Monday, September 3, 2007

Things I have learned this summer

I'm not going to tag anyone with this, since a lot of people may be off having wild holiday weekend fun, but feel free to post a "things I have learned this summer" on your own blog!

1. Baths are awesome. I got one of those book stands made for a bathtub which also holds a candle and a glass of wine. Add a bit of bubble bath, and wow! I'm not getting out unless the house is on fire.

2. The Atlanta airport should be avoided at all costs, especially when you're flying international. I flew out of Atlanta early this summer and as I was standing in an unbelievably long line to get through security, I saw this headline in that day's Atlanta paper: Atlanta too busy for just one airport? The short answer: YES -- they just can't handle the number of people who go through there every day, and passengers are being tortured as a result. It gets a little bit worse with each passing year. These days, upon arriving at the airport on an international flight, you must first go though immigration (and stand in a line), then hang around the luggage claim area to pick up your bags. Then you go through customs (and stand in a line). Then you have to recheck your bags for the trip over to the main terminal. And then for some reason, you have to go through security all over again (and stand in a line), even though you just got off a plane. At this point, you get to take a tram to the main terminal, hang around yet another luggage claim area and pick up your bags again, and then, at last, once you start to despair of ever escaping, you finally get to leave the freakin' airport. It's a nightmare. And before returning to the states, I had purchased a few bottles of wine at the duty-free store in Barcelona, forgetting that I'd have to jump through all these crazy hoops in Atlanta. When I had to recheck my bags, I was forced to stuff my wine bottles into my soft-sided luggage to avoid having them confiscated because I was about to have to go through security again and, of course, fluids are all verboten, even if they're sealed in a duty-free shop bag and even if your only remaining destination is outside. Then I got to watch as some guy flung my bag into a pile under the luggage of all the other passengers, all the while imagining my clothes turning a nice rioja-shade of pink. We moved on and later, as we were riding on an overloaded escalator, a guy suddenly turned to my husband and purged: "I have to make a confession. I am an engineer and back in the 70s, I helped design this airport. [pause] I am so sorry." Indeed.

3. People need to move around more, especially as they get older. I spent some time hanging around a lot of retired people this summer and it was quite the eye-opening experience. Almost without exception, the active people -- even those with physical limitations -- enjoy vigorous health, while those who don't move around much all have long lists of health complaints. I also got to spend some time this summer with my father, who in his mid-seventies is proof that as long as you figure out a way to keep moving, you'll be able to keep moving. He still plays tennis (singles) several times a week and rides his bike to work every day. So please, after you're done reading this, go for a bike ride or take a walk or sign up for a water aerobics class -- just be sure to do something.

4. The family car trip is apparently a thing of the past, which makes me sad. I have such fond memories of covering long distances during those vacations of my youth -- washing down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with those little bottles of welch's grape juice, singing stupid songs, fighting over who was invading whose personal space, trying to complete a list of all fifty state license tags... we spent hours and days going from place to place, and even though the time wasn't all filled with magical Brady Bunch moments, I love thinking back on those journeys. And then when my daughter was very young we had the some of our own epic journeys, and we got through them all with lots of books, crayons, paper and travel games. But these days, people travel with so much electronic equipment that they don't interact at all -- they put on their earphones and watch movies, listen to music, play video games... and the journey is lost on them. Or even worse, their parents drug them, so that they don't have to deal with them at all (this is true -- I've seen people confess to it on their blogs and the NYTimes did a story about it). I just don't understand how this happened. When did being a kid become a disease?

5. I hate Harry Potter. Not that I have anything against hearing a well-told tale, and I gather the HP books contain some good story telling. But between the last book coming out and the (presumably) next-to-the-last movie release, for a good part of the summer you people just wouldn't shut up about Harry Potter! It may be good reading, but it's not the only damn book in the universe. And all your nattering about it got kind of old after a while.

6. Maybe this is old news to the rest of you, but I just found out that college students use Febreze like some sort of a magic wand that they wield over their dirty clothes in an effort to avoid doing laundry. This news came to me via G-Dog (whose job puts him in contact with college students on quite a regular basis) when he saw that I bought some febreze and jokingly asked if I was going to give up doing laundry.

7. The American Medical establishment has gone completely off the rails. American physicians have become addicted to pharmaceutical drugs -- they are writing prescriptions instead of doing diagnostic testing, telling parents of toddlers that it's ok to give them unnecessary drugs to quiet them during long car rides or flights, and prescribing hard-core anti-depressants to kids with normal teenage angst. I understand that the never-ending cycle of ads and commercials encouraging people to "ask their doctor" for certain medications (which, btw, might turn them into gambling addicts) is partly responsible for pressure many doctors feel to give their patients a magic pill, but part of their job is to educate their patients, not just give them what Big Pharma has brainwashed them into thinking they need. If I come in with allergy symptoms, but test negative for both allergies and asthma, it's ok to skip the prescription pad and tell me that what I really need is a neti pot and a yoga class -- it would, in fact, be refreshing to hear.

8. Shopping at Wal-Mart does have its price. I haven't shopped there in years because I don't believe it's the fairy tale paradise that the corporation wants us to believe in, and this summer I started to feel vindicated. Train sets and other toys covered in lead paint. Tainted pet treats. Poisoned toothpaste. After the all the summer's controversies, perhaps it should now qualify as child abuse to buy anything for your family at Wal-Mart. How do you know you're not feeding your children poison or dressing them in lead-flecked hairshirts? After all, the majority of Wal-Mart products come from China, where they clearly haven't yet instituted any sort of quality control measures. It's just a matter of time before more toxins are discovered on Wal-Mart's shelves. Think you don't pay a price for low prices? Think again.

9. If people got to spend more time at the beach, we wouldn't need so many spas. I spent two weeks on the Gulf coast this summer, and took advantage of the opportunity to run on the beach every morning. Within a few days, my feet looked like I'd had a pedicure. And the humid salt air had my normally dry skin feeling so soft and wonderful, you'd think I'd had a facial!

1 comment:

Keera Ann Fox said...

You've made a lot of observations similar to mine. I've been musing on a lot of the above myself.

One reason why I keep trying to get into a yoga habit is to avoid the biggest pitfall of old age: Loss of balance and flexibility.

I have also come to the conclusion that there are too many gadgets in cars isolating each passenger, and probably not enough conversation. (And the most annoying is to hear comments from someone only to realize they're on the cell phone.) I loved "eavesdropping" on my folks from the backseat, or joining in their conversation. It's not being a kid that's a disease; it's being responsible and disciplined (as in behaving appropriately, not as in being punished) people are allergic to.

And yes, baths are awesome. I get so much reading done then!