I Was a Christmas Cover Girl

The photo above is my first and last modeling job. While my friend Adele Uddo is a parts model extraordinaire, I peaked at age 3. Ah, well, such is the fickle finger of fate and fame. (Ooh, you know how I love alliteration!) I was a cute little kid, though, wasn’t I?

I guess that technically this wasn’t a modeling job per se, despite the fact that I was the December 1968 cover girl. Where did my cuteness appear? Time? Reader’s Digest? No, it was in this specialized publication:

 

Not familiar with it? Well, let me enlighten you. This was the monthly periodical that was put out by the company for which my father worked. It was a brewery called Lucky Lager. Labatt’s Brewery out of Canada was also part of the company. My Dad was a pressman in the duplicating department, responsible for all of the printed materials.

Apparently, a call went out among the employees asking if anyone had a child who would make a good model for the Christmas edition. So, being the proud father that he was, my Dad brought me in and I was chosen. One of my earliest memories is being at the photo shoot.

I remember that it was a warm day, probably late summer. My Mom, Dad and I went to a photography studio and boy, were we in for a long day. The only other memory I have from that day was staring at that candle in front of me, FOR HOURS. The photographer would give me a break every once in awhile but very soon, I’d be back, staring.

Thinking back on that now, 43 years later, it’s astounding to me that I was able to do it. How many three year-olds do you know who would have the patience, good humor and good manners to pose and re-pose for hours upon end? I don’t know any, but then again, I wasn’t an ordinary child.

According to my parents, I was the kind of kid they could take anywhere. I was polite, I only spoke when I was spoken to, I didn’t touch things, I didn’t scream, whine or otherwise act like a brat. I was every parent’s dream.

Were my parents tyrants who instilled the fear of God into me? Hardly. From as early as I can remember, I just preferred doing things that would make them happy. It made me happy. I could never understand it when I’d see other kids throwing tantrums and behaving like little jackasses. What was in it for them? They simply managed to make their parents angry and annoy everyone else in earshot. However, their behavior did make me look even better by comparison. (As I’ve said before, I’m a Leo and an only child. This means that I ADORE being thought of as wonderful.)

I understand how lucky I was that I had parents who loved me, paid attention to me and treated me like I mattered. They were interested in what I thought and how I felt so I didn’t have to create chaos to get their attention. When you’re being ignored, I guess even negative attention is attention. I feel for those kids when I see them acting out now, even though their behavior tries my patience.

My parents weren’t well off. They lived in a one bedroom flat in San Francisco’s Mission District for 27 years. I spent the first 17 years of my life there. My bedroom was really a dining room, but I didn’t even notice. My childhood was full of love, laughter and learning. I was a very happy child in general, and I loved my parents so very much. I always knew the feeling was mutual, even during those times that were a little more challenging. I think you can see the love in these photos from that Christmas in 1968. I sure can.

Typo No!

I assume that most of the people reading this blog came to find it and me via Twitter. I adore Twitter. Not only have I made some new friends thanks to those 140 characters, but I’ve also become aware of music and books that had previously been unknown to me. The theme of today’s post is one such example.

Thanks to a singer-songwriter I follow on Twitter named Gretchen Peters and our tweets back and forth about spelling and grammar, I became aware of a man named Jeff Deck. Gretchen tweeted a link to an interview Jeff gave about his book, The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World One Correction at a Time, and I was immediately intrigued. You see, I’m one of those people who can spot spelling errors everywhere. I find them in books, on websites, and scrolling to the side, under and above the television anchorperson’s talking head. I don’t look for these errors, they just appear in front of me, mockingly.

In fact, I once received a form rejection letter for a proofreading job and it was addressed to “Dear Job Seaker”. Despite my disappointment in not getting the job, the irony was not lost on me. You can imagine the pithy and witty response I sent back, can’t you?

Jeff and his friend Benjamin D. Herson, who co-wrote the book, traveled across the country hunting down typos in small town diners, national parks, etc. People like Gretchen and me understand this quest. As Jeff tried to explain to his girlfriend Jane, the reason why typos were a problem was because they represent, “The creeping menace of carelessness”.

Even if you don’t give a damn about the Oxford comma and it doesn’t faze you when someone uses “loose” instead of “lose” in a sentence, you have to admit that as a culture, we have become more careless about the rules of grammar and spelling. Granted, no one is perfect. In fact, I’m nervous that this post will contain some sort of grammatical error. The difference is, I care if I make a mistake.

In the book, Jeff describes two schools of thought when it comes to grammar and spelling correction. In this corner, we have the Descriptivists, aka, the Grammar Hippies. This approach favors a more subjective view of language and how people spell now, rather than how something is supposed to be spelled. To the Grammar Hippie, language is in a constant state of change and movement, kind of like those rhythmically-challenged, tie-dye wearing folks dancing at a Grateful Dead concert.

In the other corner, there are the Prescriptivists, or the Grammar Hawks. The Hawks believe that there is one way to spell, punctuate, etc., and that doesn’t change. There is a longstanding tradition and it works. There’s no need to mess with it. None of this hippie-dippy nonsense for the Hawks. No sirree!

It didn’t take me long to realize that I totally identify as a Grammar Hawk. To me, it’s a no-brainer. You learn how to spell a word and that doesn’t change. You place a comma here, and it stays there. How you feel about the placement of said comma or how you want a word to be spelled is irrelevant. I remember rolling my eyes when an ex of mine tried to explain why whole language learning was better than strict phonics. (She was a schoolteacher.)

She said that proper spelling wasn’t as important as understanding the meaning and context of the words. This was heresy to me. Sure, when the word “cat” is written, an image of a feline would help with context. But this doesn’t mean that it’s okay for a child to continually misspell “cat” despite knowing what one is.

To me, the emphasis on feeling and self-esteem I perceive from the Descriptivists point of view is a factor in why we’re seeing more typos and grammatical mistakes. It also reminds me of a previous post about children and sports. When the purpose of an endeavor, be it a game or writing an essay, becomes more about self-esteem than about skill development, we, as a culture, suffer.

Wherever you find yourself on the spelling spectrum, Jeff and Benjamin will take you on an entertaining and informative ride in their book. There were times when I became really depressed while reading it. All I could see was the downfall of our culture as each typo was found. I was further saddened that when the mistakes were pointed out to people, many reacted either defensively or apathetically.

Ultimately, though, Jeff and Benjamin didn’t undertake this journey to be scolds or to make people feel stupid. They did this to facilitate better communication between people. If the world could use one thing more than anything else right now, it would be better communication and understanding. On that, I think both Grammar Hawks and Grammar Hippies can agree.

Hitching a Ride on the Mayflower

This serious looking man is Francis Cooke and according to my cousin Gene, the family historian, he is my 11th great-grandfather. Oh, and he hitched a ride on The Mayflower and was a signer of The Mayflower Compact. Before I go any further, let me submit this disclaimer. My family is so not your stereotypical Mayflower family. Oh, sure, we share ancestors with the Bushes and the Roosevelts, but that’s where the similarities end. Somehow their branches were the rich, preppy, Ivy-League types and mine, is well, not that.

 

While those other descendants of Francis Cooke were out creating political dynasties, some of my relatives were carving out names for themselves in other ways. Take for example, this fellow.

His name is George Rowe and if I have the genealogy correct, he was my great-grandmother’s brother. And this is his mug shot from Folsom Prison. He was convicted of First Degree Burglary in 1896 and was sentenced to 15 years, serving nine. Take that, Mayflower Society!

Later on, there was my great-uncle “Honey” who ran a book-making operation out of his cigar and candy store in San Francisco’s Mission District while his sister, my always prim and proper Aunt Evelyn, took the bets over the phone. Years later, some of my earliest memories revolve around going with my Dad to place bets at a bar in the Mission that shall remain nameless. Here I’d sit at the bar with the bookies and sip a Shirley Temple. It was in this bar that I learned how to shoot pool. And despite being right-handed, I shoot pool with my left. I guess one of those bookies was a southpaw. One day the police rounded up the bookies and when it was reported in the paper, I read aloud the names of my “friends” who had been arrested and I cried.

So, as you can see, being a descendant of The Mayflower isn’t all penny loafers & Lacoste shirts, Martha’s Vineyard and the Harvard-Yale game. It’s also bookies and burglars. I am grateful to ‘ol Francis for making that long journey across the Atlantic. And I’m grateful to my Irish, Italian and German ancestors who also made that trek. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do it. The seasickness and cramped quarters alone may have kept me in Europe.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, no matter how or when you got here, be you patrician or plebeian, saint or sinner. It’s who we are now that makes the difference, not who our family was. We make our own history every minute, so go make some with friends and family this Thanksgiving.

One Holiday At A Time

I was out at the mall today trying to get a head start on my Christmas shopping. Now, before I say another word, I must admit that I LOVE Christmas. As a child, I used to play Christmas music in July because I was so anxious for it to arrive. I had to get myself in the mood for Christmas because back then, there were no “Christmas in July” sales and the like. We, as a culture, got through one holiday at a time. Shocking, but true.

Now, you can spot trees, tinsel and the usual suspects practically after Labor Day and it’s a full-on assault as soon as Halloween is over. The reason Christmas is pushed on us earlier and earlier each year comes down to one thing: money. Retailers need to extend the shopping season for as long as possible, especially during these challenging economic times. I don’t blame them. They are businesses doing what they need to do for their bottom line. I get that.

However, it does make me nostalgic for my childhood and how the anticipation for Christmas built and became official the day after Thanksgiving. With this in mind, there is one retailer out there who is keeping a pledge to not start hyping Christmas until after Thanksgiving. This retailer is Nordstrom. Here’s a sign that is adorning their stores nationwide:

Apparently, this has been a long-standing policy but I guess I haven’t been in Nordstrom this close to Thanksgiving before. I applaud them for this and I’d love to shop there more often, but funds are a bit tighter this year. Nevertheless, I think Nordstrom’s stance can serve as a good reminder for us all to slow down, not race through our lives and wish it away. The present moment is all we have and we need to embrace it. I’m speaking as much to myself as I am to you when I say this.

There is nothing wrong with being an early, organized shopper, getting your Christmas tree up Thanksgiving weekend, or beginning to watch your collection of Christmas-themed DVDs. I am one of these people and I plan on staying that way. I will do all of these things and enjoy them immensely. I just want to take time out to be mindful and thankful first before visions of sugarplums start dancing in my head.

Mission: Move That Mole

A little while back, I discussed the mole that had decided to take up residence underneath the lawn. Well, here’s the update for which I know you’ve all been waiting. Before I could blast Yoko Ono or do anything else dramatic, he seemed to have vacated for greener pastures (i.e., other peoples’ lawns). That was until a couple of weeks ago when apparently, he missed me.

One day, the familiar dirt mound was back on the walkway. I didn’t see his cute little face when I looked down the hole but my mother had an encounter with him that would have been hilarious to catch on video, that is, if it didn’t lead to an accident. Let me explain.

On the side patch of lawn separating the house from the neighbors, there’s a palm tree. When the houses were built in this neighborhood back in the early 1950s, all the houses had palm trees. I have no idea why since Daly City’s weather is about as far from tropical as a place can get. Daly City is where the fog settles in like an unwanted houseguest who doesn’t want to leave.

So, as you would expect from a palm tree, there are palm fronds that fall onto the ground. Well, one day my mother was picking up some of these fronds and one in particular was not budging. She was confused until she saw that the other end of the frond was in one of the mole holes. (A bit like the photo on the left.) It seems that she was playing a game of tug of war with the mole.

After a little more forceful tugging, Mom was able to extract the frond without pulling the mole up with it. She came into the house laughing hysterically, saying that it was a good thing that she still did her biceps curls because she would have been embarrassed if she had fallen on her ass, losing a strength contest to a mole. That wouldn’t have been good for her ego or for the newly fused discs in her back.

So, the mole was back and kicking the dirt all around. A friend of my mother’s told her that moles hate onions. Okay. Did you know that? I sure didn’t. How was that knowledge gleaned? Was there some mole focus group? Did pollsters take a break from asking about Herman Cain and instead queried moles on their favorite garnishes? We decided to give it a try.

Mom cut up part of an onion and put it down the hole. The next morning, it was tossed onto the walkway. I figured that either onions gave him heartburn or he wanted the burger, fries and shake to go along with the onion. I can’t fault him for expecting a Happy Meal. Unsure of what condiment to feature on the next mole menu, I finally decided that the time had come to scare the mole with sound. And I wasn’t talking Yoko Ono.

This is the “Molemover”. It’s a battery-operated garden stake that emits the type of alarm and distress calls that rodents make to warn their buddies that danger is approaching and that it’s time to drop the onion rings, put away the playing cards and move to another neighborhood. To my great surprise, it seems to have worked. There are no more unwanted dirt mounds on the walkway. No tug of war and no onions. Now, the only mole I see is of the cartoon variety. So much better.

Stop Labeling Me!

When I was employed and therefore a little more flush with cash, I donated to quite a few charities. These weren’t big amounts individually, but collectively, it was decent. The groups ranged from animals to kids to veterans and lots in between. I was happy to do what I could and I look forward to being able to contribute again in the future.

What I don’t like are the address labels. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? It seems that every organization I have ever contributed to thinks that I write letters like some lovesick Victorian heroine. (Or maybe a really slutty one with lots of suitors.) In any case, no one, Victorian slut or not, could send out enough mail to possibly use all the address labels that I have in my possession.

I have ones with kittens and puppies. There are the patriotic ones featuring the flag or the Statue of Liberty. I have enough Norman Rockwell renderings to make him turn into Mark Rothko in protest. It’s maddening but what can I do?

It’s not like I’m going to start mailing more things. These charities didn’t give me free stamps, now did they? It’s time consuming blacking them all out with a marker. I can’t shred them. Have you ever had stickers gum up your shredder? Yeah. Not pretty. After all, I have enough of the fundraising letters to shred.

Speaking of those for a minute, I don’t appreciate the guilt that some of the charities resort to when they send you address labels, greeting cards, gift wrapping paper or other unsolicited items. You know, the first sentence starts out, “We hope that you received the beautiful ____________ that we sent to you recently.” Then, the letter proceeds to tell some story that makes you cry until you see the suggested donation amount for the unrequested items. This amount is always more than you’d pay for the items on your own.

Hey, I know that times are especially tough for charities at the moment. But, they need to realize that times are tough for many of us too. If I gave in the past but you notice that I haven’t given lately, it’s probably not because I’ve become Ebenezer Scrooge or an obstructionist politician. I CAN’T GIVE RIGHT NOW. Get it? Don’t try to guilt me, people. I survived 12 years of Catholic school with nuns who could make Gandhi feel like a glutton with an eating disorder. Okay?

You know, I just thought of a way to get rid of these annoying labels and make money. Modern art! Hell, if people paid Jackson Pollock to splatter paint, they can damn well pay me to fill up some canvases with puppies and kittens and flags. Oh my!

There’s the Rub

 

I have a love/hate relationship with massage. On the one hand, I enjoy giving them and I’ve been told I’m very good at it. On the other hand, I’ve yet to receive one that left me feeling better, not worse.

 

 

My physical therapist is astounded by how tight and stiff my neck, shoulders and back are. And knead, push and pull as she might, I don’t seem to loosen up. So, I’m thinking that perhaps it’s time to give massage another shot.

The last experience I had with massage was over a decade ago and I don’t remember much except that during and after, I felt like a baseball bat hit me all over my body. From my experience as a massage giver, I know that’s not the way to get repeat business (or a another date, for that matter).

You may be wondering (or at least I hope you are), just how I learned to give massages. Well, I have to take you back to the not-so-golden days of high school. At St. Rose Academy, Christmas break really didn’t mean a complete break. The week before school was to resume, we were given a choice of activities from which to choose for our intellectual or cultural enrichment. These included:

Travel: Enjoy a week in Lake Tahoe or Mazatlan with a teacher as chaperone. I don’t know what exactly skiing in Tahoe was supposed to teach but the case could be made for brushing up on your Spanish in Mexico. I’m sure there were many girls who asked, “¿Donde esta Ramon? El es muy guapo.” This option was chosen by: Rich girls generally, and slutty, rich girls, specifically.

Volunteering: Work at a soup kitchen, help at the local recycling center or other such worthy endeavors. This option was chosen by: Really religious girls or girls looking to pad those college applications with heart string-pulling extra-curricular activities.

Classes: Show up at school and learn something that isn’t part of the standard curriculum during the year. I distinctly remember learning dance steps to The Manhattan Transfer’s Boy From New York City in one such class. To this day, I dislike that song. Another class offering was shiatsu massage. This option was chosen by: You guessed it. Me.

It was a couple years later while in college that I picked up that old massage book and starting practicing on my friends. I don’t recall how it came up in conversation but when my friends found out that I learned shiatsu massage, they begged me to give them all one. (Oh, how I wished some cute girl would have wanted a massage. But, alas, I was still trying to convince myself that I was straight. Unsuccessfully, I might add.)

Back then, a typical Saturday night for me and the dateless bunch I hung out with consisted of drinking wine, talking about ideas (philosophy, politics, etc.), and listening to music. Most often our music of choice was mellow and along the lines of Sade or Bryan Ferry. Ferry’s Boys and Girls album provided the primary musical background to those evenings. (Too bad it wasn’t the background to other kinds of evenings with people who weren’t my friends, if you catch my drift.)

I do miss those days. I was young and in college and my life was ahead of me, full of possibilities. I enjoyed deep conversations and even deeper laughs. Fast forward 26 years and the only place I seem to experience either chat or chuckles is via social media. While Twitter and Facebook can do many things, you can’t give or get a massage and discuss past lives while this plays in the background:

Too bad.

Even Barbie Has a Tattoo

I don’t like tattoos. I find them unattractive and I’ve never seen the appeal. Now, if you or someone you love have tattoos, that’s your business. There are reasons why I will never get one and I’ll get to those shortly. A couple things happened the other day that brought the topic of tattoos front and center.

 

 

The first trigger was hearing about Barbie getting a tattoo. My first reaction was to roll my eyes. I remember when Ken got facial hair in the 70s. Um, yeah. Groovy.

I had every Barbie accessory. My Barbie lived in the townhouse with the working elevator. She had the dune buggy and camper. And she even used to date my best friend Tony’s Big Jim. (What do you mean Big Jim isn’t an accessory?!) Perhaps “date” is not the correct term for what Barbie and Big Jim were doing. What do you call taking Ken to the prom and as soon as he gives you a chaste peck on the cheek you’re calling Big Jim to come over and demonstrate how his prehensile hands work? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

So, the idea of Barbie getting tattoos doesn’t surprise me considering that they’re more common nowadays. I still remember when having a tattoo was stigmatized. People made judgments about someone based on having tattoos. Is this right? No, but we all make judgments about people based on many factors. Anyone who says he or she doesn’t, needs to book that flight to Rome for canonization for sainthood.

The second event that got me to thinking about tattoos was a woman I saw at physical therapy. She was older than me, perhaps in her late 50s. As I get older, it’s harder for me to guess someone’s age. In any case, she wasn’t some nubile young thing with a toned torso and beautiful biceps. She was an average, older woman except for one thing. Her arms and legs were covered with tattoos.

The sight of her made me think about why I’ll never get a tattoo:

Pain: Listen, lab technicians have enough problems finding a vein when I need blood drawn. I can’t imagine willingly subjecting myself to skin carving. I’m a lot of things, but a masochist isn’t one of them.

Tattoos Don’t Age Well: A tattoo of some hot, curvy babe on your muscular biceps may look great when you’re in your 20s. Look in the mirror when you hit 50 and your biceps haven’t been curled in years, buddy boy. Add to this, the effect of sun damage and wrinkles, and you get the picture. And it’s not pretty.

Tattoos Are Permanent: I’m in a constant state of flux of what I like and what I believe. It would be just my luck to get a yin-yang symbol tattooed on my ass only to become Amish some day. Great. Try explaining that to my husband Yoder. Then again, he’s named Yoder and he wears a goofy beard. And there’s that little fact that I’m a lesbian. But, you get my drift.

So, friends, if you decide to get a tattoo, remember to stay in shape, keep out of the sun and moisturize and don’t put anything on your body that you may be embarrassed about later. You’d be surprised how bitchy those Amish women can get around the sewing circle.

Babies Crawl and So Does My Skin

Some of you may remember my rant about the Nutella commercial in which I take umbrage with the premise that giving Nutella to your kids for breakfast is acceptable. Well, boys and girls, once again a commercial has elicited a strong reaction from me and yes, it relates to my childhood. (I know that you’re shocked.)

This time the commercial is for Huggies and it features miscellaneous toddlers crawling all over the floor. I’m sure that most people find it cute, perhaps even amusing. It creeps me out. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Why, you may be asking, does this commercial bother me so much? Well, to answer this question, I need to give you a little back story that may help. In my first post on this blog, I told you that my parents tried for nine years to have a baby and after multiple medical tests and novenas, ta dah! I was born.

Well, with all that effort, you can imagine how wanted I was and how protective my parents were. (I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself until I was 10. I’m not kidding.) One of the ways my parents protected me was by controlling my environment. Compared to the rounded corners, helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and the like that today’s kids deal with, my parents seem almost negligent. Then again, back in the 1960s and 1970s, kids got boo-boos and weren’t micro-managed. But that is a different post.

There was one area in particular in which my mother was obsessed. Dirt. I’ve written about growing up with an aversion to the beach because sand was dirty and dangerous. My mother had the same fear about floors. Not any particular floor, but all surfaces on which you walk: linoleum, wood, carpet and of course, pavement. These surfaces were teeming with all sorts of disgusting and unmentionable things. When I was a teenager, my mother and I were at some function and I saw the look she got on her face when some mother put her kid down on the floor to crawl. The look was a combination of shock and disgust.

Naturally, I asked her about this and here’s how the conversation went.

Kelly
What’s that look for?

Mom
That baby. Crawling all over the floor.

Kelly
That’s what babies do.

Mom
You didn’t. We didn’t let you.

Kelly
What do you mean you didn’t let me?

Mom
Floors, no matter how clean, are not
hygienic. That child over there had his
hands where shoes and dogs have been.
Now his fingers are in his mouth. God
knows what germs he’s picked up.

Kelly
O-kay. How did you stop me from crawling?

Mom
You went from standing in your playpen to
walking. Every night, your father or I would stand at
the opposite end of the playpen and get you to walk
to us. Then you started walking all over the place.

Kelly
(mumbling)
Except across the street alone.

Mom
What was that?

Kelly
Nothing. Nothing at all.

So, according to my mother, I went from this:


to this without missing a proverbial beat.

(There was no way this outfit was going to get dirty, no sirree!)

So fast forward to me today at age 46 and this commercial comes on. I don’t see happy, giggling kids scampering across the floor. I see little human Petri dishes of disease. I bet you’re not surprised that I decided not to have children, are you? My cats are enough work and it’s a good thing that they wash their own paws. But, I do have these on hand just in case…

The Lady Doth Not Protest

I’m not a protesting type of gal. For those who feel strongly enough about an issue to protest, bully for them. It’s just not my style. As I’ve mentioned before, I have friends all over the political spectrum and this includes people who have gone to Tea Party rallies as well as Occupy Wall Street. (Am I schizophrenic or inclusive? I’m not sure.)

 

During my college days back in the mid-to-late 1980s, the two big issues were anti-nukes and anti-apartheid. I do remember going to an anti-nuke rally in Golden Gate Park only because Carlos Santana was playing. I’m not kidding. Even as a liberal college student, the notion of disarmament struck me as naïve wishful thinking but I loved live music. So, I’d trudge along following the smell of pot and patchouli, clap and chant, “No Nukes!” and wait to hear “Oye Como Va”.

You may be wondering (or at least I hope you are), why protesting isn’t my thing. There are a combination of factors at work and in no particular order, here they are:

 Aversion to Confrontation: I shrink from any situation where a confrontation is possible. This stems from seeing and hearing lots of arguing at home when I was a kid. Anger and raised voices made me nervous and they still do. My coping strategy back then was to be perfect and compliant in the hopes that life would be calm. This strategy, ineffective as it mostly was, can lead to…

 No Interest in Rebellion/Acting Out: I was one of those kids who adults adored. I was polite, smart, articulate and could be taken anywhere without fear that I would throw a tantrum or otherwise be an embarrassment. I remember staring at other kids in the midst of some bratty outburst or another and not understanding what was wrong with them. I was a little adult trapped in a kid’s body who felt no need to rebel. It’s not a surprise that I didn’t grow up to protest anything.

 Dislike of Crowds: Being short doesn’t help you in a big crowd of strangers, that’s for sure, and I’m only 5’3”. I’m also an only child. This means that I don’t know how to share and I’m accustomed to having my own space. There aren’t enough people I know personally that I’d agree to be in close quarters with for any extended period of time, let alone strangers.

 I’m a Cranky Camper: We were not a camping family. In fact, I never slept in a tent in the great outdoors until I was in my mid-20s. And I HATED it. Sure I loved playing Trivial Pursuit at night, the grandeur of Yosemite and the peacefulness of the Redwoods. It was the dirt and bugs, the never feeling clean, the sound of mountain lions in the distance or the sight of wart hogs near the bathroom that I didn’t like. Knowing all that, can you actually see me camping out on the streets of New York City or San Francisco?

 So friends, however you choose to exercise your First Amendment rights, have at it. I support you, I do, from the comfort of my living room, with cable, running water and a microwave, that is.