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Out and About | Adventures at Big Lots

5 Jan

Because of the recent Texas chill, I’ve been in the market for an electric blanket. I checked out Target and Wal-Mart, but the electric blankets were $120, which is approximately half of my electric bill, and therefore overpriced in my book. Lola K suggested Big Lots for my endeavors, so on my lunch break today, I moseyed on over.

Unfortunately, Big Lots didn’t have any electric blankets, but I did find a box of Triscuits marked down to .75 and a caffe latte for $1.00. Who could say no? I gathered my selections, and headed to the register. Of course, there was only one register open, and about ten customers with baskets full waiting in line ahead of me. Just as I wondered whether my box of Triscuits was worth the wait, a cashier at another register announced, “I can help the next person in line.”

No one moved, so, naturally, I headed to his line. A lady with a giant body pillow who was about five people ahead of me followed my lead, rushing past me, and emphatically tossing her purchase on the register.

“You know,” she said to me, “Those people have been waiting an hour.”

“Well,” I replied, “If a shorter line opens, the intelligent thing to do is to move to that line.”

I usually avoid such confrontations, but today I am wearing my glasses, which I think bring out another side of my personality. And I really wanted a Triscuit. Glasses or sans glasses, the Pillow Lady wasn’t having any of it.

“Well, it’s not the nice thing to do,” she smirked before calling out to a lady who was clutching a box of Quaker Oats bars marked down to $1.50 and a can of pink Metamucil. “Mamn. You were ahead of me. Would you like to move to this line?”

The Metamucil lady didn’t reply, but just stared ahead. It’s my belief that stores such as Big Lots and Wal-Mart slowly deplete human brain waves. The longer a person remains in the store, the fewer brain waves they have. The people in the long line were at the zombie stage. Fortunately, I had only been in there for fifteen minutes.

Perhaps offended by the Metamucil lady’s snub, Pillow Lady looked at me and said, “You are a line cutter.”

She must be a Catholic school teacher because before I could reply, she said to the cashier, “Well, she’ll be last in the line to Heaven.”

I, however, was once a good Catholic school girl, and quickly replied, “That’s OK. Jesus said ‘The one who is last shall be first.’ ”

Pillow lady didn’t reply to my retort. How could she? Jesus did say that. And if it turns out not to be true, well, I’ll just cut.

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Musings | Dreams for an Insomniac

1 Jul

I often listen to NPR and BBC when I sleep at night. As a result, the news streams often influence my dreams. Last night, for instance, I dreamt of Manderley Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I was his interior designer, and for the entire duration of the dream he was dressed in a maroon, velour Puma tracksuit.

I don’t know what Freud might say about such dreams, though I do know that no matter how far our economy might dive, I wouldn’t take that job in real life in a million years.

If subconscious desires came true, however, I’d love to sport a maroon, velour Puma tracksuit. Oh, how a girl dreams.

Musings | The Round Table

16 Jun

Sunday evening, I had the opportunity to host two international visitors in my home for dinner. I invited two friends, threw the linens on the table, and awaited the arrival of our guests.

Around 6 o’clock, three all-American girls sat at the dinner table with our two international guests. In one sense, our daily lives as young women could not be more different. Our guests live in an occupied territory where they teach children, some of whom live in refugee camps and all of whom are too familiar with the realities of war. We discussed the difficulties they endure, what our guests are doing to give the children the opportunities all children deserve, and their great hope for peace in their region.

Five girls cannot gather together, however, without the gift of gab, and our conversation moved rapidly from one topic to another. Obama, politics, and global issues. Marriage, fashion, and decorating. Full-time jobs, bad habits, and college studies. As we chatted, we consistently found ourselves noting how similar we are––as communities and as individuals. Several times we proclaimed, “Yes, yes. It’s the same.”

Herein is the power of conversation to strengthen human connections and foster understanding. Keeping abreast of CNN and BBC can only go so far in allotting the understanding of human experiences beyond one’s home country. Being able to sit together and share stories creates a bridge that no engineer can build, one that joins distances far greater than the Atlantic or Pacific. It was through our conversation on Sunday that our guests and we were not only able to better understand each others’ lives but also able to connect through the commonalities we share.

At one point, one of my guests noted how grateful she was to visit the States and meet American individuals, pointing out the importance of creating a dialogue, regardless of topic or opinions. The significance lies in mutual understanding and the realization that we truly are all the same. Across countries and continents, cultures and languages, we all have the same desires for peace, love, and happiness. It is a matter of getting our ideas on the table for discussion and establishing respect through dialogue.

As a graduate student, I studied the concept of “the other” in early-twentieth century Western literature, art, and film. While such academic pursuits are valuable in deconstructing such dangerous notions, one need not delve into literary theory. One need only to turn off CNN for a while and share dinner and stories with new friends from around the world.

Musings of Days Mundane [or not] . . .

15 Apr

– Last week was national “Road Work Awareness Week.” I’m not exactly sure how I could be any more aware of the disrepair of Oak Lawn Ave; a fellow commuter in a Mercedes, however, beeped his horn at me as we awaited the light change on Oak Lawn, motioned for me to roll down my window, and actually asked permission to cut in front of me. I wish I could say he had a British accent and requested Grey Poupon, but he did not. He was merely “aware”.

– After an evening which included Dance, Dance (R)evolution, Ambrose Teesdale and I mused over whether the game is called Dance, Dance Evolution or Dance, Dance Revolution. Are we evolving into better dancers, and thus better people? Or are we revolting against the regime with dance moves worthy of Ricky Martin’s “Livin La Vida Loca”?

– George Glass and I discovered our “Sleep Numbers.” I am a 45 and he is a 35. After relating this story over appetizers and wine, Clementine Smith mused that this difference of 10 might be the eventual demise of our relationship; Anastasia pondered how a couple might adjust the difference in Sleep Numbers when…well, you know. And Megaan pointed out that if you are staying at the Radisson located on the Brazos river, detaching the Sleep Number tube from the mattress and to your river raft makes for very quick inflation.

– I had a Copy Right Meeting at work. Apparently, ideas are not copy righted, but the articulation of ideas are. So, if you have the bright idea to sell your soul to Mephistopheles for all the knowledge in the world, you can rightfully do so. But if you want to pass Goethe’s Faust off as your very own creation, this would be an infringement of copy right law. Likewise, if you have the grand idea of launching a gigantic banana into orbit over the State of Texas, go for it. If you want to create your own “art intervention” while doing so – sorry, it’s already a work in progress by another like-minded genius.

Musings | Food for Thought . . .

18 Dec

Each evening when I leave class, I see several signs outside of the student Evangelical organizations advertising “Free Food, Thursday Night,” or “Pizza Night: Free to All Students.” I wonder what the conversation is like that leads to the decision to give away food:

Evangelical 1: Ya know, we need to attract more student followers.
Evangelical 2: Well, why don’t we invite our fellow students to talk.
Evangelical 1: That’s a great idea. We can put out a sign.
Evangelical 3: One problem. We’re not fun. Noone will come.
Evangelical 1: We’re fun.
Evangelical 3: Other students like to dance, drink, and smoke. We don’t do any of that.
Evangelical 2: Well, what do we do that’s fun?
SILENCE
Evangelical 1: I can make a really good casserole.
Evangelical 2: What’s your point?
Evangelical 3: You’re on to something – what is something every student wants?
Evangelical 2: To be converted?
Evangelical 3: No, silly. They all want food.
Evangelical 2: ohhhhh. And if we give them food, they will come and see how cool we are!
Evangelical 3: umm. We still won’t be cool. But we can seduce them with the food. It can be free.
Evangelical 1: Isn’t seduction a sin?
Evangelical 2: But this is seduction in the name of a higher purpose. .
Evangelical 1: But what if homeless people want our food? You know, my mother told me that most of them are drunks.
Evangelical 2: You’re right. We don’t want those kinds of sinners. No drunks or homeless. And no Catholics or Muslims – they’re impossible to convert.
Evangelical 3: Well, shouldn’t we help the homeless?
Evangelical 1: No, that would be charity. We’re dealing with conversion – like in Africa.
Evangelical 2: Ok. So we seduce poor, hungry college students with free food – what kind?
Evangelical 3: Kool-aid!
Evangelical 2: ummm . . . that might be a little harsh.
Evangelical 1: I can make a really good casserole!
Evangelical 2: Ok. Agreed. We put up a sign that says “Free Food.”
Evangelical 3: And write “for Students.” No homeless drunks.
Evangelical 1: Can we pray now.
Evangelical 2: Yeah.. God, please help the sinner in my class who wears mini-skirts, my professor who talks about evolution, my brother who reads Harry Potter, . . . . . .

Musings | An Invitation to Dinner

8 Aug

Yes, the overused, now mundane icebreaker: If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would it be? The reason this topic of conversation is now cliché is because everyone always has the same answers: Jesus, Buddha, and John Lennon (or something of that sort). Perhaps I’m not in tune with matters of the heart and soul, but honestly, such trios don’t sound like a rollicking good time to me. So, bored at work, I had this conversation with another instructor, and have created my own list:

Woody Allen: He is intelligent, witty, and most likely a brilliant conversationalist. His wife (daughter, or whatever he calls her) is not invited.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: He is a brilliant socialite, an amazing writer, and I presume he will drink Scotch and Whiskey with me.
Che Guevara: There is something rather alluring about an extremely attractive, rebellious South American who stands up for what he believes in. (though I request that he attend in Motorcycle Diaries, not guerilla warfare, attire).
Franz Kafka: Maybe everyone else at the party will liven him up a bit, and I can finally find out what the last sentence of The Castle was going to be.
Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Johnny Depp: They will count as one person, since they are sort of a Trinity. They are strange and mysterious, and every party needs a table of intellectual weirdoes.
David Sedaris: Every party also needs a gay guy; plus, he’s smart and funny.
Jon Stewart: a 21st century satirist. I like it.
Ann Coulter: I would just like the opportunity to slap her across the face.