Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Me and My Notorious Coach Sneakers

I'm defined by a certain pair of shoes. People may not know my name, but they certainly know the shoes. They make a grand entrance all on their own. They are my loud, hot pink, and completely fabulous Coach sneakers. If I'm going to pay the absurd price for a pair of Coach sneakers, they might as well be bright pink and demanding attention.

These sneakers precede me into any room. People don't see me; they see the shoes. And most days that's perfectly ok. While running an errand at Costco the other day, I slipped into my vibrant sneakers and bolted out the door, running late as usual. The Costco greeter at the main door didn't even glance at my membership card that I waved in front of her face. Her eyes were clearly fixated on my shoes. A few feet away, a woman loading up on massive bags of potting soil could not escape the hypnotic trance of the pink Coach shoes.

These shoe staring episodes continued as I navigated my cart through Costco. Women couldn't help but stare at my feet. Men nodded their appreciation. A few bravely broke their stares to exclaim: "I LOVE your shoes!" I smiled back thinking, yes I know you do. With a hint of shoe lust in her eyes, one woman asked where I got them. She turned away disappointed at my response that Coach doesn't make them anymore.

Hip, chic, coveted, fabulous pink sneakers, but notorious? Yes! While making my way to the Costco checkout lines, one woman caught my eye. She looked very familiar but I could not place her. Perhaps she remembered me. As usual, she didn't remember my name but she knew the shoes. "You're the bright pink Coach shoes girl from the Oktoberfest a few years ago! I remember your shoes from the chartered bus ride to the Gasthaus!" Again it's the notorious shoes.

I'll continue to wear my fuchsia shoes not only because I love them, but also for the folly of observing everyone's reactions. I just happen to be the woman attached to those brilliantly pink Coach shoes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dick Clark RIP

Where do I start? What does one say about Dick Clark's death other than he had an amazing career starting at the dawn of television and ending with the explosion of social media. That's how I found out he had died. Facebook. Yes I know, very sad.

In his later years, he did succumb to the Hollywood lure of plastic surgery. Perhaps a bit too much when his facial muscles stopped moving on their own. But then he was Dick Clark. From American Bandstand to The $25,000 Pyramid to Dick Clark's New Year's Rock'n Eve, he was a legend in his own time. How many of us could ever say that?

To my Washington, DC New Year's Eve circle of friends—the night will just never be quite the same again will it? We won't be able to sit around the TV at midnight and taunt Dick Clark and make fun of just how ridiculous he looks this year and crack jokes about his latest visit to the plastic surgeon. We won't need someone to translate what he is saying as he slurs through his commentary on the crystal ball dropping in Times Square. We won't ponder on whether or not he has suffered a stroke. We won't wonder why ABC continues to put him on the air to cover New Year's Eve. It just won't be the same.

I guess we will be stuck with Ryan Seacrest and all of our happy memories of New Year's Eve spent with Dick Clark, watching the ball drop in NYC. Dick Clark was 82 and died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Breakfast With the Chairman

I've never had breakfast with anyone whose name is being tossed around as a Vice Presidential candidate. That would be for the White House, not a VP at Target. But Minneapolis must be a magnet for Vice Presidential types. Current VP Joe Biden was in town last night raising money for US Senator Amy Klobuchar.  This morning US House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan—who is on a short list of Mitt Romney's Vice Presidential picks—met up with like-minded Conservatives for breakfast. And I got to tag along!

As I've said in an earlier post, Paul Ryan has a brilliant mind when it comes to budget numbers and policy. At the breakfast he laid out some of the finer points of his budget that passed the US House but is currently stalled in the Senate and not expected to go anywhere. He spoke of the looming debt crisis and the necessary reforms to entitlements, Medicare, and Social Security.

He knows his stuff as he easily rattles off numbers, forecasted budget scenarios, and how his budget will help relieve America's financial woes versus Obama's projected budget. Given his importance in the US House of Representatives, you'd think Chairman Ryan would be some stuffy politician giving the same canned speech. Quite the opposite!

In between budget talks came football rivalry. The Minnesota Vikings and their dismal record versus the Green Bay Packers nearly perfect record last season. Ryan hails from Wisconsin. A quick jab at the bitter Minnesota winters and sharing horror stories about Delta airlines. His hopes to get his budget message out to suburban Moms like me.

As much as I love what Paul Ryan stands for and all of the good he can do for America, I love that he was just really excited that he could fly back to Madison, Wisconsin and make it home to Janesville in time for dinner with his family. All politics aside, Paul Ryan really is just a nice normal guy out there trying to save the world—one budget line-item at time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Were You Sick on Roman Numeral Day?

What is the worst day that you could possibly miss in your elementary school math class? The consensus around the family dinner table over the weekend was that day in the third grade when Roman numerals were taught. Sitting there—like Roman numeral repressed ducks in a row—my daughter, my brother, and my sister-in-law all admitted to missing out on this valuable life lesson. They were sick on the day that Roman numerals were taught and remain somewhat clueless about their meaning.

If you think about it, you do need to know those Roman numerals and not just to read the dates on ruins while in Rome. I've made my daughter a cheat sheet of Roman numerals for when she does an outline for one of her high school classes. Roman numeral clocks were always a struggle. She doesn't know the order of the numerals or what "XV" stands for. My brother admitted to having some difficulty reading the dates on certain movies or older TV shows that are written in the Roman way. My sister-in-law remains perplexed about what "L" or "C" mean.

I don't even remember learning about Roman numerals and their order but this lesson must have taken up an entire day of math. But seemingly only one day. I found it really surprising how missing one Math lesson could make such a difference in every day life and how three people of varying ages were so impacted by missing out. For some reason, it seems that a 3rd grade teacher must teach you this in the classroom because if you try to learn it on your own it will not stick with you.

Roman numerals are now my prime example of why Math matters. As for my daughter and her Roman numerals? She still has her cheat sheet.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday or Just Another Day Off

On this Holy day in the Christian calendar, four of the five of my family have the day off of school or work for Good Friday. My daughter's high school remained open today, despite the religious holiday. I'm wondering if mandatory closing of offices, the government, and schools for religious holidays is becoming a thing of the past.

When I was a Freshman in high school, like my daughter is now, I remember everything closing down on Good Friday. Maybe not for the entire day, but at least for the afternoon from noon until 3 pm. Along with the school, all of the businesses my hometown would close down. Why? Church of course. Coming from a Lutheran stronghold, most of us went to church for a good part of the afternoon of Good Friday. I remember sitting through a 2-hour long church service that did seem to drag on for an eternity. The hymns saved me. I loved the hymns on this solemn day.

Fast forward to 2012, I would probably have to search around to find a Lutheran church that is holding a 2-hour long Good Friday service today. Perhaps some people who do have the day off will use the opportunity to attend church. Some will just see it as another day off. Have we all forgotten what Good Friday stands for?

This does lead to another issue—that of having a day off for religious holidays. Living in where I do in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, we do not have a day off for Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu) or Mahavir Jayanti (Jain). However these religious holidays are also celebrated today along with our Good Friday. My calendar only recognizes Good Friday. Will schools and businesses be closed in October to celebrate Yom Kipper (Judaism) or on Eid al Fitr (Islam) in September? No, not here.

In our post 9-11, multicultural America—where Americans are trying so hard to accommodate all faiths and not offend anyone's religion or non-religion—will all of the world's religious holidays now make the calendar or a banner day off from work? My calendar does not indicate a day off on July 3rd to celebrate the major Buddhist holiday of Asalha Puja Day. Maybe the atheists of the world want a day off from work to celebrate not believing in God. That would only seem fair. I'm kind of surprised that some organized group of atheists or agnostics haven't lobbied Congress for their fair share of holidays.

So as I contemplate Good Friday's implications for me and this world, I do feel privileged that I live in a free country where I can celebrate Good Friday or Hanuman Jayanti or the Spaghetti Monster if I choose.