18 September 2006

A New Worldview (for driving, that is)

I did it. I can't believe I actually did it.

Today, at 7:30am, I got behind the drivers seat of our 1980 periwinkle Honda Accord with two very trusting passengers. And I drove like I have NEVER driven before.

On the way down the stairs to the car as I was thinking of what was about to transpire, for the first time in my life I had the urge to make the sign of the cross over my heart. And I followed the urge (followed by a little giggle... does that make me a heretic?).

You may be thinking... "They're living in Africa... bet they don't see many cars, but just a lot of mud huts and donkey carts." Let me assure you, there must be millions of cars in this city. And today, I joined their ranks.

Okay. Here's how it is: No lines on the road. Few traffic lights. No right-of-way rules. No signs. No speed limits. No nothin but a bunch of people trying to get to a bunch of places (very quickly).

I thought it might take me some time to get used to it. But after a couple REALLY close calls right of the bat (neither one my fault, of course)... I created my own driving philosophies. Two, to be specific.

First Driving Philosophy: It is always my turn.

There are only two ways to answer the expected question "Whose turn IS it to go?"(asked with a annoyed, confused and frustrated tone). Either you believe that it is always your turn to go, or if you refuse to adopt that seemingly ethnocentric driving worldview... then you must accept the fact that it is NEVER your turn. I chose the first. So when coming to an intersection packed with cars facing every direction, I think "Oh... this could be tricky... how will I ever get to the other side? But wait... it's my turn... so I'll just go ahead and push on through!" Or, when wanting to fill the vacant spot in the road to your left (even if there are many others also vying for the same spot) you must think "Look at that lovely place for my car to fit. In fact, that's the very spot I'd like to be. Good thing it's my turn... I'll just take it" (then you proceed by beeping your horn 2 times and then steering the car to the left).

If you are the unfortunate soul that feels too 'nice' and 'selfless' to be a bit aggressive... my friend, you will for sure be the one sitting in the exact same intersection all day long not budging an inch while cars maneuver in every direction around you.

Second Driving Philosophy: Don't be fearful about the lack of regulations... but BE FREE!

It seemed scary that there were no rules at first. But I've quickly grown quite fond. The only thing you need to know is that you are responsible for getting yourself to your destination of choice. That's it. Whether you feel the best way to get there is through a muddy field filled with potholes and grazing goats or driving the wrong way around a roundabout... go for it!! No one is stopping you. Really. No one cares.

The other implications of this, my driving philosophy #2, is that because there are no rules and no one cares... it also means that no one judges you for any of the choices you make during your driving efforts. Whatever it is you decide to do... for sure you're not the first one to have done it. You won't be the last either. So you are able to drive in freedom, with neither the police pulling you over nor your fellow car-driving peers rolling their eyes at you because of your actions.

So, this brings us to the end of my not-so-wise-wisdom. I freely share it with you. And maybe someday (when you come to visit) you can take us for a spin and see for yourself how great it really is.

17 September 2006

The Dressing Place

There is one cool spot in our house. That’s right… only one. It’s the same one that we have chosen to serve as our office, our living room, and most recently… it has also become our bedroom.

But before it was all these things… it was Mikey’s dressing room. Made me giggle when I figured out what he was doing.

Let me explain.

See… my sister and I had the privilege of growing up in a house heated entirely by one wood-burning stove. Was it a romantic log cabin deep in the mountains? nope. Was it a one-room-schoolhouse-turned-home-for-four? nope. Was it built off the grid? nope. Was it built before modern technology? nope.

he he

It was, however, owned by one of the most efficient, wise, and thrifty men you have ever known… my beloved father.

Sometimes I think back to the winter evenings that he, my sister, and I spent traipsing through the woods with armloads of wood. We’d hold our arms out, and Dad would stack us up with chopped wood. And I think of how I was most often nominated as the one who should climb into the small wood-bin to stack the wood (that is the most efficient way of fitting the most in, you know) while Daddy and Sarah chucked it in the door at me. (Okay… maybe they really didn't chuck it at me). Once the bin was full, we’d play some fox and goose, write “We love you Mom” in the snow with our tracks, drink some hot chocolate, and call it a night. Pretty sure I hated hauling wood in those days. But now, as a mature adult (uh… kinda) I can see why it was a good thing for a couple scrawny girly girls to do as children. And now I’m kinda glad we had to do it. (Ever think I’d thank you for that, Dad?)

BUT… the landing on which the wood stove resided was, in fact… the warmest place in the house (of course). And I have certain memories of Sar and I grabbing our clothes, and rushing down to the landing to get dressed on the especially cold mornings. It was much more bearable to sit and try to get into those tapered leg jeans and pull on the turtleneck and neon sweater near the warmth of the stove than in the bedroom.

This brings me back to my point. The other day... my dear, dear Mikey… grabbed his clothes from the muggy bedroom and went to get dressed near the cooler that was producing the coldest air.

Some things never change...