Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sun Spot Baby

The following is a amalgam of conversations with various friends and family members on the same topic combined into one (hopefully) cohesive conversation. Person #1 (henceforth known as P1)- "so, when we got to that wedding at the beach 4th of July weekend we figured we'd spend the day at the beach" Me-"have fun. I'll see you back at the hotel". P1-"you won't come with us"? Me- "no, I hate the beach, you know this". P1-"it's just for one day. You can cover up. It's so much fun at the beach" Person #2 (henceforth known as P2)- "Yeah, I cover up completely, slather on spf 72, wear a floppy hat and sit under an umbrella". Me-" I cover up with a roof over my head and air conditioning". P1- "you're a party pooper". Me- "so let me get this straight. I hate the heat, I'm fat and ghastly pale, I burn under a fluorescent bulb, am not particular to crowds, and the thought of laying in the sun basting for hours is so foreign to me I can't even visualize it...but I should suck it up for a day"? P1-"Exactly"

So, you may have gathered I'm not particular to the beach nor sunbathing in general. I'm just not. I may have liked it once but as I've gotten older I've become more and more susceptible to sun poisoning. The last time I can recall spending time on the beach I got burned under my eyes so bad I bear the scars to this day. So no matter your argument, I'm not likely to EVER go to the beach (during the summer, during the day at least). I'm not likely to EVER spend my vacation in some Tropical Paradise sitting poolside or beach side sipping rum drinks. It's not how I want to spend my time or my vacation

One of the big "arguments" I get is being out in the sun give you a "healthy" tan. Well, who decided "tan" is healthy? I'm literally the palest person I know. When I was in Ireland even the locals pointed out how pale I am (that's scary). I didn't ask to be pale, I was born that way. Who am I to decide my skin needs to be a shade, or several shades, darker? Last I heard, particularly for those of us of paler complexion, overexposure to sunlight is in fact, NOT healthy. I'm on the cusp of 45 and while my hair is prematurely white I've yet to find a wrinkle, crows foot or other sign of aging closely associated with, among many other factors, exposure to sunlight. Oh, and the amount of time devoted to this "healthy tan"? I simply can't be bothered

Now I don't begrudge you sun worshipers and beach bums your passion for lounging, swimming, tanning and reading in the warm sunshine. It's just not for me. My idea of a perfect summer day has little to do with waves and sunblock. My ideal vacation has nothing to do with all inclusive, poolside bars, and private beaches. What do I like to do? Meet people, go hiking, explore, eat at restaurants and roadside stands, hit a few bars, try to cram as much into the time I have off as I possibly can. Give me the mountains over the shore, Europe over the Caribbean, historical sites over white sand and blue water, and an exhausted feeling of a full day over a "healthy" tan and sand in my butt crack.

Happy Independence Day weekend! See you at the beach. Well, at the bar at the beach

Friday, June 17, 2011

Welcome to Bruinstown, U.S.A.

The Boston Bruin's are Stanley Cup Champions for the first time since 1972 and Bruin's Nation is absolutely ecstatic. Now some may say "*yawn* another championship for a Boston team. All you guys do is win". Well, this may be true if you're between the ages 16-25 as all you've witnessed is winning. For the rest of us there was 16 years of nothing but frustration between the Celtics win in 86' until the Pats 1st Superbowl win in 2002. We lived and died with the Sox, Pats, C's and B's and their near misses at championship glory. Eventually the Patriots, lead by the holy triumvirate of Belichick, Brady and Kraft, upset the "greatest show on turf" and things turned the corner. 2 more Superbowl wins, the beloved, beleaguered Sox broke "the Curse" after 86 years, and the Celtics behind the new Big 3 returned to championship glory. But there was a missing element. The team with maybe the most hardcore, loyal fans, the Bruins, were lost in the shuffle and far from the average sports fan's minds having not won a Stanley Cup since 1972. That was about to change...

It's hard to explain hockey fans if you're not one. The rules are a little opaque and participation, depending on where you live, can be spotty. It's a game that plays out better live then on television. It's a game of muckers and grinders as much as it is superstars. It's a blue collar sport with the players that are most like me and you (well, once upon a time). It was the last sport where everyone, not just the rank and file, had 2nd jobs to make ends meet. It's the sport where most of the players ended up settling in the area forever and therefore were the most approachable to the fans. That's hockey fans. Then there are Bruin's fans. Loyal to the core to their team. Packing them in to the old Boston Garden where you were practically on top of the skaters giving a home ice advantage par excellence. Hard working sorts who had to watch every dollar but always set aside enough to renew their season tickets. A small, hardcore, ravenous group that had no time for fair weather fans or bandwagon jumpers. The pinnacle for these fans was the Big, Bad Bruin's of the early 70's

I was born in 1966 so I have no memories of the Bobby Orr Bruins that ignited hockey fever in the region and was in part responsible for literally 100's of hockey rinks being built around the region. My first solid memories were of guys like Terry O'Reilly, Stan Jonathan and Mike Milbury in the late 70's/early 80's. But I knew all about the Big, Bad Bruins that won Stanley Cups in 70' and 72' (and were probably the best team in the NHL in 71'). You knew the names; Bobby, Espo, Chief, Turk, Cheesy and the rest. They could skate, they could score, they could fight and they had the best player on the planet in Bobby Orr. This was the team that really defined Boston hockey. You had the poster of The Goal, it was required. You saw these guys around town as most of them settled on the North Shore to raise their families. Game 4 1970 with Bobby Orr flying thru the air was replayed over and over again. It was the peak of hockey madness and honestly maybe the most legendary team in Boston sports history

The next decade plus were lean years for Bruins fans. The Garden was still full with loyal fans but the stars of the 70's had retired or moved on. The main reason to go see them play was a young defenseman from Montreal named Ray Bourque. Bourque was a phenom and eventually they would surround him with talent like Cam Neely, Craig Janney, and the goalie tandem of Reggie Lemelin and Andy Moog. As good as these teams were, and for me they are the teams I remember best, in 1988 and 1990 their dreams, and the dreams of their fans, were dashed by the juggernaut that was the Edmonton Oilers. Looking back now I can't believe it would be another 21 years to see a return to the Stanley Cup Finals

When the tore down the Garden and replaced it with the Shawmut/Fleet/Banknorth/TD/Center/Garden it just wasn't the same. A lot of long time season ticket holders had their once great seats downgraded to mediocre seats and a lot of them were just plain priced out. Whatever it was that made the Garden such an awesome venue for hockey had been lost in translation to the (for simplicity sake we''ll just call it the...) Fleet Center despite much better amenities. Jeremy Jacobs the elusive owner was public enemy #1 with the percieved notion he was only interested in money, not the Cup. There were some competitive teams but none that got too far and none that really excited the populace

Fast forward to 2009/2010. This team started to capture the interest of the fans with dreams of Stanley Cup glory until a monumental collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers ended the playoff run rather abruptly. 2010/2011 started with a healthy Tim Thomas, key off-season acquisition of Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, rookie standouts Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand and Bruin's legend and Hall of Famer Cam Neely as the newly named team president. Key late season acquisitions of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly rounded out this gritty bunch. I won't rehash what happened next as you probably already know but as the frigid early spring in Boston grew warmer by the day you started to realize this was a special team

So, here I sit on the cusp of the rolling rally to fete the conquering heroes. Suddenly everyone is a Bruins fan and you know what? I'm fine with it. Pink hats and bandwagon jumpers are all welcome on this ride. The modern, casual sports fan has become more of an event oriented crowd as opposed to a hardcore sports crowd being more concerned about being a part of history then a fan of the sport. But I'm cool with that. These new (possibly short-term) fans make the difference in the relevance of a team and the financial bottom line of their owners. The more money they make, the more money they (hopefully) spend. So jump on board kids, Boston IS a hockey town! Boston IS a Bruins town. Get out your black and gold, crank up Nut Rocker and Dirty Water, get ready scream Looooooch, and Zeeeeee, and Timmmmay! Enjoy this victory, you deserve it!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Honestly Don't Care

There is a current commercial running for the USPS Priority mail service where the postman (in a dress shirt and tie no less) explains to the office worker about saving on postage and he replies "It's not my money. I honestly don't care". It goes on from there but I love that line "I honestly don't care". In my day to day life I must say this 1,000 times, mostly to myself. We are in the age of TMI (too much info) where certain people have a long, involved story for, well, everything. Now, the problem is that a) I'm a nice person (despite outward appearances) and b) if it's work related smart-ass responses are frowned up. So the words coming out of my mouth are of feigned interest while the words going through my mind is "I honestly don't care".

  • "I'm sorry we don't have a public restroom". "I drove over 20 minutes to get here". "I truly am sorry" (I honestly don't care)
  • "I forget, did I tell you about how my son's toilet training went"? "I think so". "Well, just in case..." (I honestly don't care)
  • Did I show you the newest video I took of my dog"? "I think so...". "Well just in case..." "awesome" (I honestly don't care)
  • "I'm sorry but your credit card has been declined". "That can't be. Oh wait, my stupid ex-husband must have used it without telling me. Ughhhh. He drives me crazy"! "Would you like to try another card"? (I honestly don't care)
  • "Ugh, you guys are so lucky you don't have to deal with having your period". "I know, it must be horrible" (I honestly don't care)
So there you have it. An unexpurgated look into my inner voice. Before you go getting all sensitive, admit it, you do the same thing, you just don't want to own up to it. This was obviously written tongue-in-cheek but it does raise a good point. Limit what you're saying to a total stranger as they probably don't give a shit. Know who you're talking to and what subjects they have absolutely zero interest in. If they're your friends you know what these subjects are. If they're your friend you probably have a bunch of other common interests to discuss. Let's face it much of the time we are simply tolerant of each other rather then genuinely interested in each other. So, just remember next time you're talking to someone and when what you're saying totally jumps the shark regarding the listener, no matter what they may be SAYING what they will be THINKING is "I honestly don't care"