Free: Anything on the Yard

Our upstairs neighbors are having a yard sale – or so it would appear, at least. In Provo (as in some other towns, I’m sure), it is common to leave unwanted items on the yard or by the curb to signal that they are free to the public. And while it’s polite to knock and double-check if there isn’t a sign, a sofa left out by the garbage can is usually considered free game.

But the upstairs neighbors are having the floors re-done, so they’ve got a veritable cornucopia of fine furniture out on the lawn, and it’s been there for the past two days. They remembered to turn the sprinkler off, so their sofas weren’t soaked in the wee hours of the morning. This is good.

But they didn’t put a sign out to signal that their stuff was off-limits. And while I can understand their assumption that nobody is going to just take your stuff off the front lawn, it really does look like a yard sale out there. And if there isn’t a price tag on anything, a lot of people will assume it’s free. Several people this afternoon, for instance. One of them drove up and double-checked with my husband, just to make sure he didn’t load up anything that wasn’t up for grabs. The upstairs neighbor yelled through a window, “We’re having the floors done!” … Which still didn’t really answer the question of whether the stuff was free, but they apparently figured it out between them.

About half an hour after that, a middle-aged woman came by and started taking pictures of the furniture. She obviously doesn’t live on this street, because this street is college housing. We were a little torn: tell her it’s not for sale, or wait and see if our neighbors learn the Provo norm the hard way? After a few minutes, she left empty-handed, so we didn’t have to decide. It’s not like we’re hoping they get their stuff stolen. We just don’t want to have to baby-sit their stuff, and they really need to put out a sign. ♦

“Politically Correct” Does Not Mean “Correct”


Let’s talk a bit about political correctness.

I’m a grown woman. If you were being politically correct, you would assume that I’m an independent, sexually active woman who takes no orders, climbs the corporate ladder, demands equal pay, and plans to become CEO of a major organization.

You would, however, be incorrect. I am a happily married housewife, unemployed (outside the home), pregnant, and often found barefoot in the kitchen making sandwiches for my husband’s lunch. I would make a terrible CEO, and I feel I’ve always been paid the same as my male coworkers. I am an adult. You’ve got that right. The baby inside me attests that I’m sexually active – although I was (by choice) a virgin until my wedding day, so I probably don’t fit the feminist mold there, either.

Now let’s take a look at my brother. My brother is a grown man with Down syndrome and Autism. To be politically correct, you would generally assume that whenever he does something well, he has overcome great challenges, and should be praised. Whenever he’s done something wrong, however, you should give him some slack: he’s doing the best he can.

My brother can navigate you from here to Disneyland, if you’re willing to let him choose which streets to take. He’s driven the route once. (He wasn’t driving, actually – but you know what I mean.) But he didn’t overcome great challenges to learn to do this. It’s just a talent he has. He’s got a map in his head. He would look at you funny if you praised him for it. You’d also be incorrect if you assumed he was “doing his best” that one time when he threw up in my dad’s soda when Dad wasn’t looking. That wasn’t because he didn’t know any better. It was because he had a sick sense of humor.

It would be politically incorrect to assume any of these (correct) things about either of us, however, because we’re minorities. (Women aren’t actually a minority, but we’ve somehow gained that political status.) But are you really being politically correct if, in your effort to be so, you end up incorrect? At that point, you’re just political. And frankly, given the way politics go in this country, that means you’re dishonest, backbiting, manipulative, and blame someone else for everything that goes wrong.

Of course, I can’t say that about all politicians – it would be incorrect.

Do you see my dilemma here, though? I don’t want to offend people – but there’s something wrong if I’m not allowed to tell the truth about someone just because he’s gay, or she’s black, or he’s an illegal immigrant, or she’s a feminist. If my special needs brother does something stupid, I reserve the right to tell him to knock it off, because he’s not actually stupid. If my female friend wants to major in Home Economics, she should be applauded for seeking a college education in a field she enjoys, not torn down because she’s choosing a stereotypical field. If my gay coworker takes money from the till, he should be sacked for taking money from the till. If watermelon is delicious (which it is), I should be allowed to serve it to my black friends – because I like all my friends, and they all deserve to eat watermelon.

Can we please stop focusing on being political and just start being correct? ♦

Book Duel: The Giver

Remember how I was going to read a gajillion books this year?

Yeah, so I finally started reading again after about 2 or 3 months’ absence. I guess I just read myself out. But my mom took me and Ethan out to see The Giver in theaters, and I was impressed. So, naturally, I had to read the book again to see how the movie compared.

Surprisingly, I would recommend the movie just as strongly as the book on this one. Much of the dialogue is taken straight from the book, and the only differences between the two were, I feel, very fitting to adapt the book into a visual, feature-length format.

The Giver is a dystopian novel about a “perfect” society that has erased all differences, and all memories of the past. Jonas, the main character, is selected to become the “Receiver of Memories,” the only member of the society that remembers what life was like before the Community, and therefore, an important adviser to the Elders. But Jonas starts to realize the Community has done too much to make everything the same, and wonders if he can force a change back.

The book is fantastic. The movie is also fantastic, in different ways. I highly recommend both, in any order you like. ♥

Does Nobody Carry Keys?

Ethan got up at 5 this morning, preparing for the first day of school. He’s had teacher meetings the past two days, and today is when school officially starts. This is the first day of student teaching that actually involves students.

When he left, I was still in bed, but for some reason, I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I got up a little before 6 (My mother will never believe this), showered, got dressed, ate some cereal, and went grocery shopping. (Note: when I say “groceries,” what I really mean is “Pop-Tarts. Four dozen Pop-Tarts.”) I got a free gallon of milk, because the Pop-Tarts were in the weekly ad, and it was raining and cool and delightful outside. Happy day.

Around 8 o’clock, one of the upstairs neighbors knocked on the front door so lightly I almost dismissed it. He apologized profusely for how early it was, and politely asked if I had a key to the laundry room. Somehow, he got locked out. I apologized, but suggested he contact the manager a few doors down. He thanked me again and walked off through the rain to talk to management.

About four hours later, a guy I didn’t recognize came wandering down to the front door, which I already had open to get some of fresh-rain scent wafting through the house. He was rather irritated, asked if I had a key (I didn’t), and then started muttering, “Who’s locking doors?!” Because this is a college town between-semesters, I can’t assume that he’s a stranger just because I haven’t seen him before – but I was tempted to ask if he had been free-loading, and that’s why he didn’t have a key.

When I was little, we lived in a neighborhood where you locked your doors, or your stuff was free game. (If we wanted to get rid of stuff, we’d just put it on the lawn with a “for sale” sign on it. It vanished in 20 minutes.) So when I moved to Provo, I was confused when people started getting mad at me for locking doors when I left. Or when I went to bed. I occasionally got a phone call at 2 or 3 in the morning from a roommate who was locked out. I just kept thinking, “If you’re going to be out until tomorrow, why would you not bring your keys?” Eventually, I stopped bothering – but I still tucked my laptop away somewhere hidden before I left the apartment. If we were going to get robbed, I didn’t want to be an obvious culprit.

I guess I’m grateful to live somewhere this safe. But I still don’t understand how you can be mad at someone for locking their own apartment door. You have a key, man. This isn’t a crime. ♦

The Awkward Alert

Sometimes, I’m just awkward. Okay, most of the time, I’m just awkward – but every now and then, I just kind of stop and think to myself, “Self, why are you doing this?”

This morning, Ethan had his first meeting for student teaching. (Yay!) So I faithfully bounced out of bed, made him breakfast, and….

Yeah, whatever. After about half an hour, he finally gave up trying to drag me out of bed, and I eventually made my way to the shower before the hot water ran out. But the point is, I got up before 8am. And I was fully functional by 10. (For those of you who know me, this two-hour window between consciousness and actual thought is pretty standard.)

So around 9 or 9:30, Ethan had left for the train station, I had made the bed and gotten dressed and puttered around a bit, forgetting why I had walked into certain rooms, and finally decided I should water the garden. We planted the thing a few days ago, in the abandoned weedy section in the front lawn. It’s been obviously set aside for a flower garden or something of the sort, but it’s been more of a rock-and-crabgrass presentation than anything else. So we planted some spinach, radishes, and lettuce in there. Even though nothing’s sprouted yet, the clean dirt looks better than the weeds did. I’m proud of us.

So I went to water the garden. As I reached the top of the steps, I found there was a guy mowing the lawn. (Ah, said my sleepy brain. That explains that sound that sounds like a lawnmower.) So I waved to the guy, considered a moment, and decided to wait a bit so I didn’t spray him or get a hose run over by a mower blade. But the guy thought I was waving to get his attention, stopped the motor, pulled his ear-buds out, and asked what he could do for me.

Nice guy. But I told him I was just waving, and he went back to mowing. And for some reason, there was this “Awkward Alert” going on in my brain that said, “You can’t just go back into the house now – you have to pretend you were on your way to do something! Otherwise….” Otherwise, what? This guy will think I came out of the house just to confuse him? The dude’s not even looking at me.

But the Awkward Alert won out, because my feet were already heading down the driveway. So I decided to walk a bit. It was nice and cool, anyway. I quietly reflected that it had been a while since I’d been dressed and functioning this early – a sad truth, but also a sign of progress. I decided to wander around for a bit, then come back when the mowing sounds were further away.

This is how I ended up doing yoga on an unsuspecting neighbor’s front lawn this morning. I did some stretching and balancing, then just sat in “lotus” position, watching a caterpillar fling itself across the sidewalk by curling into a ball and throwing all its momentum randomly in any given direction. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, I just know it. I watched some fluffy little birds preening themselves, and was reminded of the ducks we saw doing ducky yoga in the bushes the other day. (Just picture a bush with a webbed foot occasionally stretching out to one side.)

So, thank you, Awkward Alert. I quite enjoyed this morning’s meditations. ♥

I Laughed, I Cried, I Threw Up a Plate of Nachos…

Pregnancy does funny things to a woman’s hormones (which are a little skiwampus even on their own).

For example, last night I ate some delicious nachos and watched a movie with friends. After the friends left, I started crying because I was worried about something. I don’t even remember what it was. Ethan consoled me, talked it out with me, then started acting goofy just to make me laugh.

I laughed hysterically until tears started coming out of my eyes and my throat hurt. Then I started sobbing hysterically instead of crying. Not because I was sad, mind you. These were sobs of hilarity…somehow. After laughing myself to tears, and then sobbing myself sick, I went into the bathroom and threw up.

My poor husband must be so confused. ♦

Today’s To-Do List

So, pregnancy is hard.

All moms are laughing at me right now, but this is my first time, okay?

I mean, I expected it to be kind of hard. I’ve heard of morning sickness. But I didn’t realize how much sitting still this required. I just started getting my energy back this week – week 17. It’s been about 4 months of chillin’ in bed, chillin’ on the couch, chillin’ in the car, slowly walking back to chill on the couch… yup. And I normally get my stress out by cleaning or exercising, so sitting still can be pretty hard.

I have some energy back (yay!), but I’m still not quite up to my former glory, where I could scrub the tub without fear of repercussions. So I made myself a to-do list to point out all the things I’ve done. (Ethan made me start a “Stuff I Did While Pregnant” notebook a few months ago, to mark my accomplishments.) But I didn’t want to get overwhelmed – so I just wrote stuff down as I did it.

Sleep in – check.

Eat breakfast – check.

Get dressed – check.

Yup. I’m off to a good start. Bring it on, Monday. ♦