Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Five: Things I Would Change About Christmas

"No," you say. "You aren't going to attack Christmas, are you?" Yeah, yeah, 'tis the season and all that. But as another season is ramping up towards its grand finale on December 25th, I can't help but think about all the things that I wish were just a little different. I'm not calling for a Grinchy ban on the holiday by any means. But I think it would be nice if we shifted our perspective, away from the excesses of the season, slowed it down, and applied the "less is more" rule.
1. The actual timeframe of the season: There's not a lot to say on this, except it's getting out of hand. And it absolutely does get worse every few years. This year, Christmas crap was on display on NOVEMBER 1st. The day after HALLOWEEN. Hiiii, did we just wanna railroad right over Thanksgiving? Traditionally, the "Christmas season" is supposed to start the day after Thanksgiving, and not a minute before. Why are we in such a rush? Is it to fuel the fire for some of my other points (gift-giving, decorating)? Whatever the reason, stop it. Or make Christmas crap available year-round. But it's uncomfortable and annoying to see Santa and Halloween together. Only Tim Burton is allowed to do that.

2. Decorations: Again, I'm not calling for a nation-wide wreath-burning. But, very closely related to item 1, is the fact that there were people in my neighborhood that had their Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. That is NOT festive. That's pressure. It's forcing Christmas down everyone's throat before it's time. I see it as celebrating your birthday two months before the actual day.
 "It's my birthday!"
"Really? When? Today?"
"No! In two months! I'm so excited I'm going to start decorating my cubicle now!"

You wanna slap that person, don't you?

I rather enjoy looking at all the houses decorated, especially when they are really creative or unique. It's fun and it's merry. After Thanksgiving.

3. Gift-giving: It's a point. The gesture of showering the ones you love with thoughtful presents is never an ill-intentioned one. But there's a certain level of politics involved with gift-giving. If so-and-so gets me a gift, then I should get her/him a gift, too, shouldn't I? You know, I was going to get what's-his-face a gift worth $50, but you know, he really pissed me off today, so I'm knocking that down to $30. I would not define the spirit of giving in this way. Instead, we should stop being so self-involved and really think about what it is we're doing. We're spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to impress, oblige, satisfy, spoil... but why? I'm not suggesting we don't gift-give at all. But maybe we ought to both cut back, and maybe, just maybe... stop giving even more to those who have, and maybe kick a little to those who have-not.

I'm not a Debbie Do-Gooder by any stretch of the imagination. But in this whole frenzy of gift-selection, you'd think that we could spend a little less on giving more crap to each other, and giving some of that stuff to people who have, quite literally, nothing. People here in New Jersey are still reeling from Hurricane Irene. We go into the mall, drop serious coin on electronics and designer clothes, and then scurry past the Salvation Army Santa, avoiding eye contact or pretending we have no change. You can't buy a sweater at Old Navy for $10 and put it in a Goodwill bin?

I would have absolutely no problem if my loved ones told me that they were donating their holiday funds to charity rather than giving gifts this year. Absolutely. Go for it. And here's the snippet of sentimentality for the day: I'd much rather spend time with the people I care about than exchange more crap with each other. I have plenty knick nacks and doo-dads. What I don't always have is the fortune of spending time with people I care about.

4. Blaming Christmas for ruining your diet/as an excuse not to work/as an excuse for things not to get done: Again... Christmas isn't two months long. However, this is more about people and less about Christmas itself. Yes, people do things like bake and share the holiday cheer in the workplace. But if you gain 20 lbs during the Christmas season, it's because you have no self control. There's no reason you can't stick to your regular diet and exercise regimen, for the most part, during the holiday season.  (These are the same people who make going to the gym in January and February a test of patience, as they flood the facility in a panic over their expanding waistline, and then stop caring right around March.) This is also fodder for the news outlets to roll out year after year, giving us tips on how to "beat those holiday pounds." Know how to beat them? Put down the candy-cane-shaped sugar cookie. Eating a big meal on Christmas Eve and even again on Christmas Day isn't going to do major damage to your diet/weight.

There are certain things that can be blown off for holiday shenanigans, things that aren't pressing for year-end numbers, results, etc. But then there are situations that are still, regardless of the birth of Sweet Baby Jesus, pressing and dire. Liiiiiiike being separated for over two years in what should result in a simple, non-contested divorce. Anything legal, medical, or business-profit related should not come to a grinding halt the 1st of December. Let's take it to the 23rd, folks.

5. Holiday Cheer IN YO' FACE!: I think it's lovely when cashiers, clerks, wait staff, fellow shoppers, small children, and others warmly wish you happy holidays. It's nice, it makes everyone feel good, it shines a little sparkly light on the spirit of the season.

But then, there are the overly caffienated, bubbly, bouncy, saucer-eyed folks who live and breathe all things Christmas, adorned with garland, blinky wreath pins, Christmas earrings, Santa hats, and giant, twinkle light grins, leaning forward over the counter, squealing "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!" like Cindy Lou Who on speed.

I can hear you blinking.

These are the people who are "sad" when Christmas ends. Who can't find a way to feel the joy in other things during other times of the year. These are the post-Halloween decorators, the people who start their Christmas shopping in June, who absolutely revel in half-price Christmas swag on the 26th, beaming with anticipation of next year!!!!

Tone it down. First, because it's just annoying. Secondly, being jolly and joyous has to come from within. It can't be forced past your teeth by a psychotic Workshop Elf Wannabe. No matter how much green and red sugar you coat it in. Let me be merry when I'm ready. And if that means I don't feel it until Christmas Eve, when I walk into my mother's house and smell the familiar favorite dishes, or when everyone is around the table, or even when it's all over, and a few of us stragglers are reflecting back on the night... let everyone feel the joy on their own time.

And so, my friends, With eight days left until the 'Eve, I politely wish you an affordable, tasteful, joyous on your own time Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Five: Annoying Things About Facebook

Greetings, Loves. I hope you all survived the belly-busting Thanksgiving holiday, and the body-trampling Black Friday. I have crawled from the wine soaked, food stuffed, pants straining depths to rejoin you for another Friday Five.

I have found myself growing increasingly impatient with Facebook, and although I posted an entire blog entry on Facebook and it's role in our relationships, I find the little things more peevy as of late. Don't get me wrong, I love Facebook, and I do have a fair amount of fun on it. But like anything else, with the good comes the bad.

1. The Distributive Friendship Property: I have received this request quite a few times, from both guys and girls. The Distributive Property in math is when you distribute something as you separate or break it into parts. What you do to one side, you must do to the other. This also goes for Facebook friends. If Sam breaks up with Sally, and you are friends with Sally and with Sam, Sam expects you to also Facebook breakup with Sally. So, I guess the breakup is what is being distributed. Especially if you are "more friends" with Sam than with Sally. Everyone has to breakup. On Facebook.

First of all, unless Sally is a stalker, murderer, or poses some sort of terrible threat, there's no reason to send out a mass "defriending" message to everyone on your friends list. Maybe Sally is a swell gal. Maybe she posts funny quotes and pictures that you delight in throughout the day. And, you did become actual friends with Sally in real life. No reasonable, logical explanation exists for this outside of the "dangerous" one.

Secondly, this is not 3rd grade. If you aren't going to be my friend because I'm Sally's friend... well, quite frankly... fuck right off, Sam. I am not betraying some sort of deep-rooted obligation as a friend if I keep someone you don't like on my Facebook. Sally and I are not secretly sharing Sam tidbits, keeping each other posted on the Sally replacement he's possibly going to include in a relationship status update. It just doesn't happen.

Thirdly, how about you let me decide who I communicate with? Do you want the password to my email and access to my cell phone bill to make sure I'm not talking to anyone you don't like? You are not the Friend Police, Sam. OR the Facebook Police. 

Oh, and... it's FACEBOOK. Get over it.

2. The Death and Panic Statuses: If you are in the middle of a panic attack, are sitting in the ER waiting for medical attention, or have 104 fever, and can still manage to make it public knowledge on Facebook, I don't believe you.

If you are mid- anxiety attack, all you can think about is not dying. Updating your Facebook status is the last thing on your mind. You can't hear that thought over "OMIGOD I'M GONNA DIE OMIGOD I'M GONNA DIE OMIGOD I'M GONNA DIE." Maybe it's just rapid heartbeat. Or gas. But it sure as shit ain't a full-blown panic attack.

If you are in the ER, chances are, it's pretty serious, so again, the aforementioned is likely what's going through your mind. And you know what? Ok, fine, I get that you're waiting, but if you're gonna post about it while you're waiting, don't be all vague and elusive (more on this later) so that you get 35 "omg, what's wrong??? what happened? Are you okay???" Comments. Explain why you're there, or shut the hell up. But don't be vague, attention whore.

The near-death flu with 104 fever is never fun, and sure, we all like a little sympathy now and again, but you know what? Be truthful. You can still say you have a fever (even if it's only 100) and feel like poo and people will give you the sympathy that you're seeking. But most people I know who have had 104 fever lie on the couch or bed like warm, rubbery celery, hallucinating Care Bears and begging them for a quick and merciful death. It hurts to even blink, let alone do all that typing or thumb-tapping nonsense. Just say you feel crappy. And you'll get plenty of well wishes without looking like an ass.

3. The "I 'like' everything you ever say and post every single day" friends: I know that I'm adorable, and witty, and I share fun things, but there are some people out there who are "like" happy. And they like it so fast it makes me wonder if I am being stalked by the "liker." I could post that I am sticking knitting needles into a kitten, and I'll get an immediate notification that "friend who has nothing better to do and is clearly a sicko likes this." It is statistically impossible that another person could actually, legitimately like everything I (or you) do. You are creepy and annoying people, over-likers. Be selective in your "likes." And if you legitimately like everything that someone does, you clearly have no individuality. Stop it, drone.

4. Repost this if you care/agree/love someone: I cannot for the life of me understand how posting "Leave this as your status for 1 hour if you know someone who has fought (and either won or lost) <<herpes/shingles/pink eye/diarrhea/any number of diseases added here>> makes me a "supporter" of that cause. Copying and pasting something that someone else wrote makes me "active" in supporting that cause? This is a forum that allows you to reach so many people. If you really care about a cause, you can, in real life, get involved with said cause, and encourage your Facebook friends to join you in doing the same. Post information, links, events, etc. If you're gonna support, then SUPPORT. But copying and pasting some rote, bullshit status doesn't make you anything but a person who wants to look like he/she cares. You care? DO SOMETHING. And then all the other copy-and-pasters can prove how much they care by actually getting involved.

A cousin of this is the "repost if you have the awesomest mom/sister/teacher/gardener/mechanic ever!" I have been guilty of one or two of these, but seriously... if the person you are copy-and-paste honoring doesn't even have a Facebook account, then you are obviously doing this for selfish purposes. "Look at how much I love my mom because I posted this! She doesn't have Facebook, but maybe the people who know her that are my Facebook friends will tell her what I posted and then she'll know!" Meanwhile, you're too lazy to call the woman you love so much, because it's just easier to copy and paste your sentiments (especially since someone else wrote them). Once upon a time Hallmark wrote the sentiments, and you could paste a stamp on it, and put it in this thing called a mailbox.

Just as ridiculous are the ones that appreciate your children, especially when those kids are infants and toddlers. "Mommy loves you, Junior!!!!" Know what, Mommy? Junior's gonna hate your guts for posting every single second of his life on Facebook, so be ready for the rebellion. Our mothers may have taken pics of us in the bathtub, or with cake all over our angelic little faces, but those photos were kept safe in the house, in an album that only old relatives and new boyfriends and girlfriends would see. Not 542 Facebook friends.

5. Oversharing and/or Vague and Elusive Statuses: I list these two together because, while they may be the complete inverse of one another, they are just as infuriating.They are the yin-yang of stupid Facebook activity.

There's something to be said about a person who is completely comfortable with oversharing the most intimate and private details of his or her life. A former friend (both in real life and on Facebook) posted, nearly minute-by-minute the travel to a courthouse to file for a restraining order on her ex-bf. Literally, from check in at such-and-such courthouse, to obtaining the RO, to WHY she was obtaining the RO was documented on her FB page. She had over 500 "friends." One of these brilliant souls dared to comment and say, "And you think it's a good idea to plaster this all over Facebook?" It was a shining beacon among the "OMG, that's soooo scary", "What a jerk! You deserve better, girlfriend!" and other Oprah-approved, girl power comments. And naturally, it was deleted. Again, this points to intention and credibility. How serious and/or scary could this situation be if you are willing to billboard it? And why would you take the risk of putting it out there if this person is soooooo dangerous? Either way, it's aggravating and it makes me not care about you or your supposed problem.

The vague and elusive concept is pretty simple: If you don't intend to or don't want to talk about something on Facebook, don't even bother bringing it up. When you post, "Today is the hardest day of my life..." And then 376 people comment and say, "Why? What's up? Are you ok? Do you need to talk? I'm here for you..." And you respond with "Yeah, just something big to do today..." or you tell a specific person to message you privately... frankly, Sally... you look like a jackass. And an attention whore. Either discuss it or don't. But if you need support, and you have 785 Facebook friends, chances are you have one or two REAL friends you can call to gain that support legitimately and privately. I might just listen to Sam and defriend you...

After I post this blog link on Facebook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Five: Little Things that Can Brighten Your Day

A few weeks ago, I constructed a list of little things that can turn your day to total crap. But today, the sun is shining, it's brisk, and I'm feeling very connected to the "little things" in life. My dear friend over at did a list of things she's done to make herself feel good, and I feel as though this is right in line with that.

1. A chat with a friend: When things get particularly frustrating around the office, we instate what we call Coffee Shenanigans. This is a few minutes set aside to brew a K-cup and chit-chat about... well, anything. This also works nicely on the phone with a friend you haven't seen in a while, or even an IM exchange if you are digitally inclined. The point is the break from the frustration, problem, or just overall bad day.

2. A treat: This doesn't even have to be a gigantic ice cream sundae or anything monumental (or even unhealthy). But a cup of a fancy coffee, a piece of fruit you don't normally buy or eat, or just something that you haven't had in a while. Receiving something "special," especially when you do it to reward or pamper yourself is what does the trick here.

3. A doggie (or kitty) snuggle: Animals have a sense when you need their affection. I could have the most rotten day on the planet, but when I get home and there's a pup waiting to do nothing but love me and be so happy to see me, it's genuinely a lovely feeling. And he doesn't talk or ask questions. All he does is listen, and give a snuzzle (snuggle + nuzzle = snuzzle) when I need it. Animals' instinct here is what makes this so special. You don't have to say a word.

4. Laughter: There are a handful of people on this earth that I can share a really hearty laugh with. I'm not talking about a chuckle. I mean a side-splitting, tear-streaming, breath-constricting laugh. It also happens to be a pretty effective ab-workout. Laugh hard enough, and you'll burn some calories. But it also releases all those feel-good chemicals in your brain. This can also be a two-fold treat if it comes from a chit-chat session.

5. A hug: I am willing to claim that there are very few problems, pains, dilemmas, or sorrows that cannot be comforted this way. It may not solve the problem, but it makes bearing the burden that much easier when you're wrapped up by someone who loves you. A parent, a sibling, a partner, a friend. All of these people (and others) double as hug dispensers. And they rarely, if ever, deny the request.

What's particularly nice about these is that, as much as they are nice to receive... they are equally rewarding to give. Making someone else's day a little brighter just might do the same for yours.

What makes your craptacular days better?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Five: Dream Vacations

I had the good fortune of working for a major travel company that paid me to travel to a very cool place once each year, and I quickly fell in love with globe-trotting. Unfortunately, at this point in my life, the only types of vacations I can afford are the ones I create in my head.

There are many other places in the world I'd love to visit, and  to make a list of places I wouldn't go to would likely be shorter and easier. I would travel like Anthony Bourdain, learning from the locals, eating what they eat, etc. No packaged tours for this girl! If money were no object, and time were on my side, here are some of the places I would while away the weeks.

1. Greece: Let's pretend for a minute that their economy is not in shambles. I would do a quick pass through all the ruins--the Acropolis and the temples and all that--and then spend lots of time on the smaller islands--Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, etc. Simplicity of life is the key here. Quiet, solitude, and the magic of one of the most significant cultures in modern human evolution.

2. Hawaii: I've been to Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. But being there for work with 15 travel agents is not exactly how I want to re-experience Hawaii. It was sort of like a sampler platter. If I went back, I would split my time between Maui and the Big Island, secluded beaches, volcano exploration, snorkeling and diving with sharks and other sea critters, and lazing around in a hammock. Hawaii is, by far, one of the most peaceful place I've ever been, and the Spirit of Aloha is truly the way I would like to live.

3. Japan: I have always been interested in the Japanese culture and way of life. They have such a different philosophy than us Westerners, and their history is spectacular. I'd likely quickly jaunt through Tokyo and spend more time in smaller towns and villages, and definitely make my way to Okinawa. Kind of makes me want to sit with Mr. Miyagi and trim a bonsai tree. 

4. Eastern Europe: Prague, Krakow, Budapest... castles, old cities, quaint villages... An incredibly awesome blend of rich history and a late arrival to modern freedoms and cultural evolution. Of course, I can't leave beaches out of my adventure, so off to Croatia and the Adriatic for some quiet time with the sea.

5. Africa: Yes, the whole damn continent! I've been to Morocco, but I was 16, it was a poorly planned day, and, overall, was not indicative of how one should experience it. But Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Capetown... these are places I would love to visit. The Fertile Crescent, people! Home of LUCY! The Sahara Desert! maybe swing on over to Madagascar... Cultures and experiences that seem epochs away. I think there'd be some kind of higher level connection to being human to return to where we, quite literally, began.

Where does your inner world traveler want to take you?

Monday, November 7, 2011

“The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life.” ~Oscar Wilde

In the past several weeks, I have learned more than enough stories about trouble and deception in marriages among couples I know. Some of these marriages are only a few years old; others, decades. And as I hear stories of infidelity, betrayals, cruelty, accusations, and even crimes committed by one of the spouses, I am left with a feeling that I can't quite put my finger on. What makes it worse is all of the couples appeared to be in very happy, very solid relationships. If they were rocky, or relationships where they simply seemed to be tolerating one another, it would be different, and not nearly as shocking. But these are couples who, whether after years or decades, (superficially) stand for "happily ever after."

I am not so illogical as to swing wildly in either direction on the ideas of love and marriage. I do not think my own very new relationship is somehow impervious to such damage, that the two of us are such morally lofty people that we might never hurt each other. Nor do I believe that we are guaranteed to somehow destroy our relationship and each other. In fact, I don't think about this particular topic in terms of my own relationship's future at all. Because I don't have a crystal ball. Today, we're good. Tomorrow, we'll likely be good, too. Beyond that, it's a crapshoot. And that's reality. I won't doom us (in either direction) via speculation and internalization of other people's actions.

This issue provokes more of a bigger-picture, society-as-a-whole question: Are we somehow unrealistic in what we present as happy marriage? Do people do this stuff to each other more often than we think, and because it's so "wrong," we react with lynch-mob mentality, because it's too uncomfortable to face the truth? Perhaps this is a psychological question rather than a moral one. We know what's morally right and wrong. But we do these things anyway. We're driven by emotion. Psychologically, we want what we want, and we hope the moral center of the brain will kick in and make us see the light, but sometimes want kicks right's ass, and someone winds up in bed with someone else, or accuses his/her spouse of the same. Or any variety of crimes against matrimony.

I wonder if we are really unrealistic about what marriage really is. Or, at the very least, that there's a dark side to things, too. And maybe technology and our sudden and very recent desire to take our lives so public is just shedding light on the dark corners. I find it absolutely impossible to believe that infidelity (in its various forms) has become exponentially more common; maybe it's just become easier.

Assuming this is true leads me to another question: Why are we pretending? Why do we pretend that marriage can be this flawless thing? We are comfortable acknowledging some of the flaws in marriages: husbands expecting their wives' servitude; wives frustrating husbands because they shop too much. But these are benign in the grand scheme of what really is apparently going on. If we are more realistic about human nature, about the darkness inside us, will this change the way we view marriage? Will it improve it? Or will it destroy it altogether?

I attended a wedding this weekend, and I won't lie: Part of it gave me anxiety. Here's this young couple, she's all beautiful and they're all hopeful that they are going to have this happily ever after future. My aunt and I were saying we "just hope they stay married." But is that an unrealistic expectation? I couldn't hold my own marriage together. We made all the same promises. I was all sparkly and beautiful and hopeful on my wedding day. We were married 13 months. And we do this, over and over, because the afore-mentioned people, the beacons of happiness, make us believe that it can happen for us.

And then we find out the dark, ugly truth. We find out that people lead double lives, that one spouse has absolutely no idea that the other is carrying on a full-blown relationship with another person; we hear about people who betray their spouses in other ways, by making false accusations, by indulging in other proclivities, by putting everything on the line by committing a crime... After literally decades of marriage.

It boggles my mind. And it makes me wonder if we aren't doing all the new, young couples a complete disservice by not being realistic with them. Or maybe we hope they will be the ones to change thousands of years of behavior. That's a tall order.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Five: Snacks I Would Eat Every Day if I Wouldn't Die or Gain 700 lbs.

Greetings, Kids. Snack foods have come up twice this morning, thus inspiring this list. Now, bear in mind, as with ALL my lists, these aren't necessarily "top" five or "only" five. Just five of what could be many. So please, by all means, add your picks to the list every week. It just may inspire a follow-up down the road!

Today I present to you five snacks that I would literally eat every single day if my teeth and digestive system were superhuman.

1. Pretzels: I need to be specific here. This is not inclusive of ALL pretzels. This is restricted to Utz pretzel rods and Snyder's sourdough pretzel nuggets. The rods come in a tub that, if I were to buy them on a regular basis, I would likely go through three tubs/week. I do not have a pretzel budget. The nuggets, on the other hand, come in a bag, and frankly, it's not a big enough bag. If that sucker lasts two sittings, it's a long time. I would also assert that "skinny" pretzels, such as the thin twists or the pretzel "stix" are gross and should no longer be produced. They are a wimpy excuse for a pretzel. They would get their asses kicked by Rod and Nugget on the pretzel playground.

2. Blue corn chips: Here's the amazing thing about blue corn chips. Plain, they are amazing. With guac or salsa, ALSO amazing. They are so much better than white corn or regular tortilla chips because they are less salty, and if you wanna go the "healthy" route, they are a better option. I enjoy versatility in my snacks. Bravo, blue corn chips, for being both unique AND adaptable.

3. Doritos: Another caveat here. ONLY original flavor. The red bag. NOT cool ranch. NOT jalapeno blast or whatever the hell it's called. I want my Doritos OG. And there's only ONE thing in this world that makes Doritos even better: sour cream. Not a sour cream-based dip, just plain ole' sour cream. I know your reaction was "Ew, really?" YES. REALLY. I promise you, you will love this combination SO much, you will eat enough of it to give you a stomach ache. I have done this on more than one occasion. I also haven't solved the proper Dorito-to-sour cream ratio. One bag of Doritos to one 16-oz. container of sour cream is the closest I've gotten. And yes, I've eaten both in one sitting. Don't judge me.

4. Cheez-Its: Again, original flavor, original size. Not GIANT Cheez-Its. Not some white cheddar garbage. Good ole' original Cheez-Its. I used to buy the 5-lb box at B.J.'s Wholesale, and I could literally eat 5 lbs of Cheez-Its in one week. I will eat these until there is a cheese-flavored paste in my mouth and teeth, and I have to drink 4 gallons of water to get rid of it.

5. David's Pumpkin Seeds: I say David's because they are the only brand of roasted pumpkin seeds I will eat. The are perfectly salty. Perfectly roasted. I eat these bad boys shell and all. I also tend to gravitate towards them during very stressy times, probably because the chewing of them (shell and all) is very labor-intensive. I will also eat them until my teeth hurt, my lips are shriveled from the salt, and I KNOW (get ready for TMI) my next trip to the bathroom will be akin to passing a cactus. On the flipside, especially if you buy the shelled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) they are SUPER good for you, and mixing these (plain, unsalted) with the roasted ones cuts down on the labor (on the front AND back end).

Leave your favorite, could-never-live-without snacks in the comments field.... I think I need to run to 7-11.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Five: 80s Songs I Will Always Listen To

My boyfriend and I play a game: I either send him a photo of the display on my satellite radio or he texts me lyrics from the cheesiest 80s songs that come up in the rotation. But some of them are more than just photo- or quote-worthy. Some have to be sung, at the top of my lungs, all the way through.

There is shame here, I just want you to know. (Please note: I have left out 80s metal/hair bands here. That will someday need a post of its own.)

1. Africa by Toto: Hurry boy, she's waiting there for youuuuuuu.... I LOVE this song. The only part of the song that bugs me is when he shoe-horns Serengeti into the lyric. Other than that, I'm agreeing, "Yes! Hurry off that plane! GO!" And I want someone to profess that it's "gonna take a lot to drag me away from you." I mean, seriously. A lot is like... a lot.

2. Electric Avenue by Eddie Grant: Find me ONE person who doesn't immediate start to bop their shoulders and snap along with this song. We all immediately become Caribbean when we hear it. An den we take it highah... 
[SIDEBAR: Skindred, a ragga metal band as they dub themselves (combo of rock, reggae, and metal) does an awesome cover of this song. Get thee to YouTube.]

3. Safety Dance by Men Without Hats: Aside from the absolute hilarity of this video, this song is an earworm. It will get stuck in your head until Eddie Grant comes along and kicks that midget's little dancing ass out. This song also holds a special place in my heart. I think of my brother Tommy every time I hear it because he was in a harcore band and they were going to cover this song. I still wish they had. It would've been awesome.

4. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler: Once again, if you can keep the video out of your head, this song is just... come on. The pain, the urgency... the giant hair... When she rasps out "I REALLY NEED YOU TONIGHT!" It's just... magic. Bonnie Tyler totally sang like she was going to die right after the song. She's like the grandmother to Michael Bolton. And Nickelback. 

5. How Soon Is Now? by the Smiths: Ok, this one is legit. There's nothing cheesy about this song, in my opinion, and it's been covered a gazillion times, but only well by a few artists (Paradise Lost comes to mind with their crunchy, gothy version). It propels me back to the days of Tequila Joe's (a rock club I frequented when my liver and I were younger and more resilient), and it's just an awesome tune. I'm not gonna defend it. You know I'm right. Volume knob goes way up when this one comes on.

So, tell me... when you were rockin a skinny tie, neon jelly bracelets, 42 gallons of Aqua Net, and possibly zipping around in, or wishing you had an Iroq-Z or a Firebird, what were YOUR favorite songs? Now this isn't a request for just cheesy 80's songs. I have a phone full of photos of those. I'm talking your absolute, still love to this day songs. CONFESS! And happy Friday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Five: Little Things that Make Big Impacts on Your Day

I woke up this morning, not to the sound of the alarm, but to "OH SHIT!!!" My BF's alarm did not go off at 5am, as it is supposed to. He woke up at 7:20 am, when he is already supposed to be at work, and I am usually leaving the house. Hence, a morning of chaos and rushing around... And so, while I sit here on hold for 25 minutes with the IRS, I started thinking about the little things that can rattle your day in a major way.

1. Oversleeping: As the afore-mentioned scenario indicates, oversleeping will eff up your entire day, even if it's by 20 minutes. In our case, it was 2 hours. So yeah, major jacking up of my morning. It will even screw up my food schedule.

2. Running out of hot water: Even if it's for the last 30 seconds of my shower, ending it with cold water is a one-ticket to Grumpsville. Have this happen in, say, February, and everyone better get the hell out of my way for the rest of the day.

3. No-reason traffic: Traffic is annoying no matter what. But when it's due to an accident or construction, it's somehow more tolerable than traffic that seems to have no explanation. Just... traffic. This is infuriating. A close second: rubbernecking traffic.

4. Wardrobe inventory error: Sometimes, when I am laying in bed at night, I think about what I might wear the next day. In my head, I pair the items together, am satisified with the idea, and look forward to a seamless morning. Until I wake up and realize that blouse is crumpled up at the bottom of the laundry basket, or those pants are at the dry cleaners. This usually happens when there's no suitable backup. Commence wardrobe crisis.

5. Universally bad timing in the gym: There are days when the flow of my workout will be completely disrupted the entire time because of other people. It is not intentional on their part, it's just the timing. For example, If I want to get on the fly machine,but someone is on it, I'll go to do, say, bicep curls, but I go over to the free weight rack, and all the weights are either taken or missing, so then I'll go to do something else, and there will be another problem... choppy workout = grumpypants. This also somehow seems to coincide with the days when my iPod picks the crappiest songs to shuffle.

What are the things that will set you up for a day of total mood-ruining?

Hope you all had a more pleasant start to your day. Happy Friday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Five: Reasons Why My Dog Is Better than a Kid

My mother's final defense on why she will never have a dog is that "dogs are like toddlers who never grow up." While that may be true to some degree, I really got to thinking about that comparison. I present to you reasons why a dog (and my Mojo, in particular) is better than a kid. 

1. General care: The base goal with a baby and a puppy are the same: keep him/her alive. Only, with a dog, it goes basically like this:

When the dog has to go to the bathroom, you open the back door. The dog poops or pees outside. No diapers, no potty seat, no baby wipes. 2 a.m., puppy has to tinkle? Throw him in the backyard. End goal: teach the dog not to crap on your carpet (ok, maybe this applies to kids, too).

My dog gets fed twice a day. I throw food in a bowl, which then goes on the floor. If any food spills onto the floor, I encourage my dog to eat it. He eats the same exact thing every day, doesn't complain, acts like it's the greatest meal ever. So not only is it easy, there's appreciation involved. When's the last time your toddler thanked you for the organic chicken paste and pureed peas?

Bath time can be a messy chore. Thankfully I only have to do it once every month or two. Given the previous discussion on bathroom and food habits of a kid, this is not recommended for your child. Plus, smelly kids don't have friends, but smelly dogs, on the other hand...

2. Hobbies/social life: Mojo will  never want to play the tuba, or take ballet lessons (though, if I could teach him to play the tuba, I'd be writing this from a beach in Maui, and it'd be "Five Reasons Why Maui Is Way Better than Wherever You Are). He's never going to whine when I tell him it's time to go home. At BEST, a dog version of a social life is a trip to the dog park. And Mojo has never thrown his body on the floor and howled when I said it was time to go home. I will never have to cart him around to 12 different sporting events. There will be no roller skating 10th birthday party.

3. Moral fiber: At no point will I lie awake at night, worrying about whether or not I am raising a well-rounded, morally sound, socially profitable being. Parents worry about that stuff, particularly with teenagers. I am 100% positive that I do not have to worry that my dog will wind up in Juvie for being a delinquent. I don't have to worry about him getting some nice young girl pregnant, driving drunk, trying drugs, crashing my car. Nor do I have to worry about molding him into a fine young adult through...

4. Education: It cost something like $4 million to send a kid to college these days. There's SAT prep, constant push to maintain good grades so Junior can get into a great school. Then there's housing, and an extra year or two when Junior goes from wanting to be a lawyer to wanting to be a chef to wanting to be a scuba instructor... It's all very overwhelming. Mojo's education consists of four or five tricks, not chewing on or destroying anything in the house with his teeth (or his pee), and not chomping down on another living creature. All for the cost of a couple of bags of training treats. You do the math.

5. Lack of speech: If there's one thing kids do, especially small ones, it's that they talk. INCESSANTLY. REPETITIVELY. "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mommy!" And they can scream at decibel levels that their superior canine counterparts can hear seven blocks away.

Mojo makes anywhere from 4 to 6 different noises. But for the most part, he doesn't make any sound. It takes him about a year to make as much noise as the average toddler makes in a day. Plus, the shock collar (oh, shut up, it's totally safe and I don't even have to turn it on anymore) keeps any incessant barking to a minimum. Put a "bark control" collar on your toddler and see what happens to you.

This face will never scream, "I hate you!"
and then storm off and slam a bedroom door.

Now, tell me I don't have a point.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." ~ Ferris Bueller

Thanks to a thought-provoking Facebook status, I invited Tom to guest spot on Constructive Compulsion. Please spend a little time with his thoughts... I think he'll get you thinking about quite a few things.

OMG. Can it actually be true? Am I dreaming? That’s it, it’s all dream. I will just pinch myself and wake up and think, Man how I wish that dream would come true... No, people this is not a dream,  but reality in itself. I actually have my big break. I’m guest blogging on Constructive Compulsion.

All joking aside, Nikki saw my recent post on Facebook and replied to it with the words, “Do I see a guest blog spot on Constructive Compulsion? So I replied to her via text:

10/16/2011 9:11 AM (text in reply to my Facebook status that Nikki replied to. So it’s my reply to her reply, get it? Got it? Good.)

Me (you know the guy with the big break to guest blog): Guest blog spot?

Nikki: Write :-)

Me:  Why you say that?

Nikki: Because this video clearly provoked thought. I think you could explore this question a lot further.

So the initial thought runs through my head: Is this how she is when she’s in “Professor” mode? Ha, run off thought for maybe a future blog—Nikki: mild mannered book editor by day, super powered English Professor by night). Well for whatever reason she had to spark this blog out of me is her own and only hers to know. Who am I to question such higher thought processes? And now we come to the point where I stop gloating about how I get to guest blog and you don’t.

The whole reason for this blog is because of the death of Steve Jobs. Anderson Cooper had a segment on Steve Jobs referring to his Commencement address to the Stanford class of 2005. Steve had three stories that day. His first story was about connecting the dots, the second about love and loss, and the third about death. It was his third story about death that was featured on Anderson Cooper’s show.

Here is the clip from Anderson Cooper -

This is the prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs -

My Facebook status read as: Usually my posts relate to my sense of humor. Possibly offending somebody, making somebody chuckle or just creating that “why the heck did I just waste my time reading his post” feeling. A few times I’ve been serious and emotional and have actually had the occasional OMG my post was “liked” a bajillion times. Well this time I will fall into the 90% category of all Facebook status updates (see link - ) . This was passed on from a co-worker and it really brought me to think, am I living my life to the best of my ability?

I bet many of those college graduates walked away thinking, “Ah, he’s just saying that ‘cause he was sick at one point, thinking he was going to die. I have more than enough time to enjoy my life and be carefree.” Well, maybe I’m just talking about how I would have been at that age. As they say, the thirties are the new twenties. And it’s just now at my age (with just a few more years to go till I’m forty) that I’m actually looking at life completely differently than I used to. For the first time just the other day I was thinking about my own age and thought, Damn, I’m going to be forty soon, I’m getting old. How much more time will I have to be able to do what I want to do? To be able to tell my children what they need to hear from me? To look at all the people in my life that I love and let them know exactly how they fit in my heart? When will I actually take the time to figure out who, what, where, when and how? My thoughts flood my mind. So I sit back and tell myself, relax, sort through them and prioritize. Tackle one thought, one emotion at a time. But how? How do you decide what to do first? Oh the pressure of being an adult, a parent, a Father, a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a friend.

Well I hope that those college grads walked away the way I would have walked away after hearing this speech: time to enjoy my life and be carefree. Steve could not have said it any better than he did. He referenced in his speech The Whole Earth Catalog. I have not heard of this publication before nor will I be running out to my nearest library (who am I kidding this is the 21st century—logging onto to purchase it). What I will take from it are the words: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish”.

Steve Jobs unfortunately was not able to beat cancer. Fortunately, I’m in good health, at least to my knowledge. I’ve done much the same as Steve has, when hearing myself say “No” for too many days in a row. I’ve taken the initiative to make a change in my life. Have they always been the down the right path? Well this question will have to be possibly answered in another blog. Sometimes those “No” days run into weeks, possibly months, but hopefully not years. Here I am, in my late 30s, looking at changing my career. Way too many “No” days have passed.

Truly there is no person more important in your life than yourself. My recent philosophy has been, “If you can’t make yourself happy, how can you make somebody else happy?” It’s been working for me. I’m headed in the direction that I want to be. The whole purpose of my Facebook status was really just to get whomever decided to read it to engage in a little self-reflection. We go on everyday doing what we do, for whatever reason. The majority of us don’t think about what Steve was saying in his speech. I’m one of the majority. I’m guilty of going through life one day at a time mainly in reaction mode. 5:00 AM alarm goes off, 6:00 AM start my commute, 7:00 AM start my work day, 4:00 PM work day ends. It’s unfortunate that I have only a few hours a day to adjust how my life is going and where it is headed. The majority is making sure that I get paid, to pay for my living expenses. Take a second and reflect on your day. Are you making sure you’re living each day as if it was you’re last? As we all know, nobody can tell when the last day will come.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Let's not be narrow, nasty, and negative." ~T. S. Eliot

There is something in the air today.

It's something sharp and nasty, needling at our ribs and nerves... we are on edge and sluggish. And we don't know why.

Phenomena like this fascinates me. Rather than dwell too much in my own nastiness, I'm trying to think about possible explanations for global crankiness. Weather? Atmospheric elements? It's been raining for over a week in New Jersey, so maybe that has something to do with it. It isn't a full moon. We have another week.

If the idea that our energy reverberates throughout our atmosphere and is "contagious" so to speak, that only explains half the problem. How is it that everyone woke up in a lousy mood today? What transpired overnight to dawn a nasty day? I have no personal point of origin. I slept well. I worked out yesterday, and felt great. My evening class went well. I had a relatively pleasant morning.

And then I stepped outside, got in my car, and drove intotraffic jams, honking horns, accidents, lots of swirly blue and red lights. People driving like total maniacs. The second I got into work, there were problems, nasty authors, frustrated coworkers... Everyone is just downright angry today. And we're all asking, "What IS it today?!"

Perhaps we are all at some sort of turning point, some large, some small. Maybe many of us are in some area of transit, of shift, and it's getting uncomfortable. The seasons are shifting, and I know many people whose lives are also shifting. Perhaps we're uncomfortable. If our environment feels unstable we are going to react and fight the instability, which can create tension. Many people are expressing a desire to be left alone today. Perhaps this is why. We're all in some sort of flux.

I can't come up with anything else. And even if I did, I still want to kick today in the face.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five: Stupidest Date Ideas

Last night, I realized, "Oh shit. Tomorrow is Friday. And I don't have a list idea." So, I googled list ideas, and I came across a site that offers fun date ideas. It even has it broken down into various categories: romantic, adventure, for teens, etc. But one in particular caught my attention: Dates Under $10. Given that my BF and I are trying to be wise with our spending, I thought this might be interesting. But then I read the list, and immediately became snarky, sarcastic, and critical. There are approximately 75 items. Here are some of the worst examples on the list: 

1. Be a counselor for a day camp: You know what we do during the day? We WORK. At day jobs. That are not camps. Unless you work nights, part time, or have summers off, this isn't even possible. But more importantly, IT'S NOT A DATE! What are the odds you'd even get to spend your time there together? Aren't you supposed to hang out and entertain/supervise your group of brats--i mean--kids?  

2. Climb a tree: How long does it take to climb a tree? Five, maybe ten minutes? I can just picture it: the two of us, climbing up the tree, laughing about the fact that we're climbing a tree... and then... "Hey, so... we' a tree... cool." WOW. THAT WAS FUN.  

3. Clean out a closet together: Well, if this is someone's definition of a good time, baby, I got window sills that need dusting, a stove that needs cleaning, and floors that need vacuuming. I'm gettin' hot just thinking about it. Aren't you? ...Babe? ...Hello?

I will admit that I do enjoy cleaning out closets, reorganizing, etc. But I am absolutely positive that it is coded in our DNA to NOT do these things together. A woman will nag her man to clean out his closets, drawers, etc. The man will do some form of this, which will not make the woman happy, they will fight, and she will re-do it to her liking. This is not something most men care about, and there is absolutely no way to make this activity fun. Trying to do this will cause a fight for sure. 

4. Dye your hair: Ok, A) My guy is bald. And B) I absolutely do NOT trust him with a bottle of hair dye (sorry, babe). But even if you both have dyable hair, and even if you both WANTED to dye it, having a hair-dyeing party is something girls do with their girlfriends or gay guy friends. I don't know who dyes guys' hair. If anyone knows, let me know. For now, I'm sticking with my awesome hairdresser, who I am certain will not get dye all over my ears, nose, and forehead. And neck. And shoulder. And one elbow.  

5. Watch construction crews working: Right after paint drying and grass growing?

Maybe guys are into this stuff because they like to see how things are built, and they like huge machines and stuff that smashes other stuff. The only thing I care about on a construction site is if there's any hot construction guys working, which would likely cause some discomfort on the date:
"Wow, isn't it cool how they use that (giant industrial vehicle thingie) to hoist those (giant pieces of construction material) up there?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry, I was looking at the ass on that one in the orange hardhat...."

If anyone finds any of these options appealing, I apologize for criticizing you.

Actually, I take that back. If you find any of these ideas appealing, I'll lend you $20 to NOT have to resort to these activities on your next date.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five: Movies I Will Never Turn Off

In celebration of the first day of fall, which means days of hunkering down under a blanket and watching TV all day are fast approaching!

Whether you have the standard or the super duper holy crap cable package, one thing is certain: You will, on any given day, find a movie that you've seen nine million times and never turn off. But they are not necessarily your "favorite" movies. In fact, my favorite movie list and my "watch anytime it's on" list, are totally different, and I find the latter far more interesting than the former.

1. The Breakfast Club: I can recite this movie from the opening voiceover to the final voiceover and not miss one word in between, though I rarely catch it right at the beginning. I laugh at the same parts every single time I watch it.

2. You've Got Mail: Baffling, since I really don't care for Rom-Coms. I honestly cannot come up with valid reasons why I will watch it every time it's on. But there is shame here, I just want you to know.

3. The Godfather: Again, never catch it from the beginning. This movie was on at the gym one day and I spent an extra 25 minutes on the treadmill. It's the mafia vortex. You can't help but get sucked in.

4. Dumb & Dumber: funny. I find Jim Carrey annoying 97% of the time, but this movie cracks me up to absolutely no end.

5. Back to the Future: So quotable, funny every single time. I have, over the years, come to appreciate Christopher Lloyd more than I did when I was a kid. Comedy genius.

Runners Up: Empire Records (though this is a favorite movie), Independence Day, Gone in 60 Seconds, Sixteen Candles.

Which movies keep you glued to the boob tube?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If My Relationship Status Isn't Posted on Facebook, Does My Boyfriend Exist?

I have been toying with a post about this for a while now, but today's endless string of complaints over some changes on Facebook sealed the fate of this post and it's creation. People are up in arms over some layout changes and the way that the newsfeed works. But, like every other change Facebook has made, everyone will be over it by tomorrow, and continue to post their statuses, links, photos, and videos. Myself likely included.

But there is a larger question at work here. I am consistently baffled, and sometimes amused by the importance that we place on Facebook. It's as if it wields some almighty power in establishing the solidarity of our relationships, friendships, and overall existence as a society. But I can't figure out why.

People get upset if the person they are dating refuses to post their relationship status on Facebook, accusing that person of wanting to deny their status as a couple. In-depth discussions are had when a couple breaks up about when they will change their status and "go public" with this information. If friends go their separate ways, it's not "official" until they are "defriended" on Facebook. And we seek revenge by deleting each other as "friends" in our list. I parted ways with someone who was outright shocked at the fact that I deleted him from Facebook after we said our goodbyes. He kept saying, over and over again, "But I didn't think it was like that!" Like what? How many meanings does the word goodbye have? Why would I stay connected on Facebook with someone I am choosing to no longer have a relationship with? He seemed more hurt by the deletion than the actual life-extraction. And there are questions on what is an acceptable amount of time to let pass before you delete a person and untag them from your photos. I remain baffled by this.

At what point did Facebook become the final word on all things social? It's shocking to me that people are surprised by the fact that my boyfriend and I don't have our "status" on Facebook. My answer to that is: If you are important enough, you'll know about him, regardless of what Facebook does or doesn't say. There are many aspects of my life that I don't choose to share on Facebook. Yet, I am the exception, not the rule.

What did we do for recognition of these levels of intimacy beforehand? When we acquired a boyfriend or girlfriend, we told people. When people got engaged, they called people and told them. I have found out about several engagements via Facebook. Maybe because it's "easier" to do a blanket announcement. But then we panic when our lives shift, and we have to "change our status" on Facebook. *gasp*  Because everyone will know.

We seem to have created a disconnect between instant action/reaction and consequence. We no longer think about what we post as a reflection of ourselves down the road. You might not care today that you professed your undying love for your partner in a status update, but if you break up, and all your mutual friends see your former partner tagged in someone else's photos, kissing not you, you panic. You didn't think about down the road, about what it means to have all your business out there in the world. We may post scathing status updates that lash out at someone who is doing us wrong, but we fail to see the repercussion of appearing ridiculous. Frankly, people who air their serious business on Facebook make me not want to deal with them, period. I respect their choice to do so, but I find I most often don't respect them for making that choice.

I don't think I will ever understand the importance that people place on Facebook and its statuses, of being included or excluded from someone's "friends" list, or the impulsive need to tell the world about our most intimate life moments. It's like intentionally leaving the blinds open and then getting mad when someone looks in the windows.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Five: Best Excuses for Late/Missing Work and Absences

Aside from the usual dead grandmother, crashing computer, and hungry dog situations, some of my students have been incredibly creative with their excuses for absences and not turning in work on time or at all. In the spirit of  wrapping up the Summer Quarter (the college I teach at operates on a quarter system, rather than semesters), here are the best I've heard during the past three years, and yes, these are absolutely true (in the sense that students actually used them). For the ease of my dear readership, I have translated these emails/conversations into proper English

1. .mys files: Professor, I wrote my entire paper and saved it on my flash drive, but when I went to open it at school, my computer saved it in some sort of mystery format, so I can't open it.

Ah yes. The .mys file. Amazing how Word will just change your file formats willy-nilly. And there's no program on earth that can possibly open it. Must be a Microsoft conspiracy. Against college students. During finals week.

2. Priorities, priorities: Professor, I can't come to class because my cousin is graduating and my aunt is having a party.

This student had already used the "death in the family," "car accident," and  "incredibly ill/emergency room" excuses. What's even better about this one, though, is that the class was a wednesday/friday class, and met from 9:50 to 11:35. IN THE MORNING. I don't know about you, but my family is also all about the quick, mid-day celebrations. Friday evenings? Saturday afternoons? No way, man. An hour and a half on a weekday is good enough for your milestone.

3. Overwhelming Pressure: Professor, I worked so hard on this paper, that I just completely forgot to submit it. 

I understand. Sometimes, when you work so incredibly hard on something, it's easy to forget that the end goal is to present it, submit it, or put it to use.
Incidentally, I compared the version that was emailed to me (the incredibly crafted one) to its previous draft. Shockingly... no changes. This is also the same student who felt I was so unfair in not accepting this submission (thus causing him to fail the course) that he sent a file to my department chair labeled GRAPE APPEAL. He must've worked very hard on that one, too.

4. WARNING: DISASTER AREA: Professor, I was working on my paper, when my cat jumped on my desk and spilled a glass of water all over my computer. It was smoking and literally almost caught fire from shorting out and I lost everything. 

Kid, you watch too much TV.

I'm not saying it isn't possible that she spilled water on her computer. We've all done that. But the whole sparking, sizzling, smoking disaster she tried to convey is highly unlikely. I even tried to find videos of this type of thing on YouTube. I found a video of a guy dousing his laptop with a garden hose while it was on. All it did was shut down. This could've been a plausible story if she left the theatrics out. And the cat.

5. Wrong place, right time: Professor, I am sorry I was not in class yesterday. I even got to school early and sat down in the classroom. But nobody came, so I thought class was canceled, and I left. It turns out I was in the classroom for my criminal justice class. 

If this was the first week, that's one thing. This was mid-way through the quarter. That's like going to work and sitting down at someone else's desk and not knowing it. Additionally, class cancellations are posted on the door and online. Sadly though, I could actually see this being true.

I'd love to hear some of the best excuses you've heard, whether from employees, co-workers, your kids, etc. Drop your feedback in the comments field. Happy Friday!

Friday Five: Sexiest Rock Stars

Friday are fun. Everyone is usually in a pre-weekend good mood, there’s goofing off in the workplace, and an overall levity to the day. So, in keeping with the vibe of Friday, I’ve decided to start a series: The Friday Five. Each week’s list will be made of something silly, fun, and light. I encourage you to share your picks with us each week. After all, what good is fun if you’re having it by yourself?

*Please note that these are not in any special order. Just the order in which they entered my brain.

1. Corey Taylor, Stone Sour/Slipknot: Big props to Corey for major hotness transformation. He wasn’t always. Once upon a time, he had scraggly hair, and if he had a nice body, it was hidden under baggy clothes, or in the case of Slipknot, a costume and mask. Then someone introduced him to a buzzer and a gym, and voila. Bald + tattoos + awesome body = bad ass sexy rockstar. Proof positive that bald/shaved head is sometimes a way better option than long hair.

Corey Taylor Before: Ick.            Corey Taylor After: YUM.

2. Rob Zombie: There’s such thing as “sexydirty.” Rob Zombie also produces some of the best background music for a night of “whiskey-a-go-go-meets-dark-and-devilish-fun”. He is also a movie producer and has done some amazing things in the horror genre. So I hear. He almost makes me want to watch horror movies. Almost.

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Zombie. 

3. Peter Steele, Type O Negative: The late, great Peter Steele made my little goth grrrl heart twitter in the mid-90s. At 6’6”, with jet-black hair, and green eyes, he could chew up Edward Cullen and spit him into a bottle of cheap red wine. Pete did a spread for Playgirl in 1995, and I distinctly remember the shock of my friend and I when we flipped the issue open: WOAH! Uhhh…wow.” Let me reiterate: SIX FOOT SIX.  

What grown-up vampires look like. 
Sidebar: In that same issue (it was the sexy rock star issue, I guess), there was a picture of Kip Winger in a bubble bath. I would like to share this traumatic image with you. First of all, women in a bubble bath = sexy. Overly hairy man in a bubble bath = uhmmm… no. Maybe man-waxing wasn’t trendy then, but I am more than certain there was some sort of Man Nair available. Grinning, clavicle-to-ankles-hairy rock star lying on his back in a mostly dissolved bubble bath with the bait and tackle floating on the surface. You’re welcome.

4. Jon Bon Jovi: Dude’s pushing 50, and can still rock the leather pants like nobody’s business. You could crack a walnut on the Jonny Buns. The smile, the voice, and his overall “regular guy” attitude complete the picture. I would argue that he has gotten sexier as he has gotten older. And the show that he and the boys put on is spectacular. He runs around, almost non-stop, for the entire 2+ hour show. That’s called stamina. We like stamina.

New Jersey's Contribution to Rock Hotness

5. Maynard James Keenan, Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer: Bald? Check. Sick tattoo down his spine? Check. Writes music that makes my soul hurt and my brain percolate? Check. So unbelievably well-read, well-spoken, and brilliant? Check. He’s cerebral sexy. His intelligence is so impressive, it’s intimidating. Add it to the complexity of the music he and his bandmates create, the intensity with which it is created, and the voice that comes out of his throat, and you have sexy nerdrock.

Some say weird. I say sexy. 

Please share your top five sexy rock star picks (male or female). I'd love to revisit this topic with a Friday Five Reader’s Picks List. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid." ~Homer

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today that a rapper had some lyrics that offended the military. The exact lyric is "fuck da [sic] FBI & fuck all da [sic] army troop[sic] fighting for what? Be yo [sic] own man." Of course, an apology was demanded, and, of course, one was issued. Read it here. You can question its validity for yourself.

It got me thinking, not so much about things like the First Amendment, or whether or not words hurt, but we've become a society that constantly demands public apology, because it's not just "sticks and stones" anymore. But why? We have this lynch-mob mentality, as if we constantly speak kindly of everyone and never say anything controversial. But what is even more irritating to me is that, demanding apologies, such as the one that Soulja Boy issued, does two things:

1. It gives validity and power to what he said in his lyrics.
2. It coaxes out a half-assed, public-appeasing statement.

Who gives a rat's tiny, hairy ass about what this guy says about anyone?! Is the military so invested in the opinion of some rapper who is looking to sell a song that, (from what I gathered reading the lyrics) has NOTHING to do with the actual military? The song is presumably about how he is living his own life, and it's awesome, and he makes his own choices. The line might even only serve to make the rhyme work. Is he a powerful social or political figure? I think we'd all be a little more upset if, oh, I don't know, Leon Panetta (the Secretary of Defense) said something like "fuck the military." Google and read any of Soulja Boy's other lyrics, and tell me if you are willing to give a crap about the statements of someone who has a song called "Booty Meat."

I didn't think so.

Secondly, we go after someone like him, he issues some pretty little statement, and everyone forgets about it. Awesome. What was the point of that? Is that all we need? Are we all little boys and girls in the sandbox and when someone tugs our hair or throws sand in our eye, all we need is "sorryyyyy" and back to digging we go?

If Soulja Boy has to issue an apology to the military, he also owes one to the FBI (who, apparently, aren't offended). If Soulja Boy has to apologize, then all those yammering old bags on television who criticize the wardrobes of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have to apologize. I now have to apologize for calling them old bags. Discover Card has to apologize to foreign customer service representatives named Peggy. MTV has to apologize for the Jersey Shore (ok, maybe that's not such a bad idea...).

An apology means absolutely nothing coming from someone who was forced to give it. I highly doubt Soulja Boy is going to be remorseful after all the extra hits this song gets on YouTube and iTunes. And I'm even more doubtful that any of the men and women who are serving in the military at this very moment really care about the lyric or the "apology" that followed. I think they're too busy doing something incredibly important with their time. Maybe we should follow their example. Stop caring so much about inane statements from insignificant people. Because the demand for the apology is just as ridiculous and insignificant as the statement and the subsequent "apology." Enough with the apologies.

Friday, September 2, 2011

“Brother, today I sit on the brick bench of the house, where you make a bottomless emptiness.” ~ Cesar Vallejo

I woke up this morning with my brother on my mind. I had intended to write something about him back in July, as that was the second anniversary of his passing, but I wasn’t ready to articulate. I feel today what I have felt on and off with fluctuating intensity during the past two years—a heaviness that surrounds his passing. And while it is, of course, one of a certain amount of grief, for me, it is more defined by regret.

I am fortunate to say that I don’t have many regrets in my life. I’m not a “what if…” or “wish I hadn’t….” kind of person. Good and bad things happen, maybe for a reason, and I am more inclined to look at what I’m supposed to learn from these happenings rather than wish they didn’t happen. You can’t unring the bell. But this particular situation holds regret for me.

My brother and I never really had a typical sibling relationship. I’m sorry to say we had barely a relationship at all beyond holiday/family gatherings, and the occasional sibling outing once we were all old enough to drink. There were 13 years between us, and for most of the first 13 of my life, we were estranged. Then all of a sudden, at 13 years old, I had an older brother.

We couldn’t have been more opposite. I was your typical straight-A nerd, regularly appearing on honor rolls. Never getting in any kind of trouble, following the rules, etc. He wasn’t that kind of kid. So, a 13-year age gap, and virtually nothing but genes in common, even as adults, makes it difficult to formulate a relationship.

I have a handful of memories of my brother and I outside the holiday/family schematic. And I have only one real “moment” between us. After I had taken my niece out for the day, my brother pulled me aside and confessed to me with desperation and pure panic in his face that my sister-in-law was expecting their third child. Their second child was only a couple of months old. He followed this up with, “Don’t tell anybody.”

I was more taken aback by the fact that he told me this secret. I often wondered if he told me simply because I happened to be there, because he needed to tell someone, and I was standing in front of him.

As I got older, got married, and started really being a grown-up, there was a bit more substance between us. He would occasionally make a comment that implied a bit of pride in me and what I’d accomplished, a bit of nostalgia from when I was a baby and he was a young teenager. He would make indirect comments here and there. We still never really “clicked,” so to speak, but when my (now ex-) husband starting working with my brother, I saw him more often. Several times a week he was at my house both before and after the work day, and on a day that I had secured a new job, he brought a celebratory pizza back to the house.

It seemed as though there might’ve been a relationship forming, or at the very least, that we were both well-aware of the gap, the disconnect, even the occasional awkwardness between us, and maybe now that we were seeing more of each other, maybe there would be an opportunity to connect in some way. But then he was gone.

After all of the formalities, the funeral, etc., I broke down in the presence of my cousin and my best friend. I wasn’t questioning why he was gone, why this happened, but angry at the fact that I would never have the opportunity to not only connect, but to also get some long-held internal conflict out, to ask certain questions, or to even just speak my mind to my brother about certain things that I didn’t like, didn’t agree with, wanted answers to, and so on. I would never get the chance to clear the air of that awkwardness, find out what it was made of and resolve it. The finality of this situation was devastating to me. The concept of GAME OVER was never so real as that. I could not change it. AT ALL. I kept crying to them, “I’ll never get to say any of it.”

Closure is something that is critical to me. I struggle with the fact that, if I am to have closure on this, it has to come from within. I have to take that finality, and resolve this with the fact that it’s unresolvable. Its lack of closure is its closure. Logically it makes sense. Emotionally, sometimes it’s not good enough.

A few weeks after he passed, my sister-in-law called me, saying she had something to tell me. She said that my brother had told her that he was really happy that he was working with my husband because he got to see me and spend more time with me. She said he seemed really excited and happy that we were spending more time together. On one hand, it was nice to know that he felt that way, that maybe we both recognized the gap and wanted to close it. On the other, it makes the situation that much more regrettable, as if we almost made it happen. As the saying goes, “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” I’m pretty sure he’s the one who told me that.

 One of my brother's favorite pictures and a favorite family story: My brother and sister dressing me up like a karate baby. My brother called this "Lil Kung-Poo."


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition." ~Carl Sagan

If the tone of my posts seems wildly incongruous this month, it is because my pendulum is swinging wildly. I have felt incredibly out of sorts for the past two weeks, unable to sleep well, concentrate, get things done, and so on. My skin is a mess, my appetite sporadic, and I feel a level of exhaustion that seems inexcusable, given how little I've actually done. The problem is, I can't figure out why.

It appears to me that everything I can control is in order: my house, my work schedule, and so on. But the universe seems to be attacking things I cannot control. I've had three specific items go missing during the past few weeks, and these are items that I have not only had for quite some time, but also ones that I am always particularly careful with: my travel coffee mug (hello, this is my lifeline in the morning!), my flash drive with all of my lecture notes and teaching materials from the last three years, and my iPod. These might seem insignificant, but losing these items definitely disrupts the flow of my personal and professional energies. Yes, it is easy to replace a coffee mug. And I did today. But the years' and years' worth of teaching materials is a significant pain in the rear (though I did give the universe the finger today and managed to recover some of these documents in old email attachments). But my iPod was only a year old. And expensive. And I am not currently in a position to replace it.

I am also plagued by an inexplicable feeling that everything is just... off. It's not something I can articulate well, but the best I can do is that it has to do with energy or vibe. My world just doesn't feel right. I guess when people say they feel "off" this is what they could mean. But it's not the same "off" as when you think there's a cold coming on, or you're hung over. This isn't a physical "off." It's beyond that.

There may be various explanations both logical and other-worldly for these and other disruptions, but the bottom line is this: I feel so disrupted, so out of sorts, and can come up with no logical or workable explanation for these feelings, that it is perpetuating a cycle of anxiety, frustration, and hostility. Now "every little thing" is needling my nerves. Because I don't know what the cause is, I can't fix it. And when I can't fix it, I get anxious. And when I get anxious, the skin, sleep, and all other systems crash.

I'm supposed to find peace or the answer in: sometimes there is no answer. But this is not a skill I readily possess. I am a fixer, a do-er. I like congruity, lines, structure... when the lines get blurred, the congruity disrupted, and the structure collapses, especially beyond my own doing, I (clearly) have difficulty.

So, what's a girl to do? Let it ride? Fake it till I make it? Hold my breath and hope for the best? How does one allow the discord of the universe to work itself out without sacrificing ambition--or a healthy amount of sleep?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket or a holding pattern over Philadelphia." ~Judith Viorst

This post was inspired by a project my dear friend is launching on her fabulous blog and will be featured there in a few weeks. Please stop by and show her some love. :-)

Online dating is a daunting journey, full of trickery and confusion...  I'd had my share of digital bullshit and disappointment. It was May, summer was seemingly minutes away, and I was fully prepared to take a breather and get out of the dating pond for a while. 

All things considered, my online dating experiences really hadn't been all that bad. It was more that I just didn't meet anyone I really clicked with. Charlotte had mentioned that OkCupid had a lot of "cute boys with tattoos" so I mentioned this site to my co-worker, who is recently single and back on "the scene." She took a quick peek at the site and sent me four photos of incredibly good looking guys, none of which were bare-chest shots taken in the bathroom mirror... 


I decided to make a really quick profile, copying/pasting from my profile. I only wanted to poke around and goof off with my friend. We were sending pics and profiles to each other. 

And then I came across one in particular. Physically, all the right elements: the right height, the right build, seemingly handsome (if his photos were legit)... His profile was well-rounded and informative. We had things in common. We were calculated as an 88% match. And he lived literally the next town over. So... I decided to write. And then he wrote back. And we wrote lengthy emails back and forth for several days. Turns out, he did not live in the next town over, but on the other side of the Hudson River. (There's a Ridgewood in NY AND NJ. Ooops. Bad editor.) But I was so intrigued, and we were corresponding at such a great level that it seemed worth the shot to keep exploring. Within those several days, we graduated to text messaging, and then the phone. We spent hours on the phone, as if in high school again. We agreed: We had to meet. 

May 21st: Judgement Day. I was excited, but crazy nervous.... I was waiting to be disappointed. And he was too. We had "other shoe" syndrome. We pored over each other's pictures and profiles, looking for a clue, a flaw.... nothing was jumping out. We even told each other what we thought our own "deal breakers" were. All livable. We were certain this was too good to be true. Meeting in person would finally reveal the problem. Both of us figured we wouldn't be attracted to each other in person, that the X-Factor would be missing. That was the only remaining possibility. 

It was a beautiful day in Manhattan, a little warm and humid, and it did eventually rain, but it didn't matter. We finally met face-to-face, and it was as adorably cliche as it can get: better than we hoped for, exciting, there was blushing and grinning. We talked non-stop. There were moments of inadvertent closeness and touching. He took my hand and we both got fluttery inside. Nine swift hours later, we found ourselves on a train headed back to New Jersey because we didn't want our adventure to end. He met my dog. We talked until 3am, until we couldn't keep our eyes open anymore. He slept in my spare bedroom. With the door open. A first date nearly 24 hours long. No kiss. All respect.... And we've been inseparable every weekend since. 

The resounding awwwww is not why I decided to share this story. There are plenty of puke-inducing tibits I could share... but they are not for you.

What I do want to share is, when we set aside the excitement, the strength of the feelings that have evolved, the desire to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after, what we have before us is something that both of us want to succeed. We see the value in this, why it's so special. But this isn't Hollywood. No one has scripted a guaranteed happy ending. Only we can do that. And it can't happen in 90 minutes. Or even 90 days. 

One thing that connects us so strongly are the experiences and the past relationships we come from. We both acknowledge the mistakes we made in our pasts.... We know how we wound up with some of the scars. We talk at length (even now) about our exes... he's a divorced father of two. I'm almost divorced, too (no kids, but we still share the dog). We both wanted out of our marriages, and for many similar reasons. We have both spent a lot of time reinventing ourselves, taking care of ourselves as individuals. We both believe that you have to be whole as an individual before you can be in a successful relationship, that you can't rely on another person to complete you. They can add happiness to your world, but they can't be your sole reason for happiness. We know what kind of relationship we do, and more importantly, DON'T want.

We have been incredibly honest with each other from the beginning. Even if it's something that might not be so great. We talk openly--about everything--even if it makes us uncomfortable. We know that, at the end of that discomfort, understanding is waiting. And likely a hug. 

Balance is something that we actively strive for--relishing in the newness and excitement of it all, but not getting so carried away that we make rash decisions. We joke about running off to Vegas the minute the ink is dry on my divorce decree. We joke about being old together. But we also acknowledge that those jokes mean we're just really stupidly happy together and that we hope it all works out. Because when it's time to get serious about these ideas, we bring the lessons of the past into the mix. We absolutely want to do what is right for us as a couple... but also what's right for us as individuals. Balance. It is possible to be giddy with excitement and to swell with emotion and still make good decisions. We take things day by day, and enjoy what we're experiencing now. We're letting the universe drive. We're just along for the ride. 

So, the moral of our story is: By all means, fall in love. Just don't land on your head.