exact same machine. I found yet another number--this one for direct banking which I had no interest in, but dialed anyway--and when I pressed my selection, it took me back to the original message. Frustrated, I quit. Tonight I finally got around to calling back (after talking to Dad and receiving the advice of pressing '0' until I got an operator). I did finally got to a new automated voice that said my call would be answered, but I'd be waiting at least 10 minutes due to the high volume of calls.

Therefore, I started my conversation with Kat--I semi-foreign girl--a little put out. We suffered through a lengthy, far from succinct conversation where she repeated rote script throughout. Finally she asked me if she'd been able to help me and I said, "Well, you helped me with one thing, but not with the other." Lest I sound rude, let me explain. I have been a very faithful, timely customer to this company for over 3 years and the thanks I've gotten include: abysmally low credit limit that has increased maybe $200 since I joined them and now this fee. I realize that Kat is just the peon that answers the phone and deals with annoyed customers, but seriously, from our conversation did she really think she'd helped me? She did waive the unnecessary fee after about 7 minutes of me talking, but the credit line increase was refused. And you know what she had the audacity to say? Something along the lines of, Well, it is always good to be on time with your bills. (This is my americanized version of what she said.) I have always paid every bill on time and in full. What does this company want in a customer?

Perhaps I'll take my business elsewhere.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cautionary Command

A Starbucks employee leaning out the drive-thru window handing me two hot teas: PLEASE be careful. They're 200 degrees each. (As if they would be 200 degrees together.) Brought a smile to my face.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What am I reading...

I've always thought of myself as an avid reader. Somehow to prove that to myself this year, I set a goal to read a book a week. With only something like 8 weeks to go in the year, I've read maybe 30 books, falling woefully behind. I may not reach my goal, but I'll keep reading.
One shelf in my bedroom is devoted to books I plan to read. Instead of shrinking, the number of books is ever expanding.
I keep at least two books going at one time--a work book and a home book. Currently at work I'm reading The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man. This was a suggestion from a literary co-worker and I'm finding it a quick read. Perhaps not the most interesting book, but the author discusses being a coloured man in the north and the south and his impressions of relationships between blacks and whites. At home I was reading Barbara Kingsolver's newest book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but I had to set it aside to make it through my book club book The Time Traveler's Wife. So far I prefer the former book, but as book club is next week, that read takes precedence. Until I've completed the book I won't say anything more on it because I'm still trying to sort it out.
To aid in my literary well-roundedness I try to balance the fiction and non-fiction reading. Some years I feel that I focus too much on the fiction and neglect the amazing works of non-fiction. However, this year I've erred more to the side of non-fiction. However, the best work of fiction this year was Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. This Australian author has an amazing ability to handle language. I read sentences that caused me to stop and revel in their beauty. I wholeheartedly recommend this book! I've read several very good non-fiction books this year. The most amusing, though, was definitely Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. He is always good for a laugh.
I love discovering new books. This year I found in my bookstore the section that contains books about books. I read several about rare book collecting or avid readers. Very fascinating!
When it comes to books I could go on for ages, but I'll leave it at this for now. My reading is never-ending. I know I'll return to this subject in future posts because books are a crucial part of life. As I encounter the people, stories, knowledge found in the pages of books, I believe that I become a part of what I read. I never close a book as exactly the same person I was when I opened it, the words and worlds bring change--big and little. There is an awesome power in books and reading!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not a happy ending...

Tonight I went to see Into the Wild. I had free tickets from work. I own, the book the movie was based on, but as of yet have not read it. Therefore, I didn't really know much about the story, except that it was a true adventure. As the movie neared the end I started to tense realizing it wasn't going to turn out how I wanted. My mind watched the story and then added it's own between the lines narrative trying to make everything work out: Okay, he's weak right now, but he's going to find food, he's going to be able to kill a squirrel or something. The river will go down and he'll be able to cross. The belt he keeps putting new holes in is going to be a souvenir when he gets back to people. Now, Now, Now someone is surely going to come. The final scene was heightened with a beating heart reverberating through the silent scenes on the screen. I felt the beating almost like it was my own heart. A heavyness swept over me at the conclusion of the film. I wanted to cry for the wasted life of a young man. He set out to discover something, and he did, but there was no one to share it with. I won't spoil the whole movie if you're inclined to see it. And don't let me persuade you that it's not worth seeing, it was a good movie, a little hard to watch. I often find myself expected the Hollywood happy endings. Tonight I didn't get that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baby Steps

I've heard it said that it takes 3 weeks to make something a habit. I don't disagree with this thought, but in my experience there are steps that precede even starting the 3 weeks of habit building. First comes the knowledge that a particular change needs to be made. Then several days/weeks/months pass where the idea of change flits in and out of the mind with growing frequency. At some point in this process the person begins to talk to peers about how they are planning to make this change in their life. Finally after significant toil of the mind, the person breaks down and actually starts incorporating the change. Often there are setbacks as the 3 weeks aren't quite reached and then there is the reverting back to the start of those weeks. This can be quite a drudge.

For a while now I've been in the thinking/talking stage of forming habits. I know I need to exercise several times a week and I've flirted with the habit for the past several months. Now that the weather is finally turning, I know I'm going to need to find another form of exercise besides walking outside, otherwise I'll leave off exercising all winter because I won't want to brave the cold. To this end I purchased an exercise ball a couple months back. It's been sitting in my closet in the box. Tonight I made the baby step of actually blowing up the ball so I can see it sitting in my room. Maybe this will encourage me to make use of it and start down the path of the habit-forming 3 weeks.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Casualties and Rewards

Casualties of working a Friday evening:
~one lost earring
~7 minutes of unpaid time because customers wouldn't leave
~missing out on yet another social event

Rewards of working a Friday evening:
~one $10 gift card as a thank-you for helping with a display
~chips and salsa on the store
~one torn book taped back together and brought home free for book club next month

And so follows the ebb and flow of the retail life.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Here's to Birthdays and October!

I turned a year older on Friday. 26 seems so much older than 25. But I think if one must turn 26, it is best to be done in October. I've long believed October to be one of the best, if not the best month of the year (and honestly, this has nothing to do with my birthday being in said month). I love the cool evenings following warmish days, the crunch of drying leaves on the pavement, the colors of trees turning, the canopy of stars illuminated in the night sky. October is autumn.

My birthday includes the additional celebration of my little sister's birthday as well. She appeared in the world on my 7th birthday and for 19 years we've been sharing our day. As we've grown, Margaret and I have tried to come to mutual agreement on our birthday meal instead of asking Mom to prepare two meals. Today Mom outdid herself in preparing the birthday meal for 16--Italian salad, Italian herb bread, stuffed shells, Parmesan chicken strips, sauteed vegetables, followed by carrot cake and angel food cake with lemon sauce.

I felt ambivalent about celebrating this year, but my family gave me the give me a break look and then showered me with gifts and birthday wishes and I have to admit that I rather enjoyed it.

Now, I can sit back and enjoy the rest of October and autumn and not think about turning 27 for several more months.

I am not a particularly learned poetess, but I do enjoy poetry and Emily Dickinson wrote a beautiful poem about autumn. It makes me want to raise a glass to the subtle, gorgeous transformation of nature.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The fields a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Finally I join the blogging world...

For over a year now I've considered starting a blog and I've received numerous encouragements from family. But I've struggled with one particular hang-up--the title. Finally last week I settled on the above string of words. I've pondered long what I'll write about and knowing me, it will be all over the place as I observe and experience the day-to-day. I do know this about life, it has truth, angles, ideas, and sometimes even happily ever afters. Thus, my title. And now I am here.
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