Leaf Blowers, or: The Unbearable Lightness of Leaves

Please, someone – anyone, explain to me the need for leaf blowers. I’m convinced there has never been a tool that causes such purposeless audible assaults with as much tenacity as the leaf blower.

The leaf blower sits in the top spot on my list of questionable human inventions, just above Saran wrap.

What is its end game? In theory, it should move leaves from an undesirable place, i.e. a sidewalk. In actuality, it is unnecessary, as leaves in air have less sense of direction than Daffy Duck’s beak after an encounter with Elmer Fudd. Where’s the logic in blowing them around willy nilly?

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If the goal is simply getting the leaves off whatever surface they are on, wouldn’t a leaf vacuum make more sense? The vacuum noise would be justified. A leaf vacuum would actually SOLVE the problem instead of relocating the problem.

I do have to give the leaf blower credit though. It is one persistent little jerk.

“Thought you were going to get some sleep? Think again. This morning, I think you need a symphony of on-again-off-again engine revs and a sweet smell of hot grass and gasoline. Please enjoy my sputtering efforts to shake up fallen leaves and grass shavings to no end. Love, Leaf Blower.”

Well, leaf blower, you smell, you are loud, and you are a tease. My false sense of security when you calm to a low rumble shatters when you decide those leaves are better off spread all across the street, rather than in a neat, easily raked pile on the lawn. I always think you’re done, and you’re not. You will never be done. I will cross the sidewalk, the street, the WORLD, to get away from your powers and your blasts of invisible lawn particles that always make me sneeze. But I have faith that someday, someone will come up with a functional replacement. It’s not me, it’s you. Now please leave.

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Game of Thrones.

Okay, so I have not read the books. I have not watched the show. But I have read enough spoilers, heard enough discussion, and questioned the amount the show producers want to crush people’s dreams enough times that I have reached the point where I must address this situation.

Ned, I don’t know who you are, but I’m guessing your passing was rather brutal and a complete surprise to viewers. I am sorry. You should know that people on Facebook wish it weren’t so. But if whatever kind of mystical thread George R. R. Martin weaves holds any power, I’m sure you are a literary legend.

And really, it must be some kind of special thread if Queen Elizabeth II visited the show set to take a look at that sword throne. Can the House of Windsor get into the mix now? Would that throw off the balance with the other houses? If she didn’t actually sit down on the throne, would she get diplomatic immunity from the potential horrors that befall the heroes in the series? Would she even be a hero?

But let’s put aside the royal issue to get down to this Red Wedding business. It’s really just in the name: how could there not be a great deal of bloodiness? You only need know that pretty much all the major characters get tomahawked in the course of the series to be able to foresee that any potentially happy occasion (i.e. a wedding) will end in tragedy.

I do have to say, some of the GOT buzz I read is entertaining. And come on, I would totally read a book about a dance with dragons. That just sounds exciting.

So does my Game of Thrones name: Red Priest Danarys Greyjoy, The Last Dragon. I’m sensing a common thread here…redness…and dragons. I don’t hate the dragon part. Or should I?

Now, before (or if ever) I get invested in this, someone please advise: how many instances are there of Death by Dragon? If the number is greater than one…that may be a deal breaker.

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The quest for real-people clothes

I never owned a pair of skinny jeans until right before I moved to Boston. I didn’t have to—I never owned boots. The first pair I bought spur-of-the-moment in Florida. The boots followed four months later.

In the peak of winter this year, I learned that one pair of pants would not suffice. This called for a hunt in grown-up clothes land, a.k.a. not Sports Authority. I ventured toward Banana Republic, wearing my lone skinny pair of the same origin, and headed straight for the sale items.

Now, only so many pairs of pants actually extend past my lower calf, so I picked up the two in the store that did, along with some dressy shirts that also constituted “grown-up clothes.”

I never shop alone. I don’t usually trust myself. But desperate times called for desperate measures. When I couldn’t decide whether to get the royal blue pants and was less sure about the gray jeans, I felt the need to emerge from my protective dressing room and consult the sales associate.

“I don’t like them.”

What!? They were skinny-legged and they buttoned—these were my only requirements for my pants search that day. How could she not like them?

Well, they fit me “weird,” apparently. Both of them.

I felt disheartened. I gave up on finding pants. If I didn’t even know how pants were supposed to fit, I had bigger issues than restocking my closet. Rejecting both pairs along with the dressy shirts, I put on my home pants and the white button-down I wore that day.

Open door, poke head out, emerge.

“I don’t like those on you either. And that outfit…you dress boring.”

Well, thanks for the advice, but THESE ARE MY PANTS. AND YOU HAVE JUST INSULTED THEM.

And yeah, maybe I dress “boring.” But that’s what I get for spending 23 years living in swimming t-shirts and workout shorts. I’m not sorry, world. This is what you get.

Portrait of the Writer as a Stubborn Competitor

I feel a constant sense of competition whenever I travel. I need to be quick: the first through security, the first in line to board, the one to get that good spot on the train that will let me off at my stop with minimal hassle. Add a ton of people to this ordeal, and it gets worse.

I took the bus to New York in March. The process involved three separate legs of travel: green line to red, red to South Station, and the walk to the bus terminal.

Dispensing with the usual T troubles, I arrived at South Station 40 minutes before my bus was scheduled to leave–in other words, right when I intended to be standing in line. I got off the train and walked up the stairs because I had no desire to deal with the people who turn into boulders when they get on escalators. Three flights up, I managed to get ahead of probably half the escalator-people and made my way through the terminal. After another flight of stairs, I felt someone walking behind me.

Right behind me. Now, I’m already not a huge fan of people drafting off me when I walk. I never liked when people swam behind me and touched my feet, either. But when I can feel your presence, sense the tone of your pace, and can tell that you are adjusting your speed to mine…I react. I’m used to being the fastest walker, and I could tell this girl and I were headed in the same direction. There was no way she was going to beat me there.

On our walk across the commuter rail platform, I gained some ground. I hit the entrance to the bus terminal ahead of her and faced another flight of stairs right before the final stretch. She was right behind me. How could she possibly keep up? I mean, yes, I was wearing my winter coat and carrying two bags, but still! Who did she think she was? I could feel her right over my shoulder and I envisioned our finish line: that circular atrium with the central escalator up to the bus terminal. As that beacon of accomplishment came into view, I grew acutely aware of my stubbornness.

I was hot and sweaty and gross and about to get on a bus for four hours. Why couldn’t I just leave it alone?

Because it was so close. Another six steps and I made it onto that escalator with enough space between me and the girl that it was a real possibility I was just faster and not purposefully trying to beat her. Point for Dana.

Then came the bus and another competition to pick the ideal seat. These people loading bags into the back: had they no sense of urgency?

By this point, I was a little nauseated. So, of course the guy in front of me decided to eat a burger with his mouth open, lips smacking, and head lolling all over the place. (See my feelings on eating sounds here.)

Attempting to ignore this  demonstration of gross public behavior, I settled into my seat that was about two inches too short to accommodate my legs and pulled out my book. I fell asleep four pages in and woke up a few minutes later to a call from my college asking for money I didn’t have.

Then someone pulled out a snack and I smelled peanut butter. I thought it would add to my slight queasy feeling, but the subtle scent calmed me.

The body odor of the burger dude? Not so much.

Chomptastic? No.

It’s about time we faced it: we could all stand to be more conscious of our public presence. What I mean is this: when we eat in public, let’s be aware that people exist around us. Let’s also consider that not everyone wants to see what your meal looks like going down, and let’s especially consider that no one wants to HEAR that happening.

Sometimes, yes, you can’t avoid eating with your mouth open. Cases when this is appropriate: when you have a cold and cannot actually breathe through your nose, when it accidentally slips, and NO OTHER TIMES IN LIFE EVER. There’s no reason for the lip smacking, the chomping, the aerating of your food during consumption.

Yes, maybe if my parents had not been so adamant that I chew with my mouth closed when I was younger, listening to people eat would not bother me so much. Or maybe I would just bother myself.

Now, before you think I’m just an irrationally angry person who hates humanity, let me tell you something you’re probably not aware of: I can’t actually control my reaction.

There’s a lovely thing called misophonia that is completely real. I have made a self-diagnosis.

Take note.

And take heed: if you chew with your mouth open around me, chances are I will get irrationally angry and will probably find an excuse to leave.

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The Dance

There’s a magical moment I’d be willing to guess most of us have experienced at least once. A moment where your body takes over and tries to control a situation your brain no longer knows how to control. A moment when all that stands between you and satisfaction is a locked door.

Ever been out and about, exploring the city, perhaps so wrapped up in what you were doing that you did not realize how badly you needed to pee? It hits you–but you’re not in a convenient place for a pit stop, and it would be easier to just head home. The travel distracts from the increasingly aggressive urge, and so long as no one bumps your gut on the train, you can tolerate the annoyance. Even the walk to your abode can assuage the building pressure.

But the second–the very second–you stop to unlock your door, it’s zero hour. You might just go right there since that demmed key won’t turn the right way. All of a sudden, you’ve lost all faculties and actually can’t remember which way the key turns, which way the handle turns, and if you are, in fact, trying to open the correct door. If only there was no lock, you could just sprint down the hall to your apartment. Then the body takes over for the brain, and the dance kicks in. The bobbing starts, the jumping, the “holy-cow-how-did-I-not-go-before-it-got-this-bad” thought on repeat.

That dance.

I contend that if someone were to sit on a residential street in Boston and watch people come home at the end of an afternoon, that person would observe some entertaining pee-dances. So, the next time you’re out for a stroll and feel okay about a little voyeurism, take a look at people as they walk inside. Maybe you’ll witness a key-pee battle firsthand.

This is Happening

In homage to the sometimes hectic manner of both my life and the way people try to spell my last name, this blog serves as a venue for commentary on ridiculous behavior, cases of fortuitous happenstance, and observed daily silliness.

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