Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Older and Wiser

As I march headlong toward my 25th high school reunion (egad) I pause to think about the concept of getting older, not getting old. Why are we so hung up on getting old? Let's face it, from the time we're cognizant of age we know we're going to get older. Just a fact. So, why does it bother us so? I mean, just look around people, the signs are out there. "age is just a number", "40 is the new 30, etc", and the like are some of the most overused cliches out there. But are they simply cliche? I say thee nay. I say we need to stop sweating getting old and embrace it. I know for myself, and yes, I know I'm hardly atypical, some of the best years of my life have been the last 5 years or so. Why? I guess my theory is I now have the means to do things I couldn't when I was younger, I'm not as single minded as I was when I was younger and enjoy a wider variety of things, and I simply like 40 something Rich better then 20 something Rich and that's important. So, despite the creaking joints, white hair and expanding midriff, I really don't have a problem getting older

Why do we hate getting older? It's not like your life is over, it's just getting better. Let's face it, older and wiser go together like, um, Bud and weiser. So being wiser means making better use of what you still have. So, can you still go out to clubs and bars? Sure, just avoid going to places you went when you were 25 as guess what? Everyone there is still 25. Maybe you can't run 6 miles but you can still run 3 (or walk 2). Maybe you can't make last call anymore but certainly you can stay out until midnight. Right? And while you may not be the stud athlete you were in high school you can still go hard enough that you can look at your kids and sneer "let's see if you can still go like me when your my age"

No, I think the biggest reason we hate getting old is we hate LOOKING old. Since recorded history we have been presented with an image of what male and female perfection is and have strove to attain this. Society paints a picture most of us can never hope to match but we try. When we're young we can pretty much look pretty good with a little work. But as we age it becomes harder. So what do we do? We dye our hair, we wear toupees. We look to miracle creams and drugs to do everything from slimming our waistlines to removing wrinkles. And why? To fool someone into thinking we're younger then we are? I know someone will say we do it for our own self esteem which is fine but there is also something to be said about being happy with who you are. Your grey hair doesn't say old it says mature. Your receding hairline says experienced. Your wrinkles are from a life time of smiles. Plus, we finally live in a society where being grey, bald, or heavy no longer carry the negative connotation they once did (Thank you George Clooney, Michael Jordan and Oprah). It is what it is people, it is what it is

So, in conclusion I say make the most of whatever age you are. Throw out the Just For Men and lose the combover. Get those pants one size bigger. You deserve it. Grab life by the lapels and scream "So I'm 40, what the fuck are you going to do about it". Take control of your oldness and don't ever say "I'm too old to..." because if you do, then you really are

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Parent Trap

So, just to get it out of the way, I love my parents. They have been and remain two of the most important people in my life. They are not just family but also friends and confidants (wow, there’s that Andrew Gold song again). Almost without exception when I have something bothering me my mother (in particular) or father are the first people I go to. I feel lucky and blessed to have this relationship and that both are still around for me. So you’re saying “um, ok, doesn’t everyone love their parents”? Well, the answer is no, not everyone does. I have some friends who have grown up with horrible, contentious relationships with their parents for one reason or another, some justified, some not. But what I find hard to comprehend is when formerly great relationships with ones parents grow strained to the point of not speaking. I have two friends who recently confided in me they were not speaking to one or both of their parents. As explanations were not offered, and I’m not one to pry, I don’t know the actual reason but typically it seems to come down to money or, more often then not, issues with a significant other that strains the parental relationship

So, maybe I’m the exception but my family’s opinion, my parent’s in particular, means a lot to me. It doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with them but by and large we tend to be on the same wavelength. Ultimately, I am my own man and make my own decisions based on what’s best for me. However, I don’t know that I could commit to a relationship that would put me at odds with the very people who helped mold me into who I am today. Now, love is a funny, wacky, illogical thing that makes one do things they didn’t think they were capable of. I guess sometimes it comes down to familial love versus relationship love and people are forced to make hard, life-altering decisions. It just has to be an awful, sickening feeling to have to be put in that position. To have to sacrifice one love for another has to be the hardest choice there is

I guess where I struggle with the concept is I don’t know if at this point I could spend the rest of my life with someone my family disapproved of or worse, disapproved of my family. I’m in a different place then a lot of people still being single in my 40’s so my familial relationship, which was already important, has grown even more important over the years to the point I think I’d be incapable of being involved with someone that would put that relationship at odds. But, I guess it could happen. I love talking big about loyalty and family and the like but if push came to shove, could I pick true love for someone over my family? Honestly, I don’t think I could and I’m not sure what that says about me. Is it love for my family? Is it a crutch for avoiding relationships? Or am I just a typical Irish catholic kid how loves his mom and dad and wouldn’t do anything to damage that relationship? I don’t know but at this point I don’t see a scenario arising where I’ll have to make that decision so it’s all good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Mourning After

"There's nothing fair about who lives and who dies". This was a great line from a terrible movie when Kurt Russell's character uttered it in the horrible remake of the Poseidon Adventure. But, the line has resonated with me ever since. I find myself repeating it every time I or someone I care about loses someone close to them. There's nothing fair about who lives and who dies. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I sometimes look at my family and am amazed by how many we've lost. I mean, gosh, I'm only in my early 40's and I think I've been to more family funerals then wedding in the past 20 years. I'm not kidding. I sometimes think I've had it hard or bad and get all "why me (us)"??? But then, as I listen to other people's losses I realize quite simply there is nothing fair about who lives and who dies. We are born with the inevitability that we are all going to die and how we cope with it determines how we live our lives

There is nothing harder to cope with then loss of a loved one. It is however the way we cope with loss that defines who we are. When you lose someone you hear it all. "I'm sorry for your loss", "they're in a better place", "their suffering is over" and the like. People who love us tell us this to make us feel better about our loss. In my humble opinion, it doesn't help. However, knowing people care about you and how you're feeling does help. You cry, you mourn, you cry some more, you feel sorry for yourself, you go through the period of overwhelming guilt, and you cry some more. Then its time to move along

I'm not being cold, hard, or callous but simply put you need to get on with life. Those with an inability to do so end up end up spending the rest of their lives amongst the dead instead of the living. In fact, I'd think it the ultimate disrespect for the person you lost if they knew you were structuring your days around missing them. The best way to honor the dead is to go on living. It's a fine line between mourning and remorse but everyone deals with loss differently. You need to let go of the guilt often associated with death of a close one that is sometimes known as survivors remorse. Even in those rare cases when someone feels it was their fault, at the end of the day you have no control over the grand scheme of who lives and who dies. The bottom line is there is NOTHING fair about who lives and who dies but the living must go on with their lives

I'm not the same person I was before living through so many losses. I know this. I think part of me is better through loss. I like to think I've taken something from everyone I've lost and bettered myself with it. The literal negative into a positive. In the end life is tenuous at best and all of us will have our number come up some day, hopefully later then sooner. It's what we do with the time we have on earth that truly makes life worth living. So, no, there is nothing fair about who lives and who dies but it is our ability to cope with these devastating losses that make us who we are to our family and friends.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thankk You for Being a Friend

From July 07. Another one of those me defining things in my world kind of things.

Defining what a friend is can be difficult as people all have different ideas of what a friend is and how to be a friend. I guess the simplest definition would be a person who means a lot to you and vice-versa but is not related to you either by birth or marriage. Well, that is not always true as I have sisters and a mother who are amongst my best friend's and, realistically, unless things have gone to hell, your significant other should be amongst your best friends. As someone mostly always single and likely to be, friends are very important to me. More important at this point then any relationship I might find myself in. This could change but I also think it's just what I'm used to as I'd at this point rather spend casual, fun, good times with my friend's then the awkwardness of starting a new whatever. Rather then go on a long boring rant I will use the ever popular list format to define what a friend is to me.

A friend is someone you would do anything for as long as it didn't go against your personal beliefs or morals. (And sometimes even then). To wit, a friend would never ask you to do anything that would compromise your personal beliefs of morals.

A friend is someone you think of during the course of every day somehow. You may not realize it but this is true. Nary a day goes by I don't have a thought, memory, or mind jog that doesn't remind me of one of my friends

Friendship, to me, is earned not just claimed. I've always hated how on Myspace or Facebook you add "friends". To me you add people who may or may not become friends. I'm an easy guy to like and get to know and have an uncanny sense of people's true character but still, you need do more then know me to become my friend. I have people I rarely see who are friend's, people I see all the time who aren't and in a few, rare cases, people I've never met in the flesh (so to speak) who are.

A friend is someone who, no matter how long it's been since you've spoken or seen each other, you are never uncomfortable towards or at a loss of words with.

A friend knows when to talk, when to listen, and when to say nothing at all

A friend is capable of putting you in front of them when it is called for. A person who only needs someone when they are distressed or when it benefits them is a one-way friend. This is something I cannot tolerate. Life is give and take and being a real friend means you are there for your friends when they need you, not only when you need them. I absolutely hate people incapable of adding anything to a friendship

A friend would never lie to you even if it were "for your own good". That's a breach in trust and therefore breaking the friendship

A friend is like a husband or wife in that they are there for better or worse, through sickness and health and all that other marital crap

A friend would never let a relationship ruin a friendship. Period. It may be altered but never ruined.

A friend can say "I love (small L) you" without feeling stupid

Friendship and loyalty go hand in hand (see first statement)

Friends would put themselves in harms way to protect you. I know I always say I'd take a bullet for a friend and while I hope I never have to, I honestly think I would.

You cannot hold a long grudge with someone who is or was a true friend unless they did something completely egregious or physically harmful to you or your family. The way I figure is some small indiscretion, no matter how major it seems at the time, cannot undo what made you friends to start with

A friend knows what you're thinking or what your mood is without even having to ask

I could go on and on but won't. I guess my bottom line is it isn't much work to be a friend but to be a good friend takes some effort. We've all had selfish, one way, shitty friends and have all probably been selfish, one way, shitty friends. I've been blessed with some great friends. I realized this past year people I long considered friends really weren't as looking back over time they never once went out of their way for me and only needed me for their own ends. Fine, seeya, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. I also had acquaintances become some of my closest friends and have made several new friends. Life is just like that. A wise man once told me high school friends would always be friends by friends you make after would be friends for life. That hasn't been 100% true but has merit. I've come to realize my place in life is to be a friend and I think I do it pretty darn well. I might never be a great boyfriend, lover, husband, or father but to know I'm a good friend, faults and all, I can live with that!

Please excuse the lame...ok, I actually love it for it's lameness... Andrew Gold song in the title

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Decline Of Western Civilization

From October 2006. Certainly a lot less intense and introspective then the last few I've re-posted. Hope you enjoy it

I always wondered if I’d recognize what’s wrong with the word if I saw it. The other day I stared it right in the face; Abercrombie & Fitch. This company once legendary as supplier of top end outdoor gear has become a showcase for what society has become; image is everything, thin is in, and beautiful people are better then non-beautiful people. OK, it’s not as bad as I let on, but cripes, did I feel out of place.

I needed to go to A & F to pick up a gift card for someone obviously younger then me. So I set off to the Burlington (MA) Mall to get it done. At first I thought it was closed for renovations as all the display windows were covered by something resembling storm shutters. However I realized the rumbling electronica music I was hearing was not from the mall sound system but coming from A & F. So, I warily step into the open doors and the music is, frankly, deafening. I’m not being some old prude when I say this as I have attended concerts and been to clubs that would make your ears bleed. But, for a retail store, it was ridiculous. So, I proceed to find a register and sales associate to get my gift card and get the fuck out of there. Well, apparently you need to be a size 1 to work there as a woman and have wavy hair and abs as a guy. The first 2 I encountered couldn’t even look up from their convo to acknowledge my fat ass. So, I wandered aimlessly until I found a counter with someone working (another size 1 apparently). I waited 5 minutes for her to fold 2 pair of pants into a bag and cash out the young couple in front of me. I tell her I need a gift card for $100. She says “what?” over the din of the afore mentioned music. So I repeat, I need a gift card for $100. And she says “oh, sure a gift card, for how much”. I roll my eyes and say, um, $100? Now I am instructed to pick out a gift card. My choices are two hot women, a guy and girl kissing, what appeared to be 2 guys about to kiss, etc. So I pick one and hand it to her and she asks “so, how much do you want the gift card for”?

There is no moral to this story. The place simply made me feel old, fat, and out of place. So, pretty much it was reality. I guess more then anything it bothered me that it so flew in the face of the “rules of retail” yet is one of the most successful clothing retailers on the planet. You simply don’t cover your display windows, don’t play music so loud you need to repeat yourself constantly, and you don’t ignore customers and remain successful. Yet, A & F not only flourishes but also has become a pop culture icon. Maybe I’m just plain getting old and out of touch, well, actually I am and I’m not sure it bothers me

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tilting at Windmills

This was also from Fall of 2007. Probably written under the same circumstances as the "hypocrisy" blog. Maybe I reached my creative peak in 2007?? Pretty introspective really

The expression tilting at windmills or more commonly, fighting windmills, is derived from the tales of Cervantes legendary Don Quixote and his delusion filled life as a chivalric knight doing good deeds for no other reason then the glory of it and/or the love of a woman who more then likely didn’t exist. The problem was that what he fought wasn’t real and those he helped didn’t need or want it. Most notably was when he told loyal companion Sancho Panza his intent to fight those “giants” only to have Sancho point out they were not giants but simply windmills. Undaunted and unbelieving, Quixote fought the hapless windmill to a draw. Tilting at windmills has since become a euphemism for anyone fighting an imaginary enemy or fighting for something that simply doesn’t exist. While most considered Quixote a fool there is something simple, noble and brave about him and his approach to life and what is important to him.

For the past several years I’ve been tilting at windmills more then I care to admit. I let my most endearing traits (at least I hope so haha), which are also my fatal flaws, of loyalty, friendship, and love cloud my judgment and led to me fighting my own windmills. And yes, despite the efforts of many of my own personal Sancho’s, I’ve continued to believe things to be what they aren’t, never were, and likely never will be. I’ve longed and wished and hoped and tried but no amount of wishing, hoping, or positive thinking could make my delusions a reality. Things simply are what they are and it’s high time I realized this. In life, quite simply, no matter what your level of loyalty, friendship, or love, if that isn’t returned, to some above average degree, then keep lining up those windmills for us to run headlong into. I feel like the fool that most people labeled Quixote but sometimes wonder if there isn’t something noble and chivalric about the way I treat those I care about despite the hurt that comes along with these feelings often not reciprocated.

I’m not saying I won’t still hope and dream. Hell, I’m one of the biggest dreamers I know and always will be. If we didn’t dream what would be the point of dragging our sorry asses out of bed every day? What I need to do better is separate truth from fiction, delusion from reality and those that truly care for me from those only capable of caring for themselves. I have often said if you lower your expectations you’ll never be disappointed. Well, that’s cynical even for me and I don’t want to live that way any more. I need to spend more time in the “real” world and less time in the hopeful, pretend, wish-it-could-be world. Mostly I need to be a better judge of people and situations. All that said, by and large I like myself, my set of morals and values so that’s not likely to change.

My name is Rich and I’m a windmill tilter. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing but for better or worse it’s who I am.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taking the Hypocritic Oath

From September 2007; I think this was far and away the longest blog I had written to date. As I re-read it there were some obvious run ones etc but the gist of the story reads true. From the tone of the story I was venting my spleen about relationships. Go figure

I'm going to tell it like it is when I tell you each and every one of us is a hypocrite. There is no getting around it. In fact, most people are hypocritical in some way, sort or fashion nearly every day. You shake your head at the ill behaved children at the table next to yours while out eating and then let your own kids run wild. You support your political party until as such a time as they support something that goes against you. You get angry when no kindly person will let you pull out in to traffic and yet when the opportunity arises for you to do the same you pretend you don't see them. Stop and think for a minute. You know it's true.

In reality life is hypocrisy. Nearly everything that happens in the course of the day we are hypocritical of or someone is hypocritical (or maybe just plain critical) of us. We go to church then lie, steal and do lord knows what else. We wear sealskin boots to a save the whales rally. We recycle everything paper or plastic in our homes and drive S.U.V.'s that get 1 mile to the gallon. There is simply no way to avoid it. We tsk tsk about our friends not visiting sick parents enough until we are in the same situation. We talk behind the back about the youngster showing up at work a wreck from drinking the night before and seem to forget all the times in the past (maybe even the present) we showed up in similar or worse condition. We are walking talking fleshy bags of hypocrisy.

I think where most of us are hypocrites is when it comes to relationships. Be it friends, family, or significant others we all say one thing then do just the opposite so often. How often does "til death do us part" actually hold up? We say, "I love you" and weeks later we aren't speaking. We say, "We'll always be friends" and haven't communicated in months. We'll never let a relationship stand in the way of your friends then we can't talk anymore because he/she doesn't like it and we can't find time for our best friends. We love being single and hate being tied down and checking in with someone at every turn then we can't make a move asking him/her. We are hypercritical (notice the spelling) about someone cheating on someone then turn around and do the same if it benefits us. You're even hypocritical about being hypocritical. We all know (or have been) the person who "hates people who drop their friends when they get in a relationship. I'd never do that" then, of course at the first opportunity does. Sorry people, in some way we're all guilty as charged.

The bottom line is life makes hypocrites of us all. Things change. Shit happens. Life changes and evolves so what was true yesterday may not hold up until tomorrow. There's no way around it. Being hypocritical is different then lying (a blog for another day) in that at the time you state something you likely think it's true. I'm not singling out any person or persons nor pointing fingers because if I were I'd be pointing in the mirror. You were happy being single until mr./miss right came along. You meant, "til death do us part" until you're spouse did something simply inconsolable. You meant, "I love you" until you realized you didn't mean it. You never thought you'd let a relationship get in the way of your friend but you did. You honestly thought having kids wouldn't change what you did and whom you did it with (this also probably falls into the ignorance category). You meant to be friends forever but both people's lives got too busy. A new job, a death in the family, a car accident, moving, marriage, divorce, kids, etc. Every one of these things can affect what was once true that no longer is. Very few people can truly live up to their word forever and honestly, can they be expected to?

I've tried hard to not be too hypocritical myself by trying to choose my words and actions wisely but like I said, shit happens. I have let friend's drift away on the one hand and on the other I told a girl to hit the bricks when I was to decide between her and my best friend. Sorry toots, no contest there. I am happy being single and will holler it to the heavens but I met someone who almost changed my mind. Almost. I've only said "I love you" to anyone once and meant it. Still do. I've said I'd take a bullet for a true friend and meant it. So, I'm going out on a limb. Mark this date and these words. I will most likely be single forever and am happy about that. I will never lose my friends over a woman. I will always have time for my friends no matter how seriously I get involved with anyone. I will never cheat on someone I'm in a relationship with. I will always be there for my true friends and family no matter how far we seem to have drifted and no matter what they need me for. I actually think I can do this (most likely as the first statement kind of negates the most of the rest) and if I can't, gentle readers, I want you to rain down upon me with great vengeance and furious anger

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Musical Question

From September 2006; This has been a fascination of mine and an inside joke since summers on the Cape in the early 90's and the subject of many a hungover breakfast

Musicals are those strange worlds where at the drop of the hat people go from speaking and moving normally to singing and dancing to express their feelings. Everyone’s seen Grease, Singing in the Rain, Chicago, the Music Man, the Wizard of Oz, or more recently, High School Musical. Did you ever stop to notice the bit players tho? You know, the ones who have little to do with the main characters but join in the singing and dancing because they are obligate to do so? It’s simply the law of Musical Land. So, it got me to thinking, what if life WAS a musical??

I think it would be aggravating as hell. I mean, sure, if it’s you singing out and all those around you are joining in the singing and dancing that’s pretty cool. But when you have to join in and you’re simply not in the mood, it’s got to suck! Let’s say you’re running late to work. You speed all the way there, get to the parking lot and as soon as you get out…bang, a musical number breaks out. Now you spend 10 minutes dancing on the hood of your car using your briefcase as an impromptu prop in a large production number. When it ends you rush in to your waiting boss with an explanation and he’s like, “well, that’s the 3rd musical this week”. Or you wake up and have 2 large black coffees and a bran muffin and a musical breaks out. You’re doing cartwheels, splits and back flips all the time just trying to hold your mud. Or you’re having a casual swim at the Y and a musical breaks out forcing you into a Busby Berkley-like giant 50 person synchronized swimming number. These are all real and grave possibilities if life was a musical.

I think in some ways, all those aggravations aside, maybe the world would be a better place. Gang fights become giant dance routines. Heartache is handled with a song and not tears. Most of all, just by being nearby, your singing, dancing, and acrobatic skills increase exponentially if only for a short period of time. Well, we’ll probably never know…oh crap, the guy I work with who’s having house issues just broke out into song…better limber up!

Celebrating Mediocrity

In the new tradition of rewarding anyone who does anything (you know, ribbons and trophies for anyone who participates...don't want any bruised egos) I am hereby throwing myself an anniversary celebration. That's right, on a beautiful October day in 2004 I actually starting posting my drivel that only those that have the unfortunate experience of sitting next to me at a bar used to have to endure. I've been blogging here since February of 2005 but started my first foray into blogging on my now dormant Myspace page the October before that. There has been long gaps in between posts at times but I've stuck to it knowing very few people actually read it. So, as a celebration in mediocrity, I am going to re-post some of MY favorite blogs from the past five years (likely skipping anything from the past 6 months). If I can remember, I'll try and explain where I was at in my mind when I wrote it.

So whether reading for the first time or if you're that lone person who's seen them before I hope you enjoy these posts even 1% as much as I had coming up with them!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something for nothing

I have grown up and grown old on the concepts that 1) you don't get something for nothing and 2) if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Add to that a well known cynical streak (part genetics, part surroundings) and I have my doubts about pretty much everything. That is why when I was told I won a FREE Macbook Air I had my doubts. Would I really get it? What was the catch? And if I didn't get it, could I really complain? Well, I did, there wasn't any, and no I didn't have to. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's backtrack a bit.

If you're like me then you are caught up in the world of online bargains. There is something gratifying about searching the web for short term, unbelievable deals that I love. In the course of pursuing this I've come across many website "portals" which are kind of a clearinghouse of all things bargains. However one stood out above the rest as the best and its (DealsPlus). This site rocks with tons bargains both online and offline for anything you can imagine. Basically stated, devoted bargain hunters post their discoveries here to share with other people. It is probably the website I visit most other then email. I've even posted many of the bargains I've found on this site to my Facebook page. I've saved tons on tons of stuff I've needed (and some stuff I didn't).

So recently, like it seems the whole world is doing, DealsPlus started to integrate more with Twitter the ultra addictive micro-blogging site. You do Twitter, right? Anyway to jump start their Twitter base, DealsPlus has been running promotions for varying prizes for either following them on Twitter, re-Tweeting their deals, or joining their Facebook fan page. Well, yada yada, I came home one day and checked my Twitter account and lo and behold, I was winner #5 of 10 free Apple Macbook Air!! It hasn't been the summer of my dreams (or winter of my discontent...sorry, got lost for a sec) so when I saw this I was like, no effin way!! All the winners would get instructions on how to claim this awesome prize once the 10th winner was picked. So now, the doubt started creeping in.

Well, after much internal fretting, my Apple gift card arrived which I used to buy a brand new Mac Book Air. No strings attached. Seriously. Apple was even running a promotion for a free Ipod Touch after a rebate. Seriously. I am totally stoked to own my first ever Mac.

So, yes Virginia, there is such a thing as something for nothing. I'd recommend checking out as it is an awesome site. Check out Twitter as well but be careful it can be addictive. And for those that think I'm shilling for the site, well, you don't know me very well. When I saw how easily it all went and literally no strings attached I felt compelled to write about it. This isn't one of those "wow, I made $10,000 filling out surveys" things. I've been using my Macbook for a little over a month now and have trouble switching back to my P.C. The Ipod Touch is the most addictive thing ever. So, once again, thank you for proving to me you can still get something for nothing with no strings attached! This blog proudly written on my Macbook!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

5 Is The New 10

I've been thinking lately that Moses should not have stopped at 10 Commandments (this is not a religious discussion but rather my attempt at humor so please, all you former CCD teachers of mine, I know they were God's Commandments) and that these days there are at least 5 more, which resonate with modern society. So here are Rich's 5 New Commandments;

1) Thou Shalt Not Decide Anyone's Level of Happiness With Their Lives Other Then Your Own- From this point forward you will not decide who is happy with their lives and who is not based on your own level of happiness UNLESS they specifically tell you they are unhappy with their lives. Worry about yourself

2) Thou Shalt Not Tell Anyone Else How to Spend Their Money- You will not scold, shake your head, tsk tsk or otherwise make your point over someone else’s spending habits including, but not limited to, where hey live, where they send their kids to school, what they drive or whether or not they make more then they deserve

3) Thou Shall Give the Utmost Attention to Those Who Are With You at a Given Moment and Not Those Who Are Not There- This will include cell phone calls, texts, Tweets, IM's and the like to someone who is not physically there with you and you shall redirect that energy towards those that actually are present. Exceptions will be made for sick parents/kids/siblings/significant others and booty calls. Just kidding

4) Thou Shalt Not Tell Anyone Else How To Raise Their Family's- You will keep your mouth shut regarding how someone else rears their children. This goes for those who already have kids and goes double for those who don't (the exception being my mother cause she's pretty much right about everything). This covers both to the face and more importantly, behind the back (you know who you are)

5) Thou Shalt Not Make Cell Calls During the Times Rich Designates as Annoying- While driving (unless you have a headset), at a traffic light (it's f'n green...DRIVE), when out with friend's or family (see Commandment 3), in a public restroom (ewww), in the movie theater, in any line anywhere while other people are waiting to pay, on a plane up until the time you take off and the second you land, in the car with other people who are forced to listen to your inane drivel with no way to escape it, pretty much any place and anywhere it may annoy Rich (which is just about everywhere)

So, there you have it, my New Commandments. Each and every one of you shall embrace them from this point forward, so sayeth me. I should mention a couple that didn't quite make the list like "Thou probably shouldn't listen to a word Rich say" or "If thou thinks this has anything to do with actual religion and are offended go poundeth sand". Well, maybe when the list expands again

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Assumption Sumption What's Your Malfunction

The first time I recall the expression "don't assume or you'll make and ass of u and me" was probably the movie The Bad News Bears Breaking Training (how's that for an obscure memory) where the new coach spells it out for the Bears on a chalk board (I've since been told it originated with the show the Odd Couple). But the point resonates as clearly now as it did then. We all make assumptions about people based on how they dress, where they're from, their religion, their upbringing and on and on. But I'm talking mostly about making assumptions about those closest to us, which is dangerous. We all do it every day either consciously or subconsciously. Or someone is making assumptions about us. Either way its wrong, is a slippery slope and is completely unavoidable. It's simply human nature

Usually when we make assumptions about someone we justify it by saying we're thinking of them and their feelings when we really are only thinking of ourselves. We justify it with excuse after excuse. How often do you say "Well, let's not tell so and so as it would just upset them" when what you really mean is that telling them will make your life more complicated so by NOT telling them you're not sparing their feelings but simplifying your life. Or how about "I didn't ask you because I figured you'd say no" which really translates to you were not the person I wanted to do whatever it was I was doing with. It's simply the wimpy way out. Then there is "I didn't want to hurt you". This is the granddaddy of them all whether between lovers, siblings, friends or whomever. If you did something, made a decision or told a lie so egregious it would hurt someone, most likely you were thinking of you, not them. It's really all about being selfish and that's OK , just don't kid yourself

I've figured out after many years most people are stronger then we think, tougher then we give them credit for and generally speaking handle most things with a great degree of maturity and dignity. To avoid making our own lives more difficult, we simply make assumptions about those we care for, and care for us, to have the ultimate built in excuse. In the long run it's best to take these things head on, simply be 100% truthful and let the chips fall where they may as short term inconvenience, discomfort and hurt are far better then long term hard feelings, ill will and regret.

Is it easy to do? No, not at all. As I originally stated, it's human nature but I think if we try just a little harder we'll all make less of an ass of ourselves

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Greetings from the Snug Harbour Inn, Cape Cod, MA

A post-mortem on summer (yes, from the guy who wrote about "how's your summer"). I know I said I don't relish summer and all my best memories came from when I was a child but there is one memory or group of memories as a young adult that I do cherish which, because of seeing many of the people involved recently, has been in the forefront of my mind recently

From summer of 89' through summer of 94' (or there abouts) we spent all 3 summer long weekends down the Cape. You know, beaches, sand dunes, boating...nah, we stayed in the dumpiest, cheapest, crappiest motels we could find crushing 4 people to a room. These were motels with names like the Snug Harbor Inn and The American Host. So we chose these for their proximity to the beaches, right? Nope, we chose them for their proximity to the Mill Hill Club or the Improper Bostonian, the Cape's most prolific happy hours (OK, and because they were dirt cheap). For me it started with my post college friends and in Dennis then eventually, through a coupling within the groups, merged with one of my sister's group and moved on to Hyannis then eventually went on to include 2 of my other sisters and their friends. By the peak of craziness it seemed one giant, if dysfunctional, family. The days mostly consisted of drinking poolside all day, then hitting happy hour, then, if you could manage it, out to the clubs at night. It was a badge of honor to make it out but there was no shame if you didn't. This was how it went year after year. No beaches, no nice eateries, no family fun just lots of drinking and laughing. It was an eclectic group but the dynamic worked as there were few if any fights. I could go on for hours about some of the highlights but frankly, that would be telling. I'd have to change the names to protect the not so innocent.

The summer I remember most was following what was the worst event in my life. It was a tragedy as bad as you can imagine (think about bad then multiply it by 1000). We were worn to a frazzle, had no more tears to shed and frankly needed to smile some. The last thing on anyone’s mind was going away but with the encouragement of a couple of very courageous people, my parents, we rounded up the troops and headed to the Cape. We didn't laugh quite as much, cried a little and the mood was certainly more introspective then it had been previously. But, it worked. It helped. It started the healing process for friends and family. I'll never forget that summer and those people for as long as I live

It really was the time of our lives as we were forever young, indestructible, and were going to be like this forever. Well, as with most things, all things come to an end. That summer was kind of the end of the innocence and we were thrust into adulthood. We grew up (or grew old) and had families and the like. But there is still never an occasion when some or all of us are together where summers on the Cape and the Snug Harbour Inn doesn't come up. Do you remember, do you remember the times of your life??

Friday, September 11, 2009

Better to be pissed off then pissed on...

I have some good stuff coming up (well, that's a matter of opinion) but been a little busy and a little uninspired of late so rather then a cohesive blog on some random subject I decided to rant about things that just plain piss me off. Yes, I know you likely find this hard to believe but there are lots of things that piss me off. I know I've likely been through some of this before but hey, it's still pissing me off

-Being pounced on the second you walk into a retail store- I am constantly at loggerheads with my boss over this. I feel for every person who wants immediate help there are dozens of people who want to look first before asking for help. Most people want to decompress, browse, get their bearings even. Want to almost guarantee me walking out the door of a store? Just be standing at the front door asking me if I need help today

-Adults on those Razor scooter things- So, for kids, I get it. They're fun, they're cool (or they were 5 years ago) but as a mode of transportation? I saw a 30something guy near Government Center riding a scooter in his business casuals. Now, look, whatever works for you BUT damn, I don't see how these make transportation any easier. I mean, he was working up a lather with that kick and push leg and honestly not getting much further or going much faster then I was walking

-Cutesy internet terminology or "leetspeak"- OK, so LOL and LMAO are now part of common electronic society used by nearly everyone in texts, email, and instant messaging. I can live with that but I can't deal with grown adults using terms like "nom nom nom" to indicate eating yummy food or any other term used by someone half their age. L00zer, lus3r, kewl, k00l, and the like. Don't do it. I make one exception as it's terminology I've been using forever and that's "epic fail" (and it's counterpart, "epic win")

-Texting while driving- I mean, seriously, texting while driving? They're making a law against this? They have to? The thought never crossed my mind. I am a notorious lover of texting but while driving? Seriously? I won't even make phone calls while driving, I barely even like talking to someone in my car while driving, but TEXTING? If I ever get in an accident caused by someone texting while driving, if I can walk away, there will be a justifiable homicide.

-Anyone making a an analogy and getting it wrong- One of the favorite uses of analogy is the sports cliche. "going get tough", "4th and long", "2 outs in the 9th", etc. Honestly, for sports fans these really resonate. However, if you do use these, make sure the facts are straight. Don't say, for instance, don't say "you don't always need to hit homeruns, sometimes singles will get it done like Justin Pedroia" Justin Pedroia? He's the offspring of former Red Sox Justin Masterson and AL MVP DUSTIN Pedroia?? Whatever point was trying to be made was lost on me right then and there

-People playing lottery and scratch tickets in line in front of me- I know it's probably "old" bashing but I HATE being in line in back of someone playing lottery or buying scratch tickets. They ignore signs which say no verbal plays, they pester the counter person asking what denomination of scratch tickets they have even with a sign posted that says "we have $5 and $10 scratch tickets" and worst of all, you find their losing tickets strewn callously on the ground in front of the store where they bought them. I'm all set with these people

-People eating/drinking their purchases in checkout line- This just skeeves me out. Someone opening a bag or chips, cookies or a soda and consuming it while waiting to pay. I don't think it's trying to avoid paying for it but just because their hungry or thirsty. I guess I just don't like seeing people eating outside of established "eating zones" and HATE that the cashier is 100% going to have to deal with someone talking with a full mouth. Gross.

Hmmm, guess that's it...for now

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cruel Summer

I recently stated, to some jeers, that a pet peeve of mine is when peopleask "how's your summer going"? I guess from people who don't really know me I can deal but not from those that know me well. I'm an adult, single, no kids and work a full time job. I'm a well known hater of hot weather and the beach and all that goes along with it. Why doesn't anyone ask how your spring or fall or winter is going? What does summer really mean to me? What does summer really mean at all? Summer, the season falling between spring and fall, starts on June 21st and ends September 21st here in the Northern Hemisphere. I contend that summer is actually a state of mind that exists fondly in our long term memory.

For me, when I think of summer NOW I think hot, I think no one around when you want to do something, I think everyone overcrowding the places I want to be, I think being short staffed at work as all of the people who have families take their vacations then. Summer is simply made for kids. Summer is a time with no school. Period. It exists as a time frame mostly for parents as they know summer is when they schedule their vacation time to spends with their kids which is how it should be. They know that summer, for 2 working parents, is when their scheduled life is thrown off greatly and, admit it or not, they are counting the days until school starts and a return to some form of sanity. Obviously I know there are some single types that love the summer, the heat, the beaches, the summer home or rental, etc but I still feel we are drawn to the concept of summer as that's where our fondest memories of childhood lie. I actually feel bad for kids today as their summers just aren't what ours were

When I was a kid, summers were summers. Even with snow days, school would be out in early June and we wouldn't go back until the Tuesday after Labor Day. Back to school shopping consisted of 2 days (one for me, one for my sisters) of shoe and clothes shopping the last week of August, not the end of July. My mother was a stay at home mom, as were nearly all my friends' mothers so we were kept busy. Mom always found time every week to take all 6 of us plus 4 or 5 other random friends to the beach for the day. She was never too busy to not find time for us. More importantly, she left us to our own devices. There were 2 simple rules; you're not sitting around the house all day and be home before the street lights come on. There was a level of trust both in us and the world that simply doesn't exist now. She knew we weren't just hanging around and anywhere else we went, another parent was present. The first "mom I'm bored" would get your butt kicked out the door. But it was all such good clean fun. Drive-movies. Day trips to North Shore and South Shore beaches. Weekend vacations to Nantasket Beach, Cape Cod, or anywhere we could stay for next to nothing. My most beloved memories of summer as a young man were of the recreation department sponsored school parks. From late June through mid-August these were monitored places for kids up through junior high to "hang out" and be active. There was so much to do from games and crafts to field trips to amusement parks (long before they were theme parks) baseball and softball leagues and much more. As you went to the park at the school you went to, you walked back and forth (imagine that, walking to school) and you had to leave the park for lunch for an hour. Honestly, up through 7th grade or so, that was what summer was to me

Summers changed as we got older ans spending all our free time together as a family unit lost some of it's charm. Mom started working again, we all found summer jobs which were an adventure all its own. Fun around the neighborhood stretched out to all over town and as far as the 77 bus would take us and beyond. Good clean fun gave way to more adult adventures. Sports started shortening the summer as well. By the time I got to college, summer really lost most of it's meaning. I worked at least one job all summer to defray costs (and have beer money) and I honestly missed being away at school as being back home, as much as I loved my family, meant loss of the modicum of freedom living at school brought. My last great memories of summer were post college until around my late 20's of going to the Cape with basically everyone for every Holiday weekend. Then we all got old and had families etc, well, not all of us

As an outside observer, summer just doesn't seem the same for kids. I mean, summer homework? Reading lists? In school until the last week of June? The mega-chains pushing back to school down their throats in July. Day camps and sports camps and the like which, while great, still involve having to be driven back and forth. I'm sure kids don't see it that way tho

So, if you see me, don't ask how my summer is. Ask how I am. Ask how my Red Sox season is going (as that is what I associate most with summer) or, wait until fall and say "so, how's your fall going" and I'll likely tell you "it's going GREAT". (OK, that's probably a little upbeat for me)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Defending the (animated) Sailor Man

"Just be yourself", "people love you for who you are", "you are who you are, don't ever change that". People claim they love individuals and people who are comfortable with who they are. Throughout history the adage has always been be yourself. Going all the way back to Homer who said "Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another" and Shakespeare himself who said "God has given you one face, and you make yourself another". The idea was if you try and be who you're not, you're doomed to fail. Poet and writer E.E. Cumming stated "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are" and even Dr Seuss said "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind". So, basically, they say, if you have the courage to be who you are, those that are important will love you for it no matter. More contemporary, Judy Garland famously said "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else" and Denholm Elliot said to Eddie Murphy in Trading Places "Just be yourself, sir. Whatever happens, they can't take that away from you"

So, you're saying, "what's with all the quotes Rich"? Well, I've always been myself, maybe to a detriment. You always read about how important it is to be true to yourself. When some of the things you hear people say about you include nice, kind, funny, honest, caring, loyal and smart(I swear, I've heard people say these things...seriously...) along with sarcastic, moody, and other less favorable things, you'd think that being you is a favorable thing as the pluses tend to outweigh the minuses. Yet, when you look back at a solitary life you start to wonder if just being you is enough? Oh, sure, it's more then enough for your friends and family, but is it enough for the "special someone" that's been absent from your life? What if the singular thing that attracted someone to you, your ability to be 100% comfortable with who you are was then the exact thing that drove them away? Would I indeed be better off trying to change or mask some of who I really am? Naw, I don't think so. I've made it this far being me why change now? People will continue to either like me or dislike me based on who I really am. If you accept that, groovy, if not, well frankly, go pound sand. I'd rather remain an individual and alone then become another sycophantic drone towing the line and being "happy" with someone else. It's just not who I am. I think my favorite philosopher of all time put it best when he said "I yam what I yam". That Popeye had it right all along

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Stories, 1 City, and 1 Commander in Chief

This is probably the one and only time you'll read something from me regarding social issues or politics so enjoy it. I've pretty much had it up to here with the story of Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police, but I have to say that the fact the President of the United States of American could make such a foolish and admittedly, ignorant statement about the situation and about the CPD makes my blood boil. I'm assuming most of you reading this are somewhat familiar with the story. If not, Google it. Let me first state some obvious facts:

1) Racism does still exist. I'm not naive enough to believe otherwise
2) Cops are not always right and the accused are not always wrong
3) There are people, despite or in spite of skin color or race, who think they are above the fray
4) Being a city cop is one of the most tireless, thankless jobs in the world
5) Despite the situation, cops deserve the respect of their position

OK, so now that I've covered my non-pc ass, let me relate a story. For those that don't know I am indeed a white male and live in the city of Cambridge. My dad was born and raised in Cambridge and I have resided there for 6 years. I live in a small condo complex. Recently, a neighbor of mine was having mental issues and called the police on me multiple times for differing reasons none of which actually happened. One time resulted in the fire department breaking down my door when I wasn't home as she called in an explosion in my unit. Was I mad? Sure, but what if there had been an explosion? What if I had been home. The scarier incident was when I answered a knock at my door and saw not 1, not 2, but 5 of Cambridge's finest outside my door. They asked to come in, asked if I was alone, told me to stay where I was, and keep my hands where they can see them. They asked if they could look around my place. I was scared and angry and when they had looked around (my place is small) they explained someone had heard a gunshot in my place. So, see, they were edgy thinking it could be true. When they saw it was false, they explained the whole thing. I was respectful and thankful despite being severely shaken and angry. They have a job to do and I respect that

Henry Louis Gates is indeed a well renowned Harvard professor who is indeed black. My only opinion of him previous to this story from reading of him in the papers was that of an elitist, no more, no less. This incident hasn't changed my opinion. From all accounts it was him that escalated the situation, not officer Crowley. I know there is racism but I hate, hate, hate playing the racism card. Think for a second if it had been an actual break in and his house was robbed or if he was home and injured. He would be up the collective asses of the CPD about that. Or, think of my situation. If had had yelled, screamed, talked about the responding officers mothers, or pulled the "do you know who I am" line? I would have been cuffed and brought in...sound familiar? And what of Sgt Crowley? If his version of the story is 100% true, which from what the few witnesses there say, it is, regardless, he will be labeled a racist for the rest of his tenure with the CPD.

The part of the whole thing that pisses me off is President Obama chirping in the way he did. First, as everyone knows, Cambridge is the prototypical East Coast liberal city. I'm guessing the CPD and CFD are well trained in racial sensitivity to a far greater degree then most. To make such blunt statements about a city's police department while not knowing the whole situation because the person with the issue is a person of color and a friend of yours is a seriously stupid move.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The road less travelled

So, your cruising down the highway of life in your status quo lane. There's been some detours, accidents, and bumps along the way but more or less the ride has been slow and steady. Some people envy you, some pity you but most accept you for you. You're happy (you think) for the most part as you have a decent job, great friends, great family, and a roof over your head. Your highs never get too high and your lows typically not too low. You simply are you and have been for so long it's all you know any more. You keep trudging along, traveling 65 with the G.P.S. programmed for the same old same old. Then, things change...

Something happens that changes everything. You swerve into an unknown lane trying to avoid something and you end up somewhere unexpected. It happens. You weren't expected it to happen. You weren't ready for it to happen. But it did. You're heading somewhere you're not used to. You struggle to stay on this route as you don't recognize the landscape or the landmarks. You fight your every instinct to get back to your status quo lane but you start realizing that, hmm, maybe this the road I've been looking for, even if I didn't know it. You relax, you accept it, you enjoy it, you maybe even love it. It becomes part of your life. You've taken a new off ramp on that highway of life, veered out of your status quo lane and into the H.O.V. lane of change. It has become your new status quo. Suddenly, out of the blue, you hit a road block and everything changes again

After some time to recover from this crash, you get back on the road you knew by heart in your old status quo lane. You think about that alternate route now and then and wonder was it just a passing fancy? A fad? Something you thought was a better way but only seemed that way on the surface? You miss the new route as it had become as much a part of your life as waking up and going to bed. But true to form you shrug your shoulders, set the cruise control for 65, program the G.P.S. for same old same old and continue on that familiar path that was, if briefly, interrupted. Destination; life

Friday, June 05, 2009

8 Million Stories

“There are 8 million stories in the Naked City, this is one of them”. This was the famous opening of the TV show The Naked City. The premise was everyone, everywhere has a story, interesting or otherwise. You ever see someone walking down the street in a torn, neon green jacket and thought to yourself “OK, what’s HIS story”? Odd’s are you’ll never know but it’s fun to wonder. The same holds true of inanimate objects. You see a car covered in bits of ribbon and the like and you’re thinking some kind of celebration. You see a single shoe lying against a curb and you think…what happened to the other one. This thought brings me to the soiled men’s underpants in the bank parking lot.

As I was walking from my car the other day, passing through the parking lot of a bank in a very good neighborhood I see something that looks like men’s briefs on the ground. As I got closer, I noticed not only were they men’s briefs but they were soiled…badly. So, as I beat a hasty retreat trying to hold my breakfast down I started thinking how the hell did some shitty underpants end up in a bank parking lot on one of the busiest sections of Mass. Ave?? Did someone have to do #2 so bad and couldn’t find a public toilet so he shat himself then walked to the uber busy parking lot and shed the soiled undergarment then re-pants himself? Maybe some junior vice president in charge of high risk loans read the Wall Street Journal that morning and quite literally shit himself. Or maybe, just maybe, there is something much deeper and more insidious going on here. Maybe we’re dealing with a group of homegrown anarchists who are looking to bring the banking industry to it’s knees by leaving dookie filled tighty whiteys at every bank branch in America thereby not only driving people away in horror but also causing them to lose faith not only in the banking industry but in, dare I say, America itself. The end result being the collapse of the banking industry and society as we know it…or maybe someone just shit themselves and left there underpants in the bank parking lot

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You've got to be kidding me

So in my never ending quest to point out the absurdities of every day life, I present to you The Library Incident

The other night as I was browsing at my local branch of the public library I laid witness to a confrontation I simply couldn't help but be drawn into. Some quick background for those that aren't familiar with public libraries. Nearly everything is FREE to check out (books, periodicals, CD's, DVD’s etc) with a small penalty or late fee if they are returned after the due date. For example, books are $.10 a day late. In most cases, if you need more time, a simple renewal phone call or, if you have a computer, a click on the website will extend your time with the FREE book/DVD/CD loan. Did I mention FREE? OK, good. Back to the story.

So, as I'm browsing away I notice the very nice, friendly, and patient man working the desk where you check out your materials having an exasperated conversation with a customer looking to borrow 2 DVD's. I'm paraphrasing to a point but this is how the convo went (please note, the customer appeared to speak English as a 2nd language so I am taking this into account):

Library Guy (LG): Looks like you owe us some money
DVD Guy (DG): Are you sure?
LG: Yes, $5.30 for 2 DVD's 3 /12 weeks over due
DG: I didn't know there were late fees
LG: It is clearly defined all over the library not to mention the receipt we give you says when they were due
DG: I was too busy to get here during your hours. My job keeps me very busy
LG: I understand but we are open until 8:00 2 nights a week and have a 24 hour drop box
DG: I will pay you next time
LG: Sorry, I can't lend you any materials as you balance is $5.00 or more. If you want to pay just $.35 you will be below $5.00 and can borrow these DVD's
DG: .......
LG: So, do you want to pay $.35?
LG: I'm sorry, those are the rules for the entire library system. There's nothing I can do
DG: But I didn't know
LG: All we need is $.35
(We now have an uncomfortable minute long "Mexican standoff" (not my terminology) reminiscent of the famous scene in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
LG: I'm sorry sir, that's all I can do. Other people are waiting. Do you want to pay $.35 or not
(He pulls out, and I shit you not, a Platinum Card)
LG: I have to charge at least $1 on a card.
(DG puts the card away, puts the DVD's down and leaves)

So, I will not ever know how much money someone has or doesn't have. I will not claim to know someone's intelligence level or mastery of the local language. However, I do know this; how the hell do you leave the house with not even $.35 in your pocket? I mean, a quarter and a dime? How can you not understand that the library is lending you everything for FREE and changing you $5.30 for what was essentially 2 movies you had for 5 1/2 weeks? Hey, want unlimited time with your movies? Get freaking Netflix!!! I know a lot of people are spastic plastic type and rely solely on credit cards (even some of my friends) but c'mon, THIRTY FIVE CENTS!! And, if you're going to pull out your card, PAY THE WHOLE THING!!

Something tells me this is indicative of where we're heading. Everyone wants something for nothing and then, when time comes to actually have to pay for something, they get all upset. I felt like grabbing the guy by his collar and shaking him. As someone who deals with stuff like this all the time I shared a knowing, disapproving, shake of my head with the library guy as if to say "I know, I feel your pain"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Knick Knack Paddy's Wacked

Ah, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. The day in which we celebrate everything Irish and everyone is Irish for a day. Me? I’m not buying it. Being Irish for a day is like being Christian only on Easter and Christmas or in love only on Valentines Day. My ancestry is Irish on both sides and I’ve made it a point to study my ancestry, been to Ireland 3 times and hell, my personality alone exudes the atypical Irish stereotype. I’m Irish 24/7/365 and don’t need a special holiday to celebrate this

Let’s face some certain facts:

1) St Patrick’s Day is more of an Irish American holiday then an Irish holiday although it has become bigger in Ireland and made traveling to Ireland for this date more a destination trip then ever before

2) The traits of being Irish that are celebrated on St Paddy’s Day are most of the negative stereotypes propagated by the media and popular fiction and not history. It celebrates the Irish as a bunch of drunks (true in many cases but not in all), that Ireland must be chock full of leprechauns, and that the Irish exclusively wear green from head to toe. It doesn’t celebrate the fact the Irish are hard working, industrious folk that were critical in the growth of THIS country

3) It is the one holiday that straddles the line between Hallmark holiday (the sheer amount of crap you can buy to celebrate) and Amateur Night (New Year’s Eve and night before Thanksgiving being the other 2) in that it becomes more and more popular because the stores shove it down our throats and at the same time all these poseurs and wannabes are out drinking and generally getting in the way of us real drinkers

4) People want to hear “Irish” music, which of course they mean traditional or Irish folk music. As far as they are concerned Irish bands ceased progressing with the Clancy Brothers and the Irish Rovers. I suppose that all Irish high school kids walk around playing the Unicorn Song on their Ipods and that most of us never heard of U2, the Corrs or the Pogues?

Finally, some dos and don’ts:

Don’t order corned beef and cabbage if you want authentic Irish, as corned beef is not a meal indigenous to Ireland

Do order bangers and mash if you want authentic

Don’t order green beer. ‘nuff said

Do order Guinness a real product of Ireland

Don’t order a black and tan as it has a very derogatory meaning to the Irish (and hell, don’t spoil Guinness with anything else)

Do have a shot of Jameson’s, just about the tastiest stuff on earth

Don’t speak with a phony Irish brogue

Do have fun without making a total moron of yourself and, if you are indeed Irish, your heritage

Do visit one of your areas many Irish pubs

Don’t forget they are typically open 360 plus other days a year and not just St. Paddy’s Day

Have fun, drink, laugh, and raise a toast to those whom gone before you. Rejoice in being Irish if only for a day but don’t make a mockery of a proud, hard working people who helped build THIS great country as well as their own


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GART; Destination: Cincinnati, OH

After having packed the night before we hit the road fairly early to have breakfast before I left for Cincinnati. We said our goodbyes and I departed for Brian and Lisa's. Brian is, and has been, my best friend since about 9th grade. His job has taken him and his family to Dallas and now Cinci. Of all the people who have moved it's him (and his wife) I miss the most. As I'm a guy, and an anti-phone guy at that, we likely don't talk as much as I'd like but we do keep in touch. He's usually back here on business or visiting and I've been to Cinci pretty much every year since he moved there

I will say this was the worst driving of the trip. Slow moving truck traffic dominated the ride. It was frustrating and annoying but I was on schedule until...a detour. Because of construction the road was re-routed and as I was in the left lane I got taken off the main road. Normally this isn't a problem BUT every exit off this local road was closed for 10 miles!! I finally got my ass turned around and arrived in Blue-Ash (a suburb) where Brian lives about 90 minutes later then planned. We pretty much hit the ground running visiting some of the artsier parts of the city I hadn't seen visiting a really old bar and another that's back deck overlooked Cincinnati. Then we ventured just over the Kentucky border to a German beer hall we'd been to before. Now, with a good lather under us we decide to go food shopping for dinner totally unaware of the time. We came home with pork and steak and potatoes. Lisa reminded Brian that it was already almost 7:00 and nothing was marinated, etc so we opted for a chain type restaurant (which isn't a chain but seems like one) for dinner with the kids. After Lisa and the kids left Brian and I met up with a friend and his brother in-law who was visiting from England (he was attending the Ryder Cup). These guys were a riot. we drank and carried on all the way until...10:45 when they called last call. Seriously. I was horrified as I don't normally even go out until then. We decided to go back to Brian's for a few. Well, not only do bars close before 11:00 but the town has no cabs!! So, we walked what felt like an hour back to Brian's place. It was actually a very funny walk but was tiring as hell. When we got back to his joint we drank on his back porch until nearly 3:00 a.m. which was amusing only because those 3 had a charity golf tournament the next day (I declined the initiation).
The next morning came rather quickly as I wasn't really sleeping much at this point. I heard them get the kids up and off to school and decided to head out for coffee and a little solitude. Brian had the tournament and Lisa and I were going to spend the day together until the kids got home. FYI the tournament was very important as it raised hundreds of thousands for autism research which is a cause near and dear to their hearts. So, Lisa and I lunched and had a couple of beers then just whiled the day away catching up. I usually don't get to spend much time with Lisa as usually when I get there Brian and I are off being boys. She is a great, funny person and the day flew by. We prepared dinner for the kids and drank beer and wine until Brian finally got home. He looked about as excited about going out as having a root canal but I told him, hey, it's my last night so we're going out. We went to a Buffalo Wild Wings just because I had never been. This one was odd as it seemed like a mix between Chucky Cheese and the Ground Round. Equal parts adults drinking and children and tweens running around. I guess that's Blue-Ash on a Friday night. We had a couple beers, I tried the buttery garlic wings and then the Blazin and I must say, even for me, the Blazin were brutal. We called it an early night as I decided to hit the road at 5:00 a.m.

Next stop: Home??

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

GART; Destination: Toledo, OH

My next stop was Toledo, OH to see my friend Crystal and her husband Adam. Crystal and I have been friends around 5 years I guess having met through a common friend. It's a long story but I count her amongst my best friends and closest confidants. I was looking forward to this visit to catch up as well as to slow down a bit as I would be there for 3 days.

I got my ass going early as it was a work day and Tom and Sara had work to do plus it would be the longest haul to date.It was going to be about 8 hours. I made good time to the interstate. I had plans of lolling along and enjoying the ride but let's face it, once you get on a turnpike, there's nothing to see and nothing to do so I settled in. As irony would have it, a year ago Adam lent me some audio books which, as I have no commute, I never listened too so I was returning them. I figured, what the hell and popped one in. I was hooked. It totally killed time and kept me alert. I finally hit the Toledo are around 5:00, way early as they were both at work. I found a Barnes and Nobles to kill time. I got some suspicious looks as I came in with my backpack with clean clothes and changed in their bathroom. I saw security hovering outside and laughed to myself. I met Adam then Crystal at a local bar shortly there after. We hung out there for a while and went back to their place so I could settle in. We went out for a few drinks and called it a night

Adam had to work so we kinda hung around a bit then decided to go to the Toledo Zoo!! I hadn't been to a zoo in forever so it was so much fun. It was basically us, students and ollllddddd people but we had so much fun. After we went to my must go place when I get out of the Northeast Steak N Shake!! If you haven't been you must try it. We killed the rest of the afternoon playing Wii then met Adam at a Japanese hibachi place, also a first for me. It was cool watching the grill dude flipping around food. After a few more beers, we turned in

We wee heading upstate to visit her parents and decided to stop at the DumDum lollipop factory located in the very same town. We took some time to make some cookies for her mom based on my world famous sugar cookie recipe (go ahead, laugh). It was fun taking the tour even tho FDA laws won't let you into the kitchens anymore. We went to her family's restaurant, The Tavern for steaks then to her parents for a visit. They are such nice and interesting people that I always look forward to seeing them. After a long ride back to Toledo me met Adam for more Wii then more drinks.

It was great just to catch up, chill out, have fun and laugh and much more relaxing then the previous stops

Notes from the road:
  • We are deprived, and maybe lucky, that we lack the sheer volume of fast food and chain restaurants found in OH
  • When you drive long, long distances, if you have the ability to not pee a lot, you really make good time