Baby Jesus

Monday, December 28, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

Me: "When I think of Jesus I like to think of the tiny baby Jesus, with the halo."

My gf's sister: "I . . . hmm . . . I think of him as a baby with a beard.  Yah, definitely.  Is that weird?"

Yes.  It is.  But it's also genius. 

Blogging with Jazer

Sunday, December 27, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

One of my new favorite things is to blog with Jazer.  Jazer is kinda a local hero up in Amherst and 1/4th of the melodic stylings which is Rusty Belle (buy there music--[Jazer also made the web-page]).  A Renaissance man in the finest sense, he plays accordion, guitar, melodica, etc. and when he decides to, he can wear the hell out of a mustache.  Women love him, men want to beeeeee him.

Anyways. He lives in what i would classify as a communal house.  But instead of being filling with an assortment of strangers from Craigslist, his house is filled with his band-mates and best friends.  They are all artistic and weave their practice of art into their daily lives.  One of the housemates created a sculpture of a bird from discarded word.  After showing at a bar in Northampton, it now hangs on the outside of their house as a combination gargoyle/spiritual protector.  And so, I head over from my perch at the local coffee shop and walk the 2 minutes down the road to Jazer's house.  (I know it sounds too 1950's 'Leave it to Beaver' to be true, but it's true.)

And I sit on whatever is sitable and we "eat a sandwich" (if you don't know what I'm talking about then you don't watch enough How I Met Your Mother . . . and that's a problem).  And then we do whatevs. Whatevers.  Whatevelyn.  I usually take out my computer and start hacking away.  Jazer works on the band website (did I mention you should check out their website), practices his new accordion songs, or puts the finishing touches on his revolutionary new cure for cancer.  We just chill.  Like I used to back in the day.  Another good thing the blog has brought me.

And it always ends with the dramatic chords of the accordion's flourish.

All I want for Christmas is My Lunch Back

Saturday, December 26, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

I cross-country skied in high school.  And by that I mean, I raced.  I was, for a kid who went to public school in western MA, a decidedly "OK" racer.  I think I came in around 30th in "States" in MA my senior year.  While at the time I was incredibly proud of myself, it turns out that part of this high finish comes from the decidedly small number of X-country ski racers in high school in MA.  (I know, hard to believe.)

My gf also raced cross-country in high school.  In VT.  For those of you unfamiliar with east coast ski culture, when it comes to skiing, VT > MA (the exception being Heidi Volker, circa 90's US Olympic downhiller who grew up on the same street as I did).  My gf went to a ski high school . . . in VT.  She didn't go to "States,"  she went to "Nationals."  To put it in perspective, when I see her skiing around the bend, she looks exactly like the people you see every 4 years, X-country skiing on TV.  Exactly the same.  The way she holds her poles, her body position, he extremely cool ski gear (apparently there are ski pants that have paneling in front to break the wind, but are breathable in back, to release heat. I was unaware until this weekend of this technology).  She looks like a pro.  Oh, and her sister also went to the same high school.  Same result.  And her parents, well, her parents sent them to that school.  They are probably in the best shape of all of us.  So, suffice it to say, two and a half years into this relationship, I still haven't skied with her fam.  Come on man.  You'd be intimidated too if left with the possibility of total and utter embarrassment in front of one's gf's whole family.  But this year I'm in the best shape I've been in in awhile and I was determined to go out onto the white stuff with her family. 

Here's how I rationalize it (remember, we psychologists can be powerful rationalizers).  If you take all the possible guys my gf could have ended up with, there is a pretty good chance they could have A) Never even been x-country skiing B) Didn't have their own gear.  So in these respects i figured I was ahead of the game.  These were the only respects it turns out.

We head out into the woods, all of us skating (there are 2 types of x-country, classical [think NordicTrak] and skating--skatings faster), and while i didn't have as much glide as I remember, I also didn't fall.  I was extremely aware, as I negotiated the first downhill, of the 4 sets of eyes watching, examining, seeing how good the newcomer really was.  Thankfully, being a downhill skier of many years, the downhills were always my strength in general.  No falls.  I was impressing them.

Then came a problem.  There was a fork in the trail and I watch as my gf's sister goes zooming down a hill and around a bend.  Then, her dad, hesitating only briefly, also zooms down.  Next is me.  Step turn, step turn.  Safe.  At the bottom.  Crap, we are at the bottom.  Of a huge hill.  We've only gone about half a kilometer at this point and i am not "warmed up" by any means.  Stella has not gotten his grove back.  But Stella has to go up the hill nonetheless.  So off we go.  Climbing climbing. 

I flashed back to high school.  I am in the middle of the race.  My lungs begin to burn, but I have another gear.  Like a camel plugging through the desert, I am designed for forward progress.  I am motion that tends to stay in motion.  I am 17 years old and the rest of my life is at the top of that hill and nothing is going to stop me.

I am 31.  My lungs are burning, but this Matt version 2.0 is a one-geared machine.  The lungs begin their familiar burn.  It starts like a shot of hot sauce.  Just as it begins to simmer, the cheese cloth wraps around your lungs and constricts.  The air I'm inhaling feels like a frozen milkshake being sucked with maximum force through a straw.  And just when I think the red flash is coming, we are at the top.  I am victorious.  We are the champions my friend.  We will we will rock you.  We are Marshall.  I am Spartacus.  I  . . . don't want . . . your life (ok, so the last one doesn't really fit, but i just love a good Varsity Blues reference).

We continued, and two mini-stops later, the burning is going away.  I'm going anaerobic.  Oh wait, no.  No, I'm not.  The burning is being replaced by nausea.  The transition is happening fast and I quickly realize that effluence is now non-negotiable.  I try to scatter the family.  I'm realizing, by the taste in the back of my throat, that hydrating with orange/mango juice was a bad idea.  The acid/bile combo is no good.  And there it is.  On what my gf's family is now calling "Boot Hill," I tossed my cookies.  I upchucked.  I heave ho ho ho'd.  I actually am not super embarrassed by this.  This isn't even the first time I've thrown up with them.  This is the 2nd annual (there was a black water incident.  But, the first rule of black water, however, is that we don't talk about the black water).  I was initiated.  I had won any countless number of "boyfriend points."  And I skied all the way back (minus the crazy fucking hill) without incident. 

I even started to get my glide back close to the finish. 

Holiday Season Update.

Thursday, December 24, 2009 | 4 Comment(s)

Now that we are fully into the "holiday break" from grad school, much traveling and merrymaking is abounding.  What that means, unfortunately, is that I haven't had much blogging time.  I hope you'll forgive me.  I assure you that come the new year I will be on an actual vacation and most certainly be blogging.  Cause I love it.

A short post today dealing primarily with how stupidly we design the school year.  Or for that matter, the timing of religious holidays.  And while Hannukah commemorates the actual date of an event (on the hebrew calender, which is why it "skips around" the secular one), Jesus was born in the Spring.  And, Spring would be a AMAZING time to have a break.  Think of it.  EVERY holiday season wouldn't be mired with weather related travel fiascoes. People could spend their holidays with their loved ones (not to mention they could go outside with those loved ones), not stuck commuting to them.  Are we doing it in the middle of Winter to have something to cover on the news?  This really is some self-inflected shit, and I think we should rethink it. 

Second.  The fact that we use microwave timers to time things we put in the oven is really starnge to me.  Useful?  Yes.  But it's just weird that the microwave has a function in the kitchen that it has no business having.  Microwave = Timer for stuff?  No, a microwave heats stuff up.  Defrosts stuff.  All i'm saying is its weird.  And if the government is watching you, they are probably doing it via your microwave.  Basically the take home message here is that I think microwaves are evil dark-hearted machines.  Beware.

A teaser trailer to end on.  Yesterday I went to the casino (Mohegan Sun) with my friend Steve.  It is our 4th extremely-semi-annual trip (we have gone 4 times since approximately 2000), and we always have a great time.  This was no exception.  Even though we got lost on our way home (got back to my house at 4:30am) and I was subjected to 25 minutes of 'Easy Listening Holiday Jams' on Lite 94.7, I couldn't even sleep when I got home.  The adrenaline was still too high.  Long story short, I entered a 55 person poker tourney and won 3rd place, $578 dollars total.  It. Was. Amazing.  There ARE pictures.  There ARE hilarious sub-plots.  It WILL be written about soon.  to be continued . . .

Rediscovering Sweatpants

Sunday, December 20, 2009 | 2 Comment(s)

I'm not sure I gave the whole "sweatpants" issue from my shopping post the attention it deserved.  I am currently "rediscovering" sweatpants (I am stealing the terminology from my friend Karen).  How I have gone so long without such wonderful free-balling fuzziness that are built for relaxation, is beyond me.  I feel as if my T.V. watching has really been brought to the next level.  These sweatpants feel like an intermediate material helping me better fuse myself to the fabric of my lounge-chair.  There is something amniotic about these pants.  I am home.  I am Spartacus.

But for every rediscovery, there must first be a discovery.  And i think the story of that discovery may help to explain my recent abstinence from this bunny-soft fabric caressing my bottom.

I can't remember my first pair of sweatpants (thankfully they weren't memorialized on my childhood room's wall), but more importantly, I remember how long I wore sweatpants as my daily pant-wear of choice.  And the sad answer to that question was, through middle school.  It wasn't that i so much had a particular thing for sweatpants, as I did wear corduroys intermittently, but that I REFUSED to wear jeans.  I found them restrictive and stiff (these wear 80's jeans after all, and this was during the age of "acid-washed" and before "relaxed-fit").  But whatever excuses I try and make, the fact remains that I was probably wrong here, no matter how many unfortunate fashion trends I may have inadvertently avoided (high-waists, pegs, tapering).  Most people agree that denim is one comfy and durable fabric.  But I, alas, was not a "most people" kind of kid (See pic. I am the smaller adora-ball.  The other one is anon, but here's a hint, he's engaged.)

So I wore sweatpants.  To school.  And, to my parents credit, they didn't fight it.  That is how you learn humility folks.  You walk into your middle school every day with relax-wear sweatpants on, with the message "target me for abuse" written across your ass the way "PINK" and "Juicy" are written on today's sweatpants.  What I find humorous about this now, is that 13-year old Matt did not make the connection between his dress bottoms and his congruent rung on the social ladder.  But I'm totally over it now.  Totally.

There is no take home message here (well, maybe "don't wear sweatpants to middle school," but I don't think kids ages 12-14 are really my "blog demographic" [man, i hope not]).  But perhaps, if you are at a loss for last minute gift ideas, you will consider giving your loved one the gift of ultimate demotivation and relaxation.  Help them rediscover sweatpants.

Holiday Decoration Nipple Slip

Saturday, December 19, 2009 | 2 Comment(s)

This weekend I drove to Boston for some fairly deserved fun.  After a night of Rock Band (judged by Harmonix workers--who make the game), mall shopping, and sushi take-in late night, I deemed the impending snow-storm too worrisome to ignore, and I high-tailed my scaredy cat ass home to Amherst.  Unfortunately, this ruined my plans to surprise friends at their holiday party (it's hard for the thought to count when you didn't tell them in the first place).  But, the prospect of being snuggled in my new sweatpants (purchased at said mall-shopping) with warm beverages at home while trapped by a wall of Fluff-like white, is extremely appealing.

Brief tangent.  I actually bought the same sweatpants for myself last year, but when i brought them home, I realized that even sweatpants need to be tried on first.  They ended up only fitting my gf, so she got an extra present last year.  The mistake was NOT repeated.  They are very soft.  Paired with my new robe I could be the spokesperson for Charmin.  So soft.  End Tangent.

Anyways, today's post is about the Christmas decoration I saw on my drive to Boston on Thursday night.  On my way to the Mass. Turnpike, I go through a number of small towns including Palmer, or Exit 8 to the locals.  Palmer is a perfectly fine small town, but judging by the decorations along the street, it is not the type of place where they would argue that Christmas was a non-religious holiday.  Rather, many of the lighting desgins formed different tableaus of the baby in the manger. 

One house, however, really missed the mark.  In their yard, they had built an 8-ft (approx.) high cross, and then decided to wrap said cross in red (all red) lights.  The effect of said decorations projected a pretty unmistakable burning cross.  Jigga-what!

Now, I'm going to be my optimistic self and ASSUME that they are not going for an offensive message.  I'm going to ASSUME that this is all one big misunderstanding.  Can I be sure.  No.  But, I chose to hope for the best.  Cause also, it's funnier to make fun of if they aren't trying to be horribly rascist.  Racism just seems to take drain the fun out of everything.

This is why I entitled this entry "the Christmas decoration nipple-slip."  For those of older/not culturally "plugged in" readers (and that may be a good thing), a nipple slip is an internet phenomenon whereby female starlets are photographed at the beach or in award's gowns, and the picture is taken and or is timed such that the female starlet's nipple can be seen poking out of her garment.  I have to say that personally, this is not that hot to me.  I like nipples, don't get me wrong.  But there just isn't that much particularly erotic to me about half a fuzzy aureole that can be seen only when you zoom into some digital photo.  Half the time it just looks like a few red pixels.  In the words of the great Sir Mix-a-lot, "I'll keep my women like Flo-Jo." I guess some of the appeal is the idea that the starlet somehow was careless in a way which cause the entire world to get to see more of their boobie than they would have liked.  While the idea is utterly absurd, it's this idea that I am using as a metaphor.

The people of the burning holiday cross were attempting to declare their love and devotion for their lord and savior Jesus H. Christ (i love a good formal name).  Instead, they managed to elicit pretty explicit images of hateful acts and executions in the bastardized name of the same god.  Embarrassing!!!  I should send them some paper towels to wipe all that egg off their faces.  What's also incredible about this is that there were a lot of moments where this situtation could have been avoided.  First, when someone said, "Why don't we build a huge cross in our front yard?"  This one was obviously missed.  Secondly, "What color lights should we wrap out huge cross in?"  The only wrong answer to that question is "How about all red!"  Red and green, much much better.  Not perfect, but much better.  Multi-color lights?  While their is a funny juxtaposition of the symbol and the colors, i'd lick that Jesus lollipop.  Just not ALL RED!  Why and how this got overlooked I really can't say. 

I just hope it WAS a hilarious mistake, and not the alternative.

The 5 people you meet when you go in the men's locker room. Part IV

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | 4 Comment(s)

I'm am not a happy camper.  It 9pm and I'm in my lab running my experiment and it's going to be awhile.  So, let's blog.  I know it has been awhile since Part III of my locker room series, and I can only hope this makes it worth the wait.
#4. The Pink Briefed Panther.

The Pink Briefed Panther (PBP) is most certainly the most tragic of our locker room characters.  He is almost tragic enough to make me feel slightly uncomfortable about blogging about his existence, but he happened to be back in the locker room today (after a lengthy absence) and he was once again up to his old shenanigans.  And so my uncomfortability flew right out the window.

The PBP bares an uncanny physical resemblance to the character Artie ("the kid in the wheelchair") on the t.v. show gLee".  Considering the actor who plays Artie is not, himself, paraplegic, there is a small chance it's actually the same kid.  But i doubt it.

Most of the other locker room characters all have one thing in common.  They have a locker.  Or, at the very least, they have a space where they change.  The PBP does not.  He's a lurker.  He always "changes clothes" (i have never seen him actually fully change) near, but not next to, others in the locker room.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me start by telling my first "experience" with the PBP.

Post swimming, I take a shower in the large two-room shower area which is between the pool and the locker area (no picture this time).  As I am showering the PBP walks by the shower, walking like a true panther in the wild, he looks in at me and continues on by.  I think nothing of this.  Then he walks back the way he came, looks in, and continues past.   Still no blip on my radar.  This is what happens every time someone goes to the bathroom (which is just past the showers).  Then, he walks back again.  Hmmm, did he forget something?  And back again.  He must have forgotten something.  And then back again, every time glancing in.  I shit you not, the first time I encountered the PBP he repeated this procedure 5 times.  That's ten passes.  That is friggin weird.  That's boarding on . . . no . . . not bordering on . . . that's creepy.

And I need to take a minute to clarify something.  I am not homophobic.  I know to say it that directly seems defensive, but I need to make this clear.  I am as flattered (perhaps more) when a guy hits on me as I am when a woman does.  I think discrimination based on sexual orientation will eventually come to be seen as as offensive as discrimination based on color (because it is).  I am in no way grossed out by anything homosexual, may it be the sex acts of 2 women or 2 men.  Frankly, I don't give a damn what people do on their own time.  Screw a pineapple, sofa cushion, or lard in a Tupperware (where do i get these things), I really don't care.   If you need any more convincing, i was a dance major in college, enough said.

To even further make this clarification i will give an example not of the PBP, but another locker room patron, similarly invading my idea of common courtesy and etiquette in the locker room.  In a double shower room with 72 shower nozzles, I was showering alone post swim.  A man entered the shower room and proceeded to come and shower directly next to me.  While some nozzles are better than others (pun not intended--i'm talking water pressure here), the one's next to my shower were not the "good one's."  This makes me uncomfortable in the same way that peeing next to someone when there are free urinals elsewhere is taboo (trust me on this one ladies).  I am not worried that this guy is gay and going to do "something gay" to me (what the hell would that be?).  I just don't need someone (anyone) up in my piece when there is a virtual cornucopia of space to shower in. 

So, as the PBP lurks back and forth for a 10th pass, I am tempted to tell him to "take a picture cause it will last longer."  I don't.  Interestingly, I have never seen the PBP in workout attire.  He changes in an ellaborate process (with much back and forth around the shower), but only once have I seen him even undress to his skivvies.  As per the name, they were pink tighty-whities.  (in full disclosure, I have many pairs of light-blue boxer briefs and I actually thought the underwear itself [minus the inappropriate behavior] were kinda fly]).

The PBP has also been known to camp out at the end of a locker row and study.  Now, you've seen the pictures.  The locker room is NO ONE'S ideal study environment.  It's damp, clammy, and smells like sweat.  It's just an unpleasant place unless you're a fungus looking for a host.  So, to see a kid hanging at the end of the row with his feat up on the bench with his books out is just plain weird.  Then to change in front of him as he looks on. . . it's just a creepy invasion of privacy.

Now, as I began, this kid is obviously grappling with some issues of his own.  And I kinda want to hand him resources of people to talk too, cause he's just too awkward looking to feel actually threatened by.  But that doesn't excuse his behavior, or make it ok.  The locker room is not a spectator sport, and if you aren't changing, showering, or going to the bathroom, you gots to go.

Enlarge Your Watch Size 3" !!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | 2 Comment(s)

So, I haven't been feeling the entry bug recently, so thankfully this spam message came in my school inbox today:

From:  Alexis Plummer (if you'd like to contact Alexis be my guest -- especially if you know how to email-bomb an inbox.)
Message: If your whole life is shit, at least you can have a decent watch on. Get a designer watch almost for free. & a click away 'http://nakelight.n'   (I didn't type to actual website just in case someone mistakenly clicks it--i care about your well-being)

Now, I'm always wary of anything that is "& a click away."  It just seems too close and too far away at the same time.  But you have to applaud the honesty in their advertising strategy.  It's not like their manipulation of your self worth is subtly tucked behind some double-speak.

(I just couldn't resist this picture!!!!!!!!)

What gets me is that this is new strategy for watches.  I mean, talk about a last gasp effort from a dying (dead?) technology.  And im not saying, "don't rock a watch."  I kinda collect them (especially pocket-watches).  I think there is something beautiful about a well-crafted watch.  I don't wax romantic about many objects, but a few of the one's i do, are watches.  What I'm saying is that the technology is dead.  With the ubiquity of cell-phones, and a clock on the front being a pretty minimal standard feature, the truth is you just don't NEED a watch.  You may want one and wear one, but you don't need it.  It is redundant to a more necessary item in your life.  And so we have -- watch spam.  The once fertile ground only for penis enlargement ads and offers of 18-yr old virgin p*ssy, is now the target demographic of the watch industry.  I'm pretty sure this is one of those "oh how the mighty have fallen" moments.

quick aside: i just used a form of the word 'ubiquitous' on my blog and im a little bit nauseous.  end quick aside

Hannukah present update:  After literally wracking my brain for 36 hours, receiving one more completely non-descript piece of plastic,  and literally waking up from a nap guessing, i finally came up with the gist of my gift.  It's awesome.  It's an adjustable conical coffee grinder that can do both espresso grind and french press.  She also got me a beautiful french press.  The problem with my aforementioned gift strategy RE: Hannukah often starting before Christmas, is that when your gf gets you a super sweet present, you sometimes have to step up your game.  Challenge accepted.  I go to the mall with my friend Sarah in Boston (Cambridgeside Galleria actually) this weekend!

I also got a big fluffy cloud-like light-blue robe (my gf definitely had a hand in it though--i may or may not have been stealing her pink one) from my parents.  And while it makes me look like a gigantic marshmallow peep, i friggin love it.  It's soft and warm and makes me feel happy. 

On the second night, I gave my mom her gift.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 | 1 Comment(s)

Now, I have a lot of posts to make up.  I had an epic candle-pin bowling experience last night that must be told and we are all waiting for the 4th person you meet in the men's locker room.  Not to mention the return of "things from my wall."  But, tonight, the 2nd night of Channukah, I want to give my mom her gift from me this year.  That gift is this post.

Now, my family is pretty good about not prescribing to the typical idea of 'good = expensive' presents.  It really is all about the thought and effort that goes into the gift.  And as my mom knows that this blog is one of my favorite and more important things in my life right now . . . AND i know that my mom takes even the briefest mention of herself in my online ramblings very seriously . . . i thought that I would tell you all the story of the day when my mom was my knight in shining armor.  

Now.  Some disclaimers.  I was young during the time of this story, so some of the details are fuzzy to me now.  Things like location and more general "what the hell was actually going on in the world around me" were not in my grasp quite yet.  But the more defining moments, the important stuff, i remember very well.  So i will fill in those gaps with my recollections, and by the end of it you will know about 85% of what really happened that day.  But what's important to know is that that 85% were the only important things about that day.

When I was six or seven my family had a small place in Cape Cod.  I have many good memories from this house, such as my first pet that could walk (Hermie the Hermit Crap . . . RIP), but i have an equal number of stories that are memorable because of their terror (The Story of the Flea Infested Cape House?).  But this story is my favorite.

For whatever reason, my brother and father were somewhere else, and it was just mom and i at the beach that day.  Having some perspective of what my 6 or 7-yr-old self was like, this probably was a result of me "insisting" that we go to the beach and no one else wanting to go.  My mom, mercifully (for everyone) most likely tapped her secret zest for adventure and agreed to take me.

Now, even in the summer the water off the Cape is cold.  It's the ocean.  The ocean is cold.  The north Atlantic particularly so.  But, at that point in summer it's the kind of cold that 7-year-olds aren't smart enough yet to realize is painful and should make you unhappy.  But everyone even slightly older than that, did.  Thus, the inevitable transpired.  I immediately grabbed my little inflatable raft/rowboat to paddle out into the ocean, and my mom searched out the perfect space where she could enjoy the sun and have a constant view of me on the waves.

I should pause now to say that my mom's reticence was not due solely to the water's temperature.  Or at least the extremity of the temperature.  While she has no problem hopping into tropic waters, in general she enjoys the her time on the beach.  An avid reader, it is a matter of her being bliss-full there.  I can't knock it.  I will say that her preference for the beach has nothing to do with her swimming abilities.  And this is how i know.

As I darted out into the waves, I got my first "man vs. nature" moment.  I was a wiry little guy at 7.  That is a nice way of saying that if you drew a stick figure at any point in your life, you drew a fairly good representation of me at 7, minus the straight brown bowl-cut hair, huge googly eyes, and Cheshire cat grin.  And no matter how hard i paddled those shitty plastic oars, my boat would keep getting pushed back onto the shore.  Not only was I not "paddling out to freedom,"  All 85 pounds of me was getting body slammed by inflated plastic and salt water.

I imagine I looked pretty pathetic.  I, as I have insinuated before, was an enthusiastic (perhaps "hyper" would also work) glee-full kid.  While I may have been a terror with my boundless energy, my orientation towards happiness was real.  So i think it may have just been heartbreaking for my mom to watch her youngest get denied that hard . . . repeatedly.  And of course, I just collected my things and tried again (hoping to get a bigger sample size?).

Well, the next thing i remember my mom was there.  She says, "you ready to go out there."  I was looking up at her looking out towards the horizon.  "I'm ready."

The oars stay on the beach.  They really weren't that good.  I was in the raft.  My mom was swimming next to me dragging the raft with one hand.  We talked.  I remember we talked on the way out there.  I can't remember about what, but i remember that i was transfixed as my mother was super-humanly dragging my ass through a (and remember how beat up i was at this point) rather treacherous ocean scene.  While the waves weren't cresting over us, they were very present, and a constant opponent.  But "we" forged ahead.  I don't know what got into my mother that day but I remember going out FAR.  Farther out than I'd been out ever before (as per my mother's admonishment)--so imagine my excitement as on top of this Herculean feat transpiring, there was the added bonus of feeling like i was doing something naughty.

And, like that moment in the shitty "Matrix 3" when their ship breaks through the smog/cloud-line to reveal a beautiful clear sun-scape, when we got way out there, the sea was calm and glossy. It was a scenic tableau. The privacy provided by our distance from shore allowed us to take a second and just enjoy being on this adventure together.  Being outlaws.  Explorers.  And when we had had enough, she paddled us back to shore.

I think in a way my parents were always a little larger than life through my eyes. But there are only a few specific moments when i can recall my parent appearing not just as a hero, but a super-hero.  And when i think back on this moment, that's how I remember her.  My Mom. Saving the day.

Happy Chanukkah Mom.

My Eight Nights

Pictured is what I got from my gf for the first night of Chanukah (for those who are especially observant, I have been trying to incorporate all the different spellings of the holiday into the blog):

I have no friggin clue what it is. It looks like an over-sized camera lens. I have been led to believe that when combined with 7 other parts, this becomes a functional object that i will be both be excited for and (the little hint i was given) i have mentioned in the past. My gf is an evil genius. I have literally been wracking my brain since I got it, trying to figure out what the hell it is. And she is just sitting back and listening to my guesses, taking notes for future presents. She's a god damn evil genius. Thankfully, Christmas is late this year so I will be able to enact some revenge on her come the 25th. But, sadly, I think she's got the upper hand this year since the idea I have doesn't come in individually wrapped pieces. Please, if for some reason you do know what the hell this thing is, don't tell me. I want to figure it out fair and square, or not at all. I even woke up from a nap ruminating on what it could be.

On a related, but somewhat different note, i'm extremely thankfully of the fact that i truly want for nothing. In torturing myself trying to think of what this object I crave might be, I am forced to realize that need nothing. I'm really lucky. I also kinda want for nothing. Cause if I really wanted something, i'd be able to figure out what this crappy piece of plastic that just stares at me, mocking me silently, is a part of.

Joy to the (whole) World?

Thursday, December 10, 2009 | 6 Comment(s)

Blog-o-sphere readers.  I need your help.  I need perspective.  I need to know if I am crazy. (Wait)  Rephrase.  I need to know if my interpretation of the following events is correct or if i am being clouded by my biased-colored glasses.

I also need to preface this story by saying that i genuinely and truly love my landlords.  I have been living in an "in-law" apartment connected to my landlords' house for the past 4 years or so, and in that time I have had no major disagreements (except no dogs.  grrrrrrrr) and have been given cake, cookies, dinners, birthday presents, Hannukah beers (8.  One for each night--amazing).  They are a family of 4 (mom, dad, daughter, son) and they have really welcomed me into their lives as well as their home and I will always be incredibly thankful for everything they've done for me.  With that said . . .

The other day I was chatting with the landlords (not their kids) about the holidays coming up and, as often happens, the fact that I am Jewish came up.  As it does.  I have, in my first few years living here (solo at that time) politely declined requests to put a candle in my window (i rocked 8 candles instead, what WHAT ;)) or to put a wreath on my door.  My feeling is that this whole "Jewish thing" is not super familiar to them but they really do go out of their way to try and remember that I don't personally celebrate Christmas (i do enjoy it at my gf's parents' house though).  This is worth noting, as the mother likes to decorate their house each season (very festive), and this "holiday season" seems to be a tricky one for them, in that they are trying to consider my feelings (and the thought DOES count).  In our discussion, the mother jokingly lamented how difficult it was to find outside floor mats (yes, we have seasonal floor mats) that weren't specifically Christmas oriented.  They were so pleased to find ones they described as just saying "Joy".  How great is that!  I said, "that's great." (again, i can only get so excited about seasonal mats-christmas hannukah or otherwise).  I pictured a nice tan mat with "JOY" written in black across it.  I, was delusional.  This, is the religion neutral "joy" mat currently residing outside my front door:

So. Once again.  Is it me?  Am I crazy.  I mean, the "O" is quite clearly a Christmas tree ornament, yes?  You don't hang green balls off a menorah (you wouldn't want your chestnuts roasting on an open fire).  I've spent some time looking at this thing, and trying to wrap my head around a world in which this is the "neutral" decoration they decided upon, paying special attention to the fact that they shouldn't get anything "Christmas-y".

Now, I'm not really mad at them.  I'm not.  Especially in this case, they really did make the effort.  And I'm not the Hannukah police.  But at the same time I can't help but think two things.  Let's number them.

1.  In the end, this is my (and my gf's) front door.  I feel like we should have final say about what we have to look at every time we get home.  And personally, this particular "Joy" doesn't make me feel particularly joyful.  And I'm a joyous guy. . . .           joy.

2.  This idea that that mat (say it 5x fast) is religiously neutral (unless i, in fact, am the crazy one here) is the type of negligence about this season that really gets to me.  This idea that Jews are "complainers" or "over-sensitive" for not wanting these symbols to represent them or in their homes.  No, your wreath is not "kinda non-denominational cause it's natural."  No, it is not "just a decorative mat" that I'm making a big fuss about.  I bet you if i put dreidel (which my spell-check believes in misspelled btw) mats in front of a whole bunch of houses, I wouldn't get a lot of "oh it's just a fun game with candy" reactions.  There is a tremendous double standard in the amount that minorities are expected "just deal" with the larger majorities gross oversight of their reality.  And when they don't want to "just deal," they are the problem.  And perhaps it's because I'm a social psychologist, but what this makes me think about most powerfully is that if I feel this way as a Jew (a relatively high status minority), I can only imagine how difficult it is for other minorities.  I mean, for racial minorities, every day is Jewish Christmas.  Something to think about.

Tomorrow is the first night of Hannukah.  If you celebrate it, I hope yours is filled with joy.

Musings of a Grumpy Matt

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | 6 Comment(s)

I didn't have a great day.  Mismanaged my time and it all came out . . . like a broken yoke.  And I'm grumpy.  Somewhere between a grumpy Muppet grumpy and Sitting on the Dock of the Bay Grumpy.  But I am really making an effort to keep up my writing.  So here goes.

First this gem brought to my attention by my friend Eden (work safe).  I also had the pleasure of seeing this live on air with my gf.  This is the ultimate "be careful what you wish for."  First I go off about how Hannukah gets a bad rap and then BANG . . . PSA's saying you should schedule your gf/wife's pap-smear as a Hannukah present.  There are so many things wrong with this I'm going to have to start a list (feel free to add your own in the comments [where did all my commenters go?]):

1.  Didn't we miss a step.  From a little Menorah next to a huge Christmas tree to health PSAs?  Did we just forgo the "appropriately celebrating and respecting a Jewish holiday" category.  Or is this like an ironic hipster mocking thing that I don't really get but i'm sure I will see a t-shirt that looks like its from the 80's referencing soon. 

2.  Why is a guy doing this.  And not a famous guy.  Just some obviously Jewish guy.  If you want to have any non-doctor male talk about pap-smears, he has to be downright gorgeous.  He has to be so hot that ALL (straight) women can do is thing of their vagina.  And even then its a stretch.  Some dorky looking jew?  nope.  not gonna happen.  TRUST me. 

3.  Perhaps this should be #1.  Attention Jewish Men!!!! THIS IS A TRAP!!!!!!!!!! 
Do you know what would happen if i scheduled my gf's pap-smear as a surprise?  I don't either, but i know it's not good.  And i know it consists of a conversation where my contribution consists solely of me whimpering, "I am so so sorry."  And I do NOT like those conversation (i really prefer being right).  And THEN, if I told her that pap-smear I got her was her Christmas/Hannukah gift!?!  Frankly, I'd break up with me if i did that.  And I would hope that she would have the sense to do the same.  Men, and this is all men now, if for some reason you have a propensity to be interested in the finer details of your woman's vagina health (and that's cool man, that's cool), the farthest you can take this interest is to ask if she's gotten her annual check-up.  And, if you're asking my advice, even that conversation high a high percentage chance of being weird. (Women, am I wrong here? Again, the comments section is available.)  All in all, i say if you're that worried, go take a closer look.  That way everybody wins.

4.  CBS, can't you show us any other way you care?  Plant a god damn tree for christ's sake (i sinned in two religions right there!).  Tell us to go hiking or to use the stairs more or to paint our roofs white or to give jackets to charity or to tell the people in our life we love them or to adopt a pet from a shelter.  Pretty much anything is better than advising men to schedule a papsmear for "your woman" as a holiday gift.  CBS, that doesn't say you care, it says you are a fucking idiot.

5.  Maybe i'm nitpicking on this one.  But if you are the guy they chose to do this unenviable task, please reconsider using this as the perfect vehicle for your experimentation with leaving one more shirt button unbuttoned.  Yes, this applies even if the shirt in question is lavender.


Lastly.  Can they please leave Tiger alone.  I'm not saying he did something good or bad or anything.  I'm saying we don't need to tear our heroes down to their bones just to remember that we are all fallible.  By fetishizing Tiger's personal problems we are just empowering glory hounds and other destructive forces while, in the end, both demolishing the public figure and permanently scarring his family.  Ironically, in the name of our false morality in support of Tiger's wife, we are compounding her misery exponentially. 

Note: I did not debate in high school but I believe the previous paragraph, if spoken as the answer to a pro-leavingTigerthehellalone argument, would have received high marks.  Toodles.

Video didn't kill this Radio Star

Monday, December 7, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

So, as a practice i try to keep my family out of this blog.  But, at certain times they do extraordinary things, and I am forced to make an exception (or they happen to look like someone on tv.  I'm shaky on even my own rules).  Today is one of those days.  My father was on NPR broadcasting out of Albany today.  But, before we get to that, let's get there by way of a funny story about my dad.

When I was teaching English in the middle of nowhere in Japan in 2004-2005, my parents came to visit me.  While there are any number of hilarious stories from that trip, I just want to tell one (gotta leave em wanting more) about my parents coming to speak in one of my favorite middle school classrooms.  I asked both my parents to give a brief introduction about themselves.  These were farm kids learning English most will NEVER use but are currently mandated by the government to learn in middle school and up.  So, I'm looking for basics.  "I like this . . . I don't like that . . ."  My mom goes first.  Ever intuitive,  she described being a psychotherapist as "I talk to people about their feelings."  She used very simple English to describe herself fairy well in a way these kids could understand.  Next comes my dad.  Never one to settle for ambiguity, he literally starts rambling about being a "cancer doctor" (he felt he was simplifying 'oncologist') and taking care of patients  . . . la la la la la.  The kids looked back at him beaming with smiles from ear to ear and dad feels like a hero.  They understood "I . . ." nothing from there.  I'm exchanging looks with my mother and co-teacher Yoko (who speaks perfect English and who remains one of the best people I've had the pleasure of getting to know--a story for another day).  We are laughing our faces off on the inside.  It turns out the Japanese are extremely well practiced at masking their emotions, my mother and I fared less well.  The kids were thinking, "What a huge interesting looking white man." My dad read, "these kids are really into internal medicine."

(Yes, my jacket which says "Nintendo" on it, looks just like their school uniforms.  I scared the crap out of a school nurse once who for a split second thought I was a HUGE elementary school-er.)

Anyways, the point of the story is to say that while my mother and I are someone more "intuitors," my father, generally speaking, is a little more in his own world.  My brother is an interesting mix of the two.  Now to today.

As I mentioned, my father is a hematologist/oncologist (I just had to spell-check my father's occupation. How the hell am I going to be a doctor).  Today he went on NPR on WAMC out of Albany, NY to be the featured guest on "Vox Pop" a hour long medical show.  If you're interested (and you might be after reading ahead) the link to listen for free online is here

Let me start with the "serious part."  Listening to my father in his element was inspiring.  This is a man who has dedicated a huge chunk of his life to trying to heal and care for people with horrible diseases put in horrible positions, and he still has a (absolutely sick and twisted and wonderful [mostly]) sense of humor.  There is, simply put, no way I could ever do it.  And what I saw firsthand, is that when people come to talk to my dad they are scared out of their minds.  Every caller,  I believe without exception, was essentially asking, "Am I or my family member going to die?"  And my dad locks onto these people's fear and speaks directly, clearly, and empathicly about their diseases, almost like a reflex.  It's touching really.  No condescension, just trying to tell people the facts and that they are being cared for well and there are best case scenarios out there.  He speaks to their fears and he calms them.  In this realm, in this human connection, he is 110% intuitive.  You don't go on a lot of "take your son to work" days when your dad's in this biz, so I'm was sincerely happy to get this glimpse into his world.  Incidentally, when I told my dad this he said, very matter-of-factly, "It's my job."  That's a man.

Now hilariously.  The last caller starts at around 48:10.  Let me set this up.  Two callers on the program had called in with a blood disorder called ITP.  Very briefly, this disease involves your spleen manufacturing a protein that breaks down your own platelets.  That's a bad thing.  In some (i believe severe cases[im not that kind of doctoral student]), patients have their spleen removed.  It's a fairly routine surgery (low-risk).  My dad informed one caller who asked what the spleen does, that after the age of 5 or so all the functions of the spleen are taken care of elsewhere in the body.  Besides helping us fend off certain bacteria (funnily all of these bacteria end in "-cock-us" so my gf and I had a good laugh with that), the spleen is not super useful. 

So, the last caller, an elderly gentleman, calls in and asks (I'm paraphrasing), "So I'm been listening to the show and what you said about the spleen and how it's basically useless after age 5, and I was wondering, if someone my age, if it might be advisable to get a speen-ectomy (spelling on that? aka. get my spleen removed), you know, to prevent the chance of getting cancer there."  My dad, in one of the most epic lines in radio history (in my opinion) replied (and I'm directly quoting this time), "The answer is 'no', because any organ that is working fine, it stays in your body."  Boom goes the dynamite.  I am pretty sure that my dad wanted to say, "Well, that depends, there is a larger chance of you getting brain cancer, should we cut off your head?"  And they say cancer isn't funny.

P.S.  Try to avoid hearing any parental figure saying "vagina bleeding" repeatedly.  I don't recommend it [particularly during dinner]). 

Dear Diary

Sunday, December 6, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

As I'm heading towards this blogs 2 month anniversary (I'm apparently in a middle school romance with my blog), I am unbelievably surprised at how much I have managed to write in this span of time.  Perhaps what makes it most incredible is how it compares to my previous sojourns into journaling.   I have, to this point in time, had two "hard-copy" journals in my life.  The first, I got from my mother as a gift on May 25th, 1989 (i was 10).  I believe the impetus for the gift was that mom found me writing down some ideas on pieces of scrap paper, and she felt i should have a more formal depository for my inner monologue (this is, gasp, pre-internet [typing that makes me actively feel like a dinosaur]).  Here's where it gets good.  I completed this first diary on September 11, 2001 (does that ring any bells?).  I have since begun a second diary which, fittingly, is still in its early stages.  For this entry, I'd like to focus on diary #1 (pictured sitting on my computer--it's both explanatory and a metaphor. Deep.)

Here is the breakdown of entries by year.

1989 - 6 entries
1990 - 1 entry
1991 - 2 entries
1992 - 3 entries
1995 - 2 entries
1996 - 3 entries
1998 - 2 entries
1999 - a bunch of entries (25+)
2000 - 6 entries
2001 - 2 entries

And now, the breakdown by content.

The first few years' entries, chronicling the battle which is elementary school are my favorite.  The diary begins on the eve of my brother's Bar Mitzvah and I am pretty obviously trying to come to grips with what seems like much ado about nothing.  I am reprinting (for the first time), the first entry from this first journal.  I will not be adding "sic" around spelling and grammar mistakes for two reasons.  One, I respect the author too much (how i miss 10-yr-old me).  And two, you should assume the whole thing is [sic] or perhaps, looked at from a different point of view, entirely healthy.  All parentheticals, (barring the one dealing with bird poop) are added by 31-yr-old me.  The fact that there is a parenthetical added by 10-yr-old me cements the idea of my early genius, long standing writing style, and general inability to not interrupt even myself.


THUR.  5-25  1989
Dear Diary,
     Today I got this Dairy (yes after spelling diary correctly one line earlier, i went with a more lactose friendly spelling in the very next line), I also got a timex watch.  I am a little nervise about the Bar.  I can't wait for my bar-mitzvah so I can get some more presents (you can't say i didn't understand what 'becoming a man' was about).  Brain (I am not sure if this is a misspelling of my brother, Brian's, name, or if I was using my derogatory nickname about what a dork he was.  Lost to the mystery of time) was fairly nice to me today. My Mom and Dad clean the house and the cars (Even though a bird pooped on dad car at Subway.)  The picture taker had a good sence of homur.  School was O.K.  Miss Belata (a student teacher who was helping out in my elementary class) was as normal, stupid.  tomorow we are haveing a goodby party for Miss Belata.  Thank God.  I have 45 weaples all over my bedbar and clock (weaples were those fuzzy balls of fur with googly eyes and sticky feet--if you recall).  All is well for now.  Love, Matt    
Is God real?!?!?!
(i liked to end my entries with an open question to think about.  neurotic much?)

This is the structure of most of the early entries.  Current events.  Family/friend update.  A list of the girls i may or may not like.  Usually a string of swear words used to show that this is MY diary (and, gulp, often used in connection to how i felt my brother was treating me.  e.g. "Brian is a fucken shit face and his ass is too big to fuck.  Just a joke.")(love you bro),  then a concluding summary statement, e.g. "I finished a report on orangutans today by making a bibl. (short for bibliography? [which i knew i had no hope of spelling correctly.]) I hope I get an A-A+ (already aiming low)."  And then, again, ending with open questions: "When will the sun blow up? (10-yr-old parenthetical-I really don't want to know.)" "Who started cartoons?" "What is beyond the universe."

As we move into the middle of the diary, we see most entries beginning with long synopsis of all that was missed previously.  Usually just enough to give context for the entry to come, as it is hard to fully cover a year or two of experience in a page or two.  Then they continued with about 5 pages of whatever particular problem was rattling around in my mind.

Then.  The later pages (and some of the earlier pages) all seem to deal with tragedies.  At this point I retreated to my diary when things in the world were too difficult for me to grasp in my head alone.   The first of these, sadly, was in 1989, when one of my brother's classmates and friend of mine (from hebrew school) died in a car crash at age 13.  This trend of venting over deaths, failed tests (ok, one failed test), and general badness makes the fact that Sept. 11th was the final entry seem more fitting.  Additionally, the outburst of entries in 1999 coincided with an extremely unhealthy relationship i got myself into while studying abroad.  I will say that those entries are the most painful to reread.  But man, lessons learned and mistakes that will not be made again.  Glad I wrote it down so i wouldn't forget it.

An excerpt from the last entry on Sept 11th.  "We (my roommates and I, now living in Brooklyn at the time of the attack) walked to the Brooklyn Heights promenade (which looks across the river to Manhattan) to look at the city view.  Hundreds and what must have been many more, just standing, starring, taking pictures--not of something--but of the nothing.  The missing-ness of the statues which they all thought were an immovable part of their city's skyline."

This journal concludes "the growing that has taken place within (this journal) is immense.  This is much of the sad chapters of a happy life story which I hope and im sure, will have many more story-lines to come."  This blog is one of those story-lines, and this time, it's including the happy chapters as well.

Belated Thanksgiving

Saturday, December 5, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

[the pic is from]

So, I know that my recent entries have been trending toward the comedy end of the literary spectrum, but I wanted to "Wonder Years" it for a second and bring it down a notch to talk about this years thanks giving.  In my family we go around the table during dessert (WARNING: Do not attempt this on an empty stomach!) and say what we are actually thankful for in the past year.  It's a pretty intense experience that usually proves a combination of extremely meaningful and emotionally exhausting.  Since so much hilarious crap has been falling out of the sky and landing on me, I didn't get a chance to share with my blog what i was thankful for this year.  And if this blog is to keep any remnant of "online journal-ness" I think I should share.  Or over-share.  You decide.

Instead of micro-managing my thankfulness and telling you every individual thing im thankful for (been there done that -- this blog and swimming top the non-humans im thankful for btw), im going to go the more philosophical route and talk about my new perspective on life this year.  Cause it is the thing that I am most thankful for recently, and things like this blog and swimming all stem from it.

My new perspective: No more waiting.  As a type-A child brought up to get good grades to get into a good college.  To do well in college to get a good job.  Etc etc.  I have been trained to suffer now for future rewards.  And, unfortunately, after 30 some years of training I never learned how to be present and enjoy the now.  More than that though.  I never learned to think of 'the now' as important.  And it is vitally important.  It is truly all we ever have.  And I am newly committed to making the most of the now.  I am swimming now because I need to commit to my health in the now.  I am blogging now because I need a creative outlet now.  Not when I have more free time.  Not when I finish this or that project.  Now.  Because as the title of my blog implies, we need to be impact-full today to leave our essence for tomorrow (or something like that).

I am no longer accepting the idea of misery now for happiness later.  I'm pretty sure, after many years of practice, that this idea is akin to a carrot on a stick hanging just out of reach of the rabbit's mouth.  There will always be something to look forward to in the future, and some excuse to postpone our commitment to happiness in the present.  But i'm pretty sure that the best way to be happy (or content, as I prefer to strive for) in the future, is to commit to being happy in the present.  Since this mind-set shift, I have taken more risks, said yes to myself more, and found that i have only begun to explore the tip of my experiential iceberg.  By demanding I stay focused on my present i am tapping into new talents and new feelings of accomplishment.  It feels wonderful.

(this does not mean that i no longer feel that hard work is important to success.  As I am a graduate student, this is a given.)

And, at the risk of sounding like the charismatic leader of some new touchy-feely cult, i encourage you to try it as well.  Feel free to leave any experiences in the comments.  Things rolling (pun -- you'll see) around in my head for the next year: getting a tattoo (happening), male roller-derby (see ;))(this one would be really pushing my boundaries), stand-up comedy.  Who knows.  But I do know that until i started committing to today, these weren't even ideas I had.

Palin has lost whatever was left of her mind

Friday, December 4, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

I just saw this video of Sarah Palin saying publicly that it's fair to call Obama's American citizenship into question. Of course having validated this unbelievably stupid and racist witch-hunt, she posted on her Facebook page (like a 16 yr. old) that SHE herself doesn't need more proof, she's just saying the public has a right to know more.

Here's the link.

I'm not sure if it will happen for you, but appropriately led into this video clip with an advertisement for Pepto-Bismol. It was the most relevant part of the entire piece.

Krentist the Dentist

Back to the dentist.

After managing to rationalize my way out of going to the dentist for . . . ahem . . . 3 years or so, I finally sacked up and went.  and went.  and went again.  Today was my 3rd appointment in as many weeks.  And i already have 3 more scheduled in the next 6 months. 

The crazy thing about this is that my teeth aren't that bad.  Did my gums need some work.  Apparently yes.  My first appointment consisting of me waiting 20 min. for the dentist to take one look at my mouth and say, "Set up an appointment for a debridement" and then leaving (we'll get to that in a second).  What I didn't understand about this was that this was my first visit with them.  And I had told them beforehand that I had been, shall we say, "enamel insensitive" over the past few years.  What did they expect?  What situation could have occurred in which i was not visiting merely to make a 2nd appointment?  I mean I brush, with a sonicare toothbrush, twice a day.  It's not as if I opened wide and bats flew out through the cobwebs.  It made me feel like I was at a car dealership looking to reel me in more than a health provider.  Sadly, the difference between these industries has been declining.

The second visit.  The debridement.  Let me start with this.  I deserved it.  I was not expecting my return to dental responsibility to be an entirely pleasant journey, and I can assure you that this procedure proved me absolutely correct.  I'm pretty sure this procedure got the name debridement because it hurts as much as i imagine a virgin's wedding night might feel.  This procedure consists of the mental (sic) hygienist taking a metal pick and tracing along my entire gum-line.  Simultaneously she is calling out numbers which refer to the number of millimeters that she can dig this pick-axe into my gum canal.  Yes, this hurts.  It hurts as much as it sounds like it hurts.  It is as bad as it sounds.  My eyes teared (and while i am a sucker for a sad movie i have a fairly high pain threshold).  Apparently, this little exercise reinvigorates your gums.  I believe the mechanism of action is that it reinforces the fact that you have to floss with such an incredible amount of pain that you never forget again. 

The third visit.  The third visit was today.  I'm not entirely sure what we did today.  The lady pick-axed me a little, although much shallower and less painfully.  She then re-polished me again (after 3 years of no polish me teeth get two spit-shines in a week!) Then the dentist came back for another 5 min. fly by where she said, oh. . . .aaaaaa. . .1 little 2 little 4 little minor cavities.  Set up an appointment for fillings.  And once again bounded off.  Haven't caught her name yet.  I'm sure she's wonderful when you get to know her (that's in all seriousness actually--she even has a hyperbolic chamber in her office for stroke victums and autistic kids.  I have no idea how those things relate for the record--I just want to be "fair and balanced").

I do need to recount two of the conversations i had with the debridement hygienist before i am through. 

The first:  She pokes at my gums with the metal spike.  When she gets to the back of my mouth she jams it pretty hard and exclaims, "OH, this one's bleeding a little."  The subext here was, you still aren't doing enough brushing, flossing, and gum-line brushing to keep your gum's from bleeding

I have, for the record, brushed and flossed my face off since my first visit.  I neurotic like that.  So i did not feel particularly inclined to think that this blood was a factor of my oral laziness.

While I obviously couldn't reply (since i had a sharp metal object and a tiny mirror up in my grill [literally]), here's what I was thinking: "Of course i'ts friggin bleeding! You just shoved a god damn spike into my gum.  If you were to jam that thing anywhere on my body it would be bleeding.  That's what happens when you cut skin sister.  How bout going easy with the ol' longsword instead next time."  Perhaps in my head I even showed her how if I were to plunge said spike into her leg, it would gush too.  I digress.

Second conversation (after the revelation of the cavities--same woman):

Her: So i guess you should cut down on the sugar in your coffee (I had mentioned that my gf worked at a coffee shop).
Me: I don't put sugar in my coffee.
Her: Soda?
Me: Nope.
Her: Power drinks, Gatorade, Protein shakes.
Me: Nope, not at all.  I'm a juice man.
Her: (In all seriousness) OH, well then that's it.  Gotta watch out for those juices.  Especially between meals, only water.  Seltzer is ok, but not if its the kind with fruit in them.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME.  I'm sorry, but i've been brought up to fear almost everything (if you don't believe me check out yesterdays blog RE: 70's music).  But if seltzer water with mandarin orange flavoring really is a silent killer, then i quit.  Apple juice is bad for me now!  I am almost to the point of calling this fear-mongering.  If I lose a tooth over 70 years of natural fruit juice enjoyment then so be it.  I refuse to fear lightly flavored sparkling water.  I have to draw the line somewhere.

Lucky for you guys I still have 3 visits to go. 

ps.  Unknown Matt fact #351.  I secretly enjoy the gross banana gum numbing Novocaine stuff, so i'm hoping that that hasn't gone out of style in the past 3 years.  Fingers crossed.

My First Time

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

Now I know at least one woman out there who read that title and probably sighed, "oh no." But have no fear, this post has nothing to do with my early sexually-based uncomfortable silences, i mean experiences. Instead, this is the second installment of "things i tore off of my childhood wall" or "gutted memories" for short. I'm fine. Really.

And, the theme of today's post is, fittingly, firsts. With every first comes a story. And i'm going to share some of those today.

The first first we have is my first college football game (left). Fittingly, it took place at the Big House in Ann Arbor. I can't see the date on it, but i imagine i was probably in middle school. My parents brainwashed me early and often. GO Blue. See, it worked. The only memory i have of this game is sitting in the end zone wearing a humongous inflatable football helmet. In my mind, I remember looking absolutely adorable.

The ticket in the middle is my first Broadway play: Les Miserables. It's a misnomer. It is an absolutely brilliant musical. When they sang "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables" my brother and I wept like 6-year-old's who just had their Halloween candy taken away.

If only all of my firsts were as, um, benign as those two. Which brings us to my first concert: Sheryl Crow. Now, I still maintain that her music was fun and catchy and she could really wear the hell out of a pair of jeans. And she was a elementary school music teacher for god's sake. Sadly, I attended this Concert of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood's travelling pants with . . . . drumroll please . . . . my brother's girlfriend at the time . . . and . . . wait for it . . . . its super good . . . our mothers. Plural. That means there was a 1 to 1 mom to non-mom ratio. I was a baaaad boy (that might have to be my new blog tag-line). We probably went for ice cream afterward. I am such a loser. Additionally, the date reads 1995, which means i didn't go to my first concert til i was a junior in high school. I try telling people that i didn't really grow up with music as a part of my life . . .
*tangent. One of the main reasons that music was not a large part of my childhood was that the bands of that time had really scary names (i am not making this up). Bands like "The Grateful Dead," "KISS" (the costumes supported my theory), and "Led Zeppelin." I figured that bands with names like that must play some sort of scary crazy heavy metal music that I would not possibly like. So I didn't listen. Only later in life did i listen to these bands and realize my unbelievably embarrassing and misguided mistake. I am fortunes fool. end tangent*
. . . and for the most part its true. Who needs electric guitars when you have an almost uncanny ability to be able to transform any Transformer without even reading the instructions.

What you can almost make out in this second picture are tickets to my first basketball game on the top: Celtics vs. Spurs at the original Boston Garden, and tickets to my first baseball game: Cubs vs. Padres at Wrigley. I remember the score was 4 to 1 Padres. Poor Cubies.

I actually was big Spurs fan growing up after being teased mercilessly by my brother that I had to choose teams to root for and stick with them instead of just liking whomever was winning championships at the time (A practice my cousin Ezra still does: ahem. Yankees and Lakers fan from upstate NY ahem ahem) Sorry, I have a cough. (No i don't, i'm just making fun of my cousin). No really, its a cough. (It's not.) Really. Anyways, I did what any reasonable kid from Western Mass does and choose my teams by color. Raiders and Spurs. Silver and Black all the way. I still like both of those teams (well, it's hard to support the clustercuss that is the Raiders--but i do my best). As I explored the world outside the 413 area code, I realized that most normal humans choose sports teams geographically, and since then I have re-adopted my home MA teams. Those who know me, know that I am a huge baseball fan these days and I even worked for the Red Sox for a number of seasons taking pictures for Fanfoto. Many of those people would be surprised to know that my first baseball game was in high school (in Chicago mind you) and I didn't see my first Red Sox game until college. Like fine wine, I get better with age. I even make sure to listen to crazy sounding bands these days (Lady Ga-Ga [love her], Arctic Monkeys, Death Cab for Cutie), because I will not be fooled again.

Lastly. I leave you with this. My first (and only) girlie-poster.

"Hold that Tiger" indeed. I won this gem at Old Orchard Beach, an old school amusement park in Maine near where I went to summer camp. Ms. Tiger has hung in the top left corner of my wall for about 15 years, more recently obscured by Get Well cards, Absolut ads, and a few stolen hotel signs that were tacked on top of it. Ms. Tiger was the beginning of something special for me. And for that I am entirely grateful, from the bottom of my . . . um . . . from my core.
To conclude, the ultimate irony is that Ms. Tiger is not "my type" at all. And, while I see her obvious poster appeal (or rather appeals), I'm not really that attracted to her, and don't remember ever thinking that she was that hot (i mean, even in the 80's I knew that that g-string was a mistake). She represented my rebellion, and for a kid who went to a Sheryl Crow concert with his mom at age 16, I needed every piece of rebellion I could muster.

Notes On the Holiday Season

Today is December 1st (actually its technically 12:18am on the 2nd, but please forgive) and with December comes "the holiday season."  While many stores believe this "season" begins right around Halloween (GET OFF MY HOLIDAY'S LAWN!), I think we can all agree that by the beginning of the 12th month its open season on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Capitalism/Shop-o-saurus Rex.  And as this period always seems to highlight my one minority status (officially listed as "Jewboy"), I thought I might give you majority members a peek behind the proverbial jew-curtain.

(Can you blame us for having an inferiority complex--look at that poor plastic menorah [pictured]next to that tree--they should have, like, 25 menorahs per tree to make it REALLY even.  And while im at it, I don't see any presents by the "Jewish Side" of the display.  Maybe if I take Jesus Christ as my lord and savior, they'll toss that blue-ish present under the tree my way)


1.  Do not make the "Christmas is no longer a religious holiday" argument.  No matter how you celebrate it personally, you can't take the Christ out of Christmas.  Literally.  Without it its just 'Mas'.  And in Spanish it literally translates to 'more Christ' (i just made that up.  but is it true?).  No matter how much you try to rationalize it, Christmas will never be a holiday celebrated by Jews.  It may be celebrated by Jews with Christian friends, and that's fan-friggin-tastic.  But no group of all Jews throws Christmas parties.  Cause Christmas is a religious holiday.  It's a fact.

2.  When you grow up with a HUGE 6-story wreath (also Christian--always) hung off the side of the bank, you get Jewish people who are a little sensitive about Christmas decorations on public property.  Do we go overboard? Absolutely.  But, have churches put up nativity scenes in park square.  Also absolutely.

3.  This one is for my father's benefit.  If your oncologist is Jewish and you are coming in for treatment, I wouldn't wish him a 'very Merry Christmas.'  Why poke that particular bear?

4.  Only tangentially related but; don't schedule the Michigan (my favorite college team) vs. UMass (my current institution) football game on Yom Kippur.  COME ON PEOPLE!!!!!

5.  You don't have to apologize for being excited about Christmas in front of Jews.  I love Christmas decorations on people's houses.  In high school we would cruise the streets that had particularly good light shows (again, i was a baaaaad boy).  Hanukkah isn't the silver medal or consolation prize.  I friggin love Hannukah.  My family has a pretty intense, heated (pun), and absolutely serious competitions] to see who can guess which candle will go out last.

* tangent.  if i don't write about this now it would soon appear in the comments section written by my brother from his fiancee's account.  So i'll save him the trouble.  In hebrew grade school my brother made a menorah out of a scrap wood and nuts (as in nuts of "nuts and bolts" fame you sickos).  He then took a brief sojourn to Hades and made a deal with the Devil (also Christian) that he would suffer the humiliation of being forever shorter than his younger brother and in return his menorah would be infused with the magical power of never-ending candle flames.  That fucking thing kept candles going forever.  Brian (my brother) reigned Hanukkah candle wars for some time until he realized his life may be in jeopardy and he retired the glittery piece of hellfire.  Every friggin Hanukkah, bar NONE, of my life (to present), i have had to hear Brian talk about this fucking piece of shit menorah.  It haunts my dreams.  On a related note, i am noticeably taller but a number of inches. end tangent*

We give and get presents, you give and get presents.  It's an all around good time.  So lets cool it with those sad-eyed looks.   On a related note, when you are giving me a present, its a "Hanukkah gift." (as opposed to here is your Christmas Gift).  Tis the season of giving folks, you defer to the gift receiver's religion.  That's why I'm not giving you a Hanukkah gift.

6.  There is something called "The Matzah Ball."  And you should know about it.  In many major metropolitan areas, on Christmas Eve, major clubs are rented out and Jews frolic to this kosher meat market one night only fire-sale.  My tall blond Christian friend and I went in Boston one year and the experience was, well, memorable.  It was like sleep away summer camp all condensed into one night + gallons of alcohol + numerous dashes of desperation + the vision of meeting a "mensch."  It was like grinding gefilte fish into a barrel.  I was pretty sure that if i introduced myself as a doctor i could have gone home with anyone there--male or female.  Hey.  It's just the feeling i got.  Also, with all those Jews raving it up, I couldn't help but feel like it was a scene out of some Jewish version of Blade (a vampire flick) where at some predetermined moment all the Jews stare at the one non-Jew (let's say my friend) and proceed to feed on him.  I love me some white meat.

I'm gonna stop there.  I don't want to come off bitter instead of witty and hilarious.

To end with a belly laugh I give you the sequence of events in which by not getting me a dog as a child my parents unknowingly delayed the imaginary birth of their currently non-existent, but already verbally asked for, grandchild.  Enjoy:

Parents don't get me a dog -----> Son feels emptiness around never having an animal companion (fish don't count) --------> Later in life, when son may have otherwise been feeling the impulse to nurture new life into the world, instead he feels the need for animal companionship-------->Son gets dog instead of having kids.  Suck on that Harvey.  It's your own damn fault.  Love,  mattitiyahu.

Was I a teenaged fetishist?

Sunday, November 29, 2009 | 2 Comment(s)

What i learned over thanksgiving break is that if you ever want to start a blog, the first thing you should do is go find your childhood bedroom and begin to gut it. I can honestly say that given the free time and perhaps a double dog dare, i could write a whole separate blog just about what i found. But, I do not have said time, so I will have to condense all this deliciousness into my current blog.

In order to set the scene, i will tell you that my cousin Ezra, a junior at Michigan (age 20) was at thanksgiving this year (with his sis and dad), and as a present i gave him HIS BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT from the local paper. I found said announcement all browned with age and delicate like parchment tacked to my wall under a note a high school crush had written me about potentially dating if she didn't have a boyfriend (i'm sure i had no idea what she was talking about at the time). Shows you my priorities at the time. More on notes later.

I will also say that some of the stuff I found on my wall was alarming. Alarming in that "was i a teenage stalker" kind of way. Below you will find exhibit A.

Yes, this is a lock of hair. Yes, I am absolutely horrified that this exists. No, I have no idea whose it is. No, it is not mine. Considering that i don't recall being the hair sniffer type, or having spied into anyones bedroom in high school (hell, most of my friend lived out of state) I really have been stumped as to what the hell human (holy shit i fucking hope its human) hair is doing tacked to my wall. And, the more i think about it, the more i realize that even my rationalizations don't make this particular offense much better. I thought maybe it was my deceased grandmothers. Um . . . fucking gross. Matt Zimbler, you have some serious issues. Every potential explanation i have for this ends with me trying to build a time machine to go back and tell young me NOT to tack that crap to my wall. I implore little matt that older matt is going to be super embarrassed and genuinely creeped out years down the road. Is there any good explanation for this? Perhaps that lock of hair contained the cure for cancer? If so, the cure for cancer now resides in a garbage bag. If this hair does belong to some poor girl, i sincerely apologize. I swear im harmless.

Next. To further build a case that i was indeed a teenaged sex offender (this is probably a bad subject to joke about, but im hoping im only insulting myself), you can see below 9 (i found 1 more later) old boutonnieres (that should be a spelling bee word--sheesh) from high school dances along with 5 tickets from said dances.

This should come as no real surprise considering the bathroom decorations. I will say that the idea was valid, in that dried flowers are still beautiful (unlike old hair). Were all these dances successes. There is no possible way. But i was weaving the basket of my childhood memories with this cork board collection, and formal and semi-formal dances seemed pretty important at the time. Things i learned from said dances were as follows (one for each dried flower):

1. Don't go to a formal with someone when you have a girlfriend who is not your date to said formal.
2. If the pretty popular girl who is way out of your "league" (at the time, ;)) says yes to going with you to a dance, she probably will leave you high and dry as the date nears.
3. If she doesn't leave you prior to the dance, she'll definitely leave you during it.
4. If you feel like the only sober kid at the dance, you probably are.
5. You will have a better time at a dance the more you like your date, as a person. So when in doubt, go with a friend.
6. At the time, when you thought that having your parents chaperon the dance was the worse thing in the world, you were correct.
7. Having a Mickey Mouse cumber-bun will not get you laid.
8. Being a good dancer is a non-resource in high school.
9. When taking the mayor's daughter to the prom (see #1) don't convince the group you are with to bag the fancy dining they'd planned and go to an all you can eat buffet joint . . . cause the Mayor may be eating there that night (this totally happened).
10. And finally, even though one might have gone to the prom with the captain of the cheerleaders and the prom queen (separately), does not mean that you will lose your virginity in high school. Trust me.

This only begins my series on "the crap i found cleaning my room." Stay tuned.

(i love having a bunch of running story lines on my blog, it keeps me in suspense as well)

I Probably Couldn't Have Danced All Night

Monday, November 23, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

So I was trying to find something to write about recently as i went into the bathroom (cause that's where i think the best, obviously). And something caught my eye. Let's play a game. Here is the entry to my bathroom. Can you guess what I'm going to write about???

Time's up.

I'll have you look to the windowsill where you'll see what looks like formal stemware. I'll zoom in for you.

I will now explain the two candles in stemware in my bathroom.

The candle part i think explains itself, so the location of said candles shouldn't knock your socks off. But, if you were to look closely enough to read the writing on said candles, you would see this:

"In Your Eyes"
Pittsfield High School
Prom June 8, 1995


"With or Without You"
Junior Prom
May 11, 1996

These were the party favors given to students attending the prom (which the junior class put on for the senior class) were given. I would like to add that as my junior class vice president (I won by default when the kid who had won got kicked out--i would also add here that i lost 9 of 10 student elections [if you count my vp win as a win] during my 4 years in high school. that's one position each year [secretary,treasurer,vp, and pres] one student council loss each year, and two of those years an additional "at-large member" of student council loss. I would take some comfort in the fact that it was "a popularity contest" except, um, COME ON. Yes, to answer the obvious question, I watch and love gLee.) i did get to give input on the theme and I am still a huge Say Anything fan to this day.

Why do i still have them? I have no really good answer. I'm a pack-rat. I was brought up with one of the walls of my bedroom being made of cork, so I would just stick shit on there. Layers and layers. Absolut adds, awards, pictures of my sports heroes, dance corsages, letters, . . . anything. It almost encouraged my already hoarding nature.

Recently, my parents have hinted (not so subtly) that they would like to turn my old bedroom into something new. Being 31, i feel that this is a not so unreasonable request. But being their son, and realizing i had some leverage, i decided to make the most of it. I agreed as long as they turned my old room into a "man room" for my dad. My dad has never really had a "man room" and frankly he deserves it (His bedroom is lavender for god's sake). Everyone does. Everyone needs a space that is all their own. I bet even cave people had set "alone time" in the cave. I friggin bet yah. Anyways, they called my not so scary bluff and now i am in the process on "tearing down the wall" aka. taking all this crap off my cork-board/gutting my room. I am anticipating that when i go home for thanksgiving, this process will be put into full swing. I'm not entirely sure how i'm going to feel about it, but i'm sure i'll let you know. Maybe even snap some pics.

In any case, during the last installment of "gutting one's childhood" i found these wax filled gems, and decided that they would be perfect in my current shit-room. And i must say, it's as if they were made for each other. Nothing masks the smell of a bowel movement like the memory of high school.

I should add that this is not to imply that I didn't have a good time at either prom, because i most certainly did. I even rigged the ballot with some friends to make my date the prom queen senior year. (that's right, i did it. The truth comes out! I was so baaaaaaaaaad.) While I can't say that any of my 4 proms were reminiscent of any pop culture portrayal of said events (where is the movie of the virgin who doesn't even realize he's supposed to score?), I can't say that any of the events were remotely scarring. So i'll count that as 1 in the win column.

The un-Real World: The BEST exit interview of all time

Sunday, November 22, 2009 | 2 Comment(s)

The best exit interview ever.

Back when "The Real World" on MTV started, it was groundbreaking television. There were people from different walks of life, with different opinions, living together and being forced (on some level) to discuss their differences (thing how Obama made people have to notice race). On MTV in San Fran, one of the housemates, Pedro, was both openly gay and living with AIDS. Groundbreaking. It is fair to say that this kind of TV really appealed to me, and i most certainly contemplated applying to the show. I remember on my 26th birthday thinking, "Wow, now i'm too old to be on "The Real World." (The cut-off, at least then, was 25). I was sad and felt old.

But. Somewhere along the line, the show changed. I'm not sure exactly when this change occurred, probably gradually, i'm not entirely sure. But I am sure that Real World Las Vegas was symbolic of the completion of this change. This change i would say was from "the real world" to "the real soft core porn." Beautiful dumb people with extreme views and rock hard abs screwing each other like characters from 90210 (don't even think of asking me whether i mean the new one or the old one!). There was so much sex, silicon, screaming, threesomes, nudity, and sex that it could have been confused with Comedy Central's new show/masterbationfest "My Secret Girlfriend."

I say this all so as to set up the fact that at some point i stopped watching this show for the intellectual interest and it became my guilty pleasure. Then, inevitably, it just went too far (perhaps it was the emotional harassment of housemates in a recent season or the fact that I couldnt stand these kids getting recruited because of their likelihood of going ballistic and then the producers acting all blameless when violence and craziness broke out). I stopped watching. My girlfriend (who still loves the guilty pleasure of it) has taken to watching the Real World/Road Rules (which lets face it, hasn't existed in like a decade) Challenge. For those who haven't seen this cancer, it takes the crazies from the show, adds free booze and the promise of money, and then essentially lets them rip each other apart in every possible way: sexually, physically, emotionally. It's the definition of a hot shit-show mess.

In the last episode, which i watched a brief snippet of (it's like country music, i hate it, but it's so hard to change the channel), Brad (of course he's named Brad) is drunk, only has $2,000 to his name, and is on the apparent losing team. He is verbally berating a, relatively speaking, friend of his, who is on the winning team and has the most money ($33,000) to his name. Brad is taunting endlessly. Screaming about beating the shit out of him (what what? his friend?). There really is no motivation except frustration and stupidity. I should mention, that the ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY rule that Real World has ever had is NO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. Surprisingly, with such a lack of rules, many many many many "cast members" have been sent home for this (men and women). So Brad pushes the other guy (dont know his name). The guy finally snaps and pushes Brad back back back until he falls. Then this guy starts WAILing on him with punches to the face. Brad's eye is bleeding. Badly. He can't stand up. His drunk reaction. More violence. Running around the mansion throwing things. And like that, poof, they are kicked off. Uber sigh.

But here is the "punch-line" (pun intended). Brad gives his exit interview to the camera. He is incredibly sorry for his behavior. He was drunk. He LIKES the other guy. He says, "it is a shame." Oh, and his right eye is purple and SWOLLEN COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY SHUT!!! You are damn right he's sorry. He's sorry in that "i'm sorry i got my ass handed to me and i'm getting my cycloptic swollen eggplant looking face sent home broke like a joke." If i were writing a thesis on the slow disintegration of a once landmark show, this scene would be my conclusion sentence.

For the record, the guy who fought back and landed a number of $33K punches got send home too. He also interviewed that he liked Brad and was sorry it happened. Personally, i am mostly sorry that this dinosaur of a show wont extinct already.

Here's a pic of the damage: