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Playing the Game: Survivor

Survivor is practically an American pastime. In its heyday, it was consistently one of the highest-ranked shows on television, and I’m not trying to imply that its heyday is over. It’s the first reality competition. People are obsessed with this show. And yet for some reason, I just watched my first season.

Drew has always loved Survivor, but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it until about a week ago. We sat down to watch Season 25: Philippines (last season) and I was HOOKED. I would have been happy staying up all night watching episode after episode, if not for knowing that that little alarm clock, in the form of our 7-month-old son, would be going off the next morning at 6:45. After getting through Season 25 in about a week, we started watching Season 26, which is currently airing on CBS, and I look forward to watching it along with America every week.

The best thing about Survivor is the strategy. Sometimes you’ll get an episode where everyone can just be blatantly honest with each other about who they’re voting off, and it doesn’t matter because of the numbers. But usually, it’s all trickery and deception and bargaining, and I find that I can never guess who’s going home because it’s just all up in the air until the moment everyone votes. Amazing.

But there are some people who try to play “an honest game.” And I understand that being able to stand up at the end and say, “I didn’t lie to anyone,” is probably a good card to play. But in general, I cheer for the people who lie at every turn and manage to blindside other people – the ones who are really “playing the game,” as they always say.

Which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with my moral compass. Shouldn’t I be rooting for the person who doesn’t lie, who doesn’t backstab, and who tries to keep up morale? But as you might have noticed, that just doesn’t make for good TV.

But in my Real Life, I think I’m a pretty moral person. My knee jerk reaction when someone gives me too much change is to be honest. One time a bank gave me an extra $5 bill and I gave it back. When I was in high school, and trying out rebellion, I once stole a small Mead notebook from a very well-known chain store. I think I just wanted to know that I could do it. The next day, I snuck it back in to the store, and then purchased it. I mean, I’d already written in it, or else I might have just stuck it back on the shelf.

No matter how much I cheer for the person who straight-faced lies into another person’s face on TV, I don’t want to see that in Real Life. It’s only fun when it’s all a game…with a million dollars on the line. I want to be able to trust the people around me, and I want them to feel like they can trust me back. I want to teach my son that he can trust his parents, and I hope that we’ll be able to trust him. I think the reason I enjoyed my childhood and adolescence so much is that my parents were able to trust me and give me some freedom.

I do, however, understand the need to occasionally push boundaries, perhaps in the form of stealing something small, and then un-stealing it to pay for it. That, I think, is a good balance of rebellious and nerdy.


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Filed under Dollars, Drew, Humor, Self improvement, TV, Writing

Airing My Previously Dirty Laundry

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to submit a newspaper column once a month. I slacked off in February (hey, there was a lot going on) and while this one didn’t run until today, I submitted it back on Feb 28th, so I’m cutting myself a break on that. I will do better this month.

I also resolved to write one short story per month, which I neglected to do, so TWO stories in March!



I am not a particularly domestic person. When it comes to cleaning, I’d say I’m more of a planner than an actual doer. Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m noticing how dusty my computer screen is, but I have no immediate plans to wipe it off. Let me try blowing on it and see if that works…nope, not really.

I do have general good intentions, and I make lists of things to do, like “fold all laundry” and “clean all dishes” and “vacuum all floors,” but when the weekend rolls around I cross off maybe one and half things and then applaud myself.

Drew and I are halfheartedly looking for a new apartment. Halfheartedly because we don’t really want to move anywhere until the end of April, and everything we look at now is available for new tenants on Monday. So it’s hard to look seriously at anything just now.

One of the amenities we’ve agreed that we want is a washer/dryer in the unit. Having a washer/dryer in your own place is amazing, no doubt. But I think I have discovered the downside to having such readily available appliances: there’s never an excuse to not do laundry.

When I have to walk it outside (or down four flights of steps) (okay, onto the elevator), I can always fall back on an excuse for not doing it today. I’ll do it tomorrow, I just put on pajamas. Or I’ll do it this weekend, I’m kind of sick today and don’t want to expose the rest of the building to my germs. Etc.

But when the washing machine is just behind a door (and not even a sturdy exterior door – just a flimsy interior door!), then I have no excuse. Oh look, there’s one full basket of dirty laundry. Why am I not washing it right now? There’s no reason to wait. In fact, there’s all the reason to do it right now. I’m not doing anything. If I wash it right now I can wear my favorite sweater again tomorrow. (Not that I will.) (But maybe.)

Heaven help me if I had to actually wash things by hand…like, beat them against rocks in a stream, and then wring them out and hang them up.

And let me be honest: of all the chores, laundry is one of my favorites. (Doing dishes is the other.) Because you start with a pile of something dirty, and then, a short time later, you have a pile of something clean. That’s progress. You know what I hate more than anything? Sweeping. Because after you sweep a floor, all you’ve really done is discovered that you need to mop it.

Tonight I’m on a weird little cleaning kick, and I finally tackled that immense, intimidating basket/pile of clean clothes. I folded like a machine, and I stacked and then I placed on shelves. There were nigh on six towels in that basket-pile. When I was done, I fetched the clean clothes from the dryer from yesterday, and I folded all those. You want to know how long it took me? Seventeen minutes. That’s the equivalent of four and a half songs playing in the background. My commute is longer than that. I’ve taken showers longer than that. And now that intimidating pile is gone. And I feel invincible. I even looked around for more things to fold, but no dice – I got ‘em all.

So what’s next? Will I clean the bathroom? Wash dishes? Vacuum out my car? Grab a Swiffer and wipe down my computer screen? Who can say? Today, domesticity… tomorrow, the world.

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Filed under Awesome, Being a girl, Home improvements, Memoir, Writing