Irony and Angry Birds

In recent months, Lee and I have discovered both Angry Birds and Words With Friends. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? Well, I am hereby going on record and predicting that Angry Birds and Words With Friends will be the death of life as we know it. They will be the final nails in society’s coffin. They will finish the job that reality TV, YouTube and Facebook started years ago. Maybe those Mayans were onto something after all. The following scenario played out at my house just last night…

“I can’t believe people actually live this way!” I expressed in horror as the latest episode of Hoarders got underway. “I mean, what in the world is so wrong with them that they are incapable of disposing of their own waste!?! Then again… if there wasn’t something wrong with this behavior there would be no TV show, so…” My voice trailed off as I grew ever more transfixed by the strange and severe mental incapacitations of others.

“This is so gross and yet I cannot look away. I am fascinated by this show!” I said for about the fourth time while Lee just shook his head and laughed. He is not a Hoarders-watcher like me. But I did occasionally catch him getting slightly drawn in by the unique drama as he sat on the couch hypnotized by Angry Birds. All the while cursing me for suggesting that he play it in the first place when he got his new smartphone last month. 

We sat in the living room, like bumps on logs, through two whole episodes talking trash about these people and feeling all superior because we had running water, functionable plumbing and could still see the floors in our home.

It didn’t occur to me until a few hours later (after we traded technology and therefore possession of YouTube, Facebook and Words With Friends for Angry Birds for probably the third time) that if we weren’t careful — our floor just might begin to disappear from neglect too. They would find us surrounded by laundry and garbage… glued to the TV, smartphone or computer… utterly unable to function in normal society… passing judgement on a bunch of other people for being lazy slobs.

NYC: The City You Forgot You Knew

I’m a bit of a pop culture groupie. And New York City—with it’s starring role in so many movies and TV shows—is a popular culture lover’s dream. Forever a fan of both the small and large screen, I’ve been able to enjoy countless portrayals of life as I will never know it thanks to the magic of television and cinema throughout the years. 

I had not been to New York prior to this visit and yet I was amazed at how familiar it was to me once I arrived. Rounding every corner provided the strongest sense of deja vu I’ve ever experienced. And taking in many of the sights was like looking into the face of a dear, old friend. Whether you’ve been to the city or not, take a look at some of these famous places. Perhaps you will find them to be as familiar as I did…

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NYC: Hurry Up and Wait… and Like It!

I’m not too sure why people say that New Yorkers are among the most impatient and rude people in the world. I know that mine is just an outsider’s view, but to this outsider, being a New Yorker seems as though it would be a constant exercise in patience.

Immediately upon our arrival to NYC at the Staten Island Ferry—which would carry us swiftly across the New York harbor, depositing us at the southern tip of Manhattan—we waited.

First we waited to board, then we waited to de-board, next we waited in line to purchase unlimited subway passes and then we waited on the platform for the train that would take us to our hotel. We waited to board the subway, to get off the subway, to walk up the stairs to street level… and of course we waited for our turn to cross lest we be run down by a cab, bus or bicycle messenger on a mission.

Welcome to New York City. Home to over 18 million people in the metropolitan area — it is an overwhelming, endless rush of humanity. And believe me everyone is rushing somewhere, everywhere, all the time. Hence, the “hurry up” part. Hurry up to get a place in line. Because this tidal wave of beings can only move as fast as transit and commerce will allow. Transit and commerce (I might add) that are also operated by and reliant upon other human beings. Thus, the “wait” part.

I quickly learned why Lee, my fearless-and-informed tour guide, told me to quote: “… travel light and wear comfortable shoes.” By the time our visit to the Big Apple concluded we had waited in line(s) not only for constant transport around the city, but for coffee, bagels, hot dogs, beer, pizza, pastrami and pickles. We waited in line for events, for elevators, for escalators, for public attractions, for bathrooms, for boats, for shopping, for a cashier, for a good view, for a good picture and even for a bench to sit on and rest from all the waiting.

Perhaps the “impatient” brand that has been seared upon New Yorkers only comes into play when they are, say… forced to deal with thousands of versions of some clueless tourist (like myself) on a daily basis who may or may not know the exact and proper ordering procedure for a pastrami on rye. For they are not afraid to show you their displeasure with your non-new-yorker ignorance.

I can’t blame them. That’s just the way it is. Therefore, you’d better like it. Take your $20 deli sandwich, your $7 slice, your $5 dog or your $12 cocktail and drag your bumbling-photograph-taking-aimlessly-wandering-map-studying @$$ and get out of the way. Quickly. After all… someone else is waiting.

NYC: A Much Needed Break From… Absolutely Nothing

So I took a little blogcation for a few days in order to get away from the hectic pace that is my life these days. The so-called hectic pace being largely comprised of job hunting, unpacking sweaters and tuning in to watch The View every morning. During this blogcation I am excited to say that we took a real vacation to the very place that embodies the truest of hectic paces — The Isle of Manhattan.

I have never been to New York City (since I am told that my little pass over the GW bridge last summer doesn’t count) and it was an amazingly adventurous and eye-opening treat! I hopefully gathered a bit of fodder in which to share with you here as I jotted a few things down… at the hotel, on the subway, while my pizza cooled in Little Italy and in my seat at the Garden—waiting for the Rangers to take to the ice.

As incredible as it was to finally visit the famous, fabled, pulsing, living, breathing city that never sleeps… it has also been refreshing to come home to a world where I need only hop in my car to get anywhere I need to be and enjoy a bathroom in which I can actually turn around.

I hope you’ll check back in the days ahead as I promise to do my best to share a few little bites of a very Big Apple.

Cardboard Time Capsules

Unpacking after a move can often feel like the opening of a time capsule. There are pictures, clothing and miscellaneous items—all from another time in history—packed into boxes you long forgot existed. When you inevitably uncover them you find yourself transported back to that moment… that week… that summer… that period in your life when things were vastly different.

Perhaps they were better times, perhaps they were worse. Perhaps you are overcome with feelings of nostalgia, joy, surprise, grief or even relief that you are now sitting exactly where you are sitting at this particular moment in time. No matter the emotions that may wash over you, one thing will almost always be certain: Life looks different than you thought it would back then.

This week Lee brought in some boxes from the garage where we are still storing and sorting through my things. One of them contained a photo album, several envelopes with loose photos and a few cards and letters. He asked if he could look at the album and of course I said yes as I pulled my chair along side his in order to get a good look myself.

It was an album I put together of the summers I’d spent working on a dude ranch in Colorado during college. I was happy to see that although the photos were nearly 17 years old, I didn’t look radically different than I do today… minus a few laugh lines and crows feet. But the thing that struck me the most was the fact that Life hadn’t really touched me yet. In those images, Life and Circumstance had yet to ruffle my youthful feathers. Or trip me up and skin my knees.

Back then I operated under the naive assumption that the worst that could happen was a bad hair day, a rained-out horseback ride, accidentally calling a guest by the wrong name or a few broken dishes. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. Though I wouldn’t trade my then child-like idealism and ambition for anything. I would learn soon enough that the world wasn’t fair and sometimes bad things happen no matter how hard you work to avoid them.

We all do, eventually.

After we got done looking at the album and he got up and turned his attention to something else, I lingered over that box of photos and letters—this cardboard time capsule—and I looked at more images of times when I was younger, thinner, prettier, tanned and toned. And honestly, the thoughts and feelings they conjured up have been tumbling around in my head for days. Only now are they coming out through my fingers on the keyboard as I share this with you.

Truth be told I envy that girl and yet I remember that EVEN SHE occasionally thought (waaaay back then) that she wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough or good enough… yet. She thought that ONE day—when she was older—she would come into her own and everything would be perfect. Everything would be just as it should be.

Well, here she is. Here I am. That “one day” has arrived and you know what? I’ve decided after peering inside of my time capsule, that since I can’t go back and fix her unattainable aspiration for perfection… I can fix mine. I can live in THIS moment, enjoying all that I have right now, promising to always try and stay present. But most of all… no matter how many more time capsules I uncover in this lifetime… to stay grateful for all that has been and currently is.

Reality Bytes

It seems that since I’ve temporarily traded an ergonomically-correct chair parked in front of a computer for nine hours a day for a slightly more active lifestyle moving boxes and doing actual housework (like scrubbing, washing and cooking things)… my body wants to remind me that it is NO longer 24.

I can do all the yoga in the world—which I’ve been doing faithfully on a daily basis—but every night some part or another complains to me that it has been strained, sprained, wrenched, tweeked or ticked-off during the course of the day. And it punishes me. And it pushes me to reach for two Aleve, a heating pad, the recliner… and the remote.

I’m not a huge fan of the offerings made by the Tuesday Night TV Gods, so I thought I’d puruse some different options for a change this past Tuesday. The so-called “reality” options. As I sat there in the recliner—held prisoner by either an unhappy muscle in my lower right back or overnight kidney cancer—I was exposed to some rather interesting worlds.

The first place I landed was MTV’s Teen Mom 2 where I witnessed three children acting like children whilst they discussed the so-called “parenting” of an actual child. Oh and I also stuck around long enough to watch as another one of the “moms” had a full-scale meltdown in her car because she was forbidden (by the rules of her probation) to smoke pot for 12 whole months! And yes, it really WAS as tragic and gut-wrenching and tear-jerking as it sounds.

After about five to 10 minutes of the whole baby mama drama thing I wandered over to the disturbing-on-a-WHOLE-OTHER-LEVEL show that is TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting. About the only good thing to come from watching 15 minutes of this show was that it provided both my ocular and pulmonary muscles terrific workouts what with all of the heavy sighing and eye-rolling.

My final destination after being totally disgusted by the previous two, wound up being A&E’s Storage Wars. Which is, (in case you are unfamiliar with it’s schtick) colorful characters engaged in even more colorful bidding wars for large containers full of someone else’s abandoned and unknown crap. All the while hoping to find that ever-elusive diamond-in-the-rough or in the case of Tuesday’s episode… a hopefully-not-a-knock-off, dusty Louis Vuitton wedged between a cardboard box and a yellowish-brown mattress set.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that I found the last one to be somewhat entertaining and interesting. Kind of like an Antiques Road Show taking place in hundreds of storage lockers in the hot, desert southwest. You can’t help but be curious as to whether or not the people who have invested hundreds or thousands of dollars in the contents of these mysterious, metal sheds wind up with trash or treasure in the end.

But all, and I mean ALL of my encounters with Tuesday night’s “reality” TV left me questioning… Which is MORE sad… The fact that these types of programs are actually ON television? Or the fact that WE actually watch them?

Pawn Shop Valentine

Nothing says “I love you” quite like cashing in on other people’s misfortune.

Last Friday night I saw something that—as far as I’m concerned—takes the V-Day cupcake when it comes to over-the-top. I saw a Valentine’s Day commercial for… Are you ready for this? A pawn shop. The commercial illustrated how flowers are for pathetic losers… and the real Valentine’s Day gifts can be found at Pay Day Pawn (not it’s real name). “Hey everyone! Not sure what to get that special someone for the BIG day?? … Come on down to Pay Day Pawn, where we are bound to have exactly what you’re looking for!”

Just what your girl or guy wants… someone else’s used crap. “Hey honey! This is how special YOU are to ME… This V-Day, let’s skip the flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries. Instead, I’m taking you to Pay Day Pawn and let you dig around in other people’s cast-offs for something special that shows you and reminds you ALL YEAR LONG just how much you mean to me!”

Big screen TVs, antiques, used jewelry, musical instruments, amputee Hummels and grandma’s chipped tea set (that is missing several pieces). Yup. I don’t know about you folks, but that certainly is MY idea of a Valentine’s Day wish come true. Because nothing else truly conveys your love for him like a nice, gently-used set of golf clubs circa 1963. And you’ll NEVER find anything that shows her how deep your love for her goes like a tarnished, ruby dinner ring set in 14-karat, yellow gold and surrounded by dozens of cloudy baguettes.

I know times are tough and I am in no way poking fun at a non-traditional or second-hand form of gift giving. Not everyone can or even wants to blow a miniature fortune on some roses that will inevitably die or splurge on an over-priced dinner at an overly-crowded restaurant. Sometimes a sweet sentiment or kind and selfless act does FAR more than anything money can buy. But if your significant other actually takes you to Pay Day Pawn for your gift this year… Well… perhaps it’s time to consider pawning them. And who knows… maybe they’ll fetch a really good price!