28 February 2008

good news

Word on the street is that the days of the Relief Society "Good News Minute" are coming to an end, by direction of the General Relief Society Board. We don't have such a Minute in our ward here, so I had almost forgotten about it, but they have certainly done this in every other ward where I've lived in the last several years. If you're unfamiliar with the Minute, it occurs at the beginning of the weekly Relief Society meeting in many wards. The person conducting will make the week's announcements and then say something like, "Now we'll have our Good News Minute. Does anyone have good news to share?"

Of course it was meant to build camaradarie and sisterhood in the R.S. On many Sundays I thought it was a nice way to allow people in the ward to uplift and support each other. But I admit that I sometimes found myself shaking my head through the whole Minute. In my Young Single People wards it could easily become the "I'm Engaged!" Minute. In my Young Married People wards it was often the "I'm Pregnant!" Minute. In Family Wards it served as a prime opportunity for people to brag to their neighbors about their above-average children. And scattered throughout were moments of pure awkwardness, wherein a dear sister would say something like this: "I think Suzy has some good news, but I don't know if she'll volunteer to tell us!" (Meanwhile Suzy's face turns bright purple as everyone turns to look at her and begins to speculate about what her good news could possibly be. The awkward factor increases significantly as people realize Suzy has no desire to share her Good News with a large group of people.) Also unavoidable were the Fill Up Time If Nobody Has Any Real News comments, such as "I got a great deal on bell peppers at Smith's yesterday!"

Well, if it is indeed true that the Minute is no more (which I haven't confirmed - this is based solely on gossip), then I say, good-bye, Good News Minute. You had your high points. But in the end, I imagine we'll be better off just getting on with the lesson.

26 February 2008

today we salute you, mr. piano tuner guy

We've been saved from the horribly discordant sounds that have pervaded our house lately, by an unlikely hero in a flannel shirt and unibomber shades. When he showed up to tune our piano, I was so impressed with his charicature-like appearance and his hilarious seriousness about the job that I could not help referring to him for the rest of the day in the style of the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" ads. So today we salute you, Mr. Piano Tuner Guy.

I am well-versed in these stupid commercials because my first year in college, back when the ad campaign was still called "Real American Heroes," my roommate and I used to ceremoniously listen to each day's commercial on the radio at approximately 7:23 before heading out for the day. (Could that be right, Brit? I swear it was before 7:30, but now that I think about it, I can't imagine you getting up that early on a regular basis.)

Then I heard one of these ads just the other day, and I reluctantly admitted to myself that I still find them funny. It must have something to do with the back-up guy belting out hilarious phrases in the background. Here are bits of some old favorites. But I'm pretty certain that none of these guys could take Mr. Piano Tuner Guy in a showdown of heroics.

Mr. Garden Gnome Maker
"Anyone can dress up a yard with a shrub or some gladiolas. But it takes real guts to use a small, brightly-colored ceramic man. Many a night, you've slaved over a hot ceramic-man-maker, knowing somewhere there was a lonely pink flamingo, or a cement frog, who needed a buddy."

Mr. Cargo Pants Designer
"You finally gave us what we wanted: the millitary look, without all that bothersome drilling, marching and shooting.

Mr. Movie Theater Ticket Ripper Upper
"Truly the long arm of the law at the movie theater, you and a velvet rope are all that keep the huddled masses from a free flick."

Mr. Tiny Dog Clothing Manufacturer
"Great men ask the tough questions, ‘Where did we come from?’, ‘What is gravity?’, ‘How do you help a Schnauzer through a fashion Crisis?’ You see no irony in designing a thick fur coat for an animal born with a thick fur coat."

Mr. Airport Baggage Handler
“SFO, ORD, LAX. The complex airport codes are almost unsolvable. But that's OK, because thanks to you, everything is going to Tulsa. Thank you, O’ King of the Carousel. You give us all a reason to ‘carry on.’”

Mr. Artificial Tree Maker
“Nothing brings out the holiday spirit like a giant steel pole, with nine feet of green pipe cleaners attached to it. Your trees may lean wildly to the left, O’ Purveyor of the Pine, but your heart is always in the right place.

Mr. Basketball Shoe Designer.
"Every year you make staggering advances in technology. Like air. More air. Slightly less air. And a separate air chamber for maximum air."

Mr. Baseball Designated Hitter

“Our question: What's it like to be a professional baseball player who doesn't even need to own a baseball glove?”

Mr. Male Football Cheerleader
“Fourth down and inches, the game's on the line, and it all comes down to you. Will you call for a perky pyramid, or a line dance?”

20 February 2008

the best things in life

Let us treasure up in our soul some of those things which are permanent…, not those which will forsake us and be destroyed, and which only tickle our senses for a little while.

– St. Gregory of Nazianzus

I suppose every once in awhile we get the chance to prove to ourselves whether we just like to say that money and possessions don’t matter that much to us, or whether it is actually true! Such is the case when your purse is stolen, and you lose a good bit of cash, several gift cards, your family’s only phone, all your credit cards and ID cards, not to mention the only attractive purse you have ever owned.

Of course, I reacted by taking a long bath, taking up yoga, reading Thoreau and thinking, "Gosh, my life has been cluttered with materialistic detail anyway - how fortunate that I experienced this reality check!"

Or, maybe I reacted by losing patience with a less-than-proficient English speaker at a credit card company who was only trying to be helpful, crying in frustration for awhile, and then sitting on the couch in an annoyed stupor until I feel asleep.

But the interesting thing is that life goes on, whether you are mad or not, so eventually you stop wasting your time being mad. You find a way to get by without the money and the stuff that you thought was crucial to your survival, and you find a new purse too, though it is not nearly so cute as the one you had before. And maybe in a weird way you even start to appreciate the reminder that there are things in life that are more permanent and more important than others, that can't be swiped from you by people with malicious intentions, and that maybe you ought to base your happiness more on those things than on the temporary things that consume so much of your time and energy lately.

That's a good perspective for now, at least. By tomorrow, I might need someone to read Thoreau to me and let me kick a hole in their wall. Any takers?

16 February 2008

on the saturday schedule

On Saturday mornings I have a standing appointment with a real breakfast and the newspaper, two little luxuries I don't always have time for during the week. I leave so early on weekdays that my breakfast preparations often consist of pouring dry cereal into a ziplock (go Quaker Oat Squares!) so that I can snack later in the morning. And on busy days sometimes the newspaper goes straight to the recycle bin without anyone glancing beyond the front page. Saturday is different. On Saturday Shay and I usually get to make and eat a real, yummy breakfast together. It is one of the best times of my week. Then after breakfast I can sit in the living room and enjoy the New York Times or the local Journal-World, or both, if I feel ike it. I know you can read almost any newspaper online these days - and for free even! That's great news. But it is well worth the cash to me to enjoy spreading the actual, tangible newsprint on the floor, and make little piles of "read" and "unread" and "don't care to read" sections, until the living room looks like the aftermath of a tornado. My day is off to a good start. Hope yours is as well. Happy Saturday!

11 February 2008

dear santa:

you were pretty good to me this year, so i just wanted to say thanks for all the gifts. also, um, just for future reference, the next time you are thinking about delivering a fleece jacket or a fleece anything for that matter, will you stick to colors other than black? or else, could you also supply the necessary 82 refills for my lint roller and perhaps leave me an elf too, to provide the daily labor required to keep the thing looking presentable?


08 February 2008

small talk

I do not like small talk. Maybe I am just socially inept, but I'm not always sure how to respond when people try to fill silence by talking about mindless things neither of us cares about or, worse, by asking me questions that they do not really need/want an answer for. A scene from today:

Me (to co-worker): If you can stick around for a minute, I'll print a copy of this for you.

Co-worker: Okay, thanks.

[3 seconds of silence while I sit at computer and open document]

CW: So! Uh... [clears throat]

CW: [looks around and spies picture of me with husband, on wedding day, in wedding attire] [points to man in picture]

CW: Is this your husband?

Me: Um... [turning to see what she's pointing at] nope. It's not.

06 February 2008

snow day

I find out at 6:30 this morning that I'm not required to report to work, due to extreme weather. I look out the window and to me, the weather does not seem that extreme. But instead of arguing, I slip back into bed. No complaints from me.
Today has been fabulous. To make it an official snow day, Shay and I created the most hideous snowman ever to grace the neighborhood. We named her Lumpy Longstocking.
Lumpy in the formative stages, when we still had reason to hope that she would be attractive.

Lumpy in all her glory. So much went wrong between picture 1 and picture 2.

03 February 2008

off to see the groundhog?

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow yesterday and predicted six more weeks of cold, gray winter. It doesn't seem like much of a reason to celebrate. For the sake of tradition, we celebrated anyway. Are you looking for something to fill the gap between New Year's and Valentine's Day? Then you, too, should observe the day of the weather-predicting rodent with some kind of festivity. I always enjoy it.I have watched the early-90s flick "Groundhog Day" every year on February 2nd since, I don't know, 1995. I mostly have my friend Jen and her family to thank for instilling in me this sense of Groundhog tradition.

This year the festivities of the day included friends, food, games, and of course a screening of the classic movie, in all its stupid hilariousness. Oh, and a new mascot, which was a random find at a little store on Mass street last week. I think he will be given away as a door prize next year, but I couldn't part with him quite yet.

Phil-in-a-cheesecake (got the idea here)

Phil, the celebration mascot

Happy Groundhog day to you! Enjoy those six long weeks of winter, and hope for a better forecast next year!