Friday, January 29, 2010

Suck it Up. Go Out. Live it Up.

The older I get, the more I understand why so many people retire to Florida. Yes, Florida sucks, but maybe it only sucks for those in my age bracket. If most of the people that live there are 60+ then it might be a jolly old time when I'm old and retired, too, right?

I don't think I'm alone here when I say the winter (more specifically January 1st - April 1st) is my LEAST favorite time of the year. The months of November and December are still very fun and exciting to me. Throughout the holiday season people everywhere seem to be in a good mood and I still wake up giddy on Christmas morning. What can I say? I remain a kid at heart. And if I love it this much as an adult, I guess it means that I truly enjoy spending time with my family. But after the holidays are over, there's always that feeling of disappointment. It's the same feeling I got right after our wedding, on any flight back to Boston, after pretty much any concert and when Avatar ended (thank god for sequels). I am President of the anticipation fan club.

But I haven't always despised winter this much. When I was a kid, I loved it because I was an avid skier and just like any other normal kid, I loved snow days and playing in the snow - going sledding, having snowball fights, building snowmen, building forts, etc. When you're an adult snow takes on a whole new meaning: shoveling, digging out your car, dangerous driving conditions. Last time I checked none of those things is fun for anyone. And, sadly, I've come to realize that I don't enjoy skiing anymore. Not so much because of the cold, but because it scares the hell out of me. I guess I've passed that whole risky behavior stage of my life.

The obvious question is, well, why not move? Just like most people, my talk about "moving" is just that - talk. Moving is not an option for me at this point in my life because a.) I like my family too much and b.) I just don't have the balls to do it. So, the question then becomes how do we get through another New England winter?

This year my New Year's resolution is geared towards answering this question. (For the record, I HATE New Year's resolutions and I very rarely make them. I'm onto you people who crowd my gym for the month of January only to lose 5 pounds and never return). So, what is my resolution? To STOP wishing my life away. We all do it, week after week. In the winter we can't wait for spring and Monday through Thursday (year round) we can't wait for the weekend. The majority of us hate going to work. Not everyone has the balls (or the money) to quit their lame job and pursue their "dream job" and then go on Oprah to talk about it and tell America how they, too, can follow their dreams. I don't care how much you say you LOVE your job. In the words of Loverboy, everybody's working for the weekend.

So, how DO we get through this long, cold New England winter or, in the shorter term, how do we get through a LONG ASS week like the one we are finishing up right now? Well, I'm not about to split the atom here. The answer is simple: find little things to look forward to each day or each week and don't NOT do something because it's a Monday or a Tuesday. Don't wait until the weekend to see a movie or go out to dinner. Trivia on a Tuesday? Sure! A beer dinner on Wednesday? Yes! I know it's lame, but even looking forward to certain TV shows (e.g. final season of LOST!!) can help you get through the day. But for this to work you have to be somewhat of an optimist. Constant complainers aren't going to succeed. And it helps if you actually like the people you go home to each night.

I'll tell you some of the things I'm looking forward to...

1. Today is Friday, so that's a start.
2. Tomorrow is Mexican night with Matt and our own homemade habanero infused tequila.
3. Burger tasting on Monday night.
4. Lost season premiere on Tuesday night.
5. Olympics begin in 2 weeks.
6. Oh yeah and in 2 weeks it will be February vacation which means I'm off to Florida. Yes, I'll be amongst the blue hairs and the diabetics once again, but at least (hopefully) it will be warm. I'll take anything that's a step away from the normal routine.

You get the idea. Try not to spend the whole winter wishing it was summer. It's counterproductive to complain about things you can't change, like the weather. And stop wishing it was Friday all the time. Instead, just live your life as if every day were Friday. (Seriously, did I just write that?) There are 7 days in the week and they all deserve your undivided attention. Most importantly, when everything around you seems to suck, try to be Mr. Brightside. In doing so, maybe you'll make someone else's day too. Now if I can just heed my own advice...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

8 Things I'm Thankful for Right Now

1. Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm
Ok, so it took 6 seasons and a Seinfeld reunion to get me to come around on this show, but I have to tell you I got the chills seeing the fantastic four back together again. Be warned, you won’t see them in every episode of season 6. Having said that, I do think the entire season is worth watching. Cue it up On Demand if you have HBO. You’ll be glad to know that they don’t avoid cracking jokes about the topics on everybody’s minds and the 45-minute finale is more Seinfeld than Curb. You won’t be disappointed.

2. Chuck Klosterman
I’m reading his new book, Eating the Dinosaur, and it is cracking me up. An excerpt:

"I find that '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' significantly increases my fear of the Reaper. This song is a failure."

Sometimes I wonder if we are the same person, but then I remember that he is a published author, brilliant, hilarious, famous, and cashing checks with more zeros than I’ll ever see in a lifetime. Oh, yeah, and he’s a dude. So now that I know we’re not the same person, I can only assume that he has a backstage pass to my brain (one piece of evidence can be found on page 89). I am growing increasingly envious that I will never be able to articulate my thoughts as well as he does. Is it possible to copyright your thoughts? Maybe I'd be entitled to a cut of those profits...

3. The fact that I never have to watch The Proposal again.
I've heard (and overheard) this movie recommended a LOT lately and since it was kind of a surprise summer hit and Ryan Reynolds is very "smart" looking, I decided to give it a go one night (sans Matt, of course). This movie is EXACTLY why I am so selective about the movie reviews/opinions that I trust and follow. First of all, I'm convinced that most women are unable to tell the difference between a quality romantic comedy (i.e. About a Boy, High Fidelity, Sideways) and one that is completely formulaic. And do women know that there is life outside the romantic comedy? Or do women just assume that a romantic comedy is a “safe” suggestion for another woman?

Seriously, ladies, we can do better than this. This movie was painful. There are several things wrong with it including the fact that it has a score of 48 on Metacritic. Where I come from a 48 = F. So, if you don’t agree with the following then we can’t be friends (but we probably weren’t friends to begin with anyway):
A.) Try to name one funny part, right this instant. You can’t because it wasn’t funny and even if you did laugh, it certainly wasn’t memorable and that’s why you’re drawing a blank.
B.) Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are not believable as a couple. Not in a movie. Not in real life. Period.
C.) Sandra Bullock should not be acting in the year 2009 let alone STARRING in a romantic comedy that somehow earned over $150 million. Sandra Bullock’s career should’ve began and ended with Speed.

4. Westvleteren 12
What is the most amount of money you would spend on beer? Ok, let me rephrase that. What’s the most amount of money you would spend on something you love? People who don't understand my passion for beer might call me "crazy" for spending $70 on two 12 oz. bottles of beer (plus another $20 to have them shipped from Belgium). So, let me explain. This beer is the best beer in the world according to Matt had been talking about it for several months, so I decided to splurge for his birthday (or maybe that’s just what I keep telling myself). To make a long story short, I ordered the beer, he was thrilled, and we enjoyed drinking it. We waited about 24 hours before discussing whether or not it was actually worth it. So, what did we think? We agreed that we probably wouldn’t order it again (unless we were in Belgium, of course). We felt that a Chimay would get the job done just as easily, but we did think the overall experience was worth the money. Sometimes an experience is worth the money, but you have to be doing it for yourself not because you want to tell others that you did it (not to say that you can't discuss the experience at all). So before you call me crazy, think of something that you splurged on. Maybe I, personally, wouldn't have splurged on that, but I respect your decision to splurge on something ridiculous if it's something you are truly passionate about.

5. J.J. Abrams
You’d think, since the final season of Lost is looming near, I’d be cursing J.J. right about now, but I should’ve realized this guy is a lot smarter than the person who named him. This year J.J. has succeeded at 2 things: changing my opinion of the Star Trek franchise and reeling me into YET another television series called Flashforward. The final season of Lost hasn’t even begun yet but, J.J., consider the torch passed my friend.

6. The XX
Thank you to my brother, Gerard, who told me to run out and purchase this CD. (Although I’m sure my other brother, Mike, probably made the initial recommendation to Gerard.) I am officially obsessed with their music. But what makes me like them even more is the fact that they are barely out of their teens. They were born the same year as Taylor Swift who, like The XX, writes and sings songs that are simple and romantic. If you've never heard a song by The XX, I'm not making that comparison to scare you off. My point is that the two artists are drastically different. The XX's debut album doesn't even sound like a debut album, let alone a debut album by a group of 20-year-olds. Their voices are mesmerizing and please believe me when I say that their music appeals to both males and females alike. If you're hesitant to buy the entire album, get your feet wet with VCR and Basic Space.

7. Invisalign
So, as my brother and I have established, Invisalign is just a tad different than the ads let on. Don't get me wrong, it's MUCH better than having a mouth full of metal (although some people might ask why I even bother with Invisalign since I've sort of defeated its purpose by telling everyone that I have it), but it did force me to have a perfectly good tooth extracted. For the next few months I will look like a hillbilly (the things we do for vanity), but this baffling piece of technology is slowly convincing me that it was indeed worth the money and I WILL have a perfect smile within the next 2 years.

8. The 12-pack of Shipyard Pumpkinheads sitting in my basement
I finally found a good use for Facebook: ask and you shall receive. I recently posted the following status update on FB: "Anyone know of any liquor stores that still have 12-packs of Shipyard Pumpkinheads?" Within hours I had "friends" checking liquor stores all over MA. I got a few leads and hit the jackpot. I can almost hear the pumpkinhead guy on the label calling my name right now, but alas, you will have to wait patiently until Thursday morning…ahem…afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sadly, an era is officially over for me.

I have decided that I can happily live the rest of my life without ever attending another Red Sox game. Ever.

When it comes to Red Sox and Bruins tickets, I was spoiled for much of my childhood. The company my uncle worked for had the sweetest hook-up: 6 seats, 6 rows behind the Red Sox dugout at Fenway Park and 4 center ice seats in the first row of the balcony at (the old) Boston Garden. Once or twice a year, we would get treated to these tickets. My uncle was pretty much Santa Claus, in my opinion.

In between sitting in my uncle’s company’s seats, I would often get invited to games with friends and the ungrateful daughter-of-a-bitch that I was, secretly complained about the terrible seats in the bleachers or the nose-bleed section. For me, just being there was never good enough, as it was/is for so many other people. My uncle’s seats ruined me.

Or did they? Dare I say it, but maybe the Sox winning the World Series ruined everything for me. I know this theory is 5 years old now, but I really haven’t spent much time inside Fenway since they won the World Series in ’04, so it’s taken me a bit longer to come to this conclusion.

For the past 5 years, I’ve only averaged about 1 game per season because we no longer have my uncle’s hook-up and people now have to re-mortgage their houses to take a family of 4 to a game. Our token 1 game per season is usually a gift, one that I am genuinely excited about each and every time I receive it.

My most recent trip to Fenway Park occurred last Friday night when the Sox played Tampa Bay. Driving south on 93 towards Fenway, Matt and I contemplated driving all the way in, parking somewhere and taking the T or parking somewhere and taking a cab the rest of the way in. Because I despise public transportation, Matt immediately ruled that option out; however, much to his surprise (and even more so my own), I was having a rational moment. Even better, it was a financially rational moment, at that! If I had a nickel for every time I’ve made a good money decision, I’d have 10 cents.

Since we were making pretty good time, I suggested we park at Sullivan Station and take the T to Kenmore. As soon as we descended the stairs at Sullivan, I noticed that someone had thrown up Red Sox all over the boarding area and I had to fight the urge to turn around. We were, literally, the only 2 people NOT wearing Red Sox paraphernalia. Of course, the non-conformist in me does this on purpose. But I STILL can’t understand why more people don’t follow suit. There is no need to prove that you are a Red Sox fan in the one area that is so blatantly predominantly Red Sox fans. You wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a band t-shirt to a concert, would you? (If you just answered “yes” then, I’m sorry, but we have to break up.)

Clearly the vomit has the same destination that we do, so we know that we will be surrounded by vomit for the duration of our evening. It is going to be a long night. As we deboard the train and make our way towards Landsdowne St., I wonder why I didn’t sell the damn tickets for a profit. I begin to think of a million other places I’d rather be: sitting in traffic somewhere, waiting in line at the post office, listening to Laid by James, driving around in a Mustang, watching Scary Movie, doing shots of Jagermeister at Rev Rock Bar with douchebags wearing Ed Hardy shirts…

Then I remember something. Of the 5 games that I’ve been to in the past 5 years, I’ve probably only spent a total of 9 innings inside the park. Seriously, 9 out of 45innings. I know that is not something I should be proud of. In fact, I suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of guilt as I think of all the people who would appreciate these tickets so much more than me.

So, why would I continuously spend money on tickets or accept tickets from someone else who spent that money when I know that a premature exit is planned? Well, the reason I go is because I have such fond memories of attending Red Sox games when I was younger and also because I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that the Fenway experience has changed since 2004. The reasons I leave early vary from game to game. It might be that the weather was crappy or the Sox were getting crushed or I realized I just dropped $9 on a terrible light beer when I could’ve had a delicious Belgian beer for the same amount, if not less, across the street. But, most often, the deciding factor is the clientele at Fenway Park. That’s right, the fans. Like New Year’s Eve and St. Patty’s Day, a Red Sox game (Friday or Saturday night, especially) may as well be amateur night out. I swear these fans did not exist in 2003 when I could actually get a seat on the green line and order a beer at a Kenmore Square bar an hour before the first pitch. Some people might argue that I’ve simply grown too old for the Fenway scene. But I disagree. The Fenway Park of today is not the same beloved Fenway Park from the 80s and 90s. It has morphed into the antithesis of my “scene.”

And here’s why…

1. Overpriced tickets, food & beer.
Worse: Missing an entire inning to waiting in line for overpriced food & beer.

2. Uncomfortable seats.
Worse: Uncomfortable seats with an obstructed view.

3. Waiting a painfully long time to use the bathroom.
Worse: Getting to the front of the line and realizing that peeing your pants would’ve been more sanitary than peeing in one of the stalls.

4. Being amongst a noticeably non-diverse crowd.
Worse: Being amongst a noticeably non-diverse crowd rooting for a noticeably non-diverse professional baseball team.

5. Red Sox face paint.
Worse: Red Sox tattoos.

6. The “Yankees Suck” chant.
Worse: The “Yankees Suck” chant when the Yankees aren’t in town.

7. Sweet Caroline.
Worse: The Dropkick Murphys.

8. Pink hats.
Worse: Groups of girls pretending to be Sox fans when really they just want to chat and have men admire them.

9. Dudes wearing shorts with tube socks.
Worse: Ya-dudes.

Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind after having a few kids. When you have kids, you’re better off following the opposite schedule that Matt has devised: bring the kids early for batting practice, try to get a few autographs and then bail after the 3rd inning. For now, I’m much more content watching the Sox from the comfort of my own couch. Watching from home, I actually see more of the game and I don’t have to spend a dime if I don’t want to. The best part, however, is that I can control the quality of the people that surround me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Petco, where the idiots go.

Humans love errands. We always seem to be doing errands. For the most part I don’t mind doing errands. But there is one that I despise.

I am convinced that on any given day there are only 2 people working at Petco: the “cashier” and the “cricket fetcher.” I have no idea if these are the industry terms, but this is how I will refer to “them” in this post. And the reason I’ve put “them” in quotes is because I’m not entirely sure if I’m referring to 1 or 2 people. On more than one occasion, I’ve had reason to believe that the cashier and the cricket fetcher might actually be the same person. Why? Because I can’t ever recall seeing the cashier and the cricket fetcher together in the same room. I’ve heard the cashier page the cricket fetcher to the register and I’ve heard the cashier tell the impatient customers that he is “waiting” for the cricket fetcher, but I have yet to see them together in the same room.

Regardless of whether Petco employs 1 or 2 people and regardless of which Petco store I visit, I am pretty much guaranteed to have an uber-annoying retail experience. I’ve conducted some research and it appears to be a chain-wide problem that spans Petcos from Woburn to Nashua. I seriously believe that the agenda for the first day of employee training at Petco must be titled “How to evoke frustration from customers.” For those of you who do not have pets or buy your pet food elsewhere, I cannot think of a single store that compares to Petco in terms of ineptitude. So consider yourself lucky.

Here is a description of an average trip to Petco. Let the rage begin.

I enter the store and immediately look over at the cash register area to see a) how many people are - or, are NOT, in Petco’s case - working on the register, and b) how many customers are waiting in line. Typically I will see 1 of 3 scenarios: a) there are no customers in line and there are no employees in sight, b) there is a huge line and only one cashier (who may or may not be waiting for the cricket fetcher in which case the line is not moving), or c) there are several customers roaming around the checkout area looking for an employee to ring them up. None of these scenarios is good. Whether it’s a, b or c, I immediately want to exit the store. But, then I remember that walking out would mean Little Jerry wouldn’t have dinner on the table – er, floor – that night. That has 51A written all over it. So, I reluctantly continue my trek to purchase dog food, trying to be optimistic, hoping that today will finally be the day that I get out of this black hole of retail in a timely fashion.

I have a mental blueprint of the 3 different branches I frequent. In each of these 3 stores, I know exactly which aisle I have to go down to locate Jerry’s brand of dog food. I make a beeline for that aisle and grab the food, which, conveniently, is a brand that is NOT available in grocery stores. I then make my way to the register wondering which scenario I will be presented with today. I arrive to find option b) a huge line and only one cashier. Typically, I am a patient customer, but since this is Petco and this is par for the course, I exhale. Loudly. I check my watch, and mentally give my impatience about 5 minutes before it implodes. The cashier is not ringing. He is just standing there. I breathe in again, this time through my nose. The line is 6 people deep at this point.

I take in everything going on around me. I overhear one customer telling another customer that some crickets had escaped somewhere out back. Ah, a cricket crisis. That might explain why the cricket fetcher is tied up, but why is our cashier just standing there?!?! He must be waiting for some crickets for the customer in front of him. I seem to have underestimated the demand for crickets these days. I look around, hoping that if I stare long enough at a register, it will magically open up. Why do they even have more than one register at this store?

My thoughts are distracted. Today I seem to have gotten in line behind Laura the Loud-Talker. I see that she is purchasing a 2-ton bag of ferret food and barking out orders to her 2 “tween”-age daughters. Miley and Demi are both trying to pick out dog treats from the “treat bar” (picture a salad bar for dogs, except it's unhealthy) which is only a few feet away – definitely NOT far enough to warrant the inappropriate decibel level at which Laura is choosing to speak.

I stand there wondering if there really is a cricket crisis going on or whether these people just find pleasure in pushing their customers to the limit. Maybe I’m being Punk’d? No, that show went off the air for good, right? Maybe the employees are out back gathered around a TV, watching us on the tape, eating popcorn and laughing at us. Maybe there will be some fabulous prize for the customer who exhibits the most outlandish reaction. I consider this for a few moments. My thoughts are distracted again by Laura’s booming voice. Then I notice that the cashier is completing the cricket transaction. I realize that, once again, I didn’t see the cricket-fetcher. I was hoping to catch him morphing into his alter-ego, the cashier.

Laura is getting on my last nerve. She is talking SO loudly. At least I don’t have to live with her like Miley and Demi over there. Poor kids. I consider running out the door, dog food in hand. No. I am not a criminal. I consider pushing everyone out of the way and just announcing that I need immediate assistance. You know, like old people do. It always works for them.

Finally, Laura gets to the register. I am on deck. I only have to listen to her for a few more minutes. I watch as she puts her 2-ton bag of ferret food on the counter. She owns a fucking ferret. Who owns a fucking ferret?

Laura, Miley and Demi leave. I put the dog food on the counter. The cashier says “sorry about the wait.” I lie and say “no problem.”

I am out the door and in my car. I sigh and text my brother “Who owns a fucking ferret?” His reply: “John Kimble.” I laugh. Hard. I am lightened up. At least until Jerry runs out of food again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Today Over Yet?

I love Guinness.
I love Magner's Cider (FYI - it’s actually called Bulmer’s in Ireland).
I love Irish pubs (both the Irish AND the American kind).
I love an Irish accent.
I love that my grandparents are from Ireland.
I love that I still have extended family in Ireland.
I love fish ‘n chips and I even enjoy a boiled dinner once awhile.

I have traveled to Ireland and I love everything about it.

But I hate St. Patty’s Day. If New Year’s Eve is “amateur night out,” as my brother refers to it, then St. Patty’s Day is “amateur day out.”

If you’re ever interested in making a quick buck, then all you have to do is bet someone that I won’t be at the St. Patty’s parade in Southie. Because. I. Won’t. Ever. Be. There. Just like I won’t ever sick off on St. Patty’s Day, go to an Irish pub and drink my first Guinness at 8:00 a.m. And it’s not because of the alcohol (you don’t know me if that’s your theory), it’s because of the people that come out of the woodwork on this particular day.

Something else you won’t see me doing on St. Patty’s Day is wearing green. I do not like wearing green on St. Patty’s Day for the same reason I do not like wearing red on Valentine’s Day, orange and black on Halloween, red and green on Christmas and sports paraphernalia to sporting events. In fact, I purposely did not wear red to the BHS Super 8 game on Sunday. People ask me all the time why I am like this. They like to give me a hard time and tell me that I’m a loser, a hater, I’m no fun, I’m disrespectful, I have no holiday/team/school spirit. Frankly, I’m tired of explaining myself. It has nothing to do with any of those things, it’s just this strange thing that I do simply because I don’t like being told what to wear. It sounds childish, I know, but you can’t be mad at me for not wanting to follow the crowd. There’s nothing else I can say except that I’ve never been one for uniformity.

So, on this St. Patty’s Day, what do I plan to do?

Well, I woke up this morning and had to be reminded by the newscasters on channel 5 that it was, indeed, St. Patty’s Day. For some reason I thought the holiday had already passed. I remembered being in Boston on Sunday when it sure FELT like St. Patty’s Day with all the riff-raff from the parade walking around in their ridiculous costumes. So, as I sat watching TV and eating Frosted Mini Wheats this morning, I planned out a fairly regular day in my head: work, workout, pick up my car in Peabody, go to the post office, go home, eat dinner, watch some shows, go to bed.

It wasn’t long before Matt came down the stairs and I promptly made fun of him for donning a green shirt to work today. After finishing my breakfast, I turned to my own closet and began cursing my winter wardrobe and the 5-man rotation I’ve gotten myself into. I refused to even LOOK at the one green sweater that I own and I carefully selected a raspberry colored sweater and brown pants. I wasn’t all that pleased with the outfit, once I put it on, but I WAS pleased that it wasn’t green. And that was enough for me. I packed up my things and headed towards the door, grabbing one of my 8 winter coats along the way. I jumped into the passenger seat of Matt’s car and we began our carpool to work (my car is in the shop today).

As we listened to terrible morning shows and weaved through some traffic, Matt suddenly turned to me and said “Hey, you’re wearing green!” There was no need for me to look down. Using my peripheral vision, it was very easy for me to see that I was completely ensconced in green. Yes, the coat that I had absent-mindedly chosen to wear to work today was bright, kelly green. I think I managed an “ugh” and Matt responded with a “yessssss!” And thanks to my peripheral vision, I’m pretty sure I saw a smile and a fist pump as well.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Never Want to Believe Stereotypes, But...

If you were to ask me whether or not I’ve been to “the south,” I’m not sure I’d know how to answer that. Yes, I've traveled to Maryland to see the Sox play the Orioles at Camden yards and I visited my sister-in-law when she attended the University of Delaware, but is the northernmost subregion of "the south" really the true south? I understand Mason and Dixon had to draw the line somewhere (pun intended!), but these 2 states don't count in my book.

And neither does Florida, the southernmost subregion of the south which we've been to a number of times, most recently during February vacation. I like to refer to it as "the blue hair state." Although we’ve vacationed there multiple times, I still have very mixed feelings about referring to this state as a “vacation spot.” I will admit that my opinion might be a bit skewed because I've never actually been to hotspots like Miami or Disney, but, in my opinion, the warm weather is the main attraction. Let me be clear that I am NOT complaining about being on vacation, I’m merely challenging the idea of Florida as a vacation spot, as part of “the south,” as a state and, yes, I’m questioning it’s overall worth.

So, aside from the warm weather, what else is there? Well, I guess I could say that we did get to see the Red Sox practice in Spring Training but, man, did we feel bad for the players. I’d love to know where all the players stay and what they do when they aren’t “working” in February and March. Everyday they must wonder what genius decided to make Florida, of all places, the home of MLB Spring Training.
Trying to stay positive, though, I guess I could also say that the restaurant we went to for lunch (Joe’s Crab Shack, a southern chain) had 2-for-1 Blue Moon drafts. It was just after noon when we sat down and I ordered a Blue Moon and the waitress TOLD ME, not asked me, that they were 2-for-1 so she’d bring me 2. I swear to you. I guess some dreams really do come true in Florida.

Total positive qualities = 3 (better than I anticipated at the start of this post).

Enter the negatives.

Old, Fat or C.) All of the Above?
Even Matt's parents who are retired and spend a month down in Florida every winter forewarned us that everyone down there is either old or obese. I am not lying when I tell you that before we arrived there, Matt's parents were the youngest people for miles. And when we did arrive there, we had to drive an hour and fifteen minutes to Fort Myers to find a "scene" where Matt and I actually fit in. (Note: It’s possible that our drive could have been shorter if we weren’t surrounded by geriatric drivers. You all know what this is like. And, yes, by the looks of it, Florida undoubtedly holds the record for used Cadillac sales.)

So, this old/fat population in Florida is somewhat confusing to me and I’ll tell you why. As soon as the weather gets warm up here in Mass, we immediately see skimpier clothes, packed beaches, toned bodies, etc. Usually you can’t turn a corner without seeing some kind of hotness. So, by that regard, shouldn’t Florida be the same way year round? I’m stumped.

Floridians: Real or Myth?
During our travels, we found ourselves asking the following question: Is anyone actually born in Florida? Virtually everyone you meet is a transplant and of course you can't escape New Englanders when you're there. The people renting the bottom floor of the house we stayed in were from Connecticut and our waitress at the diner was from Maine (I'll get to the diners in a minute). And we saw more Michigan license plates than we saw Florida license plates. I’m not sure what that’s all about.

Strip Malls
In the words of Matt’s father, “Florida is just one big strip mall.” What baffles me is that these strip malls don’t even contain anything worth getting out of the car for. It would be better if it were one big strip club.

Did Someone Throw Up Pepto Bismol?
Just when you wonder if there’s anything cheesier than pink and peach buildings, you remember the dolphin motif. For some reason, Bermuda can get away with colored buildings. Maybe because they don’t pair them with dolphins. Or maybe it’s just the awesome British influence that allows them to do colored buildings in a very tasteful manner. Florida just can’t get it right. They are completely class-less when it comes to decorating sense. How hard is to mimic the d├ęcor of coastal locations like Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard? Can I get some natural ocean hues, please? Maybe some nautical stripes? How about an Adirondack chair? Do these things not exist in the south?

You’re Florida, Not Italy.
I have never been to Italy, but I’ve heard that Italians can spot an American a million miles away because all they have to do is look for someone trying to order a coffee “to go.” I didn’t know this until recently, but coffee to go is very much frowned upon in Italy. And apparently Florida is taking some cues from Italy because you have to drive miles to find a coffee shop anywhere in Florida. There are plenty of diners, though. You can sit in a diner all day, if you please, but don’t expect to get a quick cup of joe a short distance away. (Note: I refused to go into the one Dunkin Donuts that we passed while in Florida. Instead, I agreed to try McDonald’s Newman’s iced coffee for the first time ever and it wasn’t bad except they douched it in milk which is exactly why I HATE getting a cup of coffee anywhere that doesn’t allow me to prepare it myself.)

So, why no coffee to go? I’m pretty sure the old people had something to do with this because A.) they have all the time in the world, so nothing is ever quick with them and B.) they worry that if they drink too much coffee, they will be awake until 6 pm.

The New Addiction: Shell Collecting
Or maybe it’s the Bingo of the South because apparently you ain’t cool unless you collect shells. While most people bring towels to the beach, shell collectors bring makeshift treasure scoops (attached to long poles so the old folks don’t have to bend over). I suppose this is a step up from the metal detector, which we also saw a few of. I used to be embarrassed about clipping coupons, but I wouldn’t be caught dead metal detecting (I think I just made that term up). It’s not just the act of metal detecting that’s embarrassing, but it’s the whole idea behind it. Metal detectors cost upwards of $50. I’m sorry, but you cannot tell me that these things pay for themselves.

Pickup Trucks
Need I say more?

Total negative qualities = 7

So, would you say that I’ve been to “the south?” All I know is that if this is the pseudo-south, then I have ZERO interest in EVER traveling to the real south.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bret, Haven't You Been Paying Attention to the Cup Roster?

Let's face it, decent television shows come and go, but it's not often that a truly funny, laugh-out-loud television show comes along. In fact, I'd say we've had an 11-year drought.

Call me a pessimist, but I tend to watch new shows carefully because I often fear that it will only be a matter of time before a decent show starts to suck. I have learned that expectation can be very powerful that way. And, so, that is why I have done my best NOT to get my hopes up too high for the second season of Flight of the Conchords. However, after only 2 episodes, there's no use in continuing to watch this show carefully. This is THE funniest television show since Seinfeld (how's that for expectation?). Take 2 not-so-bright struggling musicians from New Zealand + 1 idiot manager + 1 crazy female fan and hilarity most definitely ensues. If you do not have HBO, you must call your cable provider immediately.

Last Sunday’s episode, called "The Teacup," is my favorite episode to date. In the opening 60-second scene, Bret and Jemaine say the word "cup" 13 times proving that something as basic as repetition can be hilarious. The two argue about the fact that Bret, without telling Jemaine, went out and purchased a second teacup for "two dollars and seventy-nine" so that they would no longer be forced to share 1 teacup and adhere to the “cup roster.”

A cup roster? This is exactly why I love this show. Just like Seinfeld, FOTC gets me thinking about random life occurrences that I wouldn't normally put any thought into. I laughed about the cup roster for days and began thinking about my own unwritten, unspoken life “rosters.” Sadly, I only came up with a few, one of them being the shower roster because we only have 1 shower. I should be happy, I guess, that there's little need for sharing in our house, but it's sad in a way because our society has grown so accustomed to having multiples of everything. One of anything just ain't enough, is it?

So, yes, I kind of struck out with rosters, but thinking about rosters led me to also consider the random “lineups” in our lives. Whether we know it or not, we all have our own favorite things - a favorite teacup (or coffee mug in my case), a favorite t-shirt, a favorite pair of jeans, or a favorite pair of underwear. Our favorites are always the most easily accessible whether they are at the top of the drawer, the front of the cabinet or the front of the closet. This also means they get used the most. Sure a mug is easy to rinse out and reuse day after day, but clothes become dirty and stinky, so once you begin running out of your favorites, you have 2 options: you can either A.) do a load of laundry or B.) begin wearing your second-rate backups. Depending upon how often you do laundry or dishes or what have you, backups can go unused, collecting dusts for weeks, maybe even months. A backup may have been a favorite at one point, but, as newer, better things come along to replace them, the backups get downgraded to the back of the cabinet or closet and therefore move further down the lineup.

Eventually the backups become pointless, yet they remain our backups. For some strange reason we have a hard time letting them go.

The backup coffee mugs are typically the ones that are mismatched or maybe they are chipped or cracked or too small to support your ever-growing caffeine addiction. Or maybe you just feel bad getting rid of one because a colleague bought it for you 6 Christmases ago. Your backup t-shirts are likely discolored, stretched out or have crusty, yellow armpits stains. Your backup jeans may have shrunk a bit in the wash or maybe they are "so last season" making you a tad embarrassed to sport them, but reluctant to get rid of them because you shelled out over $200 for them. Your backup underwear is all the way at the back of the drawer, probably has holes in it or maybe the elastic is a bit too tight or maybe they're brand new, but you either think they're too sexy for everyday wear or you don't feel confident enough to wear them. And you wonder why you keep them because you do a load of laundry often enough to wash and wear your 5 favorite pairs over and over again.

So why do we have backups at all? Why don't we just throw these things away? Or better yet, when we find our favorite things, why don't we get enough to make an entire lineup of our favorites?

I guess that would be like having a lineup that consists of 9 Mannys and we all know no one can afford that.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Thoughts to Bide My Time

Yes, I know. It's been awhile. Once again this proves how unproductive I am when I have too much free time on my hands. Since it's the middle of winter, there isn't a lot going on, but I figured I'd at least provide a few tidbits until a real post comes along...

On Sports...
Football is by far the most enjoyable sport I hate. In December, I suddenly became a big Wes Welker fan. Even though I don't pay much attention to the games, I realized that, although white, he is likeable and he's a solid player. (Funny, these are the same reasons that people like Youk and I can't stand Youk.) I got goosebumps one day hearing a soundbite from a game earlier this season in which you could overhear one of the referees say to Welker, "it's really fun watching you play ball." I also liked Welker's wise-ass comments to the media when they asked dumb questions about a hard hit that he took earlier in the year. I guess it helps that he's also kinda good-looking.

It is no secret that I hate football, but I make an effort because Matt loves it so much. And, as I've said before, what's not to like about Sunday get-togethers and trudging down to Beerworks with Matt in the middle of a snowstorm to "watch the game" while we eat sweet potato fries and sip on a Grinch? So, of course as soon as I find something to like about football, what happens? Well, the Pats go 11-5 and don't make the playoffs. And now we are missing out on the best part of the football season - Saturday night games!

How many days until opening day for the Sox? Oh and by the way, (I'm with Gerard on this one) did they have to go and sign 2 more white dudes???

On TV...
For the first time ever we're running into the issue of having 3 shows to watch at the same time and anyone who has Comcast knows that this is not possible with the DVR. We are going to have to find a way to prioritize Monday and Tuesday nights. Besides Marissa, did anyone else see The Bachelor and the crazy scenes for the upcoming season?!?!?! I CANNOT WAIT!

On Movies...

I cancelled our Netflix subscription a few months back because there was NOTHING worth renting and we were wasting way too much time and money watching terrible movies. One major downfall to this is that I now feel out of the loop when it comes to new DVD releases. Once in awhile we take advantage of the RedBox at Hannaford, but the choices are limited. Ironman = Entertaining but overrated. Baby Mama = Unwatchable. Had to shut it off. Hancock = Entertaining. The 90-minute running time is an added bonus. The Strangers = Entertaining but forgettable.

During vacation we ventured out to the movie theater for the first time since The Dark Knight and saw Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler. Both movies I highly recommend. I'm reluctant to see Benjamin Button because of the 3 hour running time. (Calling it "Benjamin Button" reminds me of my mother who always shortens the titles of movies, not because they are too long but because she usually doesn't remember them. I fear that I am inheriting her poor memory.) As the Academy Awards near, I will venture out to the theater a bit more. Other movies on my list include Gran Torino, Revolutionary Road (that will be a ticket for one), Milk, Doubt and The Reader. Has anyone seen any of these yet? Any other recommendations?

On Music...
Every few weeks I usually find one song that constantly sticks in my head. Right now that song is Snow Patrol's Crack the Shutters. I think it's pretty safe to say that I am obsessed. I NEED to see them live the next time they come around because the last time I saw them their encore got cut off as a result of the stupid curfew and I never got to hear Hands Open.

Some other CDs I'm enjoying right now (thanks to my uber-cool, self-proclaimed hipster brothers) include Ra Ra Riot, Fleetfoxes and Wolf Parade. Still, my 3 favorite albums of 2008 (in no particular order) were Coldplay, Vampire Weekend and The Airborne Toxic Event. I'd still love to know FNX's top 100 of 2008, but I missed the on-air countdown and apparently this year they decided not to post the list on their website??? Yet they have no problem posting pics of themselves being uber poseurs.

On Books...
I got the Twilight series for Christmas and recently began reading the first book. (Sorry but I have a thing for young adult fiction.) I'm only about half way through it at this point but I have to say that I don't think I've ever read a book that is so seductive without being overtly sexual. It is peculiar. Yet I enjoy it. I actually recently had a lengthy dream in which I was Bella Swan. But I'm not so sure I'd want my teenage daughter reading it and basing her high school relationship/s on it.

Some random crap that you may or may not care about...
I am pissed because The Airborne Toxic Event is playing the Paradise the same weekend that we chaperone the ski trip, which every year I say I'm never doing again. Next year I'm keeping my promise!

After 8 years as a blonde, I went back to being a brunette on December 6th. I have to tell you that I am loving it.

We never did get a Christmas tree. I can assure you that it is the first and LAST time we will ever go without a tree. We did have a great Christmas with our families. And, no, I'm not bitter that my brother, Mike, received the most gifts from "Santa."

I am SO ready to move out of our place and away from our neighbors. (We've been having ongoing issues with noise next door.) Although I will miss Beerworks dearly, it is time to move on. Unfortunately for us, it is not a good time to sell. However, we are passively looking (that means online searches only) in Medford, Malden, Melrose, Woburn and Wakefield. Random, I know, but let us know if you hear/see anything.

On The New Year...

I hate resolutions and I hate all the people crowding my gym and taking my machines. Who are you kidding? You won't be here 6 weeks from now.

Maybe I should resolve to stop hating shit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bringing Christmas Back

It took my husband until yesterday, December 16th, to "feel the holiday spirit." I've been calling him Scrooge for the past week, but I must admit that I haven't really been feeling the spirit either. More like forcing it. For some reason it's just not coming naturally this year and I have a few theories as to why...

Poor Timing?
This year, Christmas comes just 4 weeks after Thanksgiving which means that we only have 3 weeks and 2 days of school between Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation. I remember one day last year I was looking ahead to this year's vacation (only those who work in education are privy to this routine) to see how many days we would get off this year (12 including weekends) and I was ecstatic to find out that there would be only 17 work days in between the 2 holidays. But now I'm not so thrilled because Christmas is coming too quickly, in my opinion. (Although, vacation isn't coming quickly enough.) I'm having a hard time believing that Christmas is only 1 week away and I think it's because I don't feel like there's been enough time to enjoy the holiday season.

Is the Economy to Blame?
It seems that everyone I talk to (including myself) is trying to be fiscally responsible by cutting back on gifts this year. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but all of my Christmas memories involve giving and receiving gifts. I hate having to cut back. Cutting back sucks. Even if it does mean fewer credit card bills for me next month. That's why I reneged on the pact Matt and I made to NOT purchase gifts for each other this year. The sad part is that we didn't even get a Christmas tree this year "to save $50." We also decided NOT to host Christmas Eve this year for the first time in 4 years because "our place is too small and it's not cheap hosting Christmas Eve." So, as a result of our cut backs, our home really isn't feeling all that Christmas-y this year.

Are We to Blame?
A lot of people have made us feel bad and given us shit for not getting a tree. And I almost fell for it. I began to think that maybe a tree would "help cheer us up and get us in the holiday spirit." So why did we decide not to get a tree this year? Because they cost $50, they're a pain in the ass to stand up and take down, we'd really only be able to enjoy it for a week or two since Christmas is coming so quickly this year and we're not hosting Christmas Eve so no one would even see it. This is how I justified not getting a tree. Needless to say, I have my regrets. And I know what you're probably thinking, but in my opinion, it's definitely too late to get one now. This will be first and last year that we go without a tree.

So, I am now at a loss as to how to bring the Christmas cheer back to our house. Is it too late? Should I just forget this year and look ahead to next year (when we will have 1 LESS vacation day and 1 MORE work day in between T-Day and Christmas)? Am I finally too old for Christmas after 30 years? When I think about it, the Coughlin/Walsh/Leary Christmases are just a bunch of adults sitting around opening presents (most likely gift certificates), essentially just trading money back and forth. Matt often wonders what will be left to buy each other when we're all 70.

Maybe I'm onto something here. Maybe all we need to do is bring some children into the mix to liven up our holiday spirit. Why didn't I think of this 9 months ago? Christmas seems a lot more fun when children, toys and Santa Claus are involved. Does anyone know where we can rent some children for a day? Saving Christmas is a good reason to have a kid, right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

LWD (Laughing While Driving)

I feel like I bring cars up a lot on this blog, but have you ever just looked at a car and burst out laughing?

I do. But for different reasons, of course.

Here’s my list of the top 8 funniest cars…

1. El Camino
I have to admit that I haven’t seen one of these on the road in awhile but on the rare occasion that I DO see one I just have to laugh. You can’t help but ask: Is it a car? Is it a pickup? A picarup?

2. Hummer
A few months ago when gas was $4 per gallon and owners probably had to take their Hummers off the road, I may have been laughing a bit harder at the sight of one of these. Now, that gas prices are down, Hummer owners are busting out their monstrosities once again and I am STILL laughing at the idiots who drive them. Let’s face it, Hummer dealerships can’t be doing well. I’m sure the only Hummers we see on the road are the ones that were purchased back in 2004-05 when they were all the rage and people thought that owning a Hummer meant they were rich, powerful and important. Meanwhile, the United States decided to turn “green” overnight and just like that the Hummer’s 15 minutes of fame were up. I don’t know how people don’t feel like Hester Prynne driving around in these things.


3. Muscle Cars
Laughing at the classic muscle car needs no explanation, but I find the contemporary muscle cars to be even more hilarious. Seriously, have you ever looked at a guy driving a Ford Mustang or a Camaro? And what about the girls that drive these cars? Who are they? And can someone tell me WHY on earth the Ford Mustang is still the “dream car” for high school students? For once I’d like to hear a teenager tell his parents that he’d like a Kia when he gets his license.

4. K-Car
Remember when you were young and your parents would buy a new car and everyone would run out to the driveway to check it out as soon as it pulled up? Well, my first memory of getting a new family car is the dark gray Dodge Aries (AKA: K-Car) that my dad purchased back in the 80’s. The funniest thing about this family car is that our whole family couldn’t even fit in it. Still, we were in awe of this little K-Car as it sat in our crooked driveway in all its boxed-out glory. We couldn’t wait to use the cassette player, manually roll down the windows and sit 3 across in the front and back. I vividly remember traveling in the K-Car with my dad all the way out to North Adams State College (now MCLA) to pick up my sister on a few occasions. On one particular trip I got sick from eating too many circus peanuts. I hate circus peanuts.

5. Volkswagen Bus
Tell me you don’t know someone who STILL points at these vans and says “The Libyans!” Well, you do now. I am that person.

6. Cars with wood paneling.
Like me, I’m sure the first thing you think of is the Griswold’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster. I had no idea that was the name of it until I Googled it! I’d like to know who actually thought that wood paneling would ADD to a car’s exterior. Probably the same guy who installed wood paneling on the walls in my childhood home…aaah…the 70’s. Yes, it’s a rarity now, but believe it or not, some car companies have actually resurrected the wood paneling.

Like the PT Cruiser...

And for a mere $600 you can purchase a wood panel graphics kit for your Jeep Commander...

Oh, Chrysler...and you wonder why you need a bail out...

7. Minivans

When I was young, several of my friends' parents owned minivans, except we called them all "Caravans" then. I was SO jealous. I couldn't get over the fact that we could each have our own seat in the back! All these families of 4 were getting minivans, but our family of 6 apparently HAD to have the K-Car. The best part is that one of my friend's actually had a Caravan with wood-paneling. A double whammy...

Although practical, I have a strict no-minivan policy. If/when I have children, I would much rather have a station wagon.

But if you think that's bad, here's another double-whammy...

8. Convertibles with the top down in non-convertible weather.

Don't get me wrong, I used to own a Jeep Wrangler and there were times when I would be driving home at night with the top down and the heat on, but have you ever put the top up or down on a Wrangler? It's a P in the A. Call me lazy if you will. Convertible CARS are different. It's not that difficult to put the top up. Yes, we see you with the top down, which we know is exactly what you want, but we're laughing at you from inside our heated cars. We know you're cold. You have nothing to prove to us. It's a bit premature. Why don't you just surrender and put the top up already? Unless...New England has some sort of secret race every year for convertibles. Maybe the first person seen with his or her top down wins a prize?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No Offense, We Just Aren't Interested.

For the past 5 or 6 years I have been receiving an abundance of invitations to fake purse parties, jewelry parties, houseware parties, Tupperware parties and beauty product parties. I can see how a lot of women might like these parties because they combine 2 things that EVERY woman loves: parties and shopping. And I can see how women might also love them because they are trendy, they apparently act as an excuse to have a girls' night out (or “GNO” as it’s sometimes referred to) and they offer product discounts to the women who host them.

I have to admit that I’ve had a lot of fun at the few parties I’ve attended, but that’s because I got to spend time chatting, laughing, eating and drinking with friends and family. The presentation of the products by the consultant and the passing around of the catalog was the dullest part of the party. The products were not a fun factor. They were a party foul. The things that made this party fun were things that could’ve been done at a regular party, at a restaurant, at a bar or even on a random Tuesday night in my basement.

The last thing I want to do is offend anyone. Really. I’m just wondering what the appeal is with these parties. I’ve talked to a lot of women and, honestly, very few have told me that they genuinely enjoy them. Frankly, I am overjoyed to find out that I am NOT alone after all. That’s right, just like me, women all over the world are running out of excuses for these things.

A party, by definition, is supposed to be fun, right? So you must wonder why I’m complaining about going to a party. Well, the way I see it, having a product party (or whatever the umbrella term may be) is kind of like adding nuts to brownies or chocolate chip cookies – there’s NO NEED for it. Brownies, chocolate chip cookies and parties are all PERFECT just the way they are. Just like I don’t want to eat a brownie or chocolate chip cookie with nuts in it, I don’t want to go to a product party.

And here’s why…

The Pressure to Buy Something We Don’t Want or Need
When people attend one of these parties, they ALWAYS feel pressured to purchase something. How can you NOT feel pressured? During the presentation of the products, the consultant goes on and on about how much the hostess gets for “free.” And since women are so great at “feeling bad” and pretending to be nice, many of them, unfortunately, end up purchasing the cheapest item in the catalog: a $4.00 uni-tasker that is going to sit in their kitchen drawer and collect dust for the next 20 years. And I’m sorry, but adding a “No obligation to buy!” stamp to the invitation/evite doesn’t make this feeling go away. Trust me, we all feel guilty leaving the party empty handed. So WHY are we doing this to each other?

The Products are Overrated and Overpriced
Like many other women, I love buying new things for my home and my closet. At home, I’m constantly rearranging things and I love purchasing new clothes so that I can try out new looks. So I must love to shop, right? No, I don’t. Shopping is not a hobby for me. It’s a chore. When I go shopping I am usually on a mission and that’s why 95% of the time I choose to go shopping by myself. I have found that when I shop with other people, I sometimes get stuck going into stores that I’m not interested in or I feel pressured to limit my time in the fitting room. It’s one thing if I have the time to do some leisure shopping, but the mall is not really the place I want to be when I have free time. It’s generally a place I go when I’m on a mission. Since I don’t seem to enjoy the shopping experience, one might think that these “parties” present an ideal situation for me; I won’t have to wait in line or fight the crowds at the mall. But, like most people, I like what I like. And most of the products I’ve seen in these catalogs do not suit my style or my needs. On the rare occasion that I do find something I like, it’s usually something I can find elsewhere at a cheaper price and it’s definitely not something I “need.”

I Don’t Need an Excuse for a GNO
I have found that if you openly complain about attending an upcoming product party, one of two things will occur: women will either agree with you completely (usually in a whisper because they feel bad about admitting it) or they will ask you why you’re complaining about having “an excuse to get together with the girls.” Since when do we need excuses to get together? What we really need are excuses to avoid purchasing hideous overpriced jewelry and fake handbags that look FAKE. Seriously, if getting together means attending more of these parties, then, ladies, it won’t be long before we start AVOIDING getting together. Let’s not allow this to happen. Please.

Just to reiterate, I don’t mean to offend anyone who hosts or attends these parties. I’m sure a lot of women genuinely love them. I am merely expressing an opinion that seems to be a lot more common than we think. I can probably guarantee that once people read this post, I will never receive another invitation again (or maybe someone with a sense of humor will make sure that I’m on EVERY invitation list from here on out). But it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that I despise these parties. I hate Sex and the City, I prefer shopping by myself, I am SO over designer handbags, I love beer, I avoid holding babies, I prefer cheap costume jewelry that I don’t have to worry about losing, I hate talking on the phone, I don’t sip cosmopolitans, I love meat (especially burgers), I don’t wear lipstick, I avoid choosing pink, I’ve never had my eyebrows done (although I could probably use it), I don’t drink tea, I don’t care about ever owning a pair of Manolo Blahniks, I’m not a very good cook and I got my first and only pedicure on my wedding day. You can't judge a woman because she's a woman. I may not be a “girly girl,” but I do love spending time with my girlfriends. I guess my idea of a GNO is just a little different than most other girls.

So, I’m planning on hosting my own product party very soon and I hope you’ll join me. I am going to take YOU into J. Crew and Anthropologie and present their products and have you buy some stuff that you may or may not want so that I can get 10% off of MY purchase. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

True Life: I Compete in Secret Races

Long time, no post.

In the past week I’ve had a few people ask me when my next post is coming. I’m not going to lie, this has made me feel pretty darn good. I, too, get excited to check for new posts on all of the blogs that I follow. The truth is, work has been really busy lately. Before you jump to conclusions, that doesn’t mean that I spend time blogging at work. It just means that when I get home from a busy day at work, I’d rather just sit on the couch and watch bad TV.

Believe me, I’ve had plenty of time to blog. I’m not one to use the “I’ve been busy” excuse. In fact, if I ever do use that as an excuse then you just caught me in a lie. You see, part of the problem is that Matt and I still have a desktop computer at home. It’s also on our 3rd floor where there’s no TV. And, unfortunately, our computer desk is accompanied by a hard, uninviting, wheel-less desk chair that forces me to sit so unnaturally erect that it’s been causing me lower back pain. I think it might be time to invest in a laptop, or a “labtop” as I’ve recently heard people refer to them. Yeah…I’m not really sure what that’s all about.

So, as you may or may not have noticed, I have yet to comment on the presidential race and election in any of my posts. Like Oprah with her show, I made the decision NOT to use my blog as a platform for any of the candidates. Ha! Just kidding. I’m not REALLY comparing myself to Oprah. The real reason why I haven’t commented on the election is because my political knowledge is minimal and therefore I lack confidence when speaking about anything political. I’m trying to work on this, but I’m not progressing very well.

That said, words cannot express how elated I am to see Barack Obama become our 44th President. I have shed many tears watching post-election coverage and it’s been absolutely exhilarating to witness the joy and excitement on different faces all across our country as they “watch history.”

But now that the Presidential race is over, I would like to discuss a different type of race and that is the SECRET RACE.

In an earlier post I implied that I have a lot of confessions to make, so here I am revealing another one. I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, that I am extremely competitive. And I'm sure you will agree after I explain what a secret race is. Or maybe you, too, will admit to participating in your own secret races.

I’m not too sure where my competitiveness comes from. Aries are known for their enthusiasm, stubbornness, impatience and straightforwardness, but not for their competitive nature. It’s possible that it could stem from my childhood. Maybe being the third of four children, I subconsciously competed for parental attention? Or maybe (definitely) I’m insecure about the possibility of being inferior to others. After all, I DO care way too much about what other people think of me.

However I acquired this trait, it seems to be manifesting itself on a daily basis in various ways. A secret race is something that I engage in almost every day. I have secret races on the treadmill, in the car, in the office, in the grocery store, on the computer, at the ATM and even on the couch. I race men, women, strangers, acquaintances, Matt, siblings, friends, enemies, idiots, infants, the elderly, the disabled. You name it and I’ll find a way to beat it.

So what exactly is a secret race?

Well, you know how dreadfully boring it is to run on a treadmill at the gym? I have found that the BEST way to spice up a treadmill workout is to initiate a secret race. All you have to do is wait for someone to hop on the treadmill next to you (ironically this is guaranteed to happen, even when ALL of the treadmills are free) and the race has begun. You see, I have this rule that anytime someone gets on the treadmill next to me and starts running, I cannot allow myself to stop running until AFTER he/she has stopped. This is how I guarantee my win. More often than not I don’t even look over at the other treadmill so when the “race” begins I usually don’t even know whether my competitor is male, female, old or young. I also have no idea what my competitor’s MPH is set at. And my competitor has no idea that he/she has just entered a secret race and that he/she is about to lose. Big time.

My secret races began on the treadmill, but some of the best secret races involve cars. For instance, if Matt and I have dinner at his parent’s house, we typically go straight there after work so we both have our own cars with us. When we part ways to drive home separately there is ALWAYS a secret race to get home. If he wasn’t aware of this before, he is now.

Also, when I’m stopped at a red light next to a car going in the same direction, sometimes I wait for the light to turn green and then I race to get ahead of him/her before the road narrows. But if I’m at a red light and I suspect that the person in the car next to me is initiating his/her own secret race WITH ME then I usually opt out of the race. That way, the other car tears off when the light turns green and the driver looks in the rearview mirror to see that I’m not participating and feels like an idiot for initiating this stupid secret race.

Driving on the highway also makes for some quality secret races. I especially like to pick out certain Masshole drivers who weave in and out of cars and switch lanes multiple times just to get 30 seconds ahead of where they were and then I make every effort possible to prevent them from doing this.

Sometimes when I’m walking or running near my home, I will race the cars that are stuck in traffic. I’ll be honest, this is a tough race to win, but it’s been done.

You can have all kinds of secret races, really.

At the ATM, I race the person using the machine next to me. Processing…processing…

At the grocery store, I race people to the checkout line and if it’s self-checkout then I race the people using the self-checkout next to me.

At work, I race my colleagues out the door so that I’m not responsible for locking up.

On the computer, I race others to be the first person with a witty response to a group email.

In the bathroom, I race people to the “good” stall.

At weddings, I race people to the bar.

At home, I race Matt to the couch so that I have the remote control and the “good” blanket, I race him to get on the computer, I race him to the shower after we workout and I race him to the 2nd floor bathroom when we come home (because it’s much too difficult to go up to the 3rd floor).

For some reason, I cannot control this competitiveness. My life has turned into one giant race. And apparently the only way that I can win is to not tell my competitors about the race. Isn't that called cheating?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Favorite Person

I was 22 when I convinced myself that I was never going to get married. None of my relationships up to that point had ever lasted more than a year. I was a bit young to be giving up hope, but things weren’t looking good and I thought it might be a good idea to start preparing myself for the inevitable.

So why, exactly, was I giving up hope at such a young age? Well, for starters I had very high standards and, in the words of Greg Behrendt, I just wasn’t that into anyone. The guys I was drawn to the most were often the guys that I couldn’t have. But maybe I wouldn’t have been into them either; after all, I didn't “get” them, so I never actually knew them long enough to confirm whether or not I was TRULY into them. If history does indeed repeat itself then I would've grown sick of them, too, within the year.

I tried to commend myself for being a “strong woman,” for knowing exactly what I wanted and refusing to “settle.” After all, this is someone that I have to spend the rest of my life with - this is a big deal! If there’s one minor thing that he does that annoys me, I have to think, can I live with this the rest of my life? Honestly, I think I would’ve broken up with someone because he ate his peas one at a time.

So, naturally I began to question my standards and my choosiness. I thought something was wrong with me, that maybe I wasn’t capable of loving someone enough to spend the rest of my life with him. I wanted to be IN LOVE, not just tolerate someone. But I had to face the facts; the odds of me finding a perfect match for my HIGH standards were very slim.

Here’s my list so that you can see for yourself…

· Must not have a criminal history.
· Must be a college graduate with a respectable job.
· Must be knowledgeable about a variety of topics, but not a know-it-all and not overly “book smart.”
· Must not have an unbearable Boston accent.
· Must be friendly to service workers.
· Must be somewhat chivalrous.
· Must be able to hold his own (socially) among a new group of people.
· Must understand and use sarcasm.
· Must like Seinfeld.
· Must like movies and TV.
· Must like FNX music and attending concerts.
· Must be open to owning dog/s, but not pitbulls, rottys, boxers, mastiffs, etc.
· Must like going out to eat.
· Must eat meat.
· Must not drink Budweiser or Bud Light.
· Must enjoy wine once in awhile.
· Must not smoke.
· Must include working out as a top priority.
· Must like sports, but cannot wear team jerseys.
· Must not wear tank tops of any kind out in public.
· Must be good-looking (shallow, but true, and don’t you try to deny it).
· Must be well dressed.
· Must have nice hair...and sideburns are a given.
· Must not have dirty hands and fingernails.
· Must not drive a pick-up.
· Must never be cheap, even when service isn’t that great.
· Must know that you do not go to a party empty-handed.
· Must be able to justify splurging every once in awhile.
· Must want to have 2-3 children.
· Must like to travel.
· Must not be a Republican.
· Must not be racist.
· Must be pro-choice.
· Must support same sex marriage.
· Must not be religious.
· Must meet the approval of my siblings.
· Must put up with me.

I know what you’re thinking - who do I think I am, right?

Well, here’s the thing, I’ve never considered myself a lucky person mainly because I’ve always associated luck with winning. Sure, I’ve won some money on scratch tickets here and there and I won a few coloring contests when I was younger, but I would never go so far as to call myself lucky. If you think about it, luck really has little to do with winning. As cheesy as this may sound, luck is more about happiness and success. And winning doesn’t always bring happiness and success, does it?

As you probably know, I’ve been married for over a year now. Matt and I have been together for almost 8 years, but we’ve known each other since the 7th grade. That’s a total of 17 years! We’ve known each other longer than we haven’t known each other.

Because I’ve known Matt for so long, I sometimes wonder if I subconsciously built that ridiculous list around him. But, even if I did, there’s no denying the fact that I got REALLY lucky. I’m not exactly sure what I did to deserve it, but, somehow, I managed to beat those incredible odds. I thought I would spend my entire life searching for my favorite person, but he was right there all along. And, thankfully, he puts up with me.

Happy 30th Birthday, Matt!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I have a confession to make (probably one of many).

I am a news junkie as well as a TMZ junkie and I'm totally intrigued by the whole Tom and Gisele relationship. Which is strange to me because I've never really been much of a TB fan.

Yesterday I recorded Live with Regis and Kelly so that I could see Gisele on the show. You can imagine my disappointment when I tuned in to see a completely awkward, lanky Gisele sing a Bon Jovi song (you know he's one of my nemeses) with Michael Chiklis (Regis had the day off so he was a guest host) and Kelly Ripa who so obviously hated that Gisele was on the show because it meant the focus was on someone OTHER than her.

Anyway, Gisele is a freak of nature. She looks like she's walking on stilts that could snap in half at any moment (unfortunately it was Tom's leg that suffered the injury instead). But the odds of having a body like that are very slim and I guess that's why she gets paid so much money. Inheriting a body like that is like hitting the lottery.

But this post isn't about Gisele's ridiculous body, I actually would like a chance to defend her because I cannot believe the amount of criticism she is getting for "traveling the world" while Tom is "bedridden."

First of all, Gisele and Tom are NOT married, they are dating. Second of all, Tom had knee surgery, he's not on his deathbed. As a supermodel, it's part of her job to travel the world! If Matt injured his knee, I wouldn't stop working. Are these people saying that she is supposed to be at his beck and call 24/7 all because he has an injured knee? What if the tables were turned? What if Gisele broke her leg and couldn't model for several months? Would people be saying, "Oh my god, why is Tom Brady still playing football every Sunday when his girlfriend is bedridden?!?! Aaaaaaaaaah, NO, that would NOT happen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's For Dinner?

As pathetic as this may sound, this is typically the first question that Matt and I ask each other when we wake up. Seriously. Our lives, literally, revolve around food. We don’t eat to live, we live to eat. And I’m not sure what to make of this.

Matt and I were at a wedding last Saturday (by the way weddings are a lot more fun when you haven’t been to one in awhile) and I was having a conversation with my friend, Allison, about packing lunches (this was relevant because she has a 2-year-old daughter and a husband who recently became a cranberry farmer near their home in Carver) and she said, "Seriously, when's the last time you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" I replied, "Actually, I had one today. Matt and I have them all the time."

So, while Allison and I went on to talk about how delicious PBJs are and a number of other ridiculously awesome topics including the foods we refuse to eat (I’m happy to say that my list only has about 8 items on it), I couldn't help thinking about how lame Matt and I are when it comes to making and eating meals. Now, I'll be honest, the reason I had a PBJ that particular day was because I needed something quick after my workout and I didn't want to eat too much during the day because I knew that I'd be eating a lot at the wedding. If I hadn’t worked out, I probably wouldn’t have eaten all day. Is that crazy? I know it’s not a healthy tactic, by any means, but I have a feeling that these strange eating habits might actually be closer to the norm. Seriously, I’d like to know one person that can actually refer to their overall diet as “healthy.” I can’t name a single person I know.

A typical week for us goes like this:

Monday through Wednesday
We refer to this as our "detox" period because the odds are pretty good that we just spent the weekend eating and drinking rubbish. We also look at it as "being good and saving up our calories for the weekend." On these days I have a light breakfast that typically includes 1 or 2 of the following: cereal, oatmeal, English muffin with PB, cottage cheese, banana or Luna bar. Then I have a light lunch which might include any 1 or 2 of those items that I did not eat for breakfast. For dinner, Matt will have a turkey sandwich and I will have a tuna sandwich.
The breakfast and lunch routines remain the same. If Matt is home for dinner then we might order burritos. Otherwise, it's sandwiches again.
The breakfast and lunch routines remain the same. Again, if Matt is home then dinner might include ordering out or making a big meal together. Also, cocktails of some sort are typically consumed.
The breakfast and lunch routines remain the same. Although, breakfast MAY be skipped depending upon wake-up times. Then, if we don't have any plans to see friends or family, dinner might include ordering out, going out to a restaurant or making a big meal together. Also, cocktails of some sort are typically consumed.
Sunday = Funday
This remains our "cheat day" even if Friday & Saturday of that week also turned into cheat days. We usually begin planning our cheat day on Monday and we spend the week getting psyched up for it. Sometimes a Sunday cheat day involves going to a friend's house and watching football. If that's the case then we can estimate our caloric intake to be 1,000 calories (give or take) MORE than our typical cheat day. Otherwise, we might just stay in and make something fatty and delicious for ourselves (pulled pork, guacamole, nachos, etc.), eat out at a restaurant (burgers, maybe) or order take-out (pizza, maybe). I can assure you there is never a low-cal option. Oh, and cocktails are most definitely consumed.

As you can see, our eating habits aren’t the best. But are your's or anyone else's really any better? Please tell me they're not.

For now, I’m ok with this. I think we can get away with it since we don’t have children, but what makes me nervous is thinking about feeding a family someday. I remember the days when my siblings and I used to annoy the hell out of my mother asking, “Maaaaaaa! What’s for dinner?” I had no idea how much pressure there really is to put a decent meal on the table.

And we definitely have a few additional obstacles to overcome...
1.) Matt and I can’t decide whether to order burritos or a pizza on a given night, so how the hell are we going to plan a different meal every night of the week?
2.) Matt is the chef in this little family. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to have a mom who knew how to cook well so I learned ZERO culinary skills. Because my range is so limited, I’m going to have a very difficult time coming up with a 7-dinner rotation. Maybe I should start to get to know that Crockpot….
3.) A big meal with meat, a veggie and a starch costs a lot more money and a lot more TIME than a tuna sandwich.

Maybe we’re all unhealthy because we can be and having children finally forces us to become healthy. Damn, eating healthfully sounds exhausting. I’m not sure I’m ready for it.

P.S. Don’t read into this post.