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Men just don’t get it.

18 Dec

Trader Joe's Wine

Yesterday I was in line at Trader Joe’s. If you live in a large city, you know that the line of TJ’s is always long enough that you should bring another task to complete while waiting. (Ideas: Christmas cards, knitting projects, expense report prep, etc.)

Whoever conceived of TJs’ store layout is brilliant, because the final stage of the line functions sort of like the “finishing chute” from the Tour de France. But instead of simply corralling riders (or in this case, shoppers) into a neat sequence for the finish line, at TJ’s, this line snakes right past all the wine and beer displays.

By that point, even if you’re not a drinker, a bottle of SOMETHING seems like it’s not a terrible idea.

As a result, you often see people momentarily abandon their carts to wander over and grab a bottle of the shelf. Yesterday was no exception. The couple in line behind me did a quick run-down of the list of items they’d needed to procure for their dinner party that night. Then the wife said, “Go grab two mixed six packs from the shelf over there,” pointing at the beer.

The husband did as requested. The wife said, “Maybe you should grab another cheap six, just to be safe?”

Husband: “Safe for what?”

Wife: “So we don’t run out?”

Husband: “Don’t you think they’ll bring something too?”

Wife: “Probably…”

Husband: “So we’re covered.”

Wife: “Not necessarily. I mean, Janet asked what she could bring and I said, ‘Nothing! We’re good!’ but she’ll probably bring a bottle of wine.”

Husband: “But you told her to bring nothing.”

Wife: “But women know it’s tacky to arrive empty-handed.”

Husband: “But you TOLD HER we were good.”

Wife: “You don’t understand how it works. Just grab an extra six-pack to be safe.”

Then the husband – under his breath, while going to grab the six-pack – said, “Maybe YOU don’t understand how it works…”

 

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Random act of kindness: FAIL

7 Aug

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While I was in Chicago for work last week, I met up with a friend for breakfast one day before the office opened. We agreed to meet at Do-Rite Donuts because it was close to my hotel AND had gluten-free and vegan options. (I don’t even want to know what they use to make a donut that doesn’t contain flour or eggs – I assume tree bark.)

Because I’m mildly OCD (and – more realistically – because she had to take a combination of trains and busses, whereas I only had to walk around the corner), I arrived 10 minutes before she did. I decided to grab a donut and hold a table for us outside since the place seemed fairly busy.

The donut selection was overwhelming, and it became even harder to focus when a homeless man shuffled into the place, slowly panhandling his way along the line leading up to the small counter. Everyone looked uncomfortable, so when he got to me, I said, “I won’t give you money, but I’ll buy you a donut if you’d like one.”

The cashiers heard me and we exchanged a look while they patiently waited for him to point to a donut. (Of course he chose a premium gluten-free flavor.) Then he leaned across the counter and tried to get them to bring him a cup of milk (which they said they didn’t have) and started asking about what else they had back there that he could eat. I felt a bit callous, denying a homeless person food, but I also don’t like being taken advantage of, so I reset expectations with him quickly. “No – sorry. I’ll buy you a donut, but that’s all. Let’s go.”

I paid and left, heading outside to claim a table. He, however, remained inside, presumably asking someone else for something. He must not have been successful, because he emerged a few minutes later, holding the donut I’d bought him. Looking at him, I allowed myself the small feel-good moment that comes with performing a random act of kindness, thinking that maybe we could fix all the world’s problems if we each just help each other out a bit more.

And then I watched as he walked to the curb and threw the donut on the ground. He stumbled around it for a bit, and I couldn’t tell if he was trying to pick it up or what, but he resolved my curiosity by drawing back his foot and kicking it, sending it sailing out into the rush hour traffic. Without a backwards glance, he shuffled down the block.

I guess he decided gluten-free was some bullshit.

Miss Moneypenny Saves the Day

20 Jul

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It was storming when I went to sleep, so my cat, Miss Moneypenny, was a bit out of sorts. A few hours later, she woke me, running across the bed. Thinking she was making a play for mid-night attention, I tried to tip her over and make her snuggle – a move she usually goes with. This time, however, I was met with fierce resistance.

She was sitting near my head, and I could feel the twitch of her tail whipping my face. I nudged her, thinking she’d jump off the bed. No luck. Instead, she made a weird little chirping noise that I’ve only ever heard when she sees a bird out my window.

I turned on the light so I could assess the situation. It was 1am and she was staring fixedly at my bedroom curtains. I followed her gaze and spotted it: high on the curtain rod, her grey toy mouse.

“Miss Moneypenny,” I said. “You just now decided you needed to play with your mousie?” I stood on my bed so I could get high enough to knock it down – and then realized it was NOT her toy mouse. It was a real one, with huge ears and frightened eyes.

What was a mouse doing IN MY HOME? And how did it get up on top of a curtain rod, 8-feet in the air – at 1am?!

Miss Moneypenny was riveted. I considered knocking the mouse down so she could play with it, but decided: a) That would be cruel to the mouse, and b) There was a strong possibility I would lose sight of the mouse.

Decision made, I got an empty trash can and slid it up under the mouse. The mouse must have been wondering how it was going to get down from its high perch, because it (literally) jumped at the opportunity I’d presented. I slid a notebook over the top of the trashcan to makes sure I only had to do this ONCE. Dressed in my hot pink plaid pajamas – I slid my flipflops on and headed out to the DC street to release it.

Job done, when I came back to my bedroom, Miss Moneypenny was in the same spot, tail twitching, pacing to get a better view of a now non-existent mouse. Her obsession alarmed me – was there ANOTHER mouse I hadn’t found? Fortunately not, because after 45 minutes, she finally relaxed and we were both able to go back to sleep.

Who knew I had a mouse(r) in the house? She just covered her rent check for the next year.

 

Going, going – almost gone!

5 May

 

 

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My parents visited from Michigan back in March. I’d been itching to visit the Renwick Gallery since it reopened in November, and my parents were game to check it out.

If you’re not familiar with the Renwick, here’s the quick back-story on it:

  • It is part of the Smithsonian. (And because I answer this question for almost every visitor to Washington: the Smithsonian is a collection of museums and galleries – not a single destination – and they are all open free of charge to the public.)
  • The Renwick was the first art gallery built in the US intended to be used as an art gallery. (A lot of the other older art galleries were originally private homes.)
  • The exterior was completed in 1861 – and then the construction was paused because of the Civil War.
  • In the 20th century, there was talk of tearing it down, but Jacqueline Kennedy led a successful crusade to save it, and it returned to use as an art gallery in 1972.
  • It closed again for renovations in 2013 and just reopened in November.

To re-open the Renwick, the entire building was used for an installation of nine works by different artists, each specifically designed for and filling an entire room. The theme of the exhibit was, “Wonder” and I have to say: Mission Accomplished. I can’t imagine anyone going through the entire exhibit without at least one, “WHOA!” moment.

Here’s the exhibit’s opening plaque, which provides a bit of context for what it contains:

People have debated the meaning and value of wonder for more than two thousand years. It has been described as everything from the origins of our understanding of the universe, to how we respond to something defying categorization, to a naïve emotion delaying us from reason, to a shock to the heart, and a surprise of the soul.

The two rooms that provided me with the most amazement were those where common items were used to create very uncommon results.

The first example was Jennifer Angus’s pink-washed room that used insects for three-dimensional wall decoration. When we walked in the room, our initial reaction was, “Cool,” as we saw the “dia de los muertos” skeletons covering the walls. We quickly followed that by asking, “Those can’t be REAL beetles, can they?”

As it turns out, they WERE. Which then made the whole room a bit more creepy. And I felt compelled to try to approximate how many little insect corpses were pinned to the walls. It made my head hurt. Further, the wall plaque informed us that the pink of the walls was created by using the “juice” from other insects. Ew? And still – ahhhh!

Here are a few photos I snapped that don’t do it justice:

The other example that had me rubbing my chin in wonder was what appeared to be a simple construction of colored thread – pinned to the floor, then running to the ceiling, where it was pinned at a right angle. Sounds boring, but the effect was surprising. As we moved around it, it shifted from being individual clusters of thread to a see-through rainbow that seemed to be made from light.

Again, it doesn’t translate well in photos, but here’s an attempt – and no, I have no idea who that dude is posing in this shot:

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Those were the two creations that I found most provoking, but I heard people exclaiming in delight in every room, whether it was John Grade’s over-sized tree trunk constructed from small blocks of wood, or the glass ball formation created by Maya Lin (of Vietnam Wall fame), that climbed the walls of one room.

In addition to the art work, there were quotes in each room related to the theme. A few of my favorite examples include:

“It is not understanding that destroys wonder, it is familiarity.” —John Stuart Mill

“The mere knowledge that such a work could be created makes me twice the person I was.” —Goethe

The full exhibit is only available through Sunday (May 8), so if you’re in the DC area, if you hustle you can hit it! Even if you’re not usually a fan of art, I’d be willing to offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee. (Did I mention that it’s free?!)

GUILTY! Of being clumsy.

7 Mar

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I had jury duty a couple weeks ago. As it turns out, I wasn’t selected for a jury, so my service was all of eight hours long. On one hand, I’m glad because I had a lot going on at work, so it would have been inconvenient to miss more than a day; on the other hand, if I were on trial, I would hope that the jury would be made up of people like me. And I think I’d find it interesting to serve on a (short!) trial.

Before I go any further, I should knock wood. I can imagine my friend Betsy – who has served on the super-long grand jury twice – wanting to punch me for thinking I’d enjoy “real” jury duty.

Anyway. The exciting part of this story isn’t actually about jury duty (if you can believe that?!). It’s about what happened during my lunch break.

Rain had been pounding the city in waves since I’d woken up and it was still coming down when they released us for lunch. Despite trying to walk carefully, I was fairly drenched by the time I arrived at Cava Mezze for lunch. After grabbing a falafel wrap, I popped my ear buds in so I could continue listening to Stephen King’s latest collection of short stories on my walk back to the courthouse. I raised my umbrella and started walking.

Out of no where, my foot hit the slick sidewalk grate grate and started to slide. The next thing I knew, I was on my butt, rolling around in a puddle like a turtle flipped on its back. My hand and my elbow were screaming as if someone had gone to town on them using some combination of a cheese grater and a hammer. In my ears I heard a woman begging to be slapped, thanks to Stephen King’s twisted imagination.

It was sensory overload, so I combatted it by loudly narrating everything that was happening, thinking (I guess?) that it would help me get my bearings. “Holy shit!” I called out. “How the hell did I just fall? I’m on my butt in Chinatown in the middle of the day! What is going on?”

By this point I was crawling around in a puddle, trying to get my feet under myself. I saw legs approaching and receding. In hindsight, I think people were probably coming to help me – then backing away when they heard my rambling narration of events. I finally righted myself and returned to the courthouse, drenched and disheveled.

I sat there, figuratively licking my wounds as they called the numbers for panel after panel of potential jurists. Yet my number was never once called. I can only assume that they they decided I was too discombobulated to serve.

I was reminded of a previous time I’d been called for jury duty, when I was excused because the courthouse caught on fire. So far I’ve been dismissed due to water and fire… should I assume that my future appearances will be thwarted by an earthquake and a tornado?

Whatever the case, I’ll take it. Proud to serve.

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