Monday, December 29, 2003

Odds and ends blog, especially odds.

My neighborhood and the neighborhoods I walk through are still adorned for the season, but I did see a forlorn Christmas tree at a curb this morning, given an unceremonious heave-ho only four days after Christmas.

Ours will be up a little longer. But I will throw it away. By contrast, it's harder for me to throw away any kind of written document, most of all something I've written, so they tend to accumulate in piles and in files here and there. Today I was leafing through a pile, and came across some notes I'd made in July, just before our move.

"Oil paint. Wood stain. Varnish. Fertilizer. Pesticide. Cleaning solvent." A fine cocktail, all that. DuPage County maintains a drop-off station for hazardous household waste, and I availed myself of it before we moved.

Then there was the list I made as I sat in my car at a grocery-anchored strip center in Naperville, also last summer. I was by myself, and I'd gone into the grocery store to get something or other -- and as I was getting ready to leave, my eyes followed the line of stores in the strip center, just to see if there were anything unusual.

Mostly it was the usual suspects: Hair Cuttery. H&R Block. Cigarettes Cheaper! (a persecuted trade, but still in business), Kiefer Swim Shop. And the mandatory strip-center Chinese restaurant and take-out, this one called Fortune Stix.

Then there was Planned Parenthood Express.

That was the reason I sat there and made the list. Planned Parenthood Express was too novel to forget, especially in a strip-center context that was absolutely unremarkable otherwise. In fact, I was so struck with it that I delayed leaving for a moment while I went to look at the PP Express storefront. I didn't take any notes there, but I do remember that the signs out front -- nothing flashy, but unambiguously frank all the same -- indicated that it was what you'd think it might be: a place to stop in for birth control. I was flabbergasted. Not by the service itself, which seems useful enough, but by the fact that it was there at all.


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