May 28, 2010

Geo-Inspired Road Rules

For six years, I cruised around town in a ’95 Geo Metro. It was a 2-door, bright-green hatchback that would pretty much fit in the back of my boyfriend’s truck. It was awesome. I’d proudly brag about the ridiculous gas mileage and the fact that I had the 3-cylinder model. That’s right – only 3 cylinders, of pure awesomeness.

The downside to driving a cute, little green car with no power (besides the obvious)? Other drivers pick on you. I had many theories as to why; the fact that I always drove the speed-limit, gas mileage envy from my fellow commuters, picking on the little guy – I guess my car was an easy target. Regardless of the reason though, I got tailgated, fingered, honked at and cut-off on a daily-basis. Things have changed now that I drive a newer model, black Honda Civic with a “Baby o n Board” sign swinging in the back window. But I still remember the Geo days of highway harassment and in response, have developed my own set of rules for proper driving etiquette.

RULE # 1: Drive the speed limit (almost).
I’ve done a good job of convincing myself that you’re not speeding unless you’re more than 10% over the speed limit. I’ve followed the 10% rule for 11 years and (knock on wood) never gotten a speeding ticket.
In a school zone though, I always drive under 30 km/hr and this is for two reasons. The first is pretty obvious – you don’t mess around when it comes to children’s safety. The second reason is because I work for the School District; can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to get ticketed in front of my coworkers and students? I can; I live in fear of it.

RULE #2: Never tailgate.
It’s rude, it’s dangerous and it rarely accomplishes anything. Be patient - you’ll be able to pass eventually, but for now – Back the Truck Up! (haha, I had to put it in here somewhere).

RULE #3: Never harass Golden Oldies, Baby Momma’s or L-Babies (or people who drive Geo Metro’s)
There are so many seniors who should not be allowed to drive but for whatever reason, they are still out there on the road. They may be partially blind, easily confused and unable to work their own radio but honestly, they’re old and they’ve earned the right to drive however slowly they want. I’m a big advocate for a shiny, silver “S” sticker (those veteran plates are a good giveaway too) but until then – keep your eyes open for those little gray heads peaking out over the steering wheel and give them plenty of space.
And always leave our Student Drivers alone. It’s nerve-wracking enough learning how to drive, then consider the additional stress and humiliation of having to drive with a bright red “L” sign on the back of your car and your mom in the front seat beside you. Don’t traumatize our L babies by giving them a hard time – be patient and back off.

RULE #4: Know the written rules of the road.
This one’s pretty basic. If you’re not sure what the law is – look it up. If someone honks at you or seems pissed off by your driving, you might want to consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, you might have actually done something wrong (like cruising down the highway in the passing lane when you are obviously not passing anyone).
Know the rules of the road, but just as importantly…

RULE #5: Know the unwritten rules of the road.
  • Flash your lights for other drivers when you see speed traps (unless they look like they should get caught or if it’s a school zone). It’s good karma.
  • Always merge as soon as possible. People who speed up and try to squeeze in at the front of the line shouldn’t be let in – ever.
  • If someone’s stopped at a green light, count to five before honking. Excessive horniness is just plain rude.
  • If you stop or slow down to let someone into your lane, only one car gets to come in.
  • And if someone does ‘wave’ you to go ahead of them – wave back. It’s polite.
  • Bikers always wave to other bikers, so if you see someone driving the exact same car (and same color as you) you can wave too if you like! (Car twins!!)
  • Shotgun rules are always in effect.
  • If someone gives you a ride, you should always pay for at least half the gas – Gas, Grass or… no I’m kidding (I love Dazed and Confused) but seriously, don’t be a cheap skate.
  • Also, driver chooses music. Don’t like it? Drive your own car.
  • If you’re going to crank your tunes, keep your windows up. If you don’t have a sub, don’t crank the base. If you’re stuck in traffic, don’t crank the tunes.
RULE #6: NEVER, ever, drink and drive.
Choose a dependable DD (someone who won’t forget that they’re the DD) or call a friend, family member or taxi. Remember, cab fare is cheaper than the fine for a DUI, spending the night at someone’s house is better than spending the night in jail and who wouldn’t prefer to get a call from a drunk friend at 3am who needs a ride than a phone call the next morning to tell you your friend died in a car accident.
Drinking and driving is stupid. Don’t do it. And if you do, I hope you get caught.

That’s it for my Rules. Check back and I’ll add more as I think of them – let me know what I missed.

May 16, 2010

The Cake that Everyone Ate but No One Ever Saw

My son recently turned one and for some inexplicable reason, I decided that I was going to bake and decorate his first birthday cake. I guess I forgot that I am not actually a baker and that maybe, just maybe, preparing a birthday cake might be harder than it looks. But I had this image of myself stuck in my mind, proudly carrying out a beautiful, delicious cake that everyone would ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over - and I was addicted to the idea.

Let me describe my son’s birthday cake to you. Picture a two layer, light and fluffy, organic, vanilla-banana cake that is in the shape of a dump truck. Between the two layers is a thin, sweet layer of pureed, fresh, organic blueberries. The whole cake is iced with smooth, creamy, vanilla, butter-cream frosting. The wheels of the dump truck are slices of orange and the design of the dump truck is neatly outlined in blueberries. It looks perfect. It tastes even better than it looks.

This is the cake that I imagined. Unfortunately, this is not the cake that I made.

The day before my son’s birthday I baked two beautiful, golden brown, organic, vanilla-banana cakes that were shaped like dump trucks. I wish I took pictures of them because they were gorgeous. I was so confident that the dream cake was about to become a reality. Apparently I lie to myself very well.

On the day of my son’s birthday, I waited until he was down for his nap before I began assembling the cake. Things went downhill fast.

First I put too much blueberry puree on the first layer, so it oozed down the sides in a sticky, unappetizing mess. Then I went to put the second layer on top and realized I’d put the puree on the wrong side of the bottom layer. In order to see the dump truck design on the cake, I had to put the top layer on the wrong way but then the edges of the two layers didn’t line up. Then I went to take the icing out the fridge (I had so cleverly made it up an hour before hand) and realized it had started to harden and was a chunky, unspreadable mess. I tried to spread it anyway. I was in total and complete denial.

After I finished smearing on the icing, I took a step back to examine my handiwork. I took a moment to debate whether to laugh or cry. Images of myself throwing the whole thing in the garbage can ran through my mind. I wondered if I bought a cake from the grocery store, if I could get away with taking credit for it? Then I remembered what an awful liar I am (except, of course, to myself). Next came the images of my family and in-laws holding back their laughter while I shame-facedly carried out the monstrous birthday cake. Nope, there was no way I could do that either.

So what did I decide to do? I couldn’t quite suck up my pride enough to laugh at myself, and I was too stubborn to give up and cry. So I cut that mother up.

The carefully sliced and served pieces actually looked pretty tasty sitting on the blue ‘1st Birthday’ paper plates I’d purchased. My fridge was filled with 14 pre-cut pieces of cake, all ready to be served and covered carefully with saran wrap.

I did have the sense of mind though to realize that there was a small chance, I might think this was funny later. I was home alone at the time and therefore had no one to bare witness to my shame. My pride is small and flexible enough though that I was able to pull out my camera and take a couple quick shots of the first birthday cake I’d ever baked and iced all by myself. At the time I swore to myself that no one was ever going to see those photos. But let’s face it - it’s pretty funny.

And so I present to you, the cake that no one saw.

May 13, 2010

Exposing Myself

How’s that for an attention-grabbing title? And so if you were wondering, am I the type of writer who’s willing to use a cheap gimmick to get your attention… but seriously, read on and the title makes sense.

I’ve always been shy. For the first 15 years of my life I was painfully shy; it was ridiculous. I constantly worried about what other people thought of me. I was terrified to speak up in a group incase I sounded ‘dumb’. I was intimidated by just about anyone and everyone. Alcohol remedied many of these limitations for me, but more noteably, so did age.

I’m only 27, I’m aware of the fact that I’m not old enough to be considered wise or even that experienced, and I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t even be considered an “adult” until I can call myself that without wincing. But at 27, I have gained some perspective from my childhood. I’m not as na├»ve as I used to be and I definitely don’t care as much about what people think of me now. Notice I said “as much” – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care at all. But I don’t care anywhere near as much as I used to which in most cases, is a good thing.

Having said all this, the whole idea of “blogging” still terrifies me. I love writing. I’ve written many papers, a few articles and two full length novels (none of which have been published but that is the eventual goal). Writing is something I’m pretty passionate about. But writing something is one thing, and then having it read is another. And now I’m really throwing it out there. I’m saying “read me”. I’m suggesting that what I have to say is interesting or funny or important enough for you to take time out of your day to read it. I’m letting you inside my head. I’m exposing myself.

I can’t make any promises on how often I’ll write for my blog. I can’t guarantee that you’ll like everything you read though I hope you’ll get something out of it, good or bad. This is where I’m going to share my thoughts and opinions, my stories, my articles, my reviews. Maybe I’ll build up some type of fanbase, maybe I won’t. But either way, it’s time to move on to the next step towards becoming a professional writer – to allow my work to be READ.

Read now – ask later. I’m running forward with my head down, I’ll look up to see where it’s taken me when I get there.