9

OH HELL NO NOT THIS AGAIN.

One of the perks of my new apartment building is the underground, temperature-controlled parking structure. It costs a little extra but in a city where parking is high demand and a state where cars freeze to death in the winter, it’s an investment. When I signed the papers in December of last year, the parking spots had not been assigned yet. When I asked the leasing manager which spot was mine, she said, “They’re just about all open, so take your pick.” I selected a spot right at the front, that would be easy to get into. It’s not so easy to get out of, but I’m working on it, but it’s definitely a prime location.

I came in from shopping last night, and…there’s a car parked in my spot.

This is the EXACT reason why I didn’t want to have to deal with having just a parking lot pass again without an assigned spot. This past year, I had a pass to park in a specific lot, and if someone without a pass was parked in the lot (very easy to do, since the lot is not gated or guarded) and you were the unlucky person who didn’t get a spot, then you had to park either far away or at a meter, risking being ticketed or towed. It wasn’t really that bad until June, when summer classes were going on and since the weather was nicer more people were coming to visit the school I guess, and even though some people may have gone home for the summer, there would still be five or so unauthorized cars parked there at any given time. The company that I rented the spot from ($135 a month, thank you very much) had signs up about ticketing and towing, but there would be cars there that wouldn’t move for days. I called to complain almost every day, to the point of tears and basically got “we’re trying as hard as we can.” One day, I tried calling the number of the towing company on the sign, and found out that they had been out of business FOR A YEAR. I even called an actual towing company, only to be told that since I wasn’t the property manager, I was not authorized to do anything. Basically, there was nothing I could do other than pray for someone to leave so I could take the spot which I paid for.

Now, with an assigned spot, I was hoping that this problem wouldn’t happen again. Especially since there are only 26 spaces in the lot.

Fast forward to last night. So I get home at about 11:30 PM, after spending the day shopping, and, you guessed it, car parked in my spot. Big black Ford Expedition truck. It had a building parking permit decal in the back window, just like I have, so I gave him/her the benefit of the doubt, that maybe some jerk parked in his/her spot, so I parked in the spot next to it and hoped that I wouldn’t get in trouble.

After spending all day yesterday unloading boxes and shopping, I decided to take most of the day off, not even leaving the apartment until well into the afternoon. I had all but forgotten about the situation when I got down to the parking lot and saw the Ford Expedition still there, only now it had a sign taped to the back:

To the tenant who rents this spot: My truck will not fit in my assigned spot, so I am going to be parking here. I am working this out with the management. My spot, #24, is open. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Since it was now after hours, I had no one to complain to. Being the reasonable human being that I am, I went to space #24 to see if a switch would be possible. And…it’s a compact car only spot. Between a wall and a pole. Before I left, I tried getting my car into that spot, but once parked, there was no way I could get out the door.

I left the parking lot to do my shopping, passing the black Ford Expedition and its little “sorry” sign taunting me from the spot that I selected and signed for last December.

Okay, here’s what’s wrong with this picture…wait a minute, the answer to that would be EVERYTHING. Aside from the obvious jerk move of PARKING IN MY SPOT, you had to leave the most patronizing note ever. “Sorry for the inconvenience?” If you were really sorry, you wouldn’t have parked there all night in the first place! “Working this out with the management?” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if there were an issue, the management would contact me before YOU PARKED YOUR BIG ASS TRUCK IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SPOT. Then comes the fact that you paid for a compact car only spot, either assuming your car would fit or blatantly forgetting that you have a truck that’s as big as a studio apartment, which you obviously need for all the hay bales, woodpiles, and livestock you have to transport here in Madison.

Anyway, when I got back tonight, the Ford Chutzpah was gone, so I parked in my spot.

I might not ever move my car again but at least I got my spot.

2

All You Nosy People

Yeah, it’s that kind of day; I had to go to J. J. Fad to get a title idea.

Anyway.

So, now, here’s something I don’t understand: what is up with nosy people? I mean, I just don’t understand it…who are you serving? Because if it’s yourself, then clearly you’re ready for the check because…ohmygod, stop.

Okay, context.

A few days ago, my dad was complaining of blurred vision, and wouldn’t you know it, apparently he had a detached retina. Or something like that. I mean, that’s what the optometrist thought initially, but it actually was something similar but a lot less severe. He can still see out of both eyes, but he’s wearing a little clear pirate-shield-thing over the affected eye. He’s been having tests and seeing doctors for the past few days, and today he had surgery, but he’s still doing almost all the normal things that he does, except driving and discovering cures for cancer. Well, not so much the second thing, because he doesn’t have a degree in the sciences. Even though he and my mom canceled their flights to Madison next week (not mine though, thank God) after yesterday’s appointment, he had a surgical procedure done today and he’s cleared to fly; that means he’s doing better than most expectant mothers in their third trimesters.

He’s going to make it.

So, yay for my dad!

After his successful surgery this morning (though it seems like forever ago, with what I’m about to tell you), it was taking a while for my dad to get checked out of the hospital. My mother had driven him there and waited. She was watching the clock because she had to get him home so she could get to her book club meeting at the library, and when she asked the desk how much longer it would be, they said “fifteen minutes.” Fifteen minutes later, they said the same thing to her. Normally, not so much of a problem, but a) my dad was fine, and b) she had somewhere to be, so she called me to pick him up so she could get to the library on time. I get in the car, pick him up, and bring him home; he and my mom have been awake since pretty early this morning, and even though it’s only about 1 PM, he’s just had surgery, so he goes to take a nap.

Maybe a half hour or hour later, the phone rings.

It’s not my mom, obviously, because she’s at her book club; it’s probably not my sister, who’s working; and I wouldn’t call the house phone just to talk to myself, but I pick it up anyway to stop it from ringing. It’s not a doctor or someone from the hospital, so guess who it is. Actually, don’t, because you’ll be wrong, but you could probably guess what he/she said after the greeting.

“So, how’s the patient?”

Uuugggghhh, really?

I wasn’t really in the mood to expound at great length on my father’s condition to one of my mother’s nosy friends, so I gritted my teeth and said something like, “he’s fine, he’s had a really rough morning though and he’s trying to rest.”

The response? “I was just asking, you don’t need to be so touchy.”

My response? “I’m not, I’m just telling you that we just got home from the hospital, he’s been up for a while and he’s trying to get some sleep, is there anything that you need?”

“No, I was just asking how he was.”

“He’s fine. He’s asleep. Can you call back later?”

“Sure, okay.”

::hang up::

If you couldn’t already sense it, my face and my palm got very chummy at that moment.

Let’s back up for a minute.

Part of the problem is my mother, telling every person she knows every detail of our lives, because that’s what she does, but that notwithstanding, I get the fact that you’re trying to show that you care, you mean well, you’re trying to be nice…but obviously, you know that my dad was in the hospital this morning. That’s the whole reason you called, isn’t it?

But think about it for a second.

You’re calling the house of someone who has just had surgery done this morning. Unless you are an immediate family member or a doctor, there is no reason that you should be calling at this juncture, even if it’s just to “check in.” Because chances are, you’re disturbing someone, either the person who had the surgery or their family member. Surgery is tiring. Hospitals are exhausting places, whether you’re undergoing surgery, sitting in a waiting room, or, you know, working. No one ever leaves a hospital bouncing up and down like Tigger, eager to share every intimate detail of their hysterectomy. Especially with someone who does not fall in the category of close family or primary care provider. This might not be true in the case of someone like Kate Middleton, but most of us are not her, and you are not the editor of Star.

So, give it a rest. Give it some thought before picking up the phone that very same day of the surgery. In fact, give it twenty-four hours worth of thought, and call then, if something else hasn’t taken your attention. There should be some sort of grace period for these things. Leave people alone for a day to recover, and then continue to barrage them with questions and ask for every excruciating detail. I mean, isn’t that why they don’t allow cell phones in maternity wards? I may or may not have made that last fact up, but seriously, my mother has some nosy friends, because I had the above conversation no fewer than three times today, and my parents fielded a few as well, although probably with more patience than I did.

But honestly…who needs to know, that badly? Do you have that little of a life that you must know everyone’s business, every minute of every hour of every day, and if you’re not the very first person to get all the details, you will explode in a mushroom cloud of nuclear anticipation?

If we wanted you to know, we would call you and tell you ourselves, and just because we did not report to you within the hour doesn’t mean we’re having a secret “let’s-tell-all-the-gruesome-details-of-the-eye-procedure” party that we’re not inviting you to, although that would be fun. Or, on second thought, I could look up the name of the procedure and do a dramatic reading of the Wikipedia entry on how it’s done. “Well, since you asked, after sedation, the doctor took a tiny chainsaw and made an incision into the eyelid, and after wiping away the excess blood, inserted a small device behind the eyeball, and…” Bet that venti soy latte tastes super right about now, doesn’t it?

Oh, and one final thing. That line, “so, how’s the patient?” Wow, original. You are so clever! I can’t believe it, it’s like you’re pretending to be a doctor, but you’re not! Kind of like they did in that movie that one time! Classic medical humor. This is not 1862, we’re not in a tent at Antietam, and we’re also not characters on Scrubs, so act normal or you’re looking at a pretty big malpractice suit.

I don’t care if you do have a clipboard at the other end of the line.

1

Christmas in July

Oh my goodness.

It’s almost July, so apparently it’s also almost Christmas in July.

Because the day after Thanksgiving until January 1 isn’t enough Christmas for the world.

Six months ago I said that I didn’t resent Christmas that much, but when it comes in July…it’s ripe for resentment. Every single thing about it. Do we really need another month of Christmas movies, or made-for-tv Christmas movies with V-list stars?

The first thing I think about when I think about Christmas is cold. COLD. I am done with that for awhile, at least. I don’t really care that I sweat all day outside and all night in my centrally-heated, temperature-controlled apartment, at least I’m sweating. It gets rid of some calories and is an excuse to enjoy iced beverages with more regularity. The same thoughts go for snow. You want snow in July? Go camping in Antarctica, and don’t do it on my TV screen.

Cheesy Christmas movies have their time: between December 25 and January 1 when there’s nothing else on TV and it’s wicked cold outside, if you live in Wisconsin, that is. Not in July.

And another thing…why can’t Summer in December be a thing?

YES. Yes. Yes to the Yes.

Hey networks, can we make this a thing? Let’s spend December watching Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo and all those fun surf movies!

Oh wait…we can’t.

Because it’s Christmas.

Also, what movie is this from?

 

5

Three Women, One Pillory

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, a picture that a friend of mine posted popped out at me. I clicked on it, and it led to an article in Slovak. I can speak Slovak fairly well (at least I hope that I remember it well) but other than a few mostly Anglicized words, I had no clue what the article was about. But the picture at the top was kinda weird, so I’ll share it with you here, now, and maybe I can make heads or tails (or just heads) about it before going over to Google Translate.

heh

 

This lovely sepia-toned image appears to be three women sharing one pillory. They seem to be of varying ethnicities: the left one, who we’ll call Barbara, seems to be white; the one in the middle (let’s call her Mimi) is of Asian descent, and Edith, the one on the left, could be black, East/Central Asian, Polynesian, or even Roma, since this is Slovakia. They don’t look like they are particularly close friends, as they are keeping their hands to themselves and staring in different directions in a bored manner. They are all wearing headscarves and modest dresses; perhaps they’re housewives or maids? Also, they appear to be wearing shoes that could be dance shoes, so maybe they’re some sort of Vaudeville act. You never know with Vaudeville. They are standing on a street corner, waiting for something. Maybe it’s their tour bus, or horse and carriage? Or maybe they’re wondering what the hell could be taking their husbands so long in the sporting goods store nearby.

Oh yeah – and then there’s the fact that they’re pilloried together. Why, I wonder? The Vaudeville scenario is still on the table, but there’s something sinister about this whole deal. Maybe they are witches, going on trial. Maybe they committed adultery. Maybe they’re just being silly, without the faces to match. The person who took this picture must have seen this, and done so for a reason. Why?

Now that I’ve asked the questions, let’s get the real answers.

When I left-click the photo, the alt caption that comes up reads “Chinese women in pillory small.” Okay, so they are Chinese. I could buy that for Mimi and perhaps Edith, but Barbara, not so much. She looks like she could be in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof. 

And now, for the translation.

The headline?

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

Okay, not bad advice. But why?

Even though Google Translate did a poor job, as usual, I get that the gist of the article is that it’s an op-ed piece about Slovak voters in today’s Europe. The author, Michal Havran (translated as Michael Raven, which is actually a relatively awesome-sounding name), is arguing that politicians are dumbing things down and aiming to get back to “simple roots,” when, in fact, the world of politics is a complex place and has always been that way. Havran is in favor of overhauling the system and get rid of all the falsehoods.

But then, there’s the issue of the image.

What’s it doing up there?

The only explanation I can find (thank you, Carpenters) is that maybe Slovakia’s political parties and the European Union are welded together on a much stronger and closer level than what most Slovaks think. Another thought I just had is that maybe the women yoked together symbolizes the masses being strung along by Slovak/EU politics.

Or maybe Havran just saw the picture somewhere and liked it.

Who knows.

Works Cited

Havran, Michal. “V Jednoduchosti Je Hlupost.”  Editorial. JeToTak.com. 27 May 2014. http://www.jetotak.sk/editorial/v-jednoduchosti-je-hlupost?fb_action_ids=641362855932707&fb_action_types=og.likes

2

Get To A Better State…

There have been way too many State Farm commercials on lately. Just putting it out there.

I’m not feeling too inspired today. I got some feedback and a grade on my political science paper. Just about what I expected in terms of comments, and the professor pointed out two pretty obvious errors – I wrote “fate” instead of “fight” (Bawlmerese slipup, I guess), and I had a sentence in there that was about something that I ultimately cut from the paper. The grade was a little lower than I expected, but for what it’s worth, it could have been much, much worse. Most of the comments were along the lines of “I don’t get it,” or his favorite question, “how?” Not to say that I’m not disappointed, because I put a lot of work and research into it, but as I said, it could have been worse.

This English paper is not working out. Besides the fact that I can’t focus on it, I keep confusing myself, which isn’t good. I wrote about 800 words today, but should probably delete a lot more from what I already had. I planned to go out for lunch/dinner/food and then finish some books so I could get my book count under 40; I didn’t accomplish that while out, but since I’ve been home I decided that for 2-3 of them, I’ve probably gotten what I can get out of them.

Self-care has kinda taken a nosedive. Depression and stress have really set in for me, including odd-hour sleep, being easily distracted, lacking appetite when I know I should be eating, being on the verge of tears most of the time, worrying about the future, and no exercise since…two or three weeks ago.

At least I got a blog entry before ten minutes to midnight.

0

It’s 10:15 PM, do you know where my brain is?

Yeah, that’s basically my entire thought process right now, and over the past three days.

I have spent a good portion of my waking hours on this mind-numbingly impossible political science paper. 8000-10000 words, my…whatever, man. I went to bed at 4:00 this morning with about 5200 words (not an all-nighter), and belying my fears of not getting the word count, I sit here with an hour and a half left until midnight with 9000 words down and several sources to go. What is my paper about again? Puppets? South Africa? Something like that? Why am I subjecting myself to this torture? Why?

And there were sporadic thunderstorms following me around all day as I went from Espresso Royale to Noodles to the Steepery over the past ten hours.

Oh, and welcome to my newest flag, Bulgaria. As they say in Bulgaria, finish your paper and no one gets hurt.

And then, I WILL finish my review of Ubu.

After all, I already have a several thousand word headstart.

2

Mr. Know-It-All

I am a pretty calm person when it comes to dealing with other people. I have a pretty thick skin and I can take it better than I can dish it out. But there are some things that people say and do that just rile me.

Like know-it-alls. Know-it-alls come in all types. There’s the child know-it-all, one part wunderkind, two parts annoying; the best friend know-it-all, which can be comforting at times but grating at others; the sibling know-it-all, known to be the cause of rivalry (but deny it to the death), and then there’s the worst type of know-it-all.

Yes, I’m talking about the know-it-all religious figure.

They’re the type of people who give your religion a bad name. For all the wonderful people I’ve encountered in my religious circle, unfortunately it’s the ones who act like bigshots who often have the most visibility. Not to say that others are shrinking violets, but the outspoken nature of the religious know-it-all overshadows all but the most bold of their compatriots.

Today, I had Shabbat lunch and third-meal at the home of a local rabbi, whose name I am not going to say, mostly because I can never remember what it is (one of the good things about rabbis – they all respond to the same name: rabbis). He’s a good guy, as most guys are, but sometimes there’s this smarmy aura about him, as if he imagines himself as the center of the universe. I’m not knocking his religious education, but one of the things about rabbis is that they shouldn’t put you down, or speak to you in a way that is a direct judgment on your character.

Lunch was fine, but at dinner, the topic of religiosity and religious parenting came up. I know I was kind of setting myself up here, but someone else at the table mentioned that her parents came from two very different religious backgrounds, neither of which were Orthodox, and I added in that my parents also came from two very different religious backgrounds, with one Orthodox and one not so much, causing Rabbi Know-it-all to say:

“It’s impossible to raise a kid with one Orthodox parent and one non-Orthodox parent. It doesn’t work. It’s too confusing.”

Oh boy…

“Mine raised me Orthodox,” said I.

“Tell me more,” says the rabbi.

Me:

<Regret>

So, I go through the basics of how my parents met, how they raised us, and how I am today vs. how I lived when I was in their house, ending with “…my parents taught me that Shabbat was important but that my studies were as well, and if that meant doing homework on holidays/Shabbat, so be it. ”

</Regret>

His response?

“Well, that’s a mixed message, you could just as easily go to a club on Shabbos and they’d never know. It’s like a gateway into breaking Shabbos ::smarmy smile::”

Um, wha?

First of all, you don’t know me. Okay, that’s more of a gut reaction and a copout. But seriously, second of all, you have never met parents, lived in my house, or experienced my childhood. Third, and the most hurtful of all, is that you’re basically telling me that I have no self-control and that my religious views/my parents’ are based on lies. Is that something a religious figure and role model should be saying? No. That’s what a petulant, nose-picking moron on the playground or in the hallway would say. Everyone judges and gets judged by others over the course of his/her life, and that’s fine, but keep it to yourself unless you’re certain that the person might have a serious problem, in which case talk to them privately about it, if it matters that much to you. Also, you don’t have a say in how religious I am, and when you put it out there like that, I’m less likely to believe things that you say in the future. And when you jump to conclusions, bring a parachute; you might knock yourself into a hole in the ground.

I thought I would have more to say on this topic, but I think I’ve said my piece for now.

There is one kind of know-it-all that I can tolerate, and that is my parents. Don’t mess with them; when you insult them, you insult me.

15 Life Lessons Learned From "As Told By Ginger"

20

Thumb and Thumber

51qm0m31jyl_The concept of a “helpful tips column” has been around for awhile. From Ann Landers to Emily Post, Dear Abby to Heloise, “hints” and “tips” have been at our fingertips, literally, since my grandmother could clip them out of the newspaper and store them in a fancy box in the kitchen. With the decline of the print newspaper (you can argue that it’s not dying, but I’d ask you to read the front page advertisements in The New York Times before you stated your case), the advice column is probably what’s taken the biggest beating, along with weather (which is even in cars now), stocks (already outdated by the time the issue hits your hands), and sports scores (24/7 sports television takes care of that). Plus, society has changed; people care less about how to clean the insoles of your shoes than about how to set up a video game console. Certain things matter less to people, like having a squeaky-clean kitchen, reusing flour sacks as diapers, and the proper way to show up to a cotillion. They’ve been replaced by antibacterials, recycling, and…well, who goes to cotillions anymore? Certainly, the advice column as we know it was about to go.

Then, along came Pinterest.

And Buzzfeed.

And Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

And Cake Boss.

And suddenly, “tips” got hot again, whether for going green in the kitchen, saving bathroom space, or artsy-craftsy things like making baby shower invitations or making a bookshelf out of an old oven range. What came back in full force, though, were the cooking tips. Gluten free, vegan, and of course, all those mini-mini-cupcakes and cake that looks like a Mondrian painting when you cut into it.

Ever going along with the trends, Reader’s Digest presses on with their columns, but sometimes the advice isn’t that well-thought-out, like this past March’s column on page 46 entitled, “The Clever Cook: Be A Spotless Gourmet.”

Tip #1: Place ingredients on an empty baking sheet prior to prepping them.

Okay, so it’s just basically saying, get your shit together before you make a mess.

Tip #2: Broken glass? Pick it up with white bread!

I really wonder who thought of that idea, and who had to test that.

Tip #3: As you cook, toss scraps into a large bowl to contain messes if a trash can isn’t around.

When I cook, I don’t tell my trash cans to go out on a date and “come back before midnight”…most kitchens have trash cans for this purpose, or even sinks with garbage disposals to eliminate this problem entirely. Moving on…

Tip#4: To protect a recipe card, put it under a glass lid.

Okay, so kitchen snow globe. Not a horrible idea, but who uses recipe cards anymore? For me, it’s my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook or the Internet.

Tip #5: Secure a paper towel around the neck of an olive oil bottle to prevent drips.

This one is actually smart. I hadn’t thought of that. However, I usually just wipe the bottle after I use it, problem solved.

Tip #6: “Keep your thumbs squeaky clean by using a wine cork to make an indent in thumbprint cookies.”

…um, what?

Seriously?

wine cork?

If you’re making thumbprint cookies and are too lazy to do the thumbprint thing, maybe you should’ve thought this activity through a little more, and made cupcakes, or flan, or jello…or even a fruit salad, for that matter. Unless you intend to make a watermelon basket with your thumbs. Also, if you’re that anal about keeping your thumbs clean, then maybe baking is not the activity for you. Baking is fun, but it’s inevitable that you’re going to get something messy, whether it’s your hair, hands, clothes. Usually, it’s all three.

Try knitting, or playing piano, or watching TV.

Unless you’re also so lazy that you need to use wine corks to press the buttons on your remote control.

0

Hold On To Your Hats, It’s Time for Saint Pat’s

One thing I’ve been seeing a lot of lately is pictures of people wearing green and getting progressively drunker. Not surprisingly, they are in albums with labels like “St. Patrick’s Day 2014.” Yes, it’s that time of year….but it’s only March 9th. Last time I checked, St. Patrick’s Day was March 17. Every year.

I don’t know much about St. Patrick’s Day, but I think I know the rules (or what passes for them, anyway) that everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and that everyone gets green and wears drunk – I mean, gets drunk and wears green. And that it’s always, always on March 17.

Growing up as I did, there was no such thing as St. Patrick’s Day. It just didn’t exist. I think I first heard about it sometime in high school, at the earliest. One of the first things I learned was that it’s one of those holidays with a fixed date, like July 4th or New Year’s Day. In the Jewish calendar, holidays never have the same day due to the lunar dates corresponding with different solar dates every year. Thus, Passover could be in early April one year, in early May the next, and in late April the year after that.

But what confused me the most?

Not all non-Jewish holidays are on the same day every year.

It took me forever to nail down the fact that like St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Halloween do not change, but Easter, Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday do. Which brings me back to my original point; St. Patrick’s Day is, and yes, I did check again, not this week but NEXT week. Why are you having St. Patrick’s Day parties now? Why can’t you people wait a week and THEN deluge the Internet with your drinking pics? Why does the world insist on confusing me? Why do holidays do this? Why? Why?? Why???

At least I can fall back on the comfort of Judaism, where we never know the date our holidays will be on, but rest assured, they’re always too early or too late.