Poem for January 2012: Dawn Revisited

Here it is: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2003/08/28

I chose this poem because in some ways it is a sufficient “new year, new start” sort of poem. However, though the light is returning, we are still in the dark of winter. “How good to RISE IN SUNLIGHT!” I would project forcefully at the dark, rainy sky as I walked to the train in the morning. Aside from using this poem to chastise the earth for something that is perfectly natural, I also greatly enjoyed the phrase “prodigal smell of biscuits.”

Sabbath report

I’ve decided to create my own Sabbath celebration. This came about because I was reading The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teaching to Raise Self-Reliant Children, by Wendy Mogel. She made the point that it is important to work, but also that it is important to stop working. Ah! I don’t have a time when I officially do that. Mogel likened getting ready for a “rest day” to going on vacation. It’s a bit of a pain to get everything organized and in order so you can leave, but the time spent on vacation is worth it.
So, being Unitarian-Universalist, I made up my own Sabbath. Mine begins at sundown on Saturday and goes until sundown on Sunday. Ideally, I will have food prepared for the week and the house in order at the start of my Sabbath.
What activities will be Sabbath approved? That answer is still coming. Ideally, I want to go to church, though that hasn’t happened yet. Reading and movie watching are on the “yes” list. Going for walks? Yes. Socializing with friends? I’m not sure yet, sometimes scheduling things makes me feel trapped. Doing work around the house/in the garden/cooking? Probably not, unless that’s what I really, really want to do and am not doing out of a sense of obligation.
I’ll check in monthly to see how my Sabbath is going.
Had a candle-lit meal with Matt with vegetables and everything. Then we hung out. I worked at church for the 9:15 service, but came home and crawled back into bed for a nap and reading.
I cooked so there could be a Sabbath meal, but then wasn’t really hungry for one, so just had some soup with Matt. We played two rounds of the game “Letters from Whitechapel” and then off to bed. Sunday I lazed about in bed and then hauled myself out to see a movie. There was a goodly amount of reading, which was nice.
Well, not the most relaxing Sabbath. Saturday night I had theater tickets and went to that. It was fun. Sunday I got up and delivered one round of the neighborhood newsletter. This is a task that happens quarterly and it happened to fall on a Sunday. Then I went to church, not for church but to volunteer at the Religious Education desk. This is a task that happens sporadically, but happened to happen on this Sunday. Then Matt picked me up and we saw the Vlogbrothers tour stop in Portland and went out to eat. I came home and the Sabbath was over, but I was the opposite of rested. It’s made me realized how important it is to take that day. I’ll make sure to carve it out next week.

Just one thing weeks of January

Just one thing is the one thing I do (or attempt to do) each week to keep the house from overwhelming me.

January 1-7
Top shelf of laundry area

Did! Yay!

January 8-14
Next two shelves of Laundry area

Didn’t do! Boo!

January 15-21
Next two shelves of Laundry area

Didn’t do! But because we are contemplating a change which might end up with the removal of shelves. Stay tuned.

January 22-28

Go through cookbooks and make sure they are all really the ones you want.
Did it! Yay!

Wrangling of the top shelf. Before:

Hal Holbrook Mark Twain Tonight.

Hal Holbrook is 86 years old, a full sixteen years older than the 70-year-old Mark Twain he is portraying in this show. Using Mark Twain’s writings, Holbrook talked about this and that, and there was a lot of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” as Mark Twain had a lot to say about incompetent congress, incredibly wealthy fat cats and distrustful media.

Essay: Both names, please.

Think back to the last time you introduced yourself, either in person or on the phone. Did you say, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is [first name] [last name.]” Or did you perhaps say, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is [first name.]”

My guess, based on my experiences of late, is that you only introduced yourself with your first name. And I’m writing five hundred words about how I think you should also include your last name in that introduction. Here’s why.

I am paid to be an office manager which means I’m the person most likely to answer the phone at my job. Because I work in a school, a lot of the phone calls I answer are parents calling for a variety of reasons: child is sick, child is leaving with someone different today, child is coming in late, child forgot lunch, you get the picture. Inevitably, when I answer, I hear, “Hello, this is Sara.” Or “Hi, Patricia, this is Bill.” And while I reply with a cheery hello, I’m mentally flipping through my Rolodex to figure out which Sara or Bill this is. Most of the time I can identify the caller by the end of the phone call, either because they give me identifying information (Ah! Sara the mother of Sam! Bill the father of Jacob!) or I eventually recognize their voice. Every once in a while I have to ask, “I’m sorry, but which Sara am I talking to?” It’s quite embarrassing and it would save me the trouble of asking or scanning that mental Rolodex if they would just add one more word: their last name.

It makes a difference in person, too, for that same reason. I had a woman volunteer to do lunch duty in September and unfortunately I had not quite learned her name. I regretfully asked, and she told me her first name. It didn’t ring any bells and I searched our parent database, but she was not there. The next day I made a note of which child she brought in to school and cross referenced her and it turns out that the name she told me was her nickname and I only had her formal name in the database. A last name would have cleared up the confusion immediately.

Once upon a time, some curmudgeonly commentator pointed out the lack of last names a few years ago and I took note that I was following the general trend. I do my best to buck the trend, though sometimes it’s awkward as in the following scenario:

New person: “Hi, my name is Mark, nice to meet you.”

Me: “Good to meet you Mark, My name is Patricia Collins.”

And then I feel like the weird one for using two names. But it’s for a cause I believe in, so I persist.

Why do we do it? My theory is that it is part of the general tromping toward informality we’ve been moving to ever since those darn baby boomers decided they didn’t like all those bourgeois trappings, man. No one my age has EVER referred to me as Ms. Collins, because said baby boomers have pretty much verbally beaten that out of us, “Don’t call me Ms. Parker, call me Ann! When I hear Ms. Parker, I start looking around for some old lady.” A socialite once commented that now that people don’t ever call her Mrs. Socialite, she never gets the shared intimacy of saying, “Oh, just call me [first name].” And I couldn’t agree more.

Since we are not referring to each other as Mrs., Mr., and Ms. So-and-so, let’s at least give ourselves the knowledge of each other’s last name. By letting others in on your last name, you are inviting them to join your circle, and giving them valuable information they won’t have to awkwardly ask for later.

Join me in using both names today!

Our Loo!

Have you heard of the Portland Loo? It’s a public toilet designed to avoid all the usual problems of public toilets. They’ve been pretty successful here, enough so that Portland is starting to sell them to other cities. Recently, the city has decided to install one in the North Park Blocks, directly across from the school at which I work. We are very excited about this because we are hoping it ends the practice of people using the playground or our parking lot as their bathroom. And today the loo is being installed!

There was a lot of preliminary work setting things up, but after that is done the loo itself is dropped into position. Here it is on the truck.


Moving into position.

Almost there:

And, crack blogger that I am, I forgot to take a final picture. But you will see it when I show you the pictures from the First Flush ceremony, which will happen next week. In the meantime, look at the awesome design for the door on the loo. Apparently, each Loo’s door reflects the character of the area the Loo is located. The city asked the school children to create the design. We picked out a quote by Emerson and all the kids drew flowers. A selection of them were chosen and sent to the city and a woman came up with this fabulous design incorporating our flowers. We even got our own copy of the door to hang in our school, which is what you see here.

Do you want to read more about the Loo? Here’s an article from the Atlantic: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2012/01/why-portlands-public-toilets-succeeded-where-others-failed/1020/


Most of the time, I’m happy with my car-free existence. Or, to put a finer point on it: the existence in which I don’t own a car myself, but my live-in boyfriend does so we get to use it for dates and I can drive it sometimes when he is not using it. I like that not having a car means that I have two ways to get to work: taking the Max or biking. I like that when I have to go somewhere and use public transportation, I can read. “How do you read so much?” people ask me. The answers: I’m a fast reader, work 32 hours per week and am not very social. But one of the keys is that when I’m on the Max or the bus, I’ve always got my nose in the newspaper or a book.
I love that the employer-paid-for Trimet pass means I pay very little to haul myself around town. I love that sometimes when taking public transportation, I can just change my mind and walk. I love the “public-ness” of public transportation–the smells (though sometimes, not pleasant, always a great reminder of the “us” of “us”) the people watching, the stories that come from it. I love peeking at what people are reading, eyeing their shopping bags and wondering what their story is.
When I bike or walk, I love that I get to where I’m going under my own power and have time to memorize poems and sing some songs. I love that I watch the scenery, that I am “in” the weather. I love that people say, “You biked here?!?” “You walked here?!?!” as if that was some miraculous feat only accomplished by lesser gods.
And some days I don’t love my car-free existence at all. Today, for instance, when I just want to see a movie at a theater I know will take me two buses and a good twenty minutes of waiting in the cold rain to get there I wish more than anything I could just jump in my non-existent car and drive there in only twenty minutes, with no stops for other people to climb on and off. When the bus is hot and steamy from so much vapor coming off of people I can’t see out the windows I always feel a very special kind of car sick that I don’t enjoy much. I wish that when I am done watching the movie I could just jump back in my car, set the radio to my own station and zip home, avoiding just missing one bus meaning waiting the full 16 minutes until the next one and then just missing the connection which means huddling in the corner of the bus shelter and holding my book just so so the rain doesn’t come down on it.
Most days I like my car free existence. But today I would love to have a car of my own.

Three sentence movie reviews: Ides of March

This was a nicely acted film populated with actors I love to watch and it moved right along with tension building throughout. However, I did not love it, because aside from the token actress and the “stand by your man” political candidate’s wife, there were no women in this film. Yes, politics is still a man’s world, but there are a lot more women involved than shown in this film.

ps. I love this poster. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.