convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #112


C and i both have our masters degrees and yet, we could not figure out how to buy a pass for the DC metro system. we tried various options and chatted and approximately 12 minutes later, finally cracked the code. C bought her ticket and as i was purchasing mine, an employee came over.

metro guy: ladies, is everything okay?

C: yup. we finally figured it out.

MG: if you buy the daily pass you save a dollar on every ride.

C: oh, we bought the card where you just put a specific amount of money on it. we’ll be okay with that.

me: this is like reading greek.

MG: where are you all from? i’ve always like the greeks.

C: boston.

C and MG continued the conversation as my attention had to be laser focused on buying my ticket. the machine spit out my ticket, we thanked the man, and went on our way.

me: why did he keep talking about the greeks when you said we were from boston?

C: it was when you said it was like reading greek. he thought we were from greece!

even though he and i were unintentionally having separate conversations, the kindness in his voice and actions was unmistakable.

convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #110

*author’s note: you may have noticed my last posted conversation with strangers is #63. self, you say, how did we go from #63 to #110? and i’d respond, i’ve got them all locked and loaded in a word document that may or may not (probably not) see the light of day. i don’t have time to post them all, but i wanted to resume this series, so i’m starting here in 2015…*

1.3.15 (at philadelphia airport)

security guard: miss mumford, hello. hey, do you happen to know the singer of this song?

me: no, i’m afraid i don’t.

SG: i thought you were too young to know. it’s karen carpenter.

me: oh! she has a lovely christmas album. my parents are big fans of hers.

SG: yes, that is a nice album. it’s a shame she died so young and of anoxeria.

me: very tragic.

as we smiled goodbye and i removed my coat, shoes, sweater, bracelet, etc. etc., i pondered the ways in which music touches us all.

the next security guard was also all about the conversations.

him: you have your big winter coat, i see.

me: yup. and i have another one in my checked bag.

him: so you’re from boston. okay, explain something to me.

me: *pulls on boots* okay.

him: they said the snow wouldn’t accumulate more than an inch an hour.

me: and how long is the storm supposed to last?

him: 7 hours.

me: so boston won’t get more than 7 inches.

him: why don’t they just say “a dusting” then?

me: because 7 total inches isn’t a dusting. it’s a fair amount. it’s just not a nor’easter or a blizzard.

with my knowledge dispensed and my shoes, watch, bracelet, sweater, scarf, and coat back on, i wished him a happy trip to boston since he’s got a ski trip scheduled for next week. who knew airports were so educational as well as functional?


northern lights

in a fit of procrastination, i typed “where can i go to see the northern lights” into (true story, brother G) and this was the result:

(1) Go to the extreme north of the globe, towards the North Pole, for ideal viewing. This is where the aurora borealis is magnetically drawn. The ideal locations for spotting the aurora are north Finland, Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska and Greenland.

(2) Visit these locales from October through March. Since the rest of the year is dominated by day-round sunlight, seeing the aurora is more difficult during that time.

(3) Keep up with ongoing solar activity to find out the best times for viewing.

(4) Watch for reports of unusually high solar activity if you live farther south. When solar activity is unusually high, the lights can often be seen at much lower latitudes than usual. Chances for viewing would be especially good throughout Canada and mid- to northern regions of the U.S. and Europe. It even may be possible to see the aurora farther south.

(5) Put yourself in the best viewing position by heading to the country. Even if the aurora borealis does make it far enough south to be seen by those outside of the scientific community, it will probably be drowned out by city lights. Find a secluded, light-free locale.

(6) Practice the art of patience when waiting to see the lights. You may have to wait several hours before finally catching a glimpse, so be ready to put your skills of endurance to use when aurora hunting.

(7) Be ready to go as soon as the conditions are right for possibly spotting the Northern Lights. These brilliant displays generally only last 2 to 10 minutes, so you don’t want to miss it.

a list! i love lists! it’s like it knows me. and a list of how to see something that’s always been on my life TO DO list? color me excited.

in other news, what’s something on your life TO DO list?



every sunday (well, barring any scheduling difficulties), i make a very important phone call to sister J. because of the wonders of technology, said phone call lets me see her, baby mac (3yo), bubba mac (1yo), and when he’s not doing his doctor duties, BILT. the kids are of the age where every day brings new changes and expressions and words and actions and it’s so so so much fun to watch them grow.

even if they like to push the button that hangs up on me.

this time, i’m not giving them that option because i’m forgoing one technology (the phone) for another (a plane).

bubba mac
being a baby is rough.
baby mac
dread pirate baby mac
easter 2013
happy easter, y’all.

with faces like those, you see why i’m powerless to resist.

i wish you a very happy weekend. see you on the flip side.


a tale of two ski trips

winters can be suspiciously long if you don’t partake in some sort of winter sport (especially when you live in NE or colorado or utah or anywhere else a lot of snow can be found), so thank goodness for new friends who ski and old friends with newfound abilities.

after snowboarding lessons (in 2000) ruined my skiing techniques (from childhood), i focused almost exclusively on shredding. in fact, i own my gear and i’ve gone snowboarding once a year every year (since 2000).

i’m no expert, but i’m no novice either.

two weekends ago, i happily strapped in to tear up the mountain with the old friends with newfound abilities. this time however, the mountain won. let’s just say my helmet paid for itself because otherwise i’d have knocked myself unconscious. twice.

playing the pansy card, i left the others on the mountain and spent some time warming up in the lodge and pondering why fear was so pervasive that day. as i’ve gotten older, i’ve grown less and less fond of speed because the faster i go, the less control i have / i’m hyper aware of what i have to lose should i sustain an injury BUT snowboarding isn’t something new to me. i have many mountains notched on my proverbial snowboarding belt.

why was i so scared?

it’s most likely because my attention was focused on keeping up and popping up after a fall and maintaining momentum and not being left behind and guilt i was slowing the group down.

i resolved to try again after lunch because i knew i could do better. i pushed myself, but ended the day after only a few more runs and a bout of whiplash and a decision there was no way i could snowboard the very next weekend (which i had previously committed to). i dragged my bruised body inside and wondered what to do next. i’d hoped this trip would be a warm up for the next weekend when a new friend and i traveled to vermont, but instead, all i managed to do was freak myself out.

despite the massive bruising and strained muscles, i couldn’t back out and so instead of falling down the mountain on the next trip, i fell back on old habits and rented skis. i partnered up with people who were at my skill level and took the easy way down. the skis felt familiar. my muscles burned with recognition. my smile bloomed. i was in control, until i wasn’t, but with years of practice behind me, i could contain both my speed and the voice in my head screeching “i’m going too fast too fast too fast i can’t stop i’m going too fast!!!” and enjoy the ride.

oh, how quickly i forgot the fear from the snowboarding weekend. in fact, i was so jazzed i even convinced my new friend to join us for a trip to the top of the mountain even though it was her first time on skis. trust me, when it’s your first time on skis, any slope looks steep.

talk about bravery (on her part) and peer pressure (on my part).

that trip up consisted of four of us: two newbies, two “teachers”. it took us around an hour to reach the bottom (vs. 15 minutes when i went solo), and it was my favorite run of the day.

since i was with people with less experience than me, it was my job to coach and encourage and lead by example. my focus wasn’t on my abilities, but theirs. i wasn’t racing to keep up. we skied it one turn at a time and took frequent breaks and discussed the patterns we carved in the snow and the best route down and icy patches and helped each other up.

it’s a whole different experience when you’re the one not smeared on the ground.

after they decided they’d had enough, i decided i hadn’t. i hopped on the lift and went for four more runs. me, the girl who can’t go anywhere without getting lost and who (realizes now) skis/snowboards for the social (not speed) aspect, went alone. my confidence was up even if my technical abilities were not, and okay, fine, i went down the same run three of four times. i didn’t trust myself not to end up on the other side of the mountain which was covered in black diamond (expert) trails.

sure i could have survived those trails, but for me, the fun part isn’t about the challenge. it’s about the camaraderie and being in control and being in the fresh air and working my muscles and being active and hanging with friends.

what was that about me being a slow learner?

have you ever tried something new and wished you hadn’t? have you ever thought you were better at something than you actually were? do you ski? snowboard? surf? ride horses? play basketball? what color shirt are you wearing? (just seeing if you were paying attention).

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