Remix: Crossing the Property Line

(Sarah Koopmans, MIT 2371, Prof. Jennifer Martin, March 9, 2011

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Today started out nicely. I slept in and had a late breakfast with my man. The middle of my day wasn’t as productive as I had hoped (as per usual), but I returned some emails, did a bit of reading, and put readings and due dates for 3 of 5 courses in my planner.

I didn’t have time to do all the get-pretty things I normally do, but I figured I was presentable enough and left the house with might have been just enough time to get to class on time. Again, the usual.

It wasn’t until I was in my car driving down the highway towards school when I realized I needed to get gas. Argh. I didn’t budget time for that! But I had no choice, so I stopped in the first town that had a gas station, which happened to be full serve. When the attendant didn’t come out right away, I got out and started to walk towards the pump. The attendant met me there. I asked for the measly amount of $10 – just enough to get me there and maybe part of the way home again – and walked back to the driver’s door. Locked. I hip-checked it because it was partly open. Locked. I checked my pockets. No keys. I checked the passenger door. Also locked. My keys dangled unobtrusively from the ignition. Awesome.

I explained to the attendant what had happened. He tried his keys. Nothing. Other customers started calling out names of locksmiths in nearby towns. I thanked them and decided to go inside and try calling CAA. I do pay them every year, so it would make sense for me to actually use their services. The man inside (who didn’t speak very good English) suggested I try the garage across the street: perhaps the mechanic could jimmy my lock open.

The mechanic said he had the kit, but not the know-how. He did, however, have a car identical to mine in the shop. I asked him to try the key to it, just in case it might work. He hiked back across the street with me, but no luck.

So I called CAA. Because I was blocking the gas station from receiving business at one of the pumps, they deemed my case a priority one and said the service person would be there within 30 minutes.

I tried to call my boyfriend, but I couldn’t remember his number and called the same wrong number twice. Dang technology, allowing our memories to go soft!

Luckily, I have a friend that lives around the corner. She gave me a glass of water, a magazine, and a friendly face. Ahh. Then back to the weird ghetto Indian/Huron County restaurant/gas station I went. Soon enough, the CAA guy was there and had my door open in a snap. I was finally able to pay for my $10 of gas, and was embarrassed that I had caused them such hassle for such a measly amount of money, so I tipped them $5.

On the road again!

By this time, my class had already started and I still had about 40 minutes left to drive, plus parking and all that, so I knew I’d be about an hour late. On the way, I got hungry, and decided to rummage in my lunch bag for a snack. What I found instead was a lunch bag soaked in leaking broth from a container of delicious homemade soup. Gah! It had not only soaked my lunch bag, but also my pencil case, wool mittens, and planner. Also awesome. There I am, late for class, trying to drive AND clean up a soup spill before it wrecks my books.

Then, not long after I was satisfied that my books would be fine, I found myself several cars behind a snowplow going the doddering speed of 50 km/hr in an 80 zone (which means I usually do 100). Plows are always slower than general traffic, but not THAT slow, and usually they can be passed without too much fuss. Not today. I did 50 for the majority of my trip to school. Again with the awesome!

After using the washroom and taking the only seat available in class (right in the very front in front of the professor) and doing my best to figure out where the lecture had gone for the first hour, I got a basic grammar quiz back. 77%. Really?!

But on the plus side, because I got to school after 4, I got to park in a prime parking lot where my car is usually unwelcome. And I experienced a delicious “Mexican” salad. And I treated myself to a large skim decaf latte.

As Monty Python taught us, always look on the bright side of life! (and we all whistled the tune together…)

If I Had a Million Dollars…

…I’d buy your lo-o-ove!

Not really.

Off the top of my head, I think I might:

  • Pay for my entire education
  • Put my sister through school to be a Registered Massage Therapist
  • Go back to visit Hawaii and Mexico and Norway, etc., and maybe take my family to one of those places
  • Travel to the UK and Australia and New Zealand and Italy and France and Greece (you get the picture)
  • Buy some stocks
  • The wise thing to do would be to put it in the bank first and start letting it earn interest, and then pay for all of the above things out of the interest, but the wise thing wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind.
  • Buy a house, fix it up, and perhaps rent part of it out to pay the mortgage payments
  • Is there any left?
  • If so, I’d start an authentic Mexican-food restaurant somewhere along Lake Huron and maybe bring in one of my Mexican friends to guarantee that it’s authentic! And, of course, to stay and make tortillas.
  • Not gonna lie, I’d buy some brown leather “riding” boots
  • And I wouldn’t wait for my BlackBerry contract to expire before getting the biggest and prettiest iPhone there is
  • I’d hire someone to review and delete all the spam comments that are in the “comments waiting to be moderated” section of this website. Blech.
  • Is there still some left?
  • I’d buy one of those sweet mesh ergonomic office chairs that you could just live in, or at least they look like you could!
  • I’d buy a newer Toyota 4Runner, one without cracks in the dashboard or worn spots in the paint or dents in the bumper from where my little brother backed into a post. The only flaw I’d accept would be coffee pre-staining under the cupholder, because heaven knows I’m only going to add to them!
  • Oh yeah, and buy a lifetime subscription to SIRIUS satellite radio so that I can listen to the CBC wherever, whenever, forever!

A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!

Hello, Moto!

Etiquette, common sense, courtesy–all terms we recognize, and we tend to harp on other people when they don’t extend them to us. But do we, in fact, realize our own role in extending appropriate gestures to our fellow man?

Last week I sat in a meeting in a church basement at which about 70 people were present. Though it could hold twice as many people, the room has the sort of acoustics that make it possible, when things are generally quiet (as in when the chairman of the meeting was speaking), to hear from one side of the room, a conversation on the other side of the room. The meeting was a business meeting, and different people were standing up to give reports, new ideas were being shared, etc.

When the first cell phone rang and everyone heard it, you’d think most people would be reminded to turn their respective phones on vibrate, to save others the annoyance and themselves the embarassment. I know I was (yes, look at me, goody-two-shoes). But au contraire, mes amis! Likely, others were motivated the same way I was (or they haven’t caught the digital technology bug yet) but not all.

In fact, apparently some people aren’t embarrassed at all when their cell phones go off in a room where everyone can hear everything, and they think nothing of it. Or when their watches go off for a full minute at 9:45 pm. Daily BM reminder?? Not one, not two, not three, but closer to six cell phones rang during that meeting, plus the watch alarm.

Did these people end the calls or shut off their phones? No, my friends. Well, I guess some did.

One man, who was sitting in the front row, no less, couldn’t find his ringing phone for quite some time, giving some of us the pleasure of grooving to “Hello, Moto!” When he found it, he promptly answered it. I do credit him with keeping his conversation short and sweet.

A woman got up to leave the room when her phone rang, but didn’t wait ’til she got outside the room to greet her caller. We all heard the inquisitive, “hello?”

Another woman in the back row carried on a discreet conversation that was quite short, but still audible. As, of course, was the ringing of her phone.

However, the cake was taken by a final woman, who answered her ringing cell phone in what sounded to me like a resounding voice. She spoke at first as if she didn’t know who she was talking to, then said something like, “No, she’s at the house”. We all looked at the man giving the report as if he was wondering if “she” was at the house or not. Said woman continued on to give the phone number of “the house” twice, and of course exchanged some pleasantries before hanging up. The speaker did his best to carry on, but his train of thought was interrupted at least twice, and I definitely know I missed what he said during those few moments.

Up until then, I had never really understood why people freaked out about cell phone etiquette. Now, I’d like to steal that cute and annoying animation they have at the movies that reminds people to turn their cell phones on vibrate, burn it onto a CD, and play it at the beginning of all meetings I attend.

Seriously, people. This may be a small town, but ignorance in this case does not mean bliss for those around you. If I’m not there with my lovely video presentation, let the first phone that goes off remind you: you’ve got the “silent” setting for a reason. I’m available to give tutorials.

Celebrating Winter in Style

1. Wireless internet. What a wonderful invention!! The most marvelous part of it all is that I finally got it to work with my laptop at my mom’s house, after having the router for 4 months! Even though I get kicked off wireless every time someone uses one of our three 2.4 GHZ cordless phones (I bought a 5.8 GHZ phone today to compensate), I still am overjoyed to be able to maintain my addictive cyber-world without cables and cords!! Technology rocks!

2. My new winter coat. From Le Chateau, it’s black and wool and comes to my mid-thigh. It’s got a nice collar and big black buttons. It looks GREAT with all of my clothes (well, okay, all except my jogging pants) and shoes and gives me wicked winter style. I wanted a red one, but seeing as how I had NO winter coats and I have no idea how long I can expect to live in a place where I’ll always need one, I thought I should stick to black, so I can wear it with everything and for years to come. Practicality and responsibility win again.

3. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce latte. Need I say more, coffee lovers? This is a smooth, sweet, creamy, beautiful taste of caffeine heaven, topped with delectable whipped cream. It goes down easy, even for those non-coffee drinkers out there…DON’T MISS OUT! You’ll regret it later, I promise you.