out of area and stern warnings

out of area keeps ringing my phone. since i don’t know who that is, the machine runs interference for me. when my curiosity or my what if’s overcome my better judgment (what if it’s my kid calling from a pay phone in the middle of nowhere and is bleeding and needs my help?) i end up answering it. i’m always dismayed. i firmly tell out of area that i don’t want the stuff and to never darken my telephone wire again. but it’s hard on me. i was brought up to be more polite than this. but then, when i was coming up, people called you for other reasons than to woo away your dollars.

it’s not just the phone. it’s the mail too. too much paper. most of it wants to entice away the dollars out of area was unable to snatch. coupons, circulars, announcements, dated material, urgent communiques of utmost importance to my health, welfare and peace of mind, all going from my leaky mailbox into my dented trash can.

the holidaze always put it over the top and this year was no different. out of area was desperate; the mailman’s knees buckled under the weight of clear cut forests; birds sacrificed and pigs led to slaughter to feed the multitudes as they reluctantly went from their bespangled homes to merge with other family members around gaudy trees exchanging things that none of them would ever have thought they needed. (there are exceptions to this, but this being an entry of complaint, i don’t feel i need to address all that wonderful stuff here)

the solstice passed with quiet dignity giving way to the sparkle and blink of christmas and i finally found my own spark of holiday spirit. and i panicked! there was no time left! less than a week! so much to do and a whole bunch of stuff on the calendar that i had scheduled that had nothing to do with buying gifts, wreaths, trees and dangling, gold balls. somehow the boxes were hauled down, the decorations put up, meals were cooked and i remembered how fun it is to create my heretical nativity scene that includes rocks, ganesh, santas, turtles and penguins, a springy red devil, don quixote and one horseman of the apocalypse. later, out of area fell silent while my friends and family rang in the new year.

here is something that is new for 2006 — howard stern left the radio waves to ride FCC-free on a satellite beam. i don’t think this will change the world but in the past two weeks i’ve seen howard interviewed on tv more than bush. even NPR had a story about him! that must mean something. i thought he was just a shock-jock with a giggly side-kick, but apparently (according to the tv), his show is for our own good. he is all for free speech and expression. he is a hard worker and doesn’t cheat on his new trophy-wife. and now, we can PAY for the gift of howard’s exercising his freedom on satellite radio. i didn’t even know we had to pay for satellite radio. hell, i didn’t even know there WAS satellite radio. where have i been?

at work nothing has changed but a digit. i can always tell when out of area calls me at work because, weirdly, another phone in my department rings but is cut off mid-ring just as my phone rings. i don’t want to answer, but i do anyway, because, well, i could be wrong about the ringing sequence. it could be a faculty member needing help. but, it’s not. it’s out of area. i say, “this is a business phone” (i want to add “moron” but i don’t) and hang up without my usual guilt because i am someone else at work.

here, in my real world, out of area is back to the pre-holiday schedule. i hardly need to look at the call waiting display to know when not to answer the phone. the mailman is walking taller again too. the decorations are being boxed up today and the tree will be decorated with stale cookies and set up in the gully for the birds and other small animals. it should serve as a cozy shelter for the rest of the winter.

not a lot seems to have changed with the new wall calendar. whatever changes are occurring in my life this year are invisible and i don’t think will have anywhere near the impact of satellite radio.

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