Thursday, September 24, 2009
One dreary morning a few weeks ago, I got up and stumbled (if one can stumble while driving) over the DC's Half Street inspection station to get my car inspected, as was required by DC law. Other state, like Virginia, license various gas stations to inspect cars. But not DC. One and all must make their way to Half Street where you exit your car and walk through an adjacent building where windows allow you to watch as your car goes down the line, being subjected to various tests.
I chose a 6:15 am slot because the lines were allegedly shorter then and I didn't see how I'd fit it in during the day, what with work and all. The attendant who came to inspect my car chided me for being less than awake, as if we all should be bright-eyed at that hour. He was at work. I was not.
I'd recently had an oil change and gotten my brakes checked, so I felt confident about my car's ability to pass inspection...and yet it did not. Why? Because of a damaged windshield wiper blade. On Facebook, a friend would later point out that DC road are filled with cars that lack doors and radiators, yet mine failed because of the wiper blade.
This joke later served as a kind of prediction when I learned that to trim the budget DC had nixed the inspections all together. Now people really can drive around in cars held together by rubber bands because the city will not be regulating this aspect of their lives.
I got the new wiper blade in anticipation of returning for the follow-up inspection before learning that the inspections were ending. Since I tend to get philosophical about every and anything, so I try to look at it as a call to go for a higher standard. I'd been making do with that wiper blade for so long, I didn't notice it anymore.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When I heard earlier this year that Guiding Light, TV's oldest soap opera (one of the few that made the crossover from radio waves to television and still survived), was going to end I felt a little twinge.
And since I've been so busy, I missed the final day (last Friday), so I felt an even bigger pang then. To me Guiding Light and Gramma are always linked. My grandmother watched Guiding Light on a regular basis and for years after she died, I did too. Even when my mother abandoned the show and questioned why I watched it, I stayed true. In college, my friend watched Young and the Restless. Gramma watched Y&R too, so I joined them because it was a social experience, but Guiding Light was still #1 in my heart.
Later, I learned Spanish and got hooked on novelas while studying abroad in Costa Rica. When I got to graduate school, I found classmates who liked novelas too, so I was in good company.
These days, I can't make the time to watch novelas or soap operas...well, I do watch Ugly Betty, which is a hybrid--an American nighttime soap that has some characteristics of a novela...but on the very rare ocassions that I do catch a soap opera or see a novela, the melodrama is more apparent than it was when I was younger. But I do not despise or make fun of them as some people do because I recognize the power of story. I once heard someone refer to wrestling as a "male soap opera" and in a way it is. The wrestling federation recognized that even those who were dying to see violence, still wanted a story arc to put the fighting in context.
And so it is is with the struggles of life. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of it all. Sure, there is something manipulative in the way that a soap opera will leave you hanging a bit to get you to return, but isn't that what the best storytellers do anyway?
Gramma and gone. Guiding Light is gone. But the power of storytelling remains.