Friday, February 27, 2009


Moving to a smaller community - and a close-knit neighborhood within that community, to boot - has enhanced our natural nosiness.

I've always been nosy - hopefully not in a mean way, but in a hey-what's-going-on? kind of way. I think part of it is innate, and part stems from my first jobs in intensive care units. There, if you didn't know what was going on, you would get slammed - out of the blue - when the kid down the hall suddenly went south. So, protective mechanism? Inheritance from my mother? However it developed, I think living here has made me nosier than before.

And it's affected my dear husband, N, as well. Poor man...he lived a quiet life before he met me. Now? Well, last night, we heard car doors slamming. No big deal, right? Except that in our lovely, quiet neighborhood, hearing car doors at 7 pm on a Monday night - over spring break, no less - is cause for an investigation. So there he was, peering through the blinds in the family room, trying desperately to see what was going on next door. And every time we heard more noises, there he was again. I think the dog thought we were nuts. Completely nuts.

We speculate as we walk through the neighborhood - who lives here? Do they have kids? Where does she work again? For the new people...where do you think they lived before? What do you think they're doing now?

It's not meanspirited, not in any sense, but it does make me laugh. We've turned into the Mrs. Kravitzes (sp?) of the neighborhood.


First, you should know that my husband and I are weird, for people in our early 30's. We get the (print) newspaper every day, and every day we both read it front to back. I even protested recently when the paper removed two of my favorite comic strips. We love our newspapers.

Part of my morning habit is reading the obituaries. I typically read all of them - even the short, 1.5 paragraph "standard" obituaries. I suspect this is another legacy from my mother - who also reads the entire paper front to back, every day. [She also reads the issues from when she is away on vacation, though, which I think is a bit drastic...]

I love seeing the names of the people who died, and their ages. I am saddened when young people die - counting as "young" anyone who is under 70. I wonder about the cause of death when it is not indicated. I read about the survivors - and wonder, especially, about those designated as "special". Particularly when there are others in that relationship category. What makes one a "special niece" as opposed to just one of many "nieces and nephews". I love it when families put in pieces of the person's history - which around here typically includes which rural schools the person attended as a young child, where he or she served during WWII or the Korean Conflict, and when he or she married the "love of (his or her) life".

When I read about the survivors, though, I also look to see where they live. I wonder about the families that are spread all over the place...I am equally as intrigued by families that all live in the same town. I especially wonder about the families where none of the survivors live near the person who passed away. Most of the time, I am sad for the person who died - jumping to the conclusion, perhaps, that there were not enough family get-togethers before the person died. And then I realize that I live halfway across the country from my I am one of those "absentee" family members, too.

I tend to gloss over the fact that there are likely many dysfunctional relationships hidden within these obituaries...and don't typically think about how what I am reading tends to be the sanitized version of the person's life. Those obituaries that are brutally honest can be hard to read- but also interesting. They are few and far between, though.

And I wonder about how my obituary will read...What accomplishments have I achieved that I would want people to know about? For all my time in school, I suspect that I would rather have mine focus on who I loved, who loved me, and what good I did while I was on this planet.

I guess it's time to get started doing some serious good.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Diff'rent strokes

I know there are different types of people in the husband and I epitomize some of the more common ones. People who hit the snooze button/people who think the snooze button is evil. Short people/tall people. Morning people/not-morning people. Indiscriminate TV watchers/discriminating TV watchers. Cleaners/those who do not (although, to be honest, we are both cleaners, thank brother and his family, on the other hand, well, let's just say the dust bunnies love them).

Living here, I've noticed that people also tend to be either very considerate of other's space/time/preferences (to the point where it becomes amusing) or they succumb to what my husband and I call (from our time in the DC burbs) "IASMMITAYLP syndrome" (translated: I am so much more important than all you little people syndrome). There, we encountered it most often on the roads...people who think that they, of course, should be allowed to break the rules of the road because their time/car/person is more important than anyone else's. Here, oddly, I've only really encountered it at the gym. Strange. Everywhere else, people are courteous to the point of amusement - if you aren't looking up and the light changes, no one honks. I can't tell you how weird that is after our time out East.

But in the gym? Dude, it's anything goes. This morning, Crazy Elliptical Girl (oh, come on, your gym has one too - the woman who hangs on the elliptical bars, legs flying at some ridiculously high rate of speed, for an hour at a time? yeah, that's c.e.g.) came up to do her 45 minutes on the bike (post c.e.g. episode). As she walked into the (full) cardio room, she turned down four of the five fans in the room. Not just the one kind of behind her favorite bike - but 4 of the 5 that string out across the treadmills. Were they going to blow her hair too hard? Did she not want to get a chill? But why did she have to do 4 of the 5? Why not just the one near her? (These are the unanswerable questions that I tend to ponder, and which tend to drive DH crazy...hence the blog...)

There was also headline news man - who came in when there were only 4 or 5 of us up there, marched up to the TV that I and at least one other person were watching, and proceeded to a) flip the channel and b) turn it up REALLY LOUD. Not a glance, or a raised eyebrow to see if anyone cared. Nope. He wanted headline news, not CNN, and by golly, he was going to get it!

I admit, the general courtesy shown by most people in this lovely town makes for a really nice existence. I know that if my whole house was down with the flu or something godawful, that the neighbors would be willing to leave clorox and gatorade on the front porch. I can't tell you how much I enjoy that - particularly given the neighborhood we lived in for our last 15 months in MD. But I think the thing that grates on me about these people at the gym is the contrast they provide to this area in general. It's like common courtesy goes out the window, because we're all sweating together? Because your comfort during your work out is more important than that of 20 other exercisers? It's just odd.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Speed Limits

One of the funniest differences between the DC burbs (where we lived for the last 2.5 years) and our current location here in flyover country (FOC for short) are the different ways people choose not to follow the speed limit. In the DC burbs, I can't tell you the number of times I had an angry speeder on my tail on a two-lane road, even though I was going at least 5 mph over the speed limit (conditions permitting, of course...). Here, people tend to go at least 5 and usually 10 mph under the speed limit. Seriously. Beautiful weather, sunshine, no snow/ice on the roads, and they're plugging along at 25 in a 40 mph zone. I do not understand it...but I try not to imitate it.

Of course, the one place that people do not follow this weird below-the-speed-limit doctrine is in front of the elementary school near our house. I'll give you that the School Zone is not limited to "when children are present", which can be a little irritating. But people seriously go blasting through there at 40 mph when they should be going 20. So...why do people go so much slower in the regular speed limit zones, but choose not to slow down in the school zone? I just don't get it. I have a feeling in 15 years, assuming we are still here in FOC, I will be doing the same thing. I mean, I hope not, but I think it might be unavoidable.

Someday I will do a post on the differences between the DC burbs and here, for lo, they are many. And they are frequently funny. Only because my husband and I are clearly perfect in every way. ;)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gym, 8 am

So, my husband thinks I should have a blog (hi, honey!). I think he's just tired of my random stories about all the strange things I encounter in my daily life...or maybe it's my awareness of these things that bugs him. I like to think I have a highly developed sense of the ridiculous - and almost every day, I encounter a person or situation that reminds me of just how goofy we as humans are. While I'll probably still share my favorite anecdotes with him, I also wanted to put them "out there" in case someone else finds them as amusing as I do. Life in flyover country may be a bit staid (but after the last few years, boy, do I love staid...) but there is always something that makes me laugh.

Today it was a woman at the gym. Not very original, I know, but hang on, and I think you'll see why she was particularly amusing. I was at the gym later than usual, so it was a different group than the usual my-god-it's-way-too-early-for-amusement crowd. So there I was, minding my own business on the treadmill, wondering why on god's green earth anyone in this uber-liberal (yay), crunchy town puts Fox "News" on the gym tv, enjoying a long run. Typical morning at the gym for me.

In walks distraction, in the form of...gosh, I wish I had my camera with me. Well, it was a woman. A young-ish woman, although she was either college aged and looking a bit older thanks to her perma-tan, or a bit older and trying to recapture her college years. So, she could have been 20 or she could have been 35. ANYway (do you see why my husband prefers that I write this out instead of talking his ear off???), the first thing was the hair. Bleached (obviously so) and long and ratty and pulled into a ponytail on the top of her head. But she hadn't pulled the end through on the final pass of the elastic, so she had this huge poofy thing on top of her head. A bleached blond thing on top of her brown hair. Um, ew. So, poofy girl grabs a magazine (most of them are from c. 2002, I've found...although they're kind of funny to read - who is this person? in what tv show?) and goes over to an elliptical machine. She proceeds to stand there for 2-3 minutes, reading the magazine, looking at the tv, and, um, not getting on the elliptical.

Short-shorts girl then gets off another of the elliptical machines, waaay down at the other end of the - otherwise empty - row, and poofy girl heads to that machine. Not sure why - but hey! Who am I to questions p-g's motivations? She gets on, programs it, takes two strides, and then stops to reset the machine. All the while reading the magazine. Then she steps off that machine and stands there, still looking at the magazine. She's been there for, I don't know, 5 minutes at this point? And she hasn't gotten ON the machine.

And then I notice the best part of the whole thing. Her pants are halfway down her rear end. And she is not wearing any underwear. So I get the, ahem, pleasure of seeing half of her butt crack. While I'm killing myself on a 50 minute run. And she is completely, completely oblivious. Thanks, poofy girl! I needed that! She eventually did get on the elliptical, and she did pull her shirt down to cover her butt (but did not pull her pants up...what is up with that??), but man. I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing that.