14 June 2008

Perfectly logical

Overheard in the gym locker room:

"The bottoms of my pants are all damp. And my locker is bone dry. And when I put them in, they were dry. Someone has been in here."

"Is anything missing?"

"No. But a few weeks ago I gave the manager my lock combination."

"Ooh, you better get a new lock."

Yes, of course. Because the first thing the gym manager would do if he could open lockers is to reach in, dampen the hems of your pants, and then lock it back up again.

A tale of two graduations

I cover graduations - lots of them - for our local newspaper. It keeps the staff writers from having to spend their time on them, and it fills up my BlogHer fund, so it is a win-win.

My modus operandi is simple. I find the grads, talk to them as they wait to march, speak to instructors or the principal, then go out and talk to parents and family members. Get a quote or two from a speech and bang, I'm in and out in less than an hour.

The other night I was interviewing friends and family and started talking to a 20-year-old guy who was there to see his girlfriend graduate. It only took me about 30 seconds to realize I was talking to the wrong person.

First of all, he would only talk about himself. Any question I asked got turned around to be about him. Sometimes he would completely ignore the fact that I had asked about his girlfriend and answer as if I was wondering what HIS plans for the future were.

Second, I started to notice that he had that fumey smell of someone who is a serious alcoholic. Not an "I just had a drink at 5 p.m." smell but the smell of massive amounts of alcohol wafting up from his pores.

I wanted to run up on stage and grab his girlfriend by the shoulders and tell her to get out. To run while she still could, before the unplanned baby, the wrecked cars, the lies, the getting kicked out of another apartment, the crappy jobs, the fights, the bail bondsman.

But I was only there to cover the graduation, so I listened politely as long as I could stand, thanked the man, and then moved on.


My alma mater is a large school, over 2000 students, and a bit of a pain to cover, but I always go back to cover "my" graduation. I found a great family to talk to, huge, with grandmas and grandpas and kids, all overseen by the loveliest woman.

She was the mother of the grad and just had this amazing powerful glow about her. She was herding this big family around with a kind of graceful joy. Even in the face of finding seating for all these people with their wheelchairs and walkers, she seemed like she still could focus on the happiness of the occasion.

She got pulled away from me in the crowd before I was done talking to her, but I wanted to get her name. She told me and I gaped a bit. I knew who she was.

"Are you a rabbi?" I asked.

She said "Why yes! How did you know?"

I had interviewed her father-in-law five years before about an outdoor science program he founded for school children.

He spoke so lovingly about his daughter-in-law that I never forgot what he said. He felt like she was such a great gift in his life that he refused to call her "daughter-in-law" but always said "daughter-in-love."

That woman was the same woman at the graduation. In fact, the father-in-law was one of the family members she was shepherding around - I just didn't recognize him.

I had really thought about that conversation dozens of times. I didn't remember the man's name, or much else about that article, but I remembered the love that was in his voice. That is what endured, and what endures above all.

12 June 2008

Fox "News" - remind me why they still exist, again?

Baby mama? I believe they have been happily married for 16 years.

I expected it to get ugly, but I didn't know it would be this ugly, this soon. What's next, "Nappy headed ho"?

I can't believe this world.

11 June 2008

Is it just me? Part 6002

Suebob: I would like an unsweetened iced coffee (in my own cup) and a chocolate chip cookie.
Starbucks Dude: Um. Would you like black, green or passionfruit?
Suebob: Unsweetened iced COFFEE.
Starbucks Dude: Oh. And what else did you want?
Suebob: A chocolate chip cookie.
Starbucks Dude: That will be $3.70
Makes change, wanders off. After about a minute, he turns, sees me waiting and realizes he forgot...the cookie.
Is it that hard? Really?

Menu: The super burrito comes with your choice of chicken or steak, beans, rice, cheese, tomato, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream.
Suebob: Can I get a super burrito without meat?
Girl: So you want it with chicken.
Suebob: No, no meat.
Girl: What do you want then? No meat?
Suebob: No meat.
Girl: But what do you want then?
Suebob: Just everything else.
Girl: Like what?
Suebob: Beans, rice...
Girl: You want a bean and rice burrito.
Suebob: All the stuff that is on a super burrito.
Girl: Beans and rice and anything else?
Suebob: Beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, tomato...
Girl: Is that it?
Suebob: Some guacamole or avocado if you have it.
Girl: writing very slowly Burrito with rice, beans, cheese, what else?
Suebob:Tomato, lettuce and guacamole.
Girl: writing very slowly Tomato, lettuce? Lettuce?
Suebob: Yes, and guacamole.
Girl: writing very slowly Guacamole.
Suebob: Yeah, that sounds great.

And yet I never start screaming. Remarkable, no?

09 June 2008

Suebobian Travel Tips

I am a rockstar traveler. I have fun wherever I go. People say they hate airports. I love airports. They hate hotels. I love hotels. They hate being lost...I hate being lost and hungry, but if I am well-fed and don't have to be somewhere on time, I am fine with being lost.

Here are my top travel tips, and I must say they are good ones. Focused on the hotel traveler, because my idea of camping? Is a place without good room service.

1. Take a night light. One of these without a bulb to break. Put it in the bathroom so when you get up you don't have to 1) Blind yourself with the superbright bathroom light and 2) Make your travel partner want to kill you when you wake them up with the superloud bathroom fan when you have to get up three times because you have that little intestinal problem you always get every time you travel.

2. Pack a clothes pin. You can use it to eliminate the crack in the drapes, the one that always seems to be there so the streetlight outside can SHINE RIGHT IN to your eyeballs OMG how is it always so perfectly aligned so it beams right in your eyeballs?

3. Ear plugs, those foam kind. Get a pack of 10 for a couple bucks at the drug store. Noisy airplanes make you tired. So do those three-year-old twins behind you.

4. The inflatable neck pillow. That, plus the earplugs, equals sleep, blessed sleep.

5. I have stopped at hundreds of McDonald's restaurants to use the restroom, and they are mostly pretty clean. I never buy anything and I don't feel guilty. Hey, they are destroying the rainforest and creating massive paper waste - the least they can do for me is let me pee. Besides, I ate approximately $187,000 worth of food there as a teen. I have paid my McDues.

6. Clif Bars. They taste good, cost between $1 and $1.50 and they will save you from spending $14 on a dry, tasteless airport sandwich made by a sullen lady with a hairnet who mocks you in another language to her coworkers. Clif Bars are also great when you check in late and don't want to raid the minibar. They go in my luggage every single time I travel.

7. Trail mix is a good idea, too. You can make a meal of trail mix if you have to. And it looks all healthy and stuff, so you don't FEEL like you have just eaten 900 calories out of the palm of your hand.

8. It's 11 pm, you have just checked in to your hotel and your shoulders feel like they are shrouded in barbed wire from schlepping and stressing all day. You would like to have an adult beverage but there is no way you are going to the hotel bar, where it seems to be locals-only karaoke night at 100 decibels and the woman singing looks like Dolly Parton if Dolly Parton weighed over 250 lbs and had a tattoo on her neck. A couple little bottles of screw top wine packed in double plastic bags can come in handy for a drink in your room.

9. Nine times out of ten, the hotel restaurant sucks.

10. Some little flat travel slippers will make you so cozy and happy padding around your hotel room with your feet all warm. Besides, do you REALLY want your feet touching that carpet? I didn't think so.

Bonus tip 11. Take your own shampoo even if you are going to a nice hotel. Even good hotels sometimes have horrible hair products like Pantene or, alternately, that awful bandaid-smelling Bliss Lemon and Sage Supershine Shampoo - yes, W Hotel, I am looking at YOU.

Ok, my people, travel light and journey lightly. And if you have a spare ticket, give me a call.

08 June 2008

Big Love

I go to kind of a wacky church. It isn't Bible-based, though sometimes we use the Bible. It is Christian, though not Jesus-died-for-your-sins Christian. Maybe it's not that Christian. Or maybe we're just open to other faith traditions. We are not a dogmatic church.

I was saying to my prayer minister, M., the other day, that I thought no one would have a problem if someone came to our church and said "I don't believe any of this crap, but I want to come here."

"Of course," she said.

It's THAT kind of church.

I tend to take it kind of lightly. It doesn't seem like a Big Deal.

But today our minister gave a talk about her brother, who is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease at age 50.

She grew up in our church and, because of the philosophy, tends to put a positive spin on everything. She made it almost all the way through the talk, telling about the Important Lessons everyone was learning - live each day to its fullest, etc etc. The usual.

But toward the end, she started reading something from her brother's book, a quote from Thomas Sugrue from "There is a River," and when she got the last line, which says "And when you rest, let Him hold you. When you reach out, touch his hand and then put your arm around a friend."

She got to "when you rest" and then stopped. We could all feel her emotion and suddenly everyone was praying for her. No one said anything but it was palpable. We were all praying for her strength and crying.

After the service, I was manning the bookstore. Ok, it is a table, but it is the only place we sell books, so it is our "bookstore."

I looked up at everyone talking and having snacks and suddenly I realized "This is my spiritual family" and I loved them all, each one in their own way.

I knew to the depths of my being that these people want the best for me. They want me to be healthy and happy and loved and loving and at peace.

What if we don't have a dogma or a creed? What if we can't call ourselves a denomination like Presbyterian or Lutheran, but instead say we are "students"?

Healthy and happy and loved and loving and at peace. That's a good enough religion for me.
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