Setting a Record

Years ago, when I was firmly entrenched in my Stephen King phase, I read a fascinating short story in his Skeleton Crew collection about a woman who was obsessed with finding the shortest route to a destination. As her shortcuts begin to defy time, space and reality, she pulls a Benjamin Button and is a young girl at the end of the story.

Like everyone else, I’ve become dependent on GPS, especially for long trips. I have a relatively new car with a GPS built in and there are rumors that it can be voice-activated but I’ve tried twice and apparently I don’t speak clearly enough. (Fun fact: it also doesn’t recognize hell as a destination.)

Every time I use the GPS, I turn it into a game and try to beat the estimated time of arrival. My biggest challenge has been driving from our home to a place we rent once a week each summer in Cape May, New Jersey. We’ve been going to Cape May for seven years and the first time it took us seven hours to travel about 150 miles. Our children were 4 and 2 at the time, so we had to make a lot of stops, and had to contend with a crush of people all starting their rentals at the same time. Cape May is at the southern-most tip of New Jersey, and most of the roads close to it are single-lane roads with low speed limits.

There was nothing we could do about the timing of the rental, the roads or when we went. It’s pretty standard for weekly leases to go Saturday–Saturday in South Jersey, and withour kids in school, we’re stuck with going on vacation during the high season. With my husband’s schedule, we always during one of the busiest weeks of the summer. We love Cape May: it’s quiet and kid-friendly. I tinker with the timing and the route every year, and eventually whittled it down for the past two years to four hours, one rest stop included. The last 30 miles of the trip usually takes an hour.

But this morning, friends, the trip only took THREE HOURS. We left at 7:30 am. It took us 90 minutes to the bridge to New Jersey and another 90 to reach Cape May. There was five minutes’ worth of stop-and-go traffic crossing the bridge into Cape May, and that was it. En route, we took two restroom stops and were behind some slow tractor trailers. I think the biggest difference was the weather: it was cold and windy today, with spotty showers. I just couldn’t get over it. I felt as euphoric as Mrs. Todd from the Stephen King story.

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Setting a Record

This Is the Best Website I’ve Seen on the Internets in a While

I spent the entire afternoon ignoring my children to peruse McMansionHell.com.

I don’t know anything about architecture and probably couldn’t point out residential construction flaws unless they were glaringly obvious. However, I wholeheartedly support someone who simultaneously eviscerates conspicuous consumption and laments poor design choices.

(I recommend starting with the repository of Certified Dank homes.)

This Is the Best Website I’ve Seen on the Internets in a While

We Are Going On A Roadtrip In A Few Days And We Are At DEFCON THREE

We all are overdue for a break. School has ended and everyone passed. The kids performed valiantly at their piano recital. Baseball is over and softball should mercifully end this week. (I love softball, I do. I just have no motivation for sports after school ends. Playoffs are this week and the coach recommends no more than 45 minutes outdoors so I won’t overtire my daughter, and for an added bonus, they’re calling for severe thunderstorms during the game.)

We will miss the end of playoffs because we are going on a 10-day roadtrip, and everyone is so excited they’re starting to pack even though we are not leaving for three more days. I don’t know about you and yours, but this is how my husband and children prepare for a trip:

1. The kids just packed all their electronics that they will immediately unearth tomorrow morning and then forget to bring on the trip itself.

2. My husband wants to load the GPS with all the addresses we will need but forgets I need to get to the (away) softball game first. 

3. We had a 30-minute discussion about the bike rack.

4. The kids decided to pack all their underwear and even though I’ll do laundry right before I leave and we won’t need that much time to pack clothes I will still need to undo what they just did.

(Side note: I won’t be able to do laundry for nearly 10 days and that is harshing my mellow. I am trying to deal.)

5. They already picked out movies to watch and they’ll change their minds 57 times before we actually get in the car.

On the bright side: we all are looking forward to cooler weather and not having to deal with air travel.

We Are Going On A Roadtrip In A Few Days And We Are At DEFCON THREE

It’s About Time We Got Wonder Woman (Spoilers Ahead)

Comic books aren’t my thing. I have to constantly ask my kids who is Marvel and who is DC, the difference between the Justice League and the Avengers, and then I sat through Suicide Squad wondering what the point was.


Photo credit: Clay Enos; image taken from IMDb.com

Wonder Woman, the television show, came out when I was very small, but I caught reruns from time to time. It was the first action show I remember where the woman wasn’t a sidekick or a love interest or just a female version of a superhero (Batgirl, Spidergirl, Supergirl). Along with thousands of other girls, I twirled around in an enclosed space pretending I was going to change into Wonder Woman.

After two generations of Batman, Superman and Spider-Man movies; after Thor and Hulk and Deadpool; we get Wonder Woman.

She kicked ass. Diana Prince might not twirl around to change into Wonder Woman anymore, but she still kicked ass.

Along with a full retinue of resplendent Amazon warriors, Diana ceaselessly trains for the day she will kill the god of war, Ares, and restore peace to Earth. Her coach is the fabulous Robin Wright (who constantly tells Diana she’s stronger than she thinks) and after Diana rescues an American spy posing as a German pilot, who’s chased by the real Germans, Robin and the rest of the ladies BRING IT in a battle on their shores.

(I spent most of the movie thinking the pilot, Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, was supposed to be Captain America. I don’t know why and I finally remembered Pine played Captain Kirk. We need someone else besides a guy named Chris in future superhero movies. Please and thank you.)

I spend the rest of the movie as anxious as Diana to kill Ares. Friends, Wonder Woman Gets Shit Done. Steve, and his ragtag group of buddies, and his bosses, and the Germans, all try to sidetrack Diana. The movie went a little long so I can tell you there was an ill-advised shopping trip, a dancing lesson and many strategic arguments with Steve. Diana shrugs and then does things her way. You can put any feminist saying behind it: she persists; she fights the patriarchy. She slogged through a battlefield because she was determined to save a village. She gets some help from Steve, but it’s her battle. She eventually has a showdown with Ares, who of course tries to mansplain her destiny and manipulate her. No one comes to her rescue. She has to figure her shit out. And as soon as she realizes she’s fighting for love, she’s indestructible. She’s stronger than she ever thought.

Gal Gadot is stunning, but the movie is smart enough not to stoop down and make her beauty a big deal; it’s sort of incidental. During the aforementioned shopping trip, which I feared would be a ripoff of Pretty Woman, Diana is surprisingly uncomfortable. The expensive clothes don’t suit her, because she’s a warrior. Steve at no point overshadows or detracts from Diana. He’s merely trying to channel her in the right direction.

The battle scenes were immensely satisfying and my favorite part of the movie, probably because I feel so helpless sometimes in the current political climate. The Amazons mow down Germans. Wonder Woman singlehandedly battles legions of them and eventually defeats the GOD OF WAR all by herself. And as a brilliant woman told her, she was stronger than she thought.

[EDITED TO ADD:] Last week, I worked out with a different group of people at the gym; I’d seen them around but didn’t know them personally. As we went through our rounds of exercises, one woman would surreptitiously watch me and then say, “You need to use a heavier weight.” I dutifully went back to the rack to choose a larger dumbbell and and she just shook her head. “Come on, you can go up at least 20 more pounds.” She made me go higher on every single exercise, and the workout was that much more challenging. Her message, like Antiope to Diana, was “you’re stronger than you think you are.” I was back with my regular group today and I saw the woman on the other side of the training room. I shouted over that I was going with a heavier weight and she just replied that she’d continue to keep her eye on me.

It’s About Time We Got Wonder Woman (Spoilers Ahead)

Basebrawl

Yesterday afternoon, who-dat Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland plunked Nationals wunderkind and future Pantene spokesman Bryce Harper. Harper charged the mound, where Strickland was waiting, punches were thrown and the benches for both teams cleared.

I saw highlights and there are various entertaining stills from the brawl on Twitter, but especially in light of Mike Trout going on the DL, I just watched with a surprising amount of dread and discomfort, considering how much animosity I have for both teams.

You hear of old timers talk about intentionally hit batters as the result of a violation of the unspoken rules of baseball. Former Phillie and current Dodger Chase Utley gets hit all the time, mostly because his take-out slides, in which he basically slide-tackled infielders, are incredibly vicious. Other violations include taking too long to admire a home run. Harper’s transgression, according to the article referenced above, is simply hitting home runs off Strickland three years ago.

(Aside: Interesting how women are considered the more petty sex but a grown man getting paid exceptionally well to play a child’s game can hold a grudge for three years and start a fight because the other guy hit the ball well is acceptable behavior.)

The brawl was interesting in other ways. The Nationals are running away with the National League East, mainly because all of the Mets are in sick bay. (The Phillies have forgotten how to pitch and hit.) The Giants are floundering in their division. Why did Harper—the best Nats player and arguably a league icon—even engage? Giants catcher Posey, who clearly did not call for a fastball inside, stands up, sighs, and almost audibly says “NOPE,” when his pitcher starts swinging. He doesn’t enter the fracas at all. Neither does most of the Giants’ infield. National Jayson Werth, elder statesman and future Loreal spokesman, literally looks like Jesus as he scrambles to separate everyone. Are the subsequent fines and suspensions even worth it? And these are guys who depend on their health to play every day; depending on how their contracts are structured, they get bonuses for how many games they start. Their chances for injury increase exponentially when they enter that scrum. 

If I’m a Nats fan attending a game this week, I’m going to be pissed I’m not going to be able see franchise star Harper as he sits out a suspension because he couldn’t just stare down Strickland for a few seconds, slowly take the base and afterward tell reporters he doesn’t even know who the reliever is.

Basebrawl

This Is the Best Story I’ve Read This Week

This story affected me on two levels:

I used to eat lunch once former colleagues. More often than not, it’s always the same day and always at the same place. Once, I suggested meeting at another location and the response was mild alarm: why would I try to change something that was working so well for everyone? My answer-—I was tired of the regular spot and wanted to try a new spot—was inconsequential. (I don’t eat with them that much anymore, maybe once every other month, but the same routine applies.)

I live on a street sort of like the one described in the story. My neighbors, who are extremely kind and gracious people, look out for one another. They know who is visiting my house because they recognize relatives’ and friends’ cars. One neighbor apologized that her daughter’s boyfriend’s car was always parked in front of my house. We have two cars and they’re most always in the garage or the driveway. It’s OK.

A moment of silence for the guy who has to change his entire routine because some neighbors think it’s not OK to park on their street for 15 minutes and eat a hoagie.

This Is the Best Story I’ve Read This Week