Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weekend In Minneapolis

Andrew’s mother and father picked us up at MSP Friday night and took us home. It was after 9:00 p.m. when we arrived at the house.

The dog was delighted to see us, to put it mildly—he knew we were coming, and he was waiting for us, eagerly—and he would not leave Andrew’s side for the first two hours we were home.

Andrew’s sister-in-law was the only person at home and awake when we arrived. Andrew’s niece and nephew had already been put to bed, but we immediately went upstairs to peek at them. Even in the dark, we could see that Andrew’s niece had grown significantly since Christmas. She is already three months and two weeks old.

Andrew’s brothers were at the NCAA Tournament when we arrived home, and were not due back until 10:30 p.m. or so, at which time Andrew’s mother planned to give us our dinner.

Andrew’s brothers did not get back from the games until almost 11:00 p.m., and we ate the very minute they arrived. Andrew’s mother had prepared white-bean Tuscan soup, followed by chicken breasts cooked in a cream-white pepper sauce served with broccoli and carrots and stuffed tomatoes.

“What? No potatoes?” was the simultaneous mock cry of Andrew and his brothers, but they were only kidding their mother. They knew she would insist upon having dinner for them after the games no matter what—and even contrary to their instructions, were it to come to that.

Andrew’s brothers had had more than their fill of basketball by Friday night—two games at 11:30 a.m. and another two games at 6:20 p.m. had satisfied their quotient of basketball for the weekend—and when they got home they said they were already “basketballed out”. One problem was that four games in one day turned out to be too much. Another problem was that none of the Friday games was close. Yet another problem was that they had no particular interest in any of the eight teams playing at the Minneapolis site.

Because we had to get up very early on Saturday morning, we went to bed Friday night as early as we could manage. We turned in at 12:30 a.m., hoping to get five hours of sleep, because we planned to rise at 5:30 a.m.

Andrew and I did rise at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning—as soon as the alarm sounded, the dog was on top of us, licking us and wagging his tail, which signified that he was going to REQUIRE us to get up—but Andrew’s brothers did not want to rise at 5:30 a.m.

Andrew went to wake them and, when he returned, he shook his head.

“What’s that mean?” I asked him.

“They don’t want to get up” was his answer.

“So what should we do?” I asked.

“Take the dog to the park” was his answer. “Let them sleep another hour. They’ll be ready to get up when we get back.”

And Andrew and I took the dog to the park and ran with him and played fetch ball and other games with him for 45 minutes, at which point he was ready to return home and have his breakfast.

We gave him his cereal when we returned, and we went upstairs and Andrew woke his brothers a second time.

The second time was a charm, because they got up and we all got cleaned up for the day.

It was after 7:00 a.m. when we all reassembled in the kitchen, where one of those spooky incidents occurred that I can never explain. All four of us stood in the kitchen, silently, looking at each other. No one said a word and no one moved a muscle.

After three or four minutes, Andrew turned to me and asked, “Ready?”

“Sure” was my answer.

And we left, and we all drove over to Andrew’s older brother’s new house, which Andrew and I had never seen. We took the dog with us, and we all traveled in one car.

This was a change in our original plan. Friday night, we had agreed to have an early breakfast on Saturday morning at Bob Evans before we started on our work. Further, we had agreed that we would not take the dog with us because he would only be in the way.

However, there was no breakfast at Bob Evans on Saturday morning, and there was no leaving the dog at home. Those plans had been changed during those three or four minutes we had stood in Andrew’s parents’ kitchen, staring at each other, with no one uttering a word.

In the ten minutes it took us to drive to Andrew’s brother’s new house, no one uttered a single word in the car. We drove and rode in total silence, and no one seemed to find this remarkable.

When we pulled up to the front drive of the house, the only word anyone uttered was “nice”, and Andrew uttered that word.

We went inside, and Andrew’s brother showed us around the house, silently, without saying a single word. He showed us every room, but he said nothing. Andrew said nothing, Andrew’s other brother said nothing (of course, he had been in the house many times before) and I said nothing.

After we walked around the entire house, we went back to the kitchen and Andrew’s brother made coffee—and, while the coffee brewed, he started to talk, for the first time all morning.

“Because we needed another hour of sleep, we had to skip Bob Evans” was directed at me.

“We had to bring him. Otherwise, he would have been unhappy” was directed at the dog, but meant as an explanation for my benefit.

“When Dad comes over, we’ll send him back home with Dad” was directed at Andrew’s middle brother, but referred to the dog.

“Will cereal be enough?” was directed at Andrew.

“Sure” was Andrew’s answer, and he looked at me. I nodded.

And we stood in the kitchen and ate a bowl of cereal, by which time the coffee was ready—and by which time Andrew’s older brother was ready to offer instructions.

“You guys start on the ceiling at this end of the kitchen” were words directed to Andrew and me, while “And we’ll get to work on the wainscoting” were words directed to Andrew’s other brother.

And we all got to work.

No one said a word, but at least Andrew’s brother turned on ESPN so we all could listen to SportsCenter while we worked. The sound of SportsCenter was the only sound I heard for the next two hours, other than someone occasionally asking the dog, “You doing OK?”

And the dog appeared to be perfectly content, chewing on dog toys and keeping his eyes on us while we worked. He’s a very smart dog, and he could tell we were occupied, and he stayed out of our way. A couple of times, we let him outside to run around for a few minutes, but he always wanted to come back inside after only a few minutes outdoors.

The kitchen looked perfectly fine—the house was new in 2004, and Andrew’s brother’s family is only the second family that has lived in the house—but Andrew’s brother and sister-in-law decided that they wanted to brighten the kitchen.

It’s a large and beautiful kitchen. It extends out into the back yard, so there are windows on three sides in one-half of the kitchen. Our project was to paint the ceiling a very bright shade of white, paint all trim a very bright shade of white, install wainscoting along one portion of one wall and paint the wainscoting a very bright shade of white, apply wallpaper above the wainscoting, paint the kitchen walls a very bright shade of white, apply border paper along the top of one wall of the kitchen, and paint the narrow spaces between the windows a very light shade of canary yellow. The colors, the wallpaper pattern and the border-paper pattern had all been selected by Andrew’s sister-on-law—who had earlier proclaimed that she would call in professionals if our work did not meet her approval.

I can understand that she wanted to add a little color to the kitchen. The cabinetry is all white ash wood—and very beautiful white ash wood it is, indeed. The countertops are all black granite, very fashionable in 2004, and they bring out the black traces in the white ash wood. However, that is not a particularly colorful design scheme, especially since the original walls were ivory, intended to match the ash wood, and since the kitchen floor is white pine, also intended to match the ash wood.

After we had been working for a couple of hours, Andrew’s father arrived. Andrew and I were still at work, painting the ceiling, and Andrew’s brothers were more than halfway completed with the wainscoting, and he wanted to know what he could do.

“Start in on the window trim” was the answer, and he went right to work.

However, he was very talkative Saturday morning. He wanted to talk while he worked—and he wanted to talk to Andrew and me.

Over the sounds of SportsCenter and over the sounds of hammering, he asked Andrew and me countless questions. He asked about law school, he asked about Andrew’s work, he asked about our apartment, he asked about our landlord, he asked about our car, he asked about Boston, he asked about summer plans, he asked about my parents.

He asked about everything.

Andrew’s brothers heard everything we said, but they let Andrew and me talk to their father in peace. They did not interrupt or participate in the conversation.

By 11:00 a.m., Andrew and I were done with the first coat of paint on the ceiling. The ceiling was by far the largest of all surfaces to be painted, and we were relieved to be done, because painting a ceiling involves all sorts of neck and back contortions, involving the use of muscles in new and unusual ways. It quickly becomes tiring.

Andrew and I immediately went to work on the walls, which was a much easier task. By this time the wainscoting had been installed, and Andrew’s brothers immediately went to work painting the wainscoting and painting trim.

By 12:30 p.m., everything that was to be painted had received its first coat of paint—and we received visitors.

Andrew’s mother arrived with our lunch, and she brought Andrew’s nephew with her.

He had been excited all morning, waiting to see Andrew and me. He knew we had come home, and he knew we were over at his own house, working, and he could not wait until after his nap to see us, so Andrew’s mother brought him with her.

He was so excited to see us that he paid no attention at all to what was happening with his kitchen. He wanted us to hold him, and talk to him, and swing him through the air, and play with him. He was extremely happy to see us, and we were just as happy to see him. His mother says that he asks about us literally every day, and that he constantly wants to know when we will come home.

We held him on our laps while we were eating our lunch—ham salad sandwiches, the same thing he had already had for his lunch—and we promised to be home when he woke from his nap, and we promised to give him horseback rides and anything else he wanted for the rest of the day.

After we had had our lunch, Andrew’s mother took him back home, and we moved outdoors. Andrew’s brother had landscaping work for us to do alongside the rear exterior of the house. Specifically, he had purchased an array of shrubbery it was our duty to set into the ground.

It took us only ninety minutes or so to get the shrubbery planted, and by this time we were ready to call it a day and return to Andrew’s parents’ house and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with the kids.

At Andrew’s parents’ house, we cleaned ourselves up and prepared to enjoy some serious time with Andrew’s niece and nephew.

Andrew’s niece did not know Andrew and me, which we had expected. She was only three weeks old at Christmas, and we knew she would not remember us from the holidays.

She allowed us to hold her, however, and she quickly became comfortable in our company, probably because her parents and grandparents and uncle, whom she is accustomed to, were all present.

She’s a beautiful little girl. She is curious about her surroundings now. She looks at things, and she looks at people. She likes to be talked to, and she likes to be held. At Christmas, she was little more than a sleep machine. Now she is starting to pay attention to people and things in her world.

She allowed Andrew and me to feed her her bottles. She looked at us the whole time we fed her, but occasionally she would stretch or move her head to make sure that her mother was nearby. She did not do any fussing while we held her, but it was clear to us that she was not as content with Andrew and me as she was with her regular crew of admirers.

When Andrew and I were not holding her, her parents, her grandparents or her uncle were holding her. She is used to plenty of attention.

When we were not holding Andrew’s niece, we were playing with Andrew’s nephew.

He’s a little chatterbox now. He talks all the time. If he’s not talking to his parents or to his grandparents or to his uncle, he’s talking to his sister. If he’s not talking to his sister, he’s talking to the dog. If he’s not talking to the dog, he’s talking to himself.

He plays with more interesting and more complicated toys now, including puzzle toys, and he has a certain procedure in place for playing with many of his toys. For instance, there are certain puzzle toys that have to be finished before he will move on to something else—once he has started to put certain puzzle toys together, he will not stop until he has completed his project, no matter what else may tempt him and no matter what else may intervene. His Dad says that he is showing signs of becoming an engineer (like his uncle).

While he is assembling his puzzle toys, the dog sits on the floor at his side and watches his every move, as if the dog is studying the puzzle toys himself.

He eats at table now. He no longer sits in a high chair at the corner of the dining table between his mother and his grandmother—he sits at table, between his mother and his father, in a regular chair with a child booster, and he now eats dinner at the same time as everyone else and he now eats pretty much the same foods as everyone else.

He likes it. It makes him feel grown-up. It makes him feel like a full participant in the mealtime ritual. He talks at mealtime, too, and he especially likes it when his Granddad talks to him at mealtime. He understands that his Granddad is the ultimate arbiter in all things, and it makes him feel important when his Granddad talks to him at mealtime.

He does a little showing-off at mealtime, too. On Saturday evening, when he was done with most of his eating, he began making silly faces across the table at Andrew, Alex and me, and making a mountain from the remaining food on his plate. He was trying to elicit smiles from us, and he succeeded.

We had a big dinner Saturday night. We had roast chicken and stuffing, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, butternut squash, green beans, parsnips, tomato-cucumber salad and cranberry salad. He has a good appetite, and he ate everything. We had apple pie for dessert.

We did not attend church Sunday morning because the games at the Metrodome started at 12:00 Noon. Andrew and I, and only Andrew and I, rose early Sunday morning to take care of the dog. Because Andrew and I operate on East Coast time, it was not a chore for us. As a reward, we got Andrew’s niece and nephew to ourselves for an hour before anyone else rose for the day.

Sunday’s NCAA games were not particularly interesting. Kansas blew out Dayton. Michigan State’s win over U.S.C. was closer, but we had no particular interest in any of the teams at the Minneapolis venue. Attending the tournament in person was anti-climactic, all in all. There were lots of empty seats, and we were informed that the empty seats were not the result of no-shows—those seats had not been sold.

We spent the rest of Sunday playing with the kids. We were either on the floor, playing with Andrew’s nephew (and the dog), or sitting in a rocking chair, holding and rocking Andrew’s niece.

While we were at the games, Andrew’s mother had performed some serious cooking. She prepared Dutch Chowder for yesterday’s lunch, and she prepared another big meal for Sunday night dinner. For a starter course, she gave us pasta in a very light lemon sauce and fried shrimp with a stunning seasoned bread coating. The main course was pot roast, served with homemade stewed tomatoes, a very sharp version of macaroni-and-cheese, Brussels sprouts, fried okra and applesauce. For dessert, we had chocolate mousse.

When Andrew’s niece and nephew had been put to bed for the night, Andrew and I and his brothers went over to Andrew’s brother’s house to continue work on the kitchen project.

To begin, all four of us worked on the ceiling at the same time, applying a second coat of paint, to get that out of the way.

Once that was completed, Andrew and I applied a second coat of paint to the walls and trim while Andrew’s brothers did the wallpapering. The wallpaper was mostly white, with a very subtle pattern in canary yellow. When the job was done, everything looked perfect. It was after 1:00 a.m. when we finished our work.

Yesterday, after breakfast, we all went back to Andrew’s brother’s house to spend the day. As soon as we arrived, Andrew’s brothers applied border paper along the top of one kitchen wall, signaling completion of the project. The kitchen was beautiful, I thought, and the installation of wainscoting and the application of wallpaper and border paper and the introduction of a few traces of canary yellow into the color scheme added significantly to the beauty and appeal of the room.

Andrew’s sister-in-law pronounced herself pleased with the results—and she said that she would not be calling in professionals to do over the job after all.

Her seal of approval granted, we all moved the kitchen furniture back into the kitchen, and the kitchen was again ready for use. Andrew’s brothers hung two spice cabinets, an antique wall shelf and an antique cuckoo clock.

They also suspended from the ceiling a pot-and-pan holder over a cooking island, for the display of bright copper cooking utensils. The copper cooking utensils, along with flame-colored Le Creuset cookware displayed hanging in a giant antique pie cupboard with the doors ajar, provide a touch of deep color to what is otherwise a very bright room, primarily white, with traces of canary yellow.

The antique pie cupboard was a housewarming gift from Andrew’s parents, specifically selected with the Le Creuset cookware in mind. It is from Germany (probably Bavaria), circa 1870, and has intricate carvings inside and out, including on both sides of the doors, which is very atypical of American pie cupboards of the period, and is made from at least four different kinds of wood. It is also much larger, and heavier, and more solid, than American pie cupboards of the period. Andrew’s mother says the piece is of museum rarity and quality. Its woods have been beautifully refinished.

(Andrew and I have not selected a housewarming gift yet, but we will not be able to match the pie cupboard, no matter how hard we try.)

The kitchen still requires more furniture. Among other things, it still needs a sofa, perhaps two. Any delay is due to the fact that Andrew’s sister-in-law has not yet decided what type or what color of sofa(s) to get. She does not appear to be in any hurry to make furniture decisions—the entire house is barely one-third furnished—but she says she needs to make a decision about kitchen sofa(s) soon, because the kitchen very definitely needs more seating capacity. She says that her plan is to live with the new kitchen colors for a week or so, and afterward to decide how best to complete the room.

The new house is perfect for Andrew’s brother’s family. It is large and handsome, and very well-designed, with a large back yard (which will be fenced soon) and beautiful, spacious rooms. It is bright and cheery, and has plenty of space for kids to play, indoors and out.

Next to and perpendicular to the kitchen is a large rectangular family room, running along the entire back of the house, with a large fireplace at the far end. Andrew’s brother’s family will no doubt spend most its time in the kitchen and family room. The rest of the house is almost superfluous.

All day yesterday, Andrew and I played with his nephew and made a fuss over his niece. We will not see them again until July, so this was very important and very precious time for us. With a single exception, we did nothing but spend time with them until late afternoon, when it was time for us to go to the airport.

While the kids were taking their naps, we did make one brief visit—Alex and Andrew and I went over to Alex’s apartment, once our old apartment, just to see it once again and to visit with our former landlady. The apartment looks exactly as it did while we lived there. Nothing has changed, not even the furniture. Andrew and I were very happy in that apartment for two years, and we miss it now.

Alex, too, is very pleased with the apartment. The place suits him, and he keeps it neat as a pin. It’s his apartment now, and no longer ours, but we still miss it.

I wish we could have that apartment in Boston.

I didn’t even like that apartment initially—but after about two months, I fell in love with the place.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Stamp Act

Andrew and I have witnessed something in Boston we never observed in person in Oklahoma or Minnesota, not even once: the use of food stamps.

The widespread use of food stamps in Boston is shocking—and Andrew and I live in a very nice neighborhood where one would not expect to encounter people on the public dole and we shop in nice food stores where one would not expect to encounter the indigent.

Nonetheless, every time Andrew and I go food shopping—and it seems we go food shopping every third night around 10:00 p.m., when we go out and buy a few things—we see people ahead of us in line pay for their food with food stamps. It is an outrage.

At a local food store we visited late last night, there were three sets of people ahead of us in the express line, and all three sets of people paid for their purchases with food stamps. I was appalled, and so was Andrew.

All six persons appeared to be perfectly healthy. All six persons appeared to be able-bodied. All six persons appeared not to be feeble-minded. The persons were not elderly—far from it. Four of the six persons were laughing and clowning around, practically dancing in the express aisle. They were in fine physical shape.

I became more and more steamed, and so did Andrew. When we got to the head of the checkout line, Andrew very pointedly asked the clerk, “Is there a lot of food-stamp usage in this store?”

The clerk did not answer, so Andrew stared him down. The clerk remained silent for fifteen seconds or so, at which point he realized that Andrew was not going to hand over any money to pay for our purchases until the question was answered.

Finally, the clerk said, “A lot” and he waited to be paid.

That answer was not good enough for Andrew, however, and Andrew pressed the clerk with another question: “What per cent of customers pay with food stamps, in your experience?”

The clerk did not want to answer the second question, either, but he realized he was no match for Andrew, and he answered, “Half. About Half.”

Andrew shook his head in disgust, and forked over the money.

The night manager of the store witnessed this episode, and she followed us as we left the store.

The very minute she had exited the outside set of doors, she almost screamed, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My reaction is the same as yours. These people are disgusting. They have no pride.”

Andrew and I were not really interested in having an extended discussion with her outside the store at 10:00 o’clock at night, but we talked to her for a few minutes, telling her that we were offended that seemingly capable persons expected others to pay for their food.

“You would not believe how bad it is here!” she went on. “It’s completely gotten out of hand. No one thinks anything of it anymore. Everyone thinks it’s an entitlement. It’s a crime.”

We told her that, where we come from, no one would be caught dead trying to use food stamps. The average person would be mortified at the very thought that the government was expected to pick up his food tab.

“It’s not like that here,” she said. “No pride. No work ethic. No sense of independence. No morals. It’s all about government handouts.”

Andrew smiled very mischievously, and he said, “Obama country? Are you trying to say that this is Obama country?”

“Yes! Obama country!” she said, and she laughed uproariously. “Massachusetts is Obama country! Definitely Obama country!”

When she was done laughing, she told us that she had been observing us for the last several months, noticing that we came into the store frequently late at night and that we always seemed to be so “cheerful”. She told us that she could tell we were not from New England and she wanted to know why we did our food shopping so late in the evening.

We told her that the time suited us—food shopping provided us with a break between study and bedtime, and we could get our food shopping done very quickly and very efficiently late at night—and that we always kept a very well-stocked kitchen, which entailed frequent visits to food stores.

Then she told us something very funny. She told us that the first time she had seen Andrew and me in the store, she had assumed we were on a “date”. However, the second time she had seen Andrew and me in the store, she had decided that we were already “together”. By the third time she had seen Andrew and me in the store, she had decided that we “were meant to be”.

She told Andrew and me that she always looks forward to seeing us—and, further, whenever more than a few days pass without seeing us, she always wonders whether something is wrong.

“Whenever you don’t see us for a few days, that means we’re out of food stamps” was Andrew’s explanation.

She laughed and laughed and laughed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


A week from tomorrow night, Andrew and I will head to Minneapolis for three days. We will spend the long weekend watching NCAA tournament games—a purely coincidental benefit of our trip, as our visit to Minneapolis is built around the first weekend of my Spring Break and not the basketball tournament—and helping Andrew’s older brother with a few things in the new house. He has kitchen work planned for that weekend, what with two additional sets of hands available. There is wainscoting to install, and walls and trim to paint, and wallpaper and border paper to hang. It all sounds rather complicated, but it is hard for me to envision the depth of the job until I see the kitchen for myself.

I don’t believe Andrew and I will be expected to hang wallpaper and border paper, because neither of us has any experience with wall coverings. I believe we will be expected to perform the painting duties, mostly.

In May, my brother will graduate from high school, and Andrew and I will be able to attend his commencement ceremony. My final exam period will be over before my brother graduates, which is good, because I feared that the two events might present a conflict.

I will not take a job this summer. Andrew and I have talked it over, at length, and we have decided that it does not make any sense for me to take a job in Boston for the summer.

If we lived in Minneapolis, I definitely WOULD take a summer job at a firm, because Andrew and I plan to return to the Twin Cities after law school. However, taking a job at a Boston firm for the summer would not be particularly beneficial to me unless I planned to settle in Boston, which I do not plan to do. Further, the summer after the second year of law school, and not the first, is the important summer for developing a resume.

Andrew and I intend to make summer plans while we are in Minneapolis next weekend.

Andrew is contemplating taking a few weeks off this summer—he has already received very tentative approval from his boss—and the purpose of the time off is to get us out of Boston for as much of the summer as possible.

Whatever we decide to do, Andrew MUST be back in his office on Monday morning, August 17, because his boss will be out of the country, on vacation, from Saturday, August 15, through Labor Day. Andrew’s boss and his wife will travel in the South of France during the last two weeks of August, and Andrew will have to be in the office during his boss’s absence.

Among things we must decide this weekend (because it affects everyone else’s work schedule, too) is which week to spend at the lake this year: the week that ends with July 4; or the week after July 4.

July 4 falls on a Saturday this year, and normally Andrew’s family would spend the week that ends with July 4 at the lake.

However, Andrew is lobbying everyone to agree to spend the following week at the lake. Andrew’s thinking is that he may be able to manage to take six weeks off this summer, but he has already been informed that his time off will have to occur in July and August, not in June. As a result, Andrew is thinking of leaving Boston on Friday night, July 3, and not returning until Sunday night, August 16.

If Andrew succeeds in scheduling that time off, we have a lot of tentative plans for the summer—and not just the annual week at the lake.

My parents, as a graduation gift to my brother, want to go on a family vacation this summer. They want to take my sister, my brother, and Andrew and me.

The genesis of their vacation idea has many roots.

First, the two-week baseball road trip my parents undertook two summers ago was not an especial success. My mother was bored, I think, and my sister said that she would have had a better time visiting a Women’s Reformatory.

Second, thanks to the options windfall, my parents are flush with cash, now that they no longer have to worry about writing checks later this year to Vanderbilt and Southern Methodist for tuition and room and board. They want to spend some of that extra cash—no longer earmarked for higher education expenses—on a trip.

Third, my sister loved the trip to Southern England last summer, and my parents—having heard all about what a great time she had—decided that a trip makes a fine graduation gift.

Consequently, my parents asked my brother where he wanted to go, and he said he wanted to go to Switzerland or Austria and see the Alps (there are not many mountains in Oklahoma). My brother and my parents are in the process, right now, of coming up with an itinerary they like, and picking dates. Because of my father’s trial schedule, it looks like the end of July or the beginning of August will be the only available time for the trip.

My parents hope to finalize the trip plans by the end of next weekend, because Andrew and I hope to finalize our summer plans by the end of next weekend, too.

In the back of our minds is another item for Andrew and me: we are thinking of traveling to Paris by ourselves immediately before or immediately after the trip to the Alps with my family. Depending upon what my parents come up with, Andrew and I may or may not be able to squeeze a week in Paris into our summer.

We’ll have to see how things develop next weekend.

Nearer term, Andrew and I have another weekend trip planned in addition to next weekend in Minneapolis.

The following weekend, also coinciding with my Spring Break, Andrew will take me to glamorous and exotic Baltimore. Andrew will be fulfilling a promise he made to me more than three years ago, during our last semester in Washington, when he told me that we would go up to Baltimore and spend a weekend before the term ended. Well, we never made it to Baltimore back in 2006, and I have been teasing Andrew about that broken promise for the last three years (and reminding him that we never made it down to Williamsburg, either—yet ANOTHER broken promise).

As a result, two weeks from tomorrow afternoon, Andrew and I will fly down to Baltimore and stay until Sunday night. We plan to catch a performance of the Baltimore Symphony (under Temirkanov, whom Andrew very much likes), and catch performances at Center Stage (“Tis A Pity She’s A Whore”) and Everyman Theater (“The Cherry Orchard”). We will also visit The Walters Museum, which I have never visited. It is supposed to be one of America’s finest art museums.

Andrew says that two days in Baltimore will be fun. He says that Baltimore is the finest restaurant town in the U.S. and that I will have a wonderful time.

I’ll soon find out.

I’ve never been to Baltimore, except to pass through on Interstate 95.

From the Interstate, it doesn’t look like much.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We Live In A Nation Of Morons

Laughter indeed is the best medicine.

Whenever I feel down in the dumps, I go online and read some damn fool’s rantings and ravings about one thing or another. Invariably, within minutes, I am laughing uncontrollably.

The following, which had Andrew and me in stitches, is from the blog of some poor sod who lives and works in Delaware. He posted this on January 17.

His life truly is a mess, and he explains it fully, in just a few paragraphs.


I am a very angry, and frustrated person. Not the kind of angry where you have to worry about being around me, but the kind of angry that people who are taken advantage of feel.

I am frustrated at my personal situation. The kind of frustration any recently married 28 year old who lives in a room in his parental in-laws’ singlewide trailer would feel. The frustration that accompanies a lack of personal success. The frustration of not being able to support not only yourself, but your wife as well. I know the whole “team” thing is modern thinking, but I am old fashioned enough to want to be able to provide for my family. Failing to be able to do so is personally frustrating.

I am frustrated at my having to sacrifice a future career which I am deeply interested in due to pressures to move on and start my life, instead choosing to learn an occupation which will land me a position that will bring in a livable paycheck sooner.

At the same time, I feel like I am being taken advantage of. Taken advantage of by my wife, who is not pulling her weight to get us into a better situation, claiming a full time school schedule is all she can handle, yet has time and money to go out drinking with friends and shopping while I am paying all of the bills, working full time as well as taking 18 credits in college, and spending as little as possible in order to make ends meet.

Taken advantage of by my in laws, who benefitted from our charity by moving in with them to begin with due to their medical issues and job loss, yet cannot return the favor now that they are back on their feet and our chips are down.

Taken advantage of by my employers, who ask me to be available for the Christmas season for 60+ hours of work during my school break, yet fail to deliver anything beyond my normal full time schedule.

I am angry. I am angry with my wife, who I have opened up my frustrations to, yet has not done anything to help rectify the situation between myself and her parents, my budget and hers, my work schedule and her lack of one.

I am angry with my in laws, who do nothing but piss me off and annoy me on a daily basis. Little things like throwing away my leftovers overnight without asking me, scattering my laundry throughout the house, or failing to hand over my mail so bills may be late. Forget the fact that while I am struggling making the budget balanced, they are taking my “rent” money up to the Harrington Slots. I am not joking either. I have kept track. In the last 5 months, the day I have handed them the money, they left within hours to Harrington.

I am angry with my occupation, because it is cold, dangerous, and life threatening on a daily basis. I am absolutely dreading the amount of danger that we will be in when the weather gets better and the dregs of society come out of their shelter, and decide to target the delivery drivers instead of the stores.

I keep talking myself down. I keep saying that things will get better and I need to be patient. This next year will be better, the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching, I just need to relax and let the time pass.

It’s frustrating.


No doubt!

There are a few pertinent points about the author of the above post that should be noted.

First, he earns his living as a pizza deliveryman for Domino’s.

Second, the “college” he refers to is a trade school, where he takes courses in air conditioning maintenance.

Third, the writer is grossly overweight—he says elsewhere on his blog that his weight is 275 pounds—and his wife is grossly overweight, too, as are his wife’s parents. (He was discharged from the army because of his weight.) How can four such massive blobs possibly live in one singlewide trailor?

Fourth, the guy makes so little money he is exempt from income taxation (but he nonetheless offers reams of advice about the economy and the financial world to his readers).

Fifth, this guy is dumb as a rock, which goes without saying, but it is also clear—from other entries on his blog, as well as from his previous blog (which he discontinued for some reason)—that this guy is a nasty, nasty piece of work. He fully deserves every misfortune that has ever befallen him.

Sixth, this idiot wants a career as a radio talk show host—to discuss politics, of all things!

It is frightening to think there are people like this out there.

We live in a nation of morons.