About a month and a half ago my husband and I decided to downgrade our phones to save money. So we went from Blackberries to regular phones. Now, honestly, I didn’t think this was going to be an issue for me. I may have been the very last person in America to get a cell phone. Being that reachable has never appealed to me. So along those lines, I assumed having mobile internet and e-mail access was something I got used to, but certainly not something I would terribly miss. Well, I was wrong.
There were several twinges of BB mourning but the first big one came at the afore mentioned Black Eyed Peas concert, sponsored, by Blackberry. (It’s like the universe was taunting me.) At the concert you could BBM Will.i.am (for you non BB people that is like a free text thing with other BB owners) and he did a rap while looking at a screen of all the messages he received scrolling up the wall. It was fantastic, and I totally could have been rapped. (Wow, that is an important second p.)
Ok, fine, so I didn’t get to BBM Will.i.am. Is that worth $30/month? No, probably not. Well, then I went on vacation in Podunk, Nowhere. That is when desperation really set in. There was no cell service at the house we stayed in and there was no internet access. There was a land line but you couldn’t make long distance calls, you needed a calling card. Yeah, a calling card. So you had to drive about 10 miles into town to make a phone call. Now I could sporadically receive and send text messages but I had to stand in just the right spot in the lawn, on the deck or in the kitchen. I used the phrase, “cell hell”, a lot that week.
As for internet access, I am not even making this up, my sister and I drove through town with laptops on our laps watching our connection bars looking for Wi-Fi to poach. We’d pull over if we saw a decent connection, but they were all password protected, even the fire station and churches. Now, I ask you, exactly what is the fire station or the churches doing online that needs ‘security’? So we drove another 10 miles or so to a McDonald’s parking lot to go online. I felt a smidge guilty because I haven’t eaten in a McDonald’s in about 6 years, but not that guilty. I even used their potty. Take that, McDonald’s!
Now, I realize that part of vacationing is enjoying the disconnectedness from the outside world. Yeah, yeah. Vacationing also involves peace and quiet and in a house with seven children, there wasn’t much of that either. And I didn’t need to stay fully connected. I didn’t mind the breaks. I just needed the occasional fix.
So two days ago, I called Verizon and reactivated my Smartphone. I feel better already. Although, this morning I got out of the shower without rinsing the conditioner from my hair and didn’t realize it until I was fully dressed. I’m thinking if the thing is really going to keep me smart, they’re going to need to start making them waterproof.
More peas? Aren’t they out of season? Not this kind, they happen to be in their prime. A good friend got me a ticket to see the Black Eyed Peas for my birthday. Actually, in a serendipitous turn of events my favorite music group happened to have been playing in a city I thoroughly enjoy visiting, the day before my birthday. It’s like they planned it for me personally. Ok, so it’s more like I have a friend who came through with a fantastic pick-me-up birthday gift in the midst of a summer that has been, well, below average.
The show was in Atlantic City, NJ so unlike nearly every other concert I have attended, rather than trudge to my car and fight traffic after the lights went up, we were herded onto the boardwalk like cattle and then into a casino… just where I wanted to be. I have a fondness for video poker. I’m not terribly good at it, mind you, I just enjoy it. So I heralded in my newest year drinking ‘free’ cocktails playing a very expensive video game. Heaven.
The bad thing about a really good night, though, is having to wake up from it. As in, uggh. The next morning, well, later that same morning, really, was brutal. I guess that was my body’s way of saying, “what were you thinking?” I’m not sure how rock stars party, but if that’s a prerequisite to becoming one, I think I’ll pass.
I managed to trudge through the rest of the day, but really it was in such a way that the people around me weren’t too eager to celebrate my birth. Perhaps that is why when a good friend forgot to send me a birthday card, I got a little twitchy. Mind you, I don’t expect all of my friends to send me birthday cards or even to acknowledge my birthday. I’m old enough to recognize that probably the only ones who really care about the day I was born are me and my mother. However, there are some people who can just be counted on; be it a phone call, an e-mail, a card or a present. And while their annual recognition brings a warm feeling of contentment, not receiving wishes from them sends a much louder message than not receiving it from someone else. As in, oh crap, what did I do to get kicked off their list? Being too self-involved is taking its toll! Mayday! Mayday!
A couple of my wishes were late because my birthday was on a Sunday and that can clog up the works. No post on Sundays and all. But there was one in particular for which I went searching once Monday’s mail came and went and didn’t bring her dependable card with it.
Now some people might find it off putting to be asked, “Ahem, where’s my birthday card?” But you know you’ve got a true friend when instead of saying, “I forgot, whack job, why are you being so ridiculous as to ask for well wishes? What are you, five? Get a grip.” she sent me not one card, but three. And I’m here to tell you, when a person is feeling insecure, there is no such thing as overkill. Receiving three cards is like a warm blanket. So all is again well in the world.
If nothing else, this summer has taught me that there are some things I thought I could count on but I couldn’t, and some things I still can. Thank goodness.
I may have gained a little insight into the dried bean market, or lack thereof. After shelling all my dried beans I put them in a bowl where I assumed they would just hang out and be dried beans; forever. Not the case. I went to pull some kidney beans out of the bowl to make chili (trying to figure out something to do with the tomatoes that are starting to aggregate at an alarming pace) and there was an odor problem. Which is to say, the bean bowl had turned stinky. The beans had turned fuzzy. Crispy dry, they were not, apparently.
To say I was devastated may further contribute to the problem of strong language losing its impact because of a tendency these days to exaggerate for satirical or dramatic effect. Actually, I’m guilty of doing that all the time, so I am going to say it: I was devastated. There was my entire crop of beans, rotting. Now I know what those people who suffered through the Irish Potato Famine felt like. Ok, now that is going too far. All right, so I was disappointed.
I tried to separate the good beans from the bad beans, but then I realized a lot of the beans were soft and may in time become bad beans so I just scrapped them all. I dumped them on top of the plant carcasses from which they came. As I looked at an entire garden that was pretty much wasted, I tried to remind myself of the circle of life, of the principle of matter conservation, of the ability of legumes to fix nitrogen, of how this year is just supposed to be a learning experience. But really, I just wanted my bowl of shiny beans back to run my hands through. I’m thinking about dumping the bags of dried beans I have in my pantry into a bowl and doing just that to make me feel better. I think if scientists studied bean handling the same way they have fish watching, they would find similar results.
Gardening lesson learned: Tending a garden requires specialized knowledge all the way through to harvest. Or as the insidious self-help I read in my past life as a pseudo-business woman put it: "Begin with the end in mind." If only I had listened to Stephen Covey, I'd have a bowl of homegrown beans to my name. But alas, I don't. Maybe next year.
**Follow up: The chili was a great success, even with the outsourced dried beans. However, while cooking the chili, I discovered rather uncomfortably that it is not a good idea to cut up Tobasco peppers and not wash your hands afterwards. (So far my peppers have managed to survive my gardening abilities.) Twenty minutes after preparing the chili in the crock pot, I was mopping the kitchen floor and it felt like someone lit my hands on fire. I cannot account for the delayed reaction, however. It makes me wonder if the chili itself will similarly evoke a delayed painful reaction. Time will tell.
I like to throw things.