Any Given Table

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

Chances are, if you've ever been at a big group dinner (think "a friends birthday" dinner), you have been in the situation of sitting at a long table and trying to, very subtly, arrange it so you are sitting next to and across from people you like.  You probably have also been in a situation where, at such an event, you got stuck at the end of the table, surrounded by people you don't know, with the birthday person, the one you are there to see, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down on the other end.  Bummer.  Super bummer.  You spend the whole time small talking and chit chatting, when you were all excited to get some face-time with the honoree. 

Today i am headed to VT for a new years celebration with about 10 of my favorite people all-time.  Very exciting.  At dinner, you can seat me anywhere at the table, and ill be equally happy.  THAT, is how you know you're with family.

Happy New Year.

How to tell if something is alive or dead

Friday, December 24, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

This is probably the last 2010 post.  no promises. 

And i'm that guy.  Cause our new dog Grover is once again a key player in this post.  this is not a dog blog.  That may even have to be Mmy new tagline for 2011.  To Be Read and Reread Upon My Untimely Demise: this is not a dog blog.

I have found a new role for Grover.  You know how canaries are used in mines to detect carbon monoxide, well Grover can be used to determine whether or not something is alive or inanimate.  Enjoy.


Cars:  GULP! Upon getting within a 15 feet diameter of mmf or my car, Grover will weight his body down and go into, what i call, pancake mode.  His objective is to "become the ground" so as not to be moved.  If Grover is scared of something, it means it must be inanimate.  Not alive = terrifying for the Grov-ster.   (Full disclosure: Grover is slowly adjusting to the car situation after a bit of practice .)

Tiny tiny puppy:  LOVE HER!  Must be living. During a first puppy play date, Grover took on a tiny little new-born pup.  While he had about 45 lbs on the lil girl, he played very nice.

Stairs:  ACK!!!  Grover freaks his shit out at stairs.  He has not yet adjusted to them.  At all.  He does a little excited/nervous jig/hop around the living room when he watches us go downstairs, and has not yet attempted going down them on his own. We'll have to work on this one.

Kitten: LOVE HER! Must be alive. He sniffed this kitten's bum so much that he ended up giving her a bit of a sled ride across the linoleum floor.  Not even the hint of a nip.  The kitten then came back to play.  If it's alive, Grover wants to play with it.  Kittens are just weird small dogs to him, so lets play.

Tile floor:  YIKES! The first time we brought Grover home, he avoided the kitchen and tile entrance-way.  He didn't like the tile.  This one is just his own crazy.  Visit two, he didn't even seem to notice the change in flooring.  I thing tilophobia may be a thing of the past already.

Half a squirrel (mostly the . . . um . . . inside half):  This was found during a walk.  There was much interested sniffing.  Almost as if Grover hoped that the intestines would jump up and bound away so that he could chase them.  But one solid "come" and he realized that he should probably leave it alone.  Actually, considering how inanimate it was at that point, he probably should have been terrified of it. 

Yin-Yang face

 Here's to health and happiness in 2011. 

Telemarketing Gone Wrong

Monday, December 20, 2010 | 2 Comment(s)

Let's go back.  Back in time.  I am a wise-ass, tightly wound, over-achieving high school student.   My dad, at that time, is a tightly wound oncologist who hates, above all, being interrupted by telemarketers.  Especially during dinner.

Context.  This is a time when cellphones don't exist and the constant interruption from phones was not yet the norm.  This is before caller ID and knowing ahead of time not to pick up an "Unknown Number." Especially during dinner.

And so, when my father did, on occasion, pick up the phone to find a well-enunciating young man or woman asking him personal questions with no lead in, or telling him about the marvel that is so-and-so running for lieutenant governor, he let em have it.   There were definitely a few different tactics that he employed.  There was the pointed dressing down, where the fact that he wasn't screaming made it all the worse.  And then there were the more seldom, but much more fun to watch "sprint and slams." These are where he says one line about the fuckery that is calling people during their family meals and then says BYE! and slams down the phone.

Context.  Now, when i say 'slams down the phone', i don't mean an iPhone was thrown down on a table.  This is way back when phones had two pieces, the base and the receiver.  AND THEY WERE CONNECTED TO EACH OTHER!  And there was this wonderful empowering feeling that could be had by violently returning the receiver to the base, thus ending the call with a slamming sound on the other end.  the bases were pretty much built for that impact.  These were the good ol days i tell yah.

*Quick Tangent:  in the "you heard it here first department." We need a slam button for our cellphones.  A button you can press that will emit the sound of a slamming phone to the caller before hanging up on them.  The phone slam is an endangered species, and i think there really needs to be "an app for that." *end tangent

I tell you all this because one day back then I picked up the phone and heard what was essentially a telemarketer from some oncological journal, wanting my father to contribute.  I knew how to deal with these people.  I'd seen my father do it time and time before.  They said, "would Dr. Z like to contribute to the  . . . blah blah blah. 

"I'm sorry sir, but Dr. Z passed away."

"Oh oh, i'm so so sorry.  I'm sorry for your loss.  Have a good night."

I'm brilliant.  Face it.  You're laughing.  That means you're just as awful as me.  Doesn't it feel great.

My dad laughed to.  Hard in fact.  I remember that he thought it was super funny in that way that parents do where you can show your kid that you know what he did was hilarious but at the same time you restrain yourself so as not to encourage such behavior. 

I went downstairs and returned to, most likely, watching some tv.  I'm not completely sure what was happening in my dad's mind upstairs, but i suspect it went something like this:

"That funny ass little shit.  Telling those money-callers i'm dead.  hilarious.  I mean, what's the worst that can happen.  Well, the journal could POTENTIALLY report that i'm dead.  and i guess that telemarketer could take it upon himself to tell someone in the magazine proper to but me in the obituaries . . . holy crap they're gonna tell everyone i'm dead."

like i said, he was high-strung in those days.

about 45 min later he comes down stairs to talk to me about said phone call.  He is no longer laughing.  He says that i have to take responsibility for my actions.  Which means, he says, I need to call this oncology journal back and tell them that my dad is not, in fact, dead, as i had earlier indicated.

I'm 17 but i'm not blind to the ridiculousness of this.  I mean, it was the "fund raising department" calling for money.  Do they talk to the editors.  No.  How does one track down the person i told?  I can't.  How hilarious and humiliating is it to call someone to tell them that you lied about your dad's degree of alive-ness?   Very.

But the red lines slip-and-sliding horizontally across my dad's forehead made me sure that something would need to be done.  So I did my best.  I found a number for that magazine.  I called and talked to a totally different person.

I said,  "Look, here's the deal, you guys called to get money from my father, whose an oncologist, and I told the guy on the phone that my dad is dead.  Which he is not.  And so now i'm calling to let you know that Dr. Z is, in fact, alive.  He is worried that this might somehow get to the obituary section of your magazine and thus tell everyone he's dead, when he's not dead. "

Silence from the other end of the phone.  Then.  "Ok . . . i'll . . . um . . . let them know."  

I bet he didn't.  Smart money says that the guy i first talked to hung up and moved on to the next name on the call list --  and the second guy i talked to most likely hung up, said to himself "what the f was that" and went about his business.  Little did they know that in the background of those 2 ridic phone calls was a Shakespearean comedy/tragedy playing out at my house.

It seems, that once again, the joke was on me.

What This Blog Post is About: puppy love

Saturday, December 18, 2010 | 4 Comment(s)

I promise not become one of those people.  I promise. This is not the end of the mattitiyahu blog and the beginning of the puppy blog.  While i cannot promise there won't be pictures of grover in the future, after this post (you'll at least get a break til we pick him up for good on the 3rd), i can promise that i won't treat this dog like my child and think you want to know every minute detail about his expressions, poops, and snoring (its adorable--the snores not the poops [though the poops are now hook-worm negative--which is good--oh my god im those people!!!]).   Come to think of it, i'm gonna try not to treat my unconceived child like that.  No promises there. 

but this is a blog post about grover.  that's a lie.  Like always, its a blog post about me.  but in this case it's my experience of being with grover for a sleepover for the past 24 hours. 

Our little gentleman

Folks, it's been a revelation.  I have never had a pet.  That's another lie.  I have had countless fish (die) (quickly).  I also had my beloved elderly babysitter convince my parents to let me get a bird when i was in middle school.  I got one.  For three days.  Then i had an asthma attack and ended up in the ER.  Bye bye birdie.  But that's it.  everyone was allergic to cats, and dogs were, from day one, always not an option.  Yes, we asked.  Yes, we pointed out that they had had dogs when they were little.  But we knew, in this regard, they weren't going to budge.  I don't hold a grudge (rhyme).  But what i did hold onto was the feeling that "i wasn't allowed to get a dog."  Or perhaps more accurately, "dogs are things that other people can have."  having grover spend some real time with us started to break that self-conception.  And the outpouring of happiness that is replacing it truly makes me feel like a 7 year old, giddy to get the best Hannukah present ever (even better than the previous best -- which was the original Nintendo).  I couldn't even sleep the night before we picked grover up.  5:30 am.  I was wide awake.  Puppy day.

He is a love. We brought him to the local/our favorite pub last night which allows dogs.  The music was going and there were plenty of people.  He was shy at first.  then he adjusted and took the pets, praise and peanuts from the bar patrons (sneaky dog--just like his mommy). Then he just chilled.  We sat there getting compliments on how well behaved and good mannered he is, and we're like, "yah, we've worked really hard on him . . . . for at least 8 hrs. now."   He has trouble with firsts.  Steps are a no go on the first day.  The tile floor near the bathroom and kitchen was a boundary until i put his food dish on it (scarfed).  But mostly, i love his want to be near us.  The kindness he explores with (he's in the rescue center running free with about 7 cats, and he just wants to play with them) and the thankfulness he emits when he comes and plops down next to you . . . mmf and i are deeply deeply in love.  All over again.  This morning, after mmf took a quick nap, i woke her up by saying, "You're still my favorite all-time, but now it's close."

this post is about happiness. excitement.  change. 

back surgery sucked.  my eye infection has sucked.  grad school has sucked.  there has been a tangible lack of excitement plaguing my recent life.  But right now.  in the moment.  I'm excited.  I'm excited for new years when my friends are coming into town to play in the Vermont snow with me.  I'm excited to move into a bigger place where mmf and i can coexist without being on top of each other all the time (hehe--not in the good way).  I'm excited to be a dog owner and share myself with a pet in a way i have never had the opportunity to in the past.  I'm excited to give grover the bourge-est, most spoiled, love-fest of a life that he was denied for his first year and a half.  I'm excited that amongst the crap of this year i've had two of the all-time best days of my entire life (engagement & yesterday), as well as getting to watch my brother get married.  And im excited to be excited about things again.  I love the new.  I love the nervous excitement.  It makes me feel alive.  and that's what this blog post is about.

There is a Monster at the End of this Entry

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

Growing up, Grover was always my favorite Muppet/puppet.  I wouldn't know if i were near or far from anything if i hadn't gotten to watch Grover plod back and forth from the camera so many times.  Not only that, he also had the best books.  "there's a monster at the end of this book" is truly a piece of kid-lit genius.  I think i'd still enjoy it if i read it today.  but wait, there's more.  Grover also had a secret identity (don't we all).  Who doesn't want to throw a knights helmet on their head, whip on a cape and call themselves Super Grover

Part of the reason i chose to go to Wesleyan for my undergraduate degree was due to Grover.  Under the buildings at the school there are semi-abandon tunnels running, pretty much everywhere.  Because of the semi-abandon nature, students through the more recent years have found keys to open the hallways and, it now resembles the walls under the NYC underpasses in the late 80s.  Graffiti everywhere.  But this is liberal-kid graffiti and less a decidedly less edgy feel to it.  My favorite piece included a huge spray-paint face of Grover, with "Grover RULES!" across the top.  But then, and really what sold me on it, is that it said, "Elmo Sucks" across the bottom.  There are people who felt strongly enough in their Muppet love that they would go so far as to disparage another neighbor on Sesame Street.  Those are people i wanted to be around.

I'll give Elmo a pass here -- he's doing us all a favor.

So, all of this is to say that it is somewhat fitting that mmf and i have decided to name our dog Grover.  This decision was made all the easier by the fact that our beautiful new boy has a ginormous head.  A melon for the ages.  In person, he almost resembles the dog in the movie "The Mask," when the dog put the mask on.   Hell, it's almost as big as Eric Stoltz's head in "Mask."  Cept way cuter.

We rescued this love after he was found super underweight and neglected.  Hurts my heart to think about.  He won't formally join us until our New Year's move (to a dog friendly apartment), but we plan on visiting a ton.  enjoy the first installment are what will not be the last photos of Grover the Love Monster.  Oh wait, HES the MONSTER at the end of this post@!!!!!

 This kitty was totally instigating! and Grover was just sniff sniff sniffing (he also lost his . . . ahem . . . partially visible manhood today -- so i send my cross-legged best wishes)


 Our Fathead!


Living Between Boxes

Saturday, December 11, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

At some point or another, we all find ourselves in between boxes—either literally or figuratively, or both.  For example, in filling out the GRE form, there are only 10 bubbles for the letters of your first name.  Thus, my name, as far as the GRE people are concerned is Zimbler, Mattitiyah.  And they don’t care in that “you are only a number to us as we make you pay us big $$$ to take a test that has no predictive quality and is merely yet another revenue stream in our academic ponzi scheme.”  I’m looking at you GRE psychology subject test.  Outside the box.  Outside the culture.

I’ve always somewhat prided myself on my ability to figure out the boundaries of any given box and slowly to apply pressure to said boundaries.  I pierced my tongue (and then went to teach Japanese elementary students with it in).  My point is that I bring a lot of it on myself.

Recently I have found myself between boxes in a new way.  You go to the doctor or tax form, or university document, and it asks you to check one:


Admiral Akbar says: It’s a trap!!!!!

I am not married.  I know this because no one has put a ring on me.  My bare fingers announce my non-marriedness.  Also, no ketubah.  No ceremony.  No dancing.  No I dos.  I think you get the picture.

I am not single.  If you don’t believe me, I’ll have YOU tell that to mmf.  See how that works out for you.  Wear a cup.  And beyond that, it’s difficult to say, after having this woman in multiple hospitals with me, that I am unconnected in the way that the single box is asking me to designate.

Which means, by process of elimination that I must be separated, or more accurately, separate.  I am, briefly and without my doing, firmly between boxes.  I am “other.”  (“I am legend” was already taken.)

 all of our greatest philosophers work w/ spray-paint

*End of the post tangent:

One of mmf’s college friends visited us last night and she told us a story of a dinner conversation game, played with her parents and godparents.  The game is you substitute one of the words from the title of a movie with the word “vagina.”   As in, “the vagina whisperer”  “the lord of the vagina”  “vagina: resurrection.”  Mmf’s initial reaction to the game was, “and then what happens.”  Nothing.  It turns out that that is all you need.  I swear.  Get three people, and try it.  Endless fun and laughs. 

*end transmission.

Leggings: What the Devil wants for the holidays

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | 5 Comment(s)

Leggings.  Jeggings.  Jean-ies. spandex tights.  Ladies, i don't care what you call these things--it's all the same to me.
r u f'n kidding me
And i know that the predominant sentiment is = leggings are not pants.  In other words -- if you wear leggings, your top should come down over your midsection.  But we never talk about why this is true.

Let's talk about it.  Ladies, i can see your vagina.  And i don't want to.  It's your vagina.  After years of fighting the "less is more" sentiment on women's clothing, now we're moving towards a thin layer of black film over los labias and it's good to go.  I don't think so.

Let's go back in time shall we.  The 80's.  In the 80's spandex were an acceptable form of clothing . . . for both men and women.  This was, in retrospect, such a bad decision that most of the 90's were spent making fun of ourselves for our clothing and style choices in the previous decade (puffy bangs, jams(hammer-pants), skids, snap-brackets).  I mean, men in spandex equals junk flying around everywhere in very public view (when i told this to an female undergraduate RA she said, "well that would make things easier for us ladies."  touche.)  This was very bad.  very very bad.  The penis is not a beautiful thing at its best, but seeing it saran wrapped to a guy's leg really wasn't helping anyone.

And now the 80's are coming back.  And i have to ask, "Are you fucking kidding me?!?!"  It kills me to watch us repeat the sins that we just spent a decade trashing ourselves for.  Side-pony tails are not "back in."  Oh, people may be wearing them once again, but they still look as stupid and ill-advised as they used to.  They do.  The music should be the only thing from the 80's that lives on.

Which brings me back to: Ladies, I can see your vaginas.

What's so unbelievable about this is that vaginas are primary internal, so saying i can see it means  . . . it means . . . its bad folks.  I don't want to be, visually speaking, up in you.  And i know that guys are reading this (all 4 of them) and saying "I love seeing all of a woman's business area."  And i believe that supports my point: Women. doesn't the fact that men like this emperor's new clothes of a pants choice hint that there is something wrong.  When have you ever thought that the common man was a good judge of fashion.  They're not.  They just want to see you naked.  And leggings are the closest to seeing naked women in public as we've had in a while.

So put on that long sweater.  Dress up those leggings with a dress.  This is a public service announcement folks.  I feel like a crotchety (pun) old person saying this but ladies, "put some pants on."

leggings + Ughs (sic) = Cancer for your eyes.

Internet Killed the Graduate School Star

Saturday, December 4, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

this post is for Kris Kross.  I may jump around.  enjoy.

I am, like so many, addicted to the internet.  Signs that you too may be addicted to the internet? Staring at your computer doing nothing until you realize you've been doing it for an hour +.  That's a good hint.  Not being able to get any work done at a location with wifi.  Clincher. 

I have friends who have two different types of study locals.  1) where they can socialize, do some work, and get their internet needs met. 2) those places that, no matter how much they beg borrow or try to steal, they cannot get on the web.  These places force them to look at computer as the impotent web-less word processor it was originally invented as.

I don't have this second place yet.  But i now fully realize its necessity.  With twitter, my blog, 2 email accounts (3 really), facebook, and the seasonal fantasy baseball, we now have the ability to live our lives online.  And while i hate those "i don't have a TV" people as much as the next, this online life can be seriously problematic.  Because we've "evolved" to the point where it takes actual effort to unplug from our virtual selves. 

And i can't help but thinking that if IM having this much trouble with dis-connectivity, how much harder it must be for those college and high school kids--where knowing "where you stand" within your community seems unbelievably important.  And, additionally, im so friggin thankful to not be 14 at a time when you can be so easily publicly mocked (so glad to not have to deal with the facebook update, "OMG! did you see @mattitiyahu's zit minefield today in Algebra.  L is for not being that kids friend).  Shiver.

And now, looking at old pictures in Sports Illustrated, what strikes me is not the sportsperson being highlighted, but that everyone in the stands is watching him/her.  Nowadays, when so in so is elevating for a monster jam, 25% of the people in the stands are staring straight down at their phones.  People miss experiencing things live, in order to be the first person to share the event they just overlooked with all of there friends. 

When i was little, my parents would tell me about getting their family's first TV.  Black and white.  3 channels.  And I would make jokes about how the dinosaurs must have been geeked for the new entertainment, and simultaneously i was thinking about what inventions that i didn't have as a kid would be ubiquitous (though i didn't know that word yet) when i grew up.  The answer has to be two-fold:  Cell-phones and the internet.  I am not yet convinced, however, that either has totally enriched our lives. 

I can make a strong case for the internet as positive.  It's changed keeping in touch with people, music, shopping, and making travel plans (but not traveling) both easier and less expensive.  The only costs thus far have been our privacy, our free time, and sometimes our integrity (ahem . . . 2 girls 1 cup  . . . cough cough).

Cell phones might be all bad (fyi. i have a iPhone and use it--so file this all under intellectual hypocrisy).  They have extended the reach of the internet to our all the time.  They have made being distracted a constant.  They have made being rude to our fellow humans a daily occurrence.  While i simultaneously can't remember how my friends and i used to meet up in New York City pre-cell phones (were we actually where we were supposed to be on time all the time?), I lament the time when my life couldn't (COULDN'T) be interrupted by almost anyone at almost any time.  We got call waiting, and used it to prevent ourselves from talking to people we didn't have time for (telemarketers specifically).  But then, everyone had call waiting, and not picking up the phone became a subtle sign of disrespect.  I used to make fun of my father who didn't want an answering machine because he didn't want the responsibility for getting back in touch with all of those people who wanted a slice of his time.  It is only now, 20 years later, that i realize he had glimpsed the future.  He saw the demise of personal time's writing on the wall, and trying to fight back.  First came the answering machine.  Then the car phone.  Then cell phones with voice mail.  Now, we seem at the mercy of constant requests for our attention--as if all required the same urgency.

I'm not sure where to go from here.  Going backwards in time has never proven a successful strategy, so i'm looking to adapt.  I guess i have to make a decision based on who i am.  What i mean is, a part of me is in this blog, which is on the internet.  And a part of me is in my facebook, my twitter, my iPhone.  The important thing to figure out is . . . how much.  What percent am i the me that you meet in person, and what percent am i my online persona.  I guess what i'm saying is, i think i need to change my levels.  That is, if i ever want out of graduate school.

Lady School

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

This is not a post about the merits of all-women's colleges.  Its not.  This is about totally observational data regarding my few interactions with Smith students.  In two parts.

Part I.

I was in an acappella group in college.  this is only embarrassing because i friggin hate acappella music.  That said, it's a great way to meet girls, and since i wasn't committed enough to forming a band, it was a good outlet for performing. 

One concert we did at Smith (hell, maybe it was Mt. Holyoke or Barnard, parts of college are a haze).  We drove up (down?) for a singing road trip and rolled into the all women's college around 8.   Here's what i remember about that show.

I remember thinking that maybe people know our music? because of the applause we received coming on.  Then a female solo.  Then a MALE solo -- applause again.  I remember looking out at the two tiers of female spectators (we were in a lobby like room with a wrap-around balcony formed by the floor above), and having the sensation of the guy at the vampire party who doesn't realize that he's at a vampire party and that he is part of the main attraction.  These women were fully engaged with what must have been thrilling vocalizations coming from the male members of our coed troop.  They had that crazy glimmer in their eyes that said "maybe we want to screw you, but maybe we just want to rip you to pieces."  I guess it was pretty much how women feel all the time, except they were the pack of wolves, and our collective acappella penises were the prey.

Part II

The present.  I'm coming to you live from the coffee shop.  For the past hour this woman has been conversationally trying to have intercourse with the guy shes talking to directly behind me.  She going for it. Full throttle.   "Yes i want to go to that party." "Yes there are a lot of lesbians at Smith, thats part of the reason me and my friends are trying to go out more and party"  "im into hiphop, like mostly the main-stream stuff."  It's blatant.  And in IMing my friend simultaneously, i even told her that i thought this woman must go to Smith.  A few sentences later, my suspicion was confirmed.  And it's continued.  On and on.  Why doesn't he just take her to the bathroom already.   It's like she's writing a book called, "How many ways can i say, "i want to fuck you."  The guy is a semi-aloof Amherst College student.  the kinda guy who, when asked if he goes to UMass says, "no no no no no, Amherst College."  Apparently they don't teach "closing" as part of their liberal arts curriculum, cause i'm still here getting impregnated by there foreplaytalk.

happy hannukah to the jews.