Saturday, December 28, 2013

Be vewy, vewy quiet, I'm hunting resolvers

The instructor of my gym class mentioned how the gym will be crowded in a few days. She said she wished we could wear pins that marked us as regular/active gym members. Ah, yes, it's time for New Year's Resolutions, an ancient tradition to Roman times. When we try to take back our self-control by swearing we'll eat better, exercise more, drink less and be nicer!

The "resolvers," as I refer to the gym members who realize they do in fact belong to a gym, will come in search of thinner thighs and toned abs on January 1 (after their hangover is almost over). They will attempt to lift the 250 lbs they could back in college (never mind that college was 20 years ago).  They'll stand in front of the Package Plan Plus room trying to punch random numbers to unlock the door. The treadmill "stop" buttons might get a few more uses as people realize they cannot run that fast anymore. People will hop on equipment they have no idea how to operate and will sit looking confused until they finally give up or brave asking one of us regulars concentrating on our Kindles. Staff will have to get out their boltcutters to remove locks left on for days on end on lockers. People will take showers without realizing there are no towels available in that area. Worst of all, the parking lot will be a mess. Which leads to my resolution - to be more patient. Because 80% of the American population gives up within two months - I can wait it out!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Crazy things that happened today

While putting away the laundry today, I got distracted by my old jewelry box. I lost a ring a few years ago and still believe it must be lovingly stored. While I didn't find the ring, I did smell that lovely scent of my jewelry box. The musty, old velvet (fake), maple (?) odor arose and I remembered going through my mom's jewelry box. I would try on her necklaces, bracelets and look at the broken pieces that she kept in hopes of later repair. I found my grandmother's emerald bracelet today. I hadn't looked there for a couple of years & finding this was like the lost treasure. My heart raced - because I hadn't shared it with Lil. This is her namesake, Annunciata's, bracelet. It's at least 70 years old. Annunciata wore it. My mom wore it. I wear it. Lil will too. And when she realized who it belonged to, her eyes widened and understood that connection. My heart broke and repaired simultaneously.

The other amazing thing was that my cat Chippa curled up next to me. She was originally a feral rescue although the woman said she was part of a litter from an inside gal who escaped one night & met a nice tomcat. She started out as a fun-loving cat - she'd reach out for anything moving on a TV or monitor and watched the printer the second it started prepping the print job. But something happened to scare her 10 or so years ago & only in the last year has she been slightly ready to be close to us. And tonight, she curled up.

I have always found my cats to be more cuddly when it gets cold. It was 28 when I parked my car at Iron Bridge and that doesn't include wind chill. When I put Annunciata's bracelet on today, it was so cold. But I looked at it & said, emeralds get warm. And it has.

May those who seem cool become warm.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Columbia Town Center development

Recently, someone asked me if I was OK with the development going on in my "front yard" and whether I "knew" about it.

I often have this conversation with people when I tell them I live outside of the Cheesecake Factory (no, I'm not homeless as one woman assumed one day at the gym).  We live in the center of the neighborhood, but we hear the trash pickup at Cheesecake sometimes in the morning, which is pretty loud at 5 AM. Living close to the hospital and Banneker fire station, helicopters flying low and fire engines racing by are common occurrences in our life. I used to tell my cat Derby that the police were coming for him, but I ceased doing that when our daughter was a couple years old. (I had to put our cat Mischka to sleep when Lil was 3, so I didn't want to unnecessarily freak her out. Now that she's 9, I do tell our cat Beckham this, because I secretly hope he will be imprisoned. He gave me tetanus when he was a kitten.)

Our family lives in a somewhat urban area - no, it's not downtown Baltimore and drunks don't regularly knock on our door and I've only heard gunshots once (our drug dealer neighbor, who got foreclosed on eventually). But there is crime: broken basement windows & such petty crime. I am nervous to walk home from the mall sometimes. A lot of people walk by my house on their way to the mall & toss trash in my postage stamp yard. A very nice neighbor who walks her dog by my house sometimes picks up that trash. It's not quiet suburban living by any stretch.

My husband & I moved to this neighborhood in 2003 when our particular development was about halfway done. We were specifically attracted by promised growth - construction of the Cheesecake Factory happened in 2004 (and we were there opening day) and amorphous plans for the parcels across from our development.

Finally, plans were approved and finalized last year and construction started early this year. The first building is the Metropolitan Columbia. There will be retail on the first floor with apartments above. They may eventually turn into condos, but they will be rentals at first. This may not attract families as Columbia Compass and The 53 espouse. But here's my hope, it will bring younger people to Columbia, who become interested in the cool, fun atmosphere in Town Center, like Merriweather Post, enjoying the additions to the mall and watching movies at the Lakefront on a warm summer eve. Having dinner at Clyde's or the new Cindy Wolf restaurant, enjoying the beauty of Lake Kittamaqundi, while listening to live music during the summer are all downtown Columbia treats. And maybe spending more time at Symphony Woods than just the annual Wine in the Woods. And maybe decide they'd like to start a family here.

So, yes, I know about the development and I've been excited for YEARS. Yes, traffic will get worse, but our community - what's really important - will get a jumpstart.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Summertime in September

I am used to my birthday being part of a lovely time of year - the wind-down of summer, the cooler mornings, the lower humidity. A time when the promise of a new school year provided hopes & excitement of new challenges & opportunities when a new schedule circumscribed my life & relieved the boredom of the summer. The morning after my birthday, however, has been marred by the niggling fear I get - wondering what might happen on 9/11. In 2003, I flew on that day overseas and was mightily relieved to step off the plane safely and 6 weeks pregnant. I have a cold right now so I took a nap after waving goodbye to Lil at the bus stop. When I awoke & checked the news, I was glad to see it was just a beautiful day in suburban DC, a place I grew up (I think my brothers might have inculcated this fear) knowing was a target for the Soviets.

Show a little patience today, give an extra hug to loved ones, take a minute to reach out. Don't complain about something. Last night, there was an event clogging up the parking lot at the Howard County Center for the Arts  (where Lil takes ballet) called No Boundaries. The program is a weekly musical theatre class for special needs/intellectually disabled people in their 20s/30s. As I tried to rush in to drop off Lil's dinner, frustrated by the parking & worried about the fact I didn't have my checkbook to pay for ballet, I realized I had to chill out. In some cases, attendees were on crutches, some didn't obey the social courtesies of holding the door open or letting the first person to reach the door to go in first. One parent gently scolded her daughter "Addy, wait! Don't push ahead!" (name changed). Addy didn't acknowledge, look back or change her behavior. Addy's mother was still barely in the building as Addy pushed her way into the theatre. Another parent said, "I guess she's just so excited for this class." While the mother still seemed chagrined & slightly annoyed, I found comfort in that positive note.

As a hasty, critical, judgmental person, I'm going to smile if & when I see Addy throughout the fall rushing into the theatre.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Signs - Part Duh

As school begins momentarily, I have a request - Parents, please be an example for your children. Teach them about looking at the world around them. Teach them about signs.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's appalling how drivers disregard signs. (Yes, I do speed.) Stopping when there aren't any stop signs, going through stop signs that are there, etc.

Drivers need to obey signs. However, non-drivers, i.e. walkers & cyclists need to obey them as well.

A young person was injured by my house this month while biking across the street on a Don't Walk signal.

I used to ride my bike across the railroad tracks in Gaithersburg during rush hour. My best friend & I didn't tell our parents (well, I told my mom a few weeks ago). The reason why we didn't is that she & I knew we were in the wrong. That we were doing something dangerous. We took risks, but we tried to time the light & obviously we heard the train signals. If we had been injured, both of us would have taken the punishment of our parents & admitted our guilt & culpability in our injury. We knew we were being daredevils. I'd have whined a little, but we knew.

This week, I have seen 3 instances of poor decisions on Columbia roadways that scare the crap out of me. Two people, who looked older than me, jaywalked on Harper's Farm by the Athletic Club. The car next to me stopped, despite having the green light. I honked, not a surprise, and these people gave me the finger. I was not the one violating the traffic laws.

Coming down Columbia Rd. by 7-11 is a very scary thing. People constantly cross there - despite there being a pedestrian bridge! There's a hill & a curve. Why do people do this?


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Information *under*sharing

As I picked up my daughter from Drama Camp on Friday, the counselor gave me a sheet and said this sheet replaces everything that went out in the parents' meeting and the follow-up email.

Oh, really?

Let's step back a few months...

During the early spring, parents (moms, mostly) try to figure out how to occupy their young'uns during the long "When does school start again?" hot summer. We plan with poster size calendars for the 3 months on our hands and knees, armed with colored pencils, large erasers and camp catalogs spread out on the floor. Well, maybe not poster size calendars, but I do find the scheduling sheet in the Columbia Association catalog VERY helpful. Some people choose full summer-long camps to make it easier and provide consistency and stability for themselves and their children. That's not how Lil & I roll - we see tons of opportunities and choices and like to experiment.

After we figure out the calendar, I begin registration...deposits, forms, blood donations, etc. I read & re-read information packets so I have an idea of what to expect. I am like a Bounty paper towel when it comes to sponging up this kinda junk. In college, when the course schedule/catalog would be released at Maryland, I'd find a quiet spot in Cole Field House to absorb the possibilities.

Details, I WANT details, which I was already late to because despite having paid & registered months ago...I had gotten nothing. I began to have a feeling that something was wrong. And yes, they had lost the registration (although NOT my money surprisingly). They said they'd had an IT problem...and it had happened to at least one other child. They were about an hour away from Luke opening up a can of *** on them. But my can seemed to work and I was ensured everything was fine & I got the camp packet! Hurray!

So when this camp had a parents' meeting on the 2nd day, I sat there hoping for loads of really useful information! Well, no...

Some moms had sent their moms. That's fine. But then they should educate themselves and not ask questions that have already been addressed, i.e. times for the show. It's like showing up late for a meeting & expecting it to be restarted. Not acceptable.

But I didn't learn much at the parent meeting besides "Your kid needs a white shirt to tie-dye" because that'll be the costume. So I looked at Macy's, no luck there unless I wanted to buy 3 boys' undershirts. I figured I'd check Target later in the week. Good thing I waited...

Because in addition to the tie-dyeable shirt, the list NOW includes ANOTHER white shirt, black pants/capris AND bright pants/capris. Do you know how hard it is to find plain white shirts? So, they have sparkles on them and that'll just have to work.

But my point is - they've DONE THIS BEFORE. This ain't the first summer they've held camp. Could they not have told us white t-shirts & black pants are often needed? Back in March, when I registered? And also, to let people know that not only are they paying the $$$ for camp, additional supplies/materials will be necessary?

Do I need to pay someone to listen in on their phone calls and check their emails so I can get a few days' notice before slogging through summer clearance at Target?  Paging Edward Snowden...