What I Learned in Maryland So Far

Over 40 in Maryland is exactly the same as over 40 in Pennsylvania.  Still the same aches and pains, still wake up feeling exhausted.  Still weigh the same (even after 2 solid weeks of stress! SMH).  And, still can’t read the fine print on anything.

Praying mantises can take “many hours” to mate, according to a source Todd found on the internet, after I asked him how long it takes.  I asked because we had a pair of praying mantises on the wood frame right next to our front door for 3 days.  THREE DAYS.  In the exact same spot.  They were there when all of our guests arrived to celebrate Owen’s birthday, and they were there when everyone left.  10 people and 4 dogs passed in and out that door, several times. They did. Not. Move.  For 3 DAYS.  So I decided to Google it.  I found out that females don’t always eat the males after mating.  But Wikipedia said that they were more likely to do it if they were hungry, and one study suggested that males approached hungry females with more caution.  I’d say they’d also be more cautious on the dismount too, under the same circumstances… and therefore I’d say our Romeo by the front door was weighing his options.  For THREE DAYS.  On day 4 they had moved (together) to the side of the house about 2 feet away, less conspicuous, and by the day’s end I was regarding the female with not a little bit of sadness when I saw her alone by the front door.  I looked around for body parts and, having found none, concluded that either she ate him whole, or he got away unscathed.

It’s going to be a tough winter.  I can tell.  I read something somewhere about caterpillars and predicting winter conditions, but I don’t remember what it was … something about their coloring – lots of black, or very little??  Well, there are literally hundreds of them crossing the roads and driveways every day.  That’s gotta be a sign of something, right? And if they aren’t the predictors of some terrible apocalypse, then stink bugs surely are.  They number in the thousands and, as previously posted, they lend the vague feeling of being in a B-horror flick.  The praying mantis lingers just an inch from the opening of the screen door, as if awaiting her moment to spring into the house.  The bugs are trying to get in, people!  Because it’s going to be a bad winter, and they know it.

Drivers in Pennsylvania really are nuts.  Todd was right.  I used to think he was just ragging on our drivers because he was gunning for Maryland.  That was, until I moved here.  While I’ve heard many a rant about Maryland drivers and their occasional aggressiveness – not to mention the surprising number of texters (in a state where handhelds are banned and as of October 1st  the police can and will pull you over if you’re caught using it) – Todd has always maintained that they are courteous.  They will let you in if you are driving with traffic and not being an asshole, and they are expert mergers.  So NOT so in PA. 

A recent trip north found me screaming at this lady who came to a full stop at the end of the ramp before she felt it was safe to merge onto  … are you ready for this?… an emptyhighway.  On other roadways, my attempts to pass other motorists were met with cars that sped up to prevent it.  And the showstopper this week?  Merging onto a notoriously busy highway near my old home, where cars are coming in from the left and merging in from the right (very hairy) and the car in front of me slows from over 60 mph to almost a complete stop to allow another car on the shoulder to get into our lane.  She’s lucky she didn’t cause a 15-car pileup.  And when I moved to the left lane to go around her, she sped up and took off.
And speaking of people in cars…the parent drop off at both schools is very well organized, in spite of limited space, but much more entertaining than where we came from.   Unlike Oley, the people here are not so polite that they won’t blow their horn and yell out the window at a parent being stupid, or holding up the line by attempting an illegal left turn on the exit.  Oley would send flyers at the beginning of the school year to remind parents of drop off/pick up procedures – in the vain hope that they actually read them (I would bet my shot of Don Julio that nobody does). 

Here, there is a SIGN by the stop sign at the end of the drive that clearly states, “No left turns between 7:30 a.m.-8:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.”  The reason for this is obvious – the middle school is located on a two-lane street in town, and buses and cars are coming in from both directions; therefore, if someone is trying to turn left they won’t be able to easily, and thus will hold up the drop off line.  Translation:  they can’t pull out because of traffic, and cars can’t pull in because they aren’t pulling out, students are late for homeroom, and everybody is pissed off.  It just becomes one big clusterfuck.  So one morning, the clusterfuck was notified by the car behind him blowing her horn, and he’s like “what?!!” and she yells something out the window at him, to which he responds something, and proceeds to turn left anyway.  Then the guy in the second car behind him opens his window – after the dude had already made his “illegal” turn onto the street – and yells some expletive at him (which I consider to be wasted breath, since no one heard him). 

But the incident at the pick up yesterday topped even the best rant out of Oley.  So I’m in line, waiting for Owen.  There’s a woman in front of me in a Lincoln Towncar with her toddler hanging out the passenger side window.  Owen gets in the car.  Meanwhile, other cars in front of Mrs. Towncar have departed.  She’s not pulling forward to allow others behind us to actually enter the lot (they are still on the street waiting to pull in).  And not because she’s ignorant.  It’s because she’s holding onto her toddler’s legs so she doesn’t accidentally fall out the window, and has no idea how many cars she is holding up behind her.  Finally, her daughter comes out – or who appears to be her daughter – and attempts to get into the car.  A cat-and-mouse game ensues between herself and the toddler, who by now OUGHT TO BE IN A CAR SEAT.  Meanwhile, I’m still stuck behind her with my cargo safely loaded, and there are a half dozen cars behind me that can’t go anywhere either.  Then 2 more girls approach the car on the driver’s side and begin a conversation with the woman, all while big sister is chasing her little sister from front to back seat with both car doors open.  I just CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP, PEOPLE.   It’s at this point that I decide I have enough room to back up a few inches and then pull forward around Mrs. Towncar.  This is when girl # 2 opens the passenger door as I am trying to go around the car.  And now I can’t move because to continue forward is to either hit her and girl # 3, who has at that very moment decided to pull out her cell phone, or plow through the row of parked cars on their left.  Todd would’ve blown his horn until it exploded by this time, but I – still feeling a bit “newbie” and not wanting to be marked as “crazy new bitch” – kept my cool and did my best you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look until I could get around them. 

I have also learned that I can no longer avoid surrendering my PA driver’s license for a Maryland one.  As I have previously mentioned, I do not like change.  This revelation hit me again as I remembered my move to Oley 11 years ago and how I’d continued to drive back to the old town for Mom’s club activities.  I realized that I tend to transition change by holding onto something from the previous place.  In that case, the superficial friendships I’d made in the old town as a mother.  In this case, it’s my driver’s license.  Todd mentioned it the day we moved in, and I quickly dismissed it as not pertinent. (It probably sounded more like yeah, yeah, whatever.)  Mostly because I did not want to relinquish my residency there, which is silly really.  It has nothing to do with Maryland.  I mean, years ago I was this close to moving to California.  And years before that, I thought I would never leave New York. 

Nevertheless, I cannot change my address on my bank account without a new driver’s license.  And, I cannot apply for assistance for my daughter without proof of residency here.  Assistance for Ava is based on medical necessity – where she is guaranteed medical care and expenses covered because her life depends on medication and care.  Type 1 diabetes is a very expensive disease, and the co-pays alone can bury many of us.


Because of our proximity to the Herr’s Potato Chip Factory, we cannot get our favorite potato chips anywhere near our home.  I haven’t yet checked the Walmart store a half hour north of us, but as of now we are stockpiling Good’s potato chips each time we return to our old area.

On a good day, we can actually smell potato chips in the air. On a bad day, the smell of mushroom farms annihilates the air.  Not all the time, said the school secretary, but when the wind is blowing the right way…  The right way?!?  There is absolutely nothing right about being assaulted by the combination smell of a rotting carcass and a dirty contractor’s outhouse whose door hasn’t been opened for 6 months.

We can buy wine on Sundays!  Anywhere, anytime.  Pennsylvania has loosened the padlocks on liquor control on the day God rested, but only at predetermined L.C.B stores, and even so – their hours are limited.  If I need wine for dinner on Sunday at 8 p.m., I can get it here – just 5 minutes away.

Gas is cheaper! Gas is cheaper!  La la la la laaaa la!!!  I filled the tank here on my way to PA to drop the kids at their dad’s – I paid $3.22 a gallon.  Twenty minutes later, in PA, the gas prices were averaging $3.33.

And speaking of gas – if you want to fill a propane tank in PA – the law apparently requires that the tank is transported upright.  Trust me on this.  Apparently, Maryland doesn’t really care if a 100-pound tank full of propane takes a nap in the back of your SUV.  

The ultimate quick fix for a broken nail – a coat of clear polish, a piece of tea bag (without the tea leaves –and if you have to ask – you don’t deserve to know) and a second coat of clear polish to set it.  I didn’t actually learn this in Maryland, but I was repairing a (really bad) torn nail that I acquired in Maryland – in an incident that unequivocally qualifies me for the title, Queen of Freak Accidents – and by the power of Facebook I was able to learn the repair secret from my friend back in Oley.  Does it work?  Of course it works.  I wouldn’t have posted it otherwise.

And, since I mentioned it, I AM the queen of freak accidents.  I tore my nail while making the bed, when I yanked on the comforter to pull it up and caught my fingernail in the fancy embroidery.  (By the way, I don’t recommend yelling Oh my God! over and over when your spouse is in the next room.)  I can further qualify my claim because just this morning I was walking through my bedroom and swung my arm up for whatever reason, caught the string of my hoodie and the metal tip of it hit me directly in the eye.  True story.  I felt it prudent at this point to take the day off to lie on the couch under a blanket.
I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.  ~ Winston Churchill

The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school.  ~ Will Smith

Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.  ~ Henry Ford

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