Archive | July, 2010

If I wanted to read, I would’ve rented a book.

24 Jul

The forecast called for rain, so my mom picked up a few movies to take to the cottage with us this weekend. Friday night we popped one in – a foreign movie set in Jerusalem. The opening credits rolled to music, but as the first scene started, subtitles appeared on the screen.

Dad: Anne, can you read that?

Mom squinted.

Mom: What are you talking about?

Dad: The words on the screen. This is subtitled.”

Mom: What?

Mom squinted at screen again.

Mom: Well I’m not going to read the whole thing. Piss on it.

Earlier, she had cracked me up on our drive to the cottage. She was telling my dad about someone in the community, but my dad couldn’t place the guy.

“Yes, John. You know him. Remember? He’s the guy who let his dog shit right next to Jim’s car?”

The thing is, with that description, my dad knew exactly who she was talking about.

She has a way with words, my mother.

It’s pronounced “MY-lynn,” you dingdong.

22 Jul

People in DC often ask where I’m from.

“You have a nasal, midwestern, Fargo twang,” they say, just before guessing, “Are you from Minnesota?”

No. Where I’m from is infinitely more interesting.

I’m from a small town in Michigan called Milan, just south of Ann Arbor. It is  known primarily for two things: its prisons and its dragway.

Do you doubt me? The Milan prison was just in headlines this week, because former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick got transferred there. Oh, and Milan hosted Lollapalooza in 1993. At the aforementioned Milan Dragway. See?

Are you starting to appreciate the cultural mecca that is Milan?

If you need more persuading, then you might want to pick up a newspaper, because Milan has definitely made the headlines for some interesting stuff. Such as:

Police Chases: Read this article and you will be surprised by a few facts, not least of which is:

  • ATVs apparently can go 100 mph
  • It is possible to outrun a cop with an ATV
  • In Michigan, it is apparently adequate to describe a perp simply as “white”

Jello Wrestling: Check out this article to see how we celebrate the SuperBowl in my hometown. I would like to give anyone – intoxicated or not – props for braving Michigan’s winter in a bikini. (And as a side note, I grew up going to the restaurant/bar referenced in the story and the family that owns it is very nice and didn’t deserve this bad publicity. They may, however, want to rethink the wrestling portion of next year’s party…)

Killer Babysitters: OK. I’m not supplying a link for this one because it’s not funny. A Milan woman who claims she was molested by her father took justice into her own hands and shot him. (If allegations were true, then I say good for her.) As it turns out, she was once my babysitter.

As a second point of clarification: a shocking number of people raised here have turned out ABSOLUTELY normal. In fact, the majority of my classmates have gone on to lead good and productive lives, and are NOT fleeing police on ATVs or spending every waking moment at the dragway. I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

So the next time someone talks with a nasal twang and you imagine their idea of excitement is cow tipping, think about Milan, factor in a bikini, an ATV and few hundred convicts. Then tell me if you find the midwest boring.

List: I’m not a Wolverine, but Ann Arbor isn’t bad.

21 Jul

Ann Arbor has an almost cult following of people who adore it, despite the shitty winters. If you’re from anywhere outside Michigan, you probably wonder why.

Here’s a quick list of my favorite things about Ann Arbor:

  • Zingerman’s Deli: It’s an institution. So much so that even New Yorkers will have a Zingerman’s Reuben Kit FedExed to them for $120 plus shipping. I wouldn’t be willing to spend that for a sandwich I need to build myself, but I gladly fork over $15.99 for Binny’s Brooklyn Reuben whenever I’m in town.
  • Top of the Park:  What a great venue – Ann Arbor hosts a Music/Movie festival outside on top of a downtown parking structure every summer. Free entertainment and a great use of space.
  • The Fairy Doors: Yep. Ann Arbor is the home to urban fairies, and if you look carefully, you will find access points – or Fairy Doors – all around town:
  • Odd People: If you can look past the undergrads (who are undeniably obnoxious and believe pedestrians have the right of way everywhere), you’ll find a lot of interesting people on the streets of Ann Arbor. Like Joe Jangles, the one man band:
  • The Art Fair: Well, to be accurate, I should say Fairs because there are actually four distinct fairs that are held concurrently, so that pretty much all of Ann Arbor’s downtown streets are packed with hundreds of artists. Think I’m exaggerating? Check Wikipedia – it claims that over 500,000 people attend the fair year.
  • The U-M Marching Band: I know, I’m a Spartan to my core, but I can’t help but get excited when I hear the band play. Unless, of course, its during the Michigan-Michigan State pregame. Tell me this doesn’t get you going:
  • The Washtenaw Dairy: Yum. If you love ice cream, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a chance to sample from their list of amazing flavors.
  • The Annual Hash Bash: I’m no stoner, but I have to respect a town where people gather annually to smoke weed in public, and the most that police do is issue $25 fines. That screams of its hippie roots.

It’s not that I like to see people fail…

17 Jul

… it’s that I like to see braggarts get punished for, well, bragging.

I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for 2.5 years and continue to see value in a Flow 1 class, though I routinely hit more advanced classes. The beauty of yoga is that you can challenge yourself at any level.

So I don’t announce to the Flow 1 class that I’ve been practicing yoga for 2.5 years, that I’m capable of relatively sophisticated arm balances, and that – if the teacher were to abandon us – I’m relatively confident I could step into her place and deliver a class that ran almost as smoothly. I don’t do that because – on any given day, I *am* a Flow 1 student. My body doesn’t always cooperate. Some days I’m more exhausted or weak than others and plugging through a 90 minute class even doing the minimum is a challenge.

Anyway, back to my point: Apparently not everyone has learned humility. I say this because last week I hit a Flow 1 class at my local yoga studio and – as I grabbed my mat – I overheard a girl signing in say, “I’m a yoga teacher, visiting from out of town.”

I did a double-take because her body did not seem to fit the mold of a person who was so dedicated to yoga that she had logged the requisite hours to get certified as a teacher. I know, that sounds mean, but let’s just agree that there’s a “look” common to most yoga teachers. And while most are svelte, even those that aren’t tend to have some pretty obvious biceps and triceps. This girl looked soft.

She continued on with her conversation, and I mentally rolled my eyes as I went into the room to get set up for class. Of course, about two minutes later she walked in and rolled her mat out next to me. When the teacher arrived – a tough instructor named Terrance whose classes all provide a fairly brutal work out – he asked if anyone had any injuries he should be aware of. Most people passively shook their heads, but Eager Beaver to my left piped up. “I’m a yoga teacher!” she announced.

Terrance looked at her with a blank expression along the lines of, “And your point is?” before recovering and saying, “Welcome. I hope you enjoy the class.”

As it turns out, I’m going to say that “enjoyment” is not exactly the word for what she took from the class. It became obvious early that she was in over her head. While the rest of us pushed through some fast-moving vinyasas, she collapsed onto her mat in Child’s Pose.

I know yoga isn’t supposed to be a competitive endeavor, and you shouldn’t judge anyone since every person’s “edge” is different. However, when someone marches in repeatedly announcing to the world that she’s a “pro,” then promptly has her ass handed to her – well, I guess that’s just human nature to take a little pleasure in that. And I’ve never claimed I’m a true yogi. Unlike this dude:

This is disturbing on so many levels. Let me assure you that when I practice yoga, I: a) wear a shirt, b) do not put my (figurative) ball sack on display, and c) don't look like I'm about to seduce someone while listening to Yanni. But I hope you already knew all that about me.

Please use the paper towels VERY sparingly.

14 Jul

My mom used to call me Little Miss Know-It-All because it was pretty rare that someone could tell me something without my responding, “I know.” Even if I didn’t know, I knew.

Apparently I haven’t quite grown out of that habit, because in the past month I’ve found myself insulted by some of the advice people have given me. “Do they think I’m stupid?” I’ve bemoaned to Alan. “Of COURSE I’ve done that.”

Admittedly, some of the advice WAS ridiculous.

Like when my icemaker turned my freezer into an ice block and the guy at Ace asked if I had the temperature dial set to a cold setting.

Or when I told my sister that the caulking I had done in my bathtub didn’t set properly and she asked if I was sure I had used caulk. As opposed to… toothpaste.

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