Archive for December, 2010

December 25, 2010

The Things That Stay With You

There are odd things that happen, minor little incidents, that stay with you forever for no particular reason.  They usually had no real impact on your life, but when you think back to a particular time period, they’re the ones you remember.  Here are a few of mine.  The age breakdown seems a little weird, but I based it on where we lived at the time.

Early Childhood (Ages 1-6):
– Waking up from a nightmare, and trying to explain it to an adult.  She kept comforting me and saying, “I know, honey, I know.” And I remember being amazed by this and thinking, “Wow!  How does she know what my dream was?”
– Sandals I had when I was maybe two or three years old; I thought they had flowers on them and was horribly disappointed when one of my older sisters pointed out that they were, in fact, onions.
– Our dog, Angie.  She wouldn’t walk across the family room to go out the back door, so Mom had to pick her up and carry her, and she always made a face like she was horribly embarrassed by the whole thing.
– We had a mattress in the family room for my brother and I to jump around on without hurting ourselves.  One time, we decided we wanted to turn it into a slide by putting butter knives under the edge of it.  It didn’t work, but we bent a lot of knives finding that out.
– Teaching myself to read.  Either my mother or one of my sisters didn’t have time to read to me when I asked, and they said, “You know your ABC’s, sound the words out.”  So I did.  I read all about a hor-see who had a bel-el that she liked to rin-gah.

Our First Move (Ages 6-7):
– Our address.  I won’t list it here, but I remember it to this day.
– A garage sale.  Mom wouldn’t give us money for it, but my friend’s mother did.  I bought a wax banana (I know, weird), and two sets of gaudy clip-on earrings.  Mom found out and gave my friend’s mother the money and took away my banana and earrings.  She also made us both apologize.  Later, she crocheted a nativity scene and the earrings became the jewels in the three kings’ turbans.
– Tricking the little girl across the street into eating mud.  She insisted it tasted fantastic.
– The names of every one of my childhood playmates.
– My older brothers visiting.  They got to stay up late and watch Saturday Night Live, but I wasn’t allowed to.  I got up anyway and snuck into the living room to see what the fuss was.  It was some sketch that had clothespins attacking people.
– Being put into the gifted program in first grade.  One of the special activities included a visitor who brought in a huge snake.  I was scared, but it was pretty neat.

Moving to the Country (Ages 7 and Up):
– To reduce the trauma of the move, Mom drove us back to our old school every morning to finish out the school year.  One morning it was especially cold, and she had put the defrosters on high, even though they hadn’t warmed up yet, and we were complaining about how cold it was with the “air conditioning” on.
– At some point during lunch at school, in a cafeteria full of kids, I overheard someone say, “Watch her eat… it’s so weird.”  I have no idea who they were talking about, but I’ve been self-conscious eating in front of people ever since.
– An ad for used cars that went, “Sakes alive! Sakes alive!  Only $57… 95!”
– A time shortly after my brother learned a fairly vulgar phrase.  Mom asked what we wanted for dinner, and he replied, “Hair pie!”  I don’t know if my mother didn’t know what it meant, or whether she was pretending to be naive, but she responded with, “Sure!  What color hair?”

There are lots of others, but at some point, they stop being “childhood” memories.  Of course, there are more profound things that I remember precisely because they did have an impact on me.  And there are some odd memories that I probably only think I remember because I’ve seen pictures.  But these are the ones that come back to me on a fairly regular basis.  When I hear the name “Francesca”, I immediately think of the older friend I had who taught me multiplication tables when we played school.  When I’m sitting in the car waiting for it to heat up, I remember that morning with Mom.  And when I’m reading, part of me will always hear the tiny voice in the back of my mind proudly sounding out “bel-el”.

December 3, 2010

The (In)convenience of Online Shopping

The first time I shopped online sometime in the late 90’s, it was for one reason: I’d received a coupon in my email (and this was in the days when a coupon for $10 off was exactly that, before marketers realized “$10 off with purchase of $30 or more” worked better).  The coupon was from and I ended up buying shampoo and conditioner that I couldn’t find locally.  The package delivered right to my door within a week or so, and I decided that had to be about the most convenient thing I’d ever seen.

Flash forward a decade, and I find myself living in an apartment with “secure” entry.  In the case of my specific building, this means that the front entry is locked and the only ways to get in are with a key or having someone else open the door.  This means that anything ordered online which is shipped via any means other than the postal service requires a trip downtown to pick up the package.  I recognize that this is not the fault of the carriers, however it still means that I try to avoid ordering anything online if there’s the remotest possibility that I can get it locally, unless it’s being shipped via the post office, since they do have a key.

Or, rather, that was the case for some time.  Which brings us to today and the fact that I got up three hours early to sit and wait for the mail carrier so I wouldn’t miss a delivery I’ve been waiting for.  The problem?  My specific mail carrier is kind of hit and miss on whether or not he actually delivers packages.  Every now and then, I do get a knock on my door around 10:30am and open it to have a package shoved into my hands.  But more often than not, I sit and wait just to receive an attempted delivery notice in my mailbox downstairs that informs me that my package can be picked up at the post office after 9am the next day.  This confuses me.  The fact that the slip of paper is called an “attempted delivery notice” would seem to imply that a delivery was attempted, which is slightly inaccurate, as I’m reasonably certain that such would require someone to walk up the stairs and knock on my door, and my door is rather unknocked-upon.  And if this is the standard practice of my local post office, then why is it that I need to pick up my package on the next day?  One would think that the reason for the lack of an actual delivery attempt is the result of the mail carrier not physically having the package.  If the mail carrier does not have it, would it not make more sense to be able to pick up the notice left at 10:30am and drive straight to the post office?  Which, of course, brings us back to the question of why I would choose to buy online, when it’s actually more convenient for me to drive to a local store to make a purchase than it is to have anything shipped.  The post office as an entity claims that it’s losing money because of the internet, and yet, here’s an opportunity for them to make money, and they actively chase it away.

And all of this is really just a long-winded rant to say that we really need the transporter beams and replicators that Star Trek promised us.  Get on that already, science!

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