Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Old Are You on the Inside?

Lately I suspect I'm annoying people with my increasingly frequent references to feeling old. People older than me naturally scoff at such remarks, and younger people cringe--they do not care to be reminded of mortality. So after this post, I will attempt to curtail futher references to aging until I turn the corner on some significant birthday. Not sure which one yet. Oh, but I do reserve the right to observe our annual "ailment night" this summer with my fellow Theologigglers. You know who you are.

The truth is, I don't always feel old. Most of the time, I still imagine that I'm 27. This makes having teenage children hard to explain, but there ya go. Ron and I occasionally ask friends how old they are "on the inside." I always say 27, Ron always says 24. Friends say all kinds of interesting things. One woman, freshly turned 30, told me she felt 45. I put that down to reading too much theology and not watching enough trashy television.

This past week, we've had occasions to feel more than normally confused about how far along we have traveled on life's path. So now, a list of Things That Made Me Feel Old accompanied by a list of Things That Made Me Feel Young.

Attending, for the first time, a wedding in which our connection to the bridal couple was as friends of the bride's parents.

At the rehearsal dinner, sitting with the bride's sister and brother and sister's fiance at the "fun table."

Visiting Pella, Iowa, where we lived from 1992 to 1996, and counting up the years (that wasn't that long ago, right?) only to realize that we first moved there 18 years ago.

Seeing people we knew during those years who still look exactly the same. (However, it is entirely possible that time passes more slowly in Pella.) And check out this exciting event soon to take place during Tulip Time.

Realizing, as I explain to people how to find our new house, that the most effective method is to have them turn south at Zaagman's--thus making a funeral home the primary landmark of my life.

Scheming and plotting all the little decorating changes we'd like to make to our new house, assuming that we have decades to complete them.

Hearing my students explain that they had a hard time following a chapter about Richard Nixon in a book we read for class, while I remember Watergate rather vividly.

At least I can still remember things vividly.

Spending the bulk of my spring break grading, which at least affords me "life of grinding responsibility" points.

Feeling slightly envious of students who are spending their spring break on a road trip to the sunny South. I don't fancy the all-night car rides anymore (I've always been a complete wussy wimp about losing sleep, actually), but a little bikini-clad ray-soaking still sounds pretty sweet. I'm not ready for bus tours or early bird dinner specials yet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where Have You Been All My Life?

Yes, I know. Six months' hiatus. Very bad. Long enough for a well-justified "delete" from the RSS feeds of family members, not to mention the three friends who occasionally tolerated our blog.

But...we're back.

No need to write a long catch-up post. Here's the summary: Finally sold old house. Bought new house. Moved during the one time of year that we swore was the only time we truly could not manage a move--end of January. But we did it. Love the new house. Everyone fine.

OK, and now back to random topics. Today: products to change your life. Or at least my life.

Moving into a new house means, among other things, installing a large spigot on one's bank account and cranking the thing all the way to "full bore." Hear that sound? Yeah, that's the sound of money gushing out like water over the Hoover Dam.

But at least for us, some of that money has gone toward the purchase of some pretty nifty achievements of a consumer-driven economy. These are the sorts of products that, after you buy one, you smack your forehead and say: "Why did I not have one of these years ago?!"
For instance...

The plastic cereal storage container--with easy-open spout.

For years we've been coping with those intractable wax-paper bags that cereal comes in. You tear the thing open, carefully so as to avoid an oatmeal-square explosion, and then you try to pour cereal into the bowl over that stupid ragged-edged opening. Well, no more. A moment of bold risk-taking in the food storage aisle at Kohl's, and now we have fresh cereal gracefully cascading out of this little beauty. The non-spouty versions work very well for flour, sugar, and other baking staples, too.

Certain Dri anti-perspirant.

When I teach, I sweat. This is not the wholesome, all-over-body, honest-day's-work sweat of an active athlete. This is the wienie, underarm-only, nervous sweat of the basically introverted public speaker. Over the years, I have ruined many garments this way. In fact, there are certain lovely fabrics I have refused to buy because I know I will corrode the armpits in three-and-a-half class periods. However, at last, I have discovered an unglamorous but effective anti-perspirant. It's cheap, you only use it three times a week at night, and by golly if it doesn't shut down those sweat glands. Maybe eventually I'll turn green from chemical poisoning (doubtful, since the active ingredient is similar to regular anti-perspirant), but at least meanwhile I'll be armpit-circle free.

The Toastmaster electric mug warmer.

Prayer and Scripture reading is a sanity-stabilizing morning ritual, but tea drinking is almost as necessary. The trouble is, if you drink a cup of tea over the course of about twenty minutes (the only proper way), by the time you're halfway into the cup, you are drinking cold tea, which is almost as icky as dirty dishwater. And you can't keep jumping up and zapping your cup in the microwave. Not classy. Well, Ron got me an electric mug-warmer for Christmas, and I must say, I'm impressed. In fact, I'm so impressed, I ordered a second one, so I can have one at home and one at the office. Every time I lift the cup and take that last swig, discovering to my surprise yet again that it's still nice and hot, I feel a little moment of triumph over the sinister forces of thermodynamics.

The Hoover Platinum Series vacuum.

Red-blooded American men love their chain saws and power washers, but ladies, I'm telling you, it's possible to perform a useful, non-destructive task and still wield some serious power. With its understated silver design and its sci-fi-blue headlight, this vacuum makes cleaning feel like conquest. The motor takes a moment to rev up--subtle suggestion of jet engine, there--and then it creates a deeply satisfying pull on that carpet. Best of all--and I'm quivering with the thrill here--the vacuum comes with a separate, portable attachment vac for dry floors, upholstery, and dusting. You sling the thing over your shoulder like a carry-on bag and start poking the telescoping (telescoping!) pole, with your choice of end-cap, into every dust-crusted corner of your house. I haven't tried it on the dog yet, but I'm tempted.

So three cheers for product-development people who get a smart idea and follow it through. I salute you.