Unity Moravian Church
Moravians are relatively common in this area because the town was first settled by a group of wayward ones. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, spent a lot of time with the Moravians, and the two denominations are supposed to be fairly similar. Plus, the Moravians make great cookies, and if I became a Moravian, then I too would make great cookies.

Cookies or not, I had essentially written this church off by the end of the service. There was a lot of ritual in the service, much more than to my taste. I'm fine with a little bit of ritual in my church routine, in fact, some ritual I find comforting. But too much and worship becomes stale and rehearsed. You can stand up, sit down, and read the bold-faced words on autopilot; too much of that and nothing means anything. And I don't know if this is church-specific or not, but this particular Moravian church liked its rituals. Lots of singing and reading prayers, plus a five-page litany from the hymnal. This was just a regular Sunday, mind you, not even Easter or Communion Sunday. I shudder to think of what the Christmas or Good Friday service must be like.

However, the members of Unity Moravian Church are either very, very friendly or just hard up for new members. A lady came up to me, introduced herself, and then introduced me to someone else, saying, "This is Sandra! She's a VISITOR!!!" The next person talked to me a while, then introduced me to another person, saying "This is Sandra! She just moved here from Boone! She's a VISITOR!!!" Finally, after going through another chained introduction or two, I was introduced to the pastor by another of my new aquaintances, who said, "This is Sandra! She just moved here from Boone! She recently graduated from Appalachian! She writes software! SHE'S A VISITOR!!!" I was concerned for the health of these people, as the excitement of having a visitor (!!!) seemed to be almost too much for them. In any case, I was charmed (and a little frightened) by their enthusiasm. But I kept thinking about that five-page litany, and in the end, I wanted to look around some more. Five pages of responsive reading? No cookies are that good.


not enough handbells.

I'm looking for a church, both because I want to meet new people and because I feel guilty when I don't go. And while I know this isn't really why God wants you to go to church, I think He'll agree that'll it'll do until you come up with a better reason.

It's hard to choose a church, because you're mostly judging on things that ultimately aren't important. You may choose this church because it has a good handbell program, but if it turns out handbells don't equal spiritual growth in this church, then you may have made a poor choice. Then again, I tend to think you could feasibly get the same spiritual nourishment out of your experience at any church; you just may have to work harder at places without handbell choirs. In any church experience, you only get out what you put in.

So I have to figure out what's important to me in a church. I tend toward United Methodist churches, because I grew up in one. I joined the UMC when I was twelve, and by the time I was eighteen, I had begun to pay attention what denominations actually meant. Luckily, it turned out that I still liked the Methodists. That could've been because of the mass brain-washing they did to me over eighteen years, but if so, they at least had the courtesy to brain-wash me into being happy about it.

I like interesting, thought-provoking sermons that aren't just retelling the same Bible stories over and over. I want to hear something I haven't heard in 20 years of sermons. I would like for there to be other people my age and marital status. I like pot lucks with lots of deviled eggs. I like for there to be programs going on, even if they're not ones I'm necessarily interested in; I want the church to be active. I like smaller churches. I like it when everybody seems to know everybody. I liked anonymity in my college classes, but not in my church. I honestly feel like a sense of a tightly-knit, yet open to new people church family is the most important thing to me. I want a church family that is warm and friendly. I can sacrifice on all the other things if I go in there every Sunday and someone is just thrilled to see me.

So I've been church-hopping. It's a hard thing to do, to just show up somewhere where you don't know anyone. Then you have to try to figure out the order of service, the songs they sing, and Lord help you if they sing the Doxology to a different tune. And you're supposed to fill in the attendance pad. I always do, but I never tell them my address or phone number. I'll pick a church without the assistance of a marketing team, thank you very much. I do mark down that I'm a visitor and that I'm new to the area, just so they know if they don't see my name again, they need to work on something. Chances are, they just didn't have enough handbells.


but with less issues.

Hi there, I'm Brian. Don't worry, I'm not here to harass you, I'm just looking for non-violent people. Are you a violent person?

Um, no. Is he a violent person? Why is he on my porch?

Well, good. They're just sending us all out here to make us work on our people skills, make sure we keep eye contact and don't spit all over people. Have I soaked you yet?

Um, no. Why is he here? Why is he here? Why is he here?

Then I'm doing a good job. You know, there are six hundred of us all over the state of North Carolina running around, and right now, I've got the most points. I'm trying to win so I can open up a Cajun restaurant. I'm from New Orleans.

Wow, that's mighty ambitious of you. I hate Cajun food. Why is he here?

Yes it is, and I'm going to need your help. Plus, if I win, they're going to send me to Cancun. Ever been to Cancun?


Oh, well, I'm going to need a dancing partner...


...unless you have a husband or a boyfriend already.

I do have a boyfriend. He's six-nine, and he plays for the Redskins, except now he's on probation because he killed a man with his bare hands.

Ah, that's too bad, but I don't wanna get in trouble now.

(uncomfortable laughter) Go away. Why is he here?

See, the more magazines I sell...


...the more points I get. Here's a list of my magazines. Now I'm not asking you to buy twenty subscriptions, just ten!

(forced laughter) You obviously don't know me very well, then.

Nah, that's just a little joke there. But seriously, all you gotta do is pick these out and sign a form for me, and the magazines come right to your door. It's cheap and easy, like my ex-girlfriend, but with less issues.

That's not very nice. Not to mention really creepy and weird.

Ah, well, it was just a rough situation there, you know? She had this baby and it died, and then two weeks later she broke up with me because she didn't want a committment. After two years together! Can you believe that?


Then, well, I just decided I had to get out of there, so I started travelling around the country, just get away from there. And now I'm here!

Yes, you are. Oh, good.

So, here are the magazines. Now, I'm not points-greedy, I'm just points-needy. And you know what? You can even send these magazines as a gift to a charity. I had a guy in the next building over send a subscription of Maxim out to our troops. And you know what the best part about that is?

What? That you'll leave?

It's tax deductible.

That is good. That is the first sensible thing you have said to me.

Now, what do you do for a living?

I write software. Where is he going with this?

Wow! Good for you!

Thanks. Funny how those college degrees keep you from selling magazines door-to-door.

How much do you make?

That's really none of your business. You've got to be kidding me.

Ah, well, I like to ask. I really like to ask cops, because I make more than they do. Cops are so full of themselves, and it's funny that I make more than they do.

Plus you don't get shot at. Although, if I had a gun right now...

Well, there was this one time that I did get shot.

That's no good. This is ridiculous.

Ah, well, it happens. So what can I put you down for?

I really don't need any magazines, thank you. Go away, go away, go away.

No one needs magazines.

Okay, I don't want any magazines. Why did I tell him that I have a good-paying job?

No one wants magazines...

What the heck kind of pitch is this?

...but you can still do your part and send some as a gift, you know.

I'm sorry. I'd like to send a subscription of Playboy to the local children's home and a subscription of Cat Fancy to our troops, please.

Do you mind me asking why?

I'm sorry, I'm just not interested. Because you're creepy. Because your magazines are overpriced. Because you're bothering me. Because no one needs or wants magazines.

Well, bye then.

(locks door)


look at me.

So, Alexandra Zuck died a few weeks ago.

Depending on how old or how up on trivia you are, you may not know who Alexandra Zuck is. I know who she is, because my name is Sandra, and for all the years of my life, people have been calling me by Alexandra Zuck's pseudonym.

Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee...

If your name is Sandra, you already knew all about Sandra Dee. If your first name is Sandra and your last name starts with a D, then I'm very, very sorry. I feel your pain. It's not even Sandra Dee's fault for branding all future Sandras. It is the fault of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, who wrote "Grease," and the fault of Stockard Channing, who sang "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" in the movie. I even blame Olivia Newton-John a little bit. Thanks to them, I'm forever associated with being "lousy with virginity."

People began calling me "Sandra Dee" in middle school, probably coinciding with my classmates realizing what "virginity" meant. Since then, I've heard all sorts of variations. Sometimes it's "Sandra Dee," sometimes "Sandra G." (my last initial), and I even had a guy who called me "Miss Dee" for a while, and I could never figure out why he was calling me "Misty."

The trouble with this nickname is that people independently come up with it themselves. It's not like you know a specific group of people who call you "Boo-Squawky" or that you're known as "Buggy" around the office. People who have never before heard me called "Sandra Dee" by others call me that. It flows, they like it, and they are impressed with their own ingenuity.

Okay, I'm done griping. I really don't mind, and to be honest, I kinda like it. Having a nickname, even a really awful one, which Sandra Dee is not, is generally a sign of affection of others for you (unless it's "Dummy" or something like that). And there are worse things to be associated with than wholesomeness. So I don't really blame Alexandra Zuck for anything. There are worse things to be called than Sandra Dee.

Like Alexandra Zuck.


it's fun to be good.

Thing 1: Zach played golf on his lunch break.
Zach, the guy in the office diagonally from me, plays a lot of dang golf. He plays every day there is no precipitation and the temperature is above 40 degrees. When he doesn't play outside, he practices his swing technique in his apartment with the aid of a pair of giant mirrors he bought at Lowe's expressly for that purpose. Whatever Zach does, he is passionate about it, and he is always trying to improve himself. He says he plays to be good. I asked him if he ever played anything because it was fun. He said that being good was fun. Part of me wishes that I were like this; the rest of me thinks it would be awfully inconvenient.

Thing 2: The ACC men's basketball tournament started today.
Sure wish I could get the games with my TV and rabbit ears setup. Setting the score page on ESPN.com to automatic refresh every 30 seconds is just not the same. Tomorrow we are having an office lunch, the time of which is magically coinciding with the tipoff of the Carolina game. You probably think it is coincidental, since the game starts at noon. Not so. Every office lunch I've been to in the past two months has always started at 11:30. We are true North Carolinians.

Thing 3: I had deviled eggs with my lunch today.
I made them myself last night without any adult supervision. The rest of my lunch was also homemade, and none of it involved the letters P, B, and J. Every day, I become a little bit more marriage material.


ten-cent limes.

Chris happened to have a Winn-Dixie sales paper on his desk. I honestly don't hang out with Chris all that much, except for the fact that he is Rob's officemate, and I try to talk to Chris so it's not like I'm just coming to see Rob all the time. But anyway, Winn-Dixie was having this phenomenal produce sale. Ten cent limes! Ten cent kiwis! Ten cent baking potatoes! Plus, ten cent Granny Smith apples and bananas, as well as a big selection of twenty cent apples. Chris, Rob, and I fantasied about the possibilities of such a veritable menagerie of produce-tastic enjoyment. Actually, I fantasied about it, and Chris and Rob laughed at me.

Here's the thing: there is only one Winn-Dixie in the Winston-Salem area, and it's about fifteen miles from my house, down Highway 52 in the suburb of Midway. Driving that far to get ten cent limes would probably offset what I would be saving off the cost of my ten cent limes (regularly 33 cents apiece). Plus, there was the fact that I don't ever use limes. Kiwis, potatoes, apples, and bananas, maybe.

Rob tried to talk me into going and picking up some limes for him. He wanted me to go, not because he needed limes, but because he would be amused at the thought of me driving 13.82 miles (according to MapQuest) for some ten cent limes. Really, the idea was ridiculous.

Of course, I went.

There's not much in Midway. Besides boasting the area's only Winn-Dixie, there was a Dollar General, a local pizza place ("Presto Pizza"), a nail salon ("Art Nails"), and a gas station or two. That's it, nothing else to justify a trip to get ten cent limes. I bought a dollar's worth of limes for Rob and didn't accept reimbursement, making them especially cheap for him. Plus, I got some other fruits and veggies for me, though nothing I couldn't have gotten at the Food Lion close to my house for more than ten cents apiece. Still, I'm glad I went, because it's silly and ridiculous, and because I am a grown-up, I can do all the silly and ridiculous things that I want to do.

Actually, I am just that hard-up for something to write about these days.


blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch.

I always stop to check my mailbox when I get home from work. My mailbox is one in a pair of clusters in a tiny building attached to the apartment building next to mine. From my mailbox, I can see my front door. And so one day last week, I could see the little red and white pieces of paper as they stuck in my screen door from my mailbox. How exciting!

Not really. The red piece of paper was from my rental office, saying I needed to come see them ASAP regarding March's rent check. Eh, whatever. The white piece of paper was a piece of wide-ruled notebook paper folded in half twice. At the top of the page it said, "Blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch." And that was it.

No, it wasn't a very odd sexual predator. It wasn't even your run-of-the-mill sexual predator. The sentence fragment in question is a song lyric that I know well, from They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul." You would probably say the fact that a person who knows such a bizarre little snippet says something about the person who left the note. You would probably also say the fact that I recognized it immediately says something about me.

The best thing about the mystery of the weird note was that there were multiple suspects. If it says something about me that I know someone who would leave a note saying "Blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch" in my door, what does it say that I know multiple someones who would do it? What if I had, in fact, two suspects in mind, and that I called the wrong one first because of geographical evidence?

Josh very nicely said it wasn't he who left the note, very nicely humored me and said it did sound like something he would do, then probably hung up the phone laughing at me. First suspect eliminated, I called the second, my brother, Sid. He laughed at me, too, because I called the wrong guy first. Then we talked a minute, and hung up. Then I laughed at me, because it was all very ridiculous.



Amy and I were best friends in high school. She was slightly on the weird side of normal, and maybe I was on the normal side of weird. (I say maybe because I don't really like to declare myself as "weird." I don't like to declare myself as anything. I'm Sandra, and if you don't know what that means, then you're not paying attention. But this is another issue.)

My relationship with Amy was peppered with lots of in-jokes, as all my best relationships are. Sometimes I get my in-jokes mixed up and I make them with the wrong friend. I made a tea kettle roar at my friend Josh this weekend and received a blank stare. I said, "If you were Amy, you would have thought that was hilarious." With Amy and I, even having in-jokes was an in-joke, along with "John's Bluff," cookin' beans, and making tea kettles roar.

But the real focus of this aside-riddled entry is BFFAA, one of our most oft-used in-jokes which stands for "Best Friends Forever And Always." It's something that elementary school girls sign at the bottoms of letters to their bosom companions. But Amy and I didn't sign "BFFAA." We signed things like "BFFAABYLWIMATKR"** or "BFFAAETYWTTLWIMATKR"***. We made up new ones every time, and put a little star at the end which matched up to the footnote where we would explain what all those letters meant. The challenge was to guess what the letters stood for. Mostly, the statements were so ridiculous that we could never get the whole thing. But sometimes, we could. Whether that's a testament to how close we were, how similar we were, or just how sad we were, I don't know.

Amy and I still talk quite a bit, mostly on the internet. When I lived in Boone, we'd go weeks without seeing each other until we happened to both be bored on the same night, and then we'd get together. We say we are "friends of convenience" now, and though it may seem kinda sad, it works for us. But we'll send cards sometimes, and we always sign off with our version of BFFAA. And it still makes us laugh to do it, even though it's been years since we came up with it, just like all our little in-jokes, like "John's bluff," cookin' beans, and making tea kettles roar.

*Best Friends Forever And Always Because You're My Best Friend Of Convenience

**Best Friends Forever And Always Because You Laugh When I Make A Tea Kettle Roar

***Best Friends Forever And Always Even Though You Weren't There To Laugh When I Made A Tea Kettle Roar