Monday, April 09, 2007

I love my hometown

It’s big enough to be cosmopolitan but small enough to be neighborly. My whole family lives there, all within blocks of each other. My 32 years growing up there gave me an amazing education and showed me the value of community and exposed me to a broad spectrum of culture and gave me the opportunity to sing and dance and perform to my heart’s content in a community theater with budgets and sets and orchestras and costumes and talents you don’t find in a lot of professional theaters … and the city did it all with easy access to affordable parking.

I just spent a delightful holiday weekend there with my niece and nephew and the minor family members who were put on earth to provide them with shoes and scrambled eggs and expensive orthodontia. We had tickle fights and hugs and homemade Easter cookies shared on the sly so Mom wouldn’t see and we listened to Grandma’s favorite happy-song mix CD and we sang along at the tops of our lungs and danced around the living room like big goofy people whose only job in life is to make laughter.

We also sat for a good hour at the ophthalmologist (which is as fun to spell as it is to visit) while my dad got a holding-steady (which we choose to read as relatively good) prognosis on the macular degeneration that’s slowly robbing him of his sight. (Question: Why would an ophthalmologist decorate his office with dreadful art? If he’s working to preserve sight, shouldn’t he provide his patients with some kind of visual incentive worth looking at?)

I also accomplished in three hours the kinds of errands it would take three weekends to do in Chicago: I looked at furniture, bought stencil paint, traipsed through three Wal-Marts (the horror!) to get 33 matching T-shirts in various sizes for the upcoming chorus show, bought crap for the house, bought a little surprise for the boyfriend and even filled my tank for under $50.

And when the kids were distracted by their DVDs or their imaginations, the adults sat around and talked about Important Things over cheese and grapes and ice-cold sodas. And while I love Cedar Rapids and the people and the memories I have there, the fact remains that it is also home to people who would write the following editorial—and to a newspaper that would print it and leave me with little choice but to reprint it here without permission:

A simple surgery for massive phone books
Many phone users in Cedar Rapids have recently received new phone books. When we picked ours up from the porch, we just shook our heads. It appeared to be even larger than last year’s.

The book has become so large it’s impossible to pick it up and find a number without considerable effort. We have found a simple solution that a lot of you might appreciate. Open the book up to the division between the home numbers and the yellow pages. Spread the gap as far as you can, then using a box cutting knife carefully cut through the backing until the two are completely separated. Viola, now you have a home phone book and a yellow page book. The thickness has been reduced from 2 inches to less than 3/4 of an inch.

If you want to further downsize the home section, you can perform additional surgery by separating the coupon section. Now you’re down to about a half-inch. To further simplify things, file the yellow page section away in a drawer where you can find it for the five or 10 times a year you need it and place the traditional sized home phone book close to the phone. If enough of us perform this surgery, who knows, maybe next year we’ll pick up our books in two convenient volumes.

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