Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seriously Livid

Yes, I should be writing about the wonderful time I am having in Europe, but mostly what I've been having is a giant headache, thanks to pickpockets in Paris and bank bureaucracy. It is more difficult to get your credit card replaced than write a dissertation. Seriously. I've been without access to cash via credit card or ATM card for several days. Thank god for friends or I would have been sleeping on the streets of Paris and London.

After a phone call which lasted one and a half hours (at the courtesy of the bed and breakfast, since my cell phone was also stolen), I finally got my new temporary credit card delivered to my friend's house in England. I figured that I could finally charge things (you know, frivilous things like meals and lodging). But to get actual hard cash, I needed to go the bank to take out a "cash advance" since I cannot use the temporary credit card at the ATM. But what to my surprise when I went to purchase a train ticket on my new card - my bank, who was on the phone line with me and VISA, had put my card on hold. Why? Because I was making purchases in Europe and my address is in the US. They put my new card on hold as a safety precaution against fraud! I kid you not. Why on earth did they think I needed a temporary replacement card sent to England in the first place????

Come on people, use your brains! I know the banks use algorithms (automated ways to aggravate you) to decide to put your card on hold when it appears that transactions are not being performed by the valid cardholder, but what happened in my case was an exercise in stupidity. No one had the forethought to make a note in my file (or whatever they do) to change the standard algorithm? No, I guess that is too time consuimg to pay people to do that; they just wait (on purpose) until the card is automatically put on hold by the system, until the livid customer calls them to ask "why has my card been put on hold?" before they change or suspend the standard algorithm.

In the meantime, the "customer" may have been seriously inconvenienced. I may be a little biased after my recent experience, but for some reason, I do not think that concern for the customer is at the top of the bank's priority list.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Busy Girl

This California Girl has been very busy lately (the reason for my recent lack of postings). Chorus performance last Monday night (no, I did not sing but I had a very important role as after-party planner), final exam in Corporate Tax last night (I was woefully unprepared but hopefully I passed), and half my trip to Europe fell through at the last minute so I have been scrambling for where to go for ten days in July. (I did manage to buy Rick Steve's book on Amsterdam, although I have yet to crack it open.) Yes, its been a busy and stressful week.

I leave on vacation for New York tomorrow, Friday, with much planning left to do for my trip to Europe, for which I leave a few days later. The good thing is that I have not had much trouble finding places to stay in Europe. This is not good for the global economic picture, but its good for me.

I just wanted to let my faithful readers know that my blog is likely to be quiet for the next few weeks. I return to my beautiful California the last week in July. Hopefully I will have many new adventures to write about. Until then my friends, until then.

Friday, June 11, 2010

72 Degrees

This was the magic number when I was a child -- 72 degrees. When warm spring weather rolled around in Connecticut each May, we kids would tear off the sweaters or jackets we wore to school in the morning coolness and carry them home, along with the stacks of books we carried in our arms. (This was "BB", ie, "Before Backpacks", at least before backpacks were used by school children to tote their books around.)

But my mother had a "magic number", and that magic number was 72. No matter that we kids were sweaty from a long uphill walk home from school on a sunny spring afternoon, if the thermometor outside the kitchen window read less than 72 degrees Farenheit, the sweaters/jackets were supposed to stay on. No matter that we kids ran around like banshees playing tag, or hide and seek, or any variety of imaginative play, no matter that we truly got warm while actively playing, we were supposed to wear the sweater or jacket until that thermometer hit the magic number.

Of course, we didn't always comply. As soon as Mom was out of our line of sight, if we were running around and started feeling warm, we ditched the outer clothing layer. We could run around in 90 degree weather and 90 percent humidity back then. Now, I'm lucky if I don't faint on my way from my air conditioned car into the coolness of my Dad's shaded house.

I now live in California, a much drier, less humid climate. I never used the air conditioning in my car until a few years ago, except on those few very hot 95 degree days in the Bay Area summer. But I find that lately the temperature in my car is set almost permanently at 68 degrees because I am almost always hot. While not environmentally correct, I think this 56 year old female is entitled to a few extra degrees of coolness for a while. When I am 80 and want the heat cranked up to 75 degrees, I will happily pile on a few more blankets instead.

If she were alive today, somehow I do not think my mother would approve.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Love CVS

Why in the world do they put birthday cards for older folks (uhhhh...that would be me) -- you know, the ones with all the old people jokes in KNEE LEVEL? A toddler is going to pick them out? Come on folks - we are too stiff to bend, our eyesight failing and we are going to pick out cards knee level? OHHH...that's right...this is CVS, I forgot....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Walking on Water

My most humiliating experience ever....hmmmm, this will take some might have been the time I was at a party and "walked on water" (right across the built-in Olympic-sized swimming pool cover, much to the horror of the host)....or it might have been the time I was being given my annual gyn exam, and thought I'd tell a joke to ease the tension....and I didn't realize until afterwards that my male gynecologist's last name was Dworski, and of course I had told a Polish joke....or it might have been the time I was 14 and had my hair wrapped around my head trying to straighten my Shirley Temple curls in the midst of a humid East Coast summer, when the teenage boy I had a crush on knocked at the door (I locked myself in my bedroom and would not come out)....

But you see, I'm 56 now, almost 57, and embarassing things happen every day....but the good thing about being over 50 is that I no longer remember all of the embarassing things I did yesterday, or two years ago or even ten years ago.....and, in addition, it takes a lot more to embarass me now than it did when I was younger (mainly because I no longer give a damn most of the time). Obviously, I am not going to win this contest.

Besides, I don't think I am any match for the story about the toddler and the vibrating teething ring snatched from the bedroom drawer (see "")

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Read My Blog

The heading of this post should be a bumper sticker -- you know, like "Kiss My Ass". Actually, I hope "they" don't read my blog. At least, not yet. Considering that I only have 16 official "Fans", I suppose I don't have to worry about any of "them" visiting my blog.

I am speaking of the high school generation, specifically the high school students at the school where my good friend Tim taught drama for 24 years. Nah, I am sure that this is the last place they will look.

Every year I give out a scholarship in my son's memory, the Sean Emdy Memorial Scholarship, to a graduating senior who is going on to college, and who has a continuing interest in drama or technical theatre. This June 8th will be the tenth time that I have given out a scholarship in Sean's memory. Yesterday I received the two applications for the current year; I only get two or three applications each year.

I am always surprised when I receive the applications. The students who I think will apply, and who I hope apply, often do not. The students that do apply usually surprise me, and often impress me.

The application process is simple: write up one or two pages about your interest in theatre and what you've learned and what you've done and provide two letters of recommendation. Not only am I surprised by who applies, but by what they write.

Yes, there are the students who have been in every show since they were freshmen, who did summer theatre since they were five years old, who can sing and dance circles around others. These are not the students who receive the scholarship. I am looking for students who have learned something more -- the students who have learned to handle critical situations by themselves, who have learned how to work as part of a team, who have taken on leadership roles, and who, as a result, have gained confidence in themselves. These are the students who end up with the scholarship. These students represent Tim's vision of what high school theatre should accomplish. "They" are Tim's legacy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Moving On

There are "things" which we all go through in life, things that move us through the various stages of our lives - graduation, moving, marriage, moving, career changes, moving, children, moving, divorce, moving, re-marriage, moving, retirement, moving, death of a spouse and more moving. It seems like are always doing these two things: growing older, and moving.

Some of us move more than others. A rare few live all their lives in the same house (my grandmother comes to mind). We move across the country, around the world, down the street, to another state. We rent, we buy, we share living spaces, we live alone, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by default.

In the end, we all move on to our final resting place - in a coffin in the ground or ashes dispersed over land or ocean. In the end, our physical body is recyled and becomes just a different part of our ever expanding universe.

During our lives, we make friends, start families, start careers, change careers, change friends, change families. All throughout our lives, as we move, we move on with our lives, whether intentional or forced. Friends and lovers come and go. Lovers break up with us, friends die and we are forced to move on.

Move on. Two words, so simple, and yet so complex.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Neighborhood

I recently moved into a wonderful neighborhood, a neighborhood where the neighbors have lived on the same street for ten, twenty, or even thirty years. On this street, it seems like everyone knows everyone else. I went for a walk the other evening, and ran into a young couple with their young son in a stroller, a couple I met shortly after I moved in and have seen several times since. (Actually, I borrowed an orange-picking tool from them.) My neighbors across the street, Terry and Barry, have four teenage children and have lived in the same house for thirty years. They have neighborhood potlucks on their front lawn. Barry is my" go-to" neighbor when I lock myself out of my house or need someone to help me pick up 25 folding chairs in his pickup truck.

This neighborhood reminds me of the neighborhood of my childhood. The neighborhood of my childhood was a place where it was rare for houses to change hands. My childhhood neighborhood was one where everyone knew everyone else, and everyone else's children. If Mr. Roger's neighborhood were to become a "real" neighborhood, it is my childhood neighborhood that I envision.

And yet, according to the neighborhood newspaper, we have crime even in this most neighborly of neighborhoods. Homes are being robbed in the afternoons, when they think no one is home, when both parents are working and the kids are in school. Robbers have heard of our wonderful friendly neighborhood and let themselves in the back doors in the afternoons, back doors left unlocked by trusting homeowners.

I guess its not really Mr. Roger's neighborhood after all.

Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

"Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" was Mr. Rogers theme song. For those of you who don't know or are too young to remember, Mr. Rogers was the host of a popular children's television show for many years. I grew up with Captain Kangaroo, and Mr. Green Jeans, years before Mr. Rogers had a children's television show.

Back when I was growing up, we only had reception for about seven TV channels. (Yes, this was BC, ie, Before Cable). We considered ourselves lucky because we lived just outside of New York City where TV reception was relatively good. At the college I went to, just an hour away, we only got three TV channels, and two of those were fuzzy at best. How times have changed.

I don't know exactly what prompted me to think of the theme song from "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood", except that I am sitting in my living room, looking out the front window, on a sunny afternoon on the first of June, the wind blowing a warm breeze around (that's another song for another day) and the thought just popped into my head. My June flowers are blooming, on right on cue.

Yes, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.