Monthly Archives: November 2010

Poll results, part un: Adventures as a crossing guard

You’re killin’ me, people. A three-way tie? Okay, fine.

For the past few years, passing by my elementary school has made me sad. I’m not longing for the days of carving dirty words into the pencil-lip of a 472-year-old schooldesk or yearning to relive ages 5 through 13 (though, man! What I know now!) – I’m disconsolate over the fact that the 7th- and 8th-graders being schooled inside that building are missing out on one of the Awesomest Adventures of Their Lives: Safety Patrol.

Safety Patrol was, basically, the shit. At approximately 7:30 each morning and 2:50 each afternoon a group of rowdy 13-year-olds wearing nasty old orange “safety belts” and wielding traffic cones and hand-held stop signs were unleashed onto the parking lot and roadways surrounding the school. We were bad ass, y’all, not to mention the Greatest Crossing Guards That Ever Lived.

Whistles and vests are for pussies. This joker has nothin' on us.

We were casual about it, of course. “Oh, I have ‘Patrol tonight,” I’d say to the teacher, who’d excuse me to the cafeteria where I’d meet up with the others at one of those giant metal cabinets full of our ‘gear.’ This was our locker room. Casually exchanging jokes, the boys smacking each other with the belts – but we took our responsibilities seriously. Like some tactical response team suiting up in body armor and methodically checking their weapons, we carefully donned our belts and carried our cones and signs with a sort of nonchalant reverence.

While I served a few tours in the back parking lot – carefully guiding the youth of St. So-and-So through a traffic cone-lined path to their waiting minivans – the real action was on the main road. The very small handful of kids who walked to school had to cross not one but two intersections, and I’d be damned if they did it unsafely. I risked my life and limbs (literally! – more on that in a sec) for those children.

One bitter cold morning, I took my post down at the corner (that sounds like the beginning of another kind of story, doesn’t it?). Step One was to tend to the stop signs. This involved removing the padlock holding them in place and turning them so that oncoming traffic would, theoretically, stop.

On days like this, we were also supplied with a 398 year old can of de-icer to facilitate the process, but on that fateful morning, the de-icer was gone. Struggling with all my might to turn the sign, cars zipping past me at 70, 80, 90 miles per hour, I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions of my life. The cheap cotton stretchy gloves I was wearing allowed no grip on that cold, metal pole and the only choice that my 13-year-old brain gave me was to remove them and go barehanded.

Using my teeth, I removed one turquoise atrocity from my right hand with expert skill. Whipping my head around and tersely spitting said glove onto the frozen ground, I turned to face my metal nemesis. Gritting my teeth, eyes steely with determination, I reached out to grab that pole (that’s what she said! that’s what she said!). Much to my surprise, it gave way immediately, forcing an 18-wheel tractor trailer to come to a screeching, skidding halt just inches from my toes.

Plucking my glove from the ground, I resumed my duties. No big. All in a day’s work.

But something was wrong. My hand burned. Why did it hurt so bad? Why was I losing feeling in my fingertips? Once inside, I removed my gloves to find that all of the fingers on my right hand had turned black with necrosis! *

We were warriors of the Safety Patrol, martyrs for our cause, but this – all of this – has been gone for a long time. If Safety Patrol exists at that school anymore, it’s probably just some hosers aimlessly milling around the parking lot making sure the kindergartners don’t run under someone’s Expedition. It’s just not the same; the main road that runs along the west side of the school (a road which, in my memory, was crumbling and incredibly narrow and filled with vehicles travelling at rates of speed nearing 400 kilometers per hour) has since been re-paved. A wide, welcoming sidewalk’s been installed. And – this is the part that really gets me – the rusty stop signs on each side of the road are gone, having been replaced by an actual stoplight.

It’s horrible.

*No, stupid. Are you really believing this? I mean, I did take off my glove, and I think the technically term for what I experienced was “frostnip” (frost-teeny-weeny-bite?), but really?

How is this creatively-fictionized?** you are now asking yourself.

This story is junk. If you were once part of The Patrol, you know better: We were schmucks, dumb ones at that, who signed up for Safety Patrol not out of a sense of duty but because everyone who did it for a full year got a free ticket for a Cardinals game. We acted under exact orders of our teachers, rarely making any kind of decision on our own.

**And why make up words, Julie? Is “fictionalized” too difficult for you to type? Yes. Yes it is.

Stay tuned for Poll results, part deux!

sotd 11.30.10

“Gotta give to the poor, no time for lovin’…”
First heard this one on many a trip around the ‘dale with Jenn. In case you were wondering, Aqua has more than one song. Or album!

“My Oh My” / Aqua (1997)

sotd 11.29.10

What? More Elliott Smith? Deal with it. It was either this or Katy Perry.

“All Cleaned Out” / Elliott Smith (2007)


It takes a very special sort of person to watch television with me. I fidget, I gasp, I sometimes weep uncontrollably and I get real close to the screen when something exciting is happening. In short, I’m fucking annoying.

[Tangent: Weirdly enough, though, I don’t usually talk to the television. The program I’m watching has to be very bad (read: not holding my interest) for me to start trying to engage with the people on the screen. Otherwise, I’m silent. Except for the gasping and weeping and fidgeting, of course. End tangent]

Last night, I watched the Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-TV movie November Christmasby myself, with no one else in the room. This turned out to be a good thing. Oh, jeez.

a still from the movie. Oh man.

Here’s the plot: there’s a little girl with cancer living in a small town. In effort to give his daughter as many holidays as possible before, well, you know, her Daddy speeds up the calendar (Halloween in August, etc;). A local Christmas tree farmer whose own son died many years ago as a young boy joins the cause. Near-intolerable gut-wrenching emotions ensue. Holy moly.

I started out sniffling and occasionally dabbing at my eyes with my sleeves. When I realized that the cuffs of my shirt were basically sopping wet, I got up for tissues. Again. And again. Finally I brought the entire box into the room with me. And moved the trash can next to me. Seriously, I should have been better prepared for the Weepy Waterfall, because this happens to me all. the. time.

At first, I thought that these incredibly visceral reactions were a sign of great film-making. But then I started to get choked up at a Kodak film commercial once and realized that I’m just a sap. I mean, I can’t watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition without at least four boxes of tissues at my side. It’s ridiculous. And holding it in makes it that much worse. The first time I saw The Notebook I was at a friend’s house with a large group of people. Not wanting to be “that girl,” I tried to hold it in and ended up kind of gasping and shuddering on the couch as if I was having some kind of fit. Until I realized everyone else was trying to do the same.

Maybe I’m not so weird after all?




sotd 11.28.10

There was a time when I was almost into dancehall. Wailing Souls are listed as my “favorite band” in an 8th grade yearbook-thing. I only knew them because I borrowed my friend’s sister’s copy of the Cool Runnings soundtrack (on which this song is also listed).

“Dolly My Baby” / Super Cat (1992)

Relative humidity.

I’ve been pretty lackadaisical about posting lately. Apologies. Also, my poll has reached a stalemate, so please cast a few more votes before I take it down tomorrow. Vote early, vote often, as they say in Chicago.


The drawbacks to being a grown-ass woman living with one’s retired parents are obvious, of course, but I’ve since learned to adapt. Yes, the daily schedule and habits took a bit of adjusting-to (they’re often ready for lunch by approximately 10:30 and I’m the only one who ever cleans the freaking microwave – seriously, people!), but these are minor irritations that can be excused and/or worked around. These are my folks, after all, and I love ’em dearly.

Among these lovable eccentricities, however, are a few things more irksome in nature – namely, the air in this house.

I’m not very familiar with desert climes, but I’d venture a guess that this address very closely approximates that environment. I imagine that if one were to measure the humidity within our home, the hygrometer would basically crumble apart in this soul-sucking aridness. Seriously – all of the moisture is slowly vacuumed out of my skin throughout the course of a day. Frequent applications of super-duper lotions have little effect. It’s really irritating and quite uncomfortable – physically and mentally.

Who wouldn't want this in their house?

So right now, I’m doing research into humidifiers. On one hand, I have no idea if purchasing one will help the situation or just make it worse (I’m imagining myself holding chapped and raw hands above it like a hobo over a trashcan fire, greedily inhaling from the cloud of vapor and slapping aside anyone who gets too close). I mean, will one teeny humidifier in one teeny bedroom will do anything to affect a 6-room house? Doubtful. On the other hand, there sure are some cute humidifiers out there. I mean, the most difficult decision I’ll make all day is whether I want an elephant or a frog spitting water molecules into my breathing air.

Are my complaints, overall, minor? Of course. But if I didn’t have anything about which to complain, I wouldn’t have anything about which to write, and nothing about which you would look forward to reading.

sotd 11.27.10

I wrote a note to myself to look up this band, but I can’t remember why and it’s driving me bonkers.

“Yeah Yeah Yeah” / New Politics (2010)

On Thanksgiving.

My parents just informed me that when they were young, they went to school and work the day after Thanksgiving. Also, they went to school for a half-day on Christmas Eve, and back to school on the 26th. Same for New Year’s Eve: half-day on the 31st, day off on the 1st, back on the 2nd.

This year, I am thankful that I didn’t grow up in the 1950s.

sotd 11.23.10

Can anyone tell me what happened to the ballad? The epic, storytelling song that takes the plot of a movie and sweeps it all together in the grandest of musical gestures is basically dead. I can’t think of many (any?) recent songs that fit this genre.

My favorite of the ballads:

“High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)” / Frankie Laine (1952)


Whilst browsing Target’s website for holiday gift ideas, I noticed something slightly creepy: When I view additional details about a particular item, I can scroll down and see “Guests who viewed this item ultimately bought,” listing several other items with a percentage displayed next to them. Basically, Target (other online retailers, too?) is tracking my browsing habits.

This is a little disconcerting, but the possibilities to mess with their statistics are theoretically endless (had one enough free time on her hands). I mean, say I’m browsing grilling accessories (completely hypothetical, Dad, if you’re reading this). What if suddenly my brain shifts to, oh, board games? What if I end up buying Bananagrams,* having completely forgotten about the grilling tools? (completely hypothetical, Mom, if you’re reading this). I know that the algorithmistaticiticisms involved in this process are far more complex than this, but I’d love to see “83% of guests who viewed the Mr. Beer Home Brewing System ultimately purchased The Twelve Step Guide to Using the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book.”

I mean, that’s funny.

*Just seeing if you’re paying attention.