Barb Chamberlain is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Washington State University in Spokane. She was also the youngest Representative and (later) Senator elected to the Idaho State Legislature–which I didn’t know until she tagged me in a post she wrote on her blog: Five things you don’t know about me. But I’m glad I know now.
In blog-speak, being “tagged” means that Barb challenged me to reveal five little-known things about myself, as well. I’ve done that before, with a giant dollop of discomfort. But since I’m a soft touch for people I like, I’m complying here. Well, sort of. Instead of giving you more little-known facts about me, I randomly opened my diary and transcribed a few entries.
April 23, 2008
Strapped into a seat, tended to by uniformed attendants, I can’t help but compare airline travel to a stay in a nursing home. In coach travel, that’s a vaguely depressing thing: It’s like quarantine in a cramped institution with inadequate funding. But here, in First Class, it makes me look forward to growing old more than I already do.
The Serbian flight attendant assigned to the handful of us here looks blocky and sturdy, like she is carved with a chainsaw out of a tree trunk. She seems formidable, yet kind. When she bends to whisper to me, her voice is soft as butter on warm toast. “Would you like a blanket?” she coos in my ear, in a tone that suggests she is used to cajoling folks to finish what’s on their plates. I nod, and she lifts a burly forearm to drape the blanket gently over my lap.
A little while later, she wheels the food cart down the wide aisle as easily as a doll carriage. When I ask for tea, she offers me a china cup and saucer, and a real metal spoon.
This might be just a morning flight to LA. But sitting upright and fixed, surrounded by the softly muted clinks of china and attended to by someone with strong and capable forearms, I think that First Class comes pretty close to the dining hall at a better-funded facility. I fill my lungs with the stale, too-warm air, lean back, and drift off.
August 29, 2008
We had a fly problem at our house in Maine, so we hung two fly strips from the kitchen ceiling, six to eight feet apart. In a few days, the strip on the left was coated thick with shiny black fly bodies. Curiously, the strip on the right attracted only a few, and on it one fly–writhing–seemed to be signaling frantically for rescue.
“That’s the kind of party I’d be invited to,” said a teenage houseguest, Ian, gesturing toward the strip on the right, as he sat at the table eating a bowl of cereal.
“I never get invited to the really good parties,” Ian said, “and I get stuck at the loser parties where only a few people show, so it’s really tough to leave.”
September 14, 2008
Overheard in a doctor’s waiting room, a conversation between two middle-aged nurses who chatted companionably while they pushed papers back and forth and paused to answer the ringing phone.
Nurse 1: “Where did you go on vacation?”
Nurse 2: “The USA Motel.”
Nurse 1: “On Route 1?”
Nurse 2: “Yeah, that’s it. You know the one–next to the pancake house…?”
Nurse 1: “Ah… right. That place always looks so… clean.”
September 28, 2008
Additions to the running list of words I hate:
beige, slacks, pregnant, paradigm, orientated, workshop (used as a verb), panties, guesstimate, blouse, soil, and corps (in part because I can’t say it without wondering what to do with the “p” and the “s”)
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