Not a bachelorette, but not yet a wifey

Saturday, October 29, 2011 | 1 Comment(s)

Today is the one-year anniversary of my engagement to mmf.  So, i have been using the term mmf for exactly a year.  Which means its time for something new. Something that expresses less surprise (at having a fiancé) and more excitement (at the upcoming metamorphosis into a wifeypants).  Hmmmm.

Some brainstormed thoughts:

FOTF - fiancé of the future.   This one was vetoed because its sounds too permanent.

ffTff - fiance for the foreseeable future.  This is a front-runner.  Only being held back by the connotation that sometime in the future, i will somehow find (build?) a stronger better faster stronger fiancé, whom i will switch her out for.  Like she has an expiration date.  Which she doesn't.

smmf - still my motherfucking fiancé.  I think this one's veto is obvious.

mmf part II -  see above.

mff - my focaccia fiancé - just cause it sounds so fun.

fiw - fiance in waiting -- both too british and the process leading up to the wedding is anything but a passive process.

twp - the wedding planner -- reallllllllly sends the wrong message.

mol - my only love - yah.  lets go with this one for the time being.  i like.

Anyway.  I was trying to figure out what an appropriate gift is for a proposeiversary.  I mean, there is no script for this one.  No rubric of material.  And trust me when i tell you that a second diamond is out.

So, considering she's from "the Kingdom" in Vermont, I decided to get her a foot of snow.  You know, to make it feel like home down here in balmy Massachusetts.  And wouldn't you know it . . . it came right on time.  A white halloween, and not just in the bathrooms at college halloween parties either.  we are talking october inches of snow, falling merrily from the sky.

Either the worlds gone mad, or i am.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 2 Comment(s)

Today i got a parking warning.  What is a parking warning, you ask?  It looks just like a university issued parking ticket (same little yellow sleeve and everything), only on the piece of receipt paper, instead of a fee, it read, "this is a warning."

"A warning for what," I though to myself as i stood beside my car, located in the parking lot for which i have a pass.  It was for "failure to display parking pass."  The best part, the part which made me actually laugh out loud, was that at the bottom of the warning the attendant had typed in my parking pass info (which i can only imagine they read off the pass).

Now i don't know whats going on.  I drive straight to the parking services office.  I show them the warning.  "It only a warning," the woman there says.  "yes, i reply, but a warning against doing what."  She admits that that is a very good question.  I appreciate her honesty.  A minute later the tall be speckled parking manager comes around the corner.  He comes around the corner like a man who usually is coming around the corner to give the final word on some bad news like, "we towed your car" or "we lost the keys to the car-boot".

to me he just, "let's take a look at it."  And a few moments later we are both staring at my pass, at the warning, and at the matching numbers.  Now he is shaking his head.  That makes me feel better than anything.  "You're good," he says.  And he says it with a tone that says, "i have no friggin clue why this yahoo decided to write you a ticket."

I suspect that the attendant probably didn't see the pass at first, started writing the ticket, saw the pass, and turned the ticket into a warning.  In the panic of having an extra slip of meaningless paper, he/she sleeved it in yellow and put it on my car anyway.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

I think i came up with a way to make millions off of this blog, and all id have to do is stop writing about the things i want to write about.  And since that isn't happening, i'm giving the idea away for a small slice of any profits made off of its use.  copy-written.

In this lucrative blog, what i spend my posts doing, is making funny and social relevant commentary on the random ads that appear in and around my posts.  Ok, maybe i just make fun of them in a witty way.  Ooooooor, maybe i show how their corporate greed is a building block of the failure of the modern american dream.  Ok, probably mostly jokes.

Anyways.  Because i am so hilarious and insightful, other advertisers will fight for the future ad space around my oh so magnetic words, and soon there will be massive bidding wars just to advertise near me so that i might skewer their products in a visible way that will boost sales.

Is this the definition of selling out?

$$$ for Nuthin but your PhD's for Fee

Monday, October 24, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Those of who take notice of blog changes.  all four of you.  may have noticed that ads have begun popping up in and around my blogspace.  i did that. 

I figure, can't hurt.  I have made $1.75 so far.  and if i get enough to take mmf out for dinner, thats what ill do.  Interestingly, i believe that in the agreement for running the ads i am not allowed to A) click on the ads myself (i truly have better things to do) and B) I don't think im supposed to encourage my readers to click on the ads (which i wasn't thinking of doing in the first place).  This second rule is a bit strange to me as i also have the option of editing which ads are shown, to better fit my audience. 

Which means i'm essentially being asked to figure out exactly what you guys/gals would like/want/need, but then not to encourage you to get it.  it all seems very backward.  Which means it will probably work. 

In other relevant news.  Being in my building in graduate school is becoming a metaphor.  How so?  Well, they've begun construction on the area all the way around our building.  Which means that the parking lot is gone, as well as the grassy hill where you could watch the sunset (the one beautiful thing that this building has is a great view of sunset).  Now its a dust bowl.  And the building vibrates.  And there's beeping.  This is the "new view" from my office window (which doesn't open).

home sweet home

As grad school has excavated my will to continue this "educational" process, the machines outside are reflecting this process before my very eyes.  Living a metaphor. 

Speaking of things that are totally wrong.  I saw this scene unfold at the coffee shop over the weekend.

I'm at the counter, talking to my barista friends, when i hear a girl/woman speaking in noticeably loud Chinese (not sure which dialect).  I turn my head and see the girl sitting at "the island" talking super loud and i figure her friend (obscured by the pillar in front of me) across from her must be running over the "close talker" episode of Seinfeld in her/his mind (if Seinfeld made it to China). 

Then i turn and realize, there IS no one across from her.  This girl is rattling off a conversation, volume turned up to 11, while voice-chatting over her computer.   it was too good not to try and capture.  So, with the help of some friends, i got some surreptitious video.

Some notes on the video:  1.  it's back lit.  sorry bout that.  no control over the sun yet. 
2. The volume doesn't really come through.  You can hear her, but you can't hear how, relative to the other sounds in the shop, she was like a verbal firework going off in the center of town.  I think this has more to do with the microphone on my iPhone, more than me exaggerating the actual volume.  Enjoy:


And.  To close.  Some words of wisdom:

A dirty dog, is a happy dog.

The Sneak Strikes Again

Thursday, October 20, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Bullet Point Thursday!!!!
  • This is how i imagine the meeting going at the advertising center of Wendy's headquarters: 

Ok everyone.  I want something fresh, hip, new.  We need a slogan that says "come to wendy's." Something that will speak to the young people.  

Executive: how about "Where's the beef?"  Exec Head: you mean our old slogan from the bygone era?
Executive: yup.  how about that again.  but you know.  again.  the old people will remember it fondly, and the majority of people will have never heard it before.  Exec Head: "BRILLIANT"

Me:  not brilliant Wendy's.  I'm not THAT old and i remember where's the beef.  What i can't for the life of me remember is why i give a flying squirrel.  Oh, that's right, it makes no sense anymore. (did it ever?).  I don't think this is going to be the moment where Wendy's surpasses McD's or even Bugger King (sic) and a purveyor of cheap questionable meat.  And they aren't in subway's league.

  •  As long as i'm bagging on advertising . . . . have you seen the new Sims game?  You know, the game where you pretend to be someone else as you interact with a fake real world?  Well the new Sims asks, "Are you a cat or a dog person."  but they mean it literally.  In the new sim it looks as if you can play as an animal OR a human (and potentially a human with a animal head--i haven't entirely listened to the commercial).  But i did catch the advert beckon you to, "chase some tail."  Does that mean they've animated pets having sex?  sadly, i am pretty sure i know the answer to my own question here, but it begs the secondary question: is there any wonder that the world has so many problems when some of our best computer minds are animated animal porn instead of, well, anything but that.

Also, are they really marketing these games directly at the stereotype of lonely shut its with only their pets as company?  I mean, i have a pretty uncomfortably close relationship with my pup, and even i find no draw toward playing with animated pictures of pets being controlled by other people who may or may not want to get it on with me doggy-style.  again, literally.  

  • I have grown to enjoy (GROWN to, mind you) Chelsey Handler's Chelsey Lately tv show.  I have a soft spot for ladies with sass who don't give a rat's ass.  That said, the strength/format/most guest comedians on that show are simply not funny enough to allow for a "guest host" to suffice during Chelsey's absence.  That is all i have to say on this.

  • There is an old William Carlos Williams poem (one of my favorites ever) that reads: 

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

Here is the version i wrote and dedicated to the sneakiest sneak in the sneak-o-verse, mmf:

I have eaten
some of the candy
that you hid
in the kitchen drawer

and which
I know you hid
under that cloth napkin.

I forgive you.
the kit-kats were delicious
and the tootsie-pop
so sweet.

 It took me 2 weeks to find that goddamn candy!

Moments: It's NOT just how you ask for breath fresheners

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | 1 Comment(s)

I just had a moment.

thank god i just had a moment.  i needed a moment.

it's funny.  these days great moments often get measured by the sell-ablity of the subsequent screen play.  Disney moments.  Those are the super big bucks moments.  Because all of the 'lovable losers who come back and win' story lines have been played out, now we mine reality for our success stories.  And perhaps I'm being cynical here,  a criticism that i rarely get.  perhaps shining a spotlight on the wonders that happen to real world underdogs is what we need more of.  real world glory.

but a part of me can't help but think that this is real world glory in the same way that the Little League World Series is now a month long event on ESPN.  Yes, these kids are playing their hearts out.  And yes, there is something beautifully raw about the way they care and play the game.  But do i need to be watching it?  Some 32-year-old guy watching a the worst day of this 13-year-old's life play out in front of a newly minted national audience?  You have to admit, even the biggest skeptic would have to say that there is something, let's say, exploitative, going on.  And i feel like that is the mildest way of saying my feelings on this.  The most mild.

And that's how i feel about the Disnifying of real life triumph.  Why can't the recognition of the moment be glorious in and of itself.  We look for our moments from the television and miss the one's that happen in our day-to-day.

today, at the back end of a long day, i had a moment.  And i'm recognizing it right now.

5 years ago i taught a first year student-success course (this is not completely un-related to the piece that i authored that was recently published on this issue).  I had 3 sections of 20 (or so) first years -- and my task was to help acclimate them to the college lifestyle, and give them the tools (note-taking, studying, etc.) to reach success at the college level.  But, as i've grown to understand much more, i was also there to put a friendly face on "college" and give these kids an outlet for connecting with someone affiliated with the university.  Often students end up in large survey courses their first year, and can go long periods of time without having actual face-to-face contact with a professor.  As you might predict, this is not good for their general college well being.

In the smallest of these three sections, the one with 12 students, was Chris.  Chris was a light-skinned black kid with a puffy winter jacket and a Yankee's cap -- flat brim -- pulled down over his forehead.  He was quiet and reserved and thoughtful.  But also spectacularly disengaged.

It's fair to say i liked him immediately.  Which is to say i was a little harder on Chris than i was on most of the other classmates.   First, the Yankees cap had to be addressed.  His eyes engaged immediately.  He wasn't just wearing the cap for show -- he was a fan.  While sports fandom often gets a bad rap, it provides an opportunity for two people to connect instantly.  If i throw a red sox barb your way (5 years ago we were smack dap in the middle of our glory years), you are required to reply.  What kinda yankees fan wouldn't?  And so he did, and then i did, and then he did, and then i made sure he didn't half-ass any of his homework assignments all semester.  It's called teaching.

Did he always enjoy this process and extra attention?  definitely not.  His outfit said it all.  A bundle of puffed out clothes between him and the world.  In his shell.  Quiet and succinct responses.  And so when i made him phrase his answer in a complete sentence . . . and then complete that thought . . .  and then tell me why he thought that might be . . .

He suffered.

But he did great in my class.

The tough part about this type of class for me, is that when it is over, i am left with their comments on teacher evaluation forms, and then back to my grad school life.  They are left with my teachings, and very little reason to ever see me again.

Six months later i got an email from Chris, asking if i would write him a recommendation for a summer job.   He explained in the email that at the end of his first year, i was the only instructor that he felt knew him at all.  Like no one else could pick him out of a line-up.  And i did it gladly.  And life went on.

Today i ran into Chris on campus.  He was wearing a yellow v-neck t-shirt and no hat.  He had lost a significant amount of weight, and his posture was chin and head held high.  No slouch.  When he recognized me, as i approached him, he greeted me loudly and cheerfully.  Sunny t-shirt, sunnier disposition.  he told me he was a super-senior, he had added a second major, and that he was in the midsts of applying to grad schools.  for what?  social work.

boom goes the dynamite.

This kid made it.  He succeeded in the system.  he found his voice and his direction and it made me sincerely overjoyed.  it was a moment.  and while i certainly don't pretend that his success was the sole result of my tutelage, i do contend that i was a part of it -- and that I contributed to his success.  And that is what teaching, for the best teachers, is all about.  While you can never be solely responsible for a student's success or failure, you can take their resulting success or failure personally, to whatever degree you contributed.  That's how teachers take pride in their work, and how they push themselves to do better.

Today, for me, a got to see a W for education.  It broke a long string of recents losses.

Which is why i needed the moment i got.

Un-Friend Request

Sunday, October 2, 2011 | 5 Comment(s)

*Disclaimer* This may be a blog first.  i'm not going to use someone's real name in this post.  usually i do. but I suspect that some people who i went to high school with may read this blog, and I'm just not sure i want to deal with the possible repercussions of using this person's real name.  I guess I'm just admitting to myself that i don't need or want more drama in my life.  but i still want to say whats on my mind. *end disclaimer*

The city (small city) i grew up in was not a particularly fun environment back then.  And whilst most of the time in high school i was just cool enough to stay off people's radar, there were some kids who just seemed to really zone in on me.  Mark Johnson was quite possibly the worst.  At least in high school.  While the soccer team has its own brand of fear tactics and prejudice language, Mark Johnson somehow managed to make his anti-me anti-jewish kid agenda extremely clear to me without ever even being on a sports team with me.  He literally chucked pennies at me.  i mean, who fucking does that?  They do stupid shit like that on after-school specials -- not in actual high schools.  He did.  He knew all the slurs. It's amazing that such a dumb-fuck of a kid had such a wide vocabulary of religious (and requisite homosexual) slurs.  I hated Mark Johnson.  I hated him in the way that the 15-year-old inside me still hates him.

I remember one English class where the teacher stepped out into the hall for some reason, and immediately he stood up and shouted slurs and made fun of what a lame jewish gaytard i was in front of the entire class.  There never seemed to be any repercussions for his behavior, and the injustice of that stuck with me.  I should mention that by high school i was no longer defenseless.  Well, no longer defenseless in the sense that while i still had no actual defense against Mark and his bullying, i had figured out that the issue was one of his anger and poor parenting, not some innate defect of mine.

In my experience, while that may take away the sting of the assaults, it rarely kept them from leaving a mark (bully pun!).

Now the question you may be asking yourself is why i'm dragging this sob story out.  Well, on friday -- the Jewish New Year and high holiday of Rosh Hashana, Mark Johnson sent me a friend request on Facebook. (i do wonder if the irony of this act was completely lost on him)

The whole world has literally come full circle. Or at least the definition of "friend."  Friend somehow morphed from the people you care about the most, to some of the people i care about the absolute least in the world.

A few weeks back my dad told me that an old middle/high school acquaintance of mine had been caught embezzling money from his uncles business.  I have zero connection to this person anymore, but on some base level i felt bad for him.  I mean, i knew the 13-year-old version of this guy--and that kid was no embezzler.  He was just a little fat drama geek trying to survive high school like the rest of us.  If someone told me that Mark Johnson was thrown in jail for whathaveyou (let's say, for shits and giggles, a hate crime) . . . I wouldn't care.  Not even a little.  And that's crazy to me, because it's not the type of person i am.  Or at least not my conceptualization of myself.  I think of myself as over-empathetic, crying at videos of the Japanese tsunami or Andy Rooney's last broadcast on 60 Minutes.

I think it's that my 15-year-old self still cries for retribution.  Mark Johnson is as much a symbol of the abuse i took in high school as he was a source of it.  And that abuse is an integral part of the lens through which i see a world full of beautiful underdogs who simply need a healthy watering of love and acceptance. And he is a symbol of the judgement and criticism and self-hatred and shame that form the gauntlet we call by the startlingly benign name of adolescence.  So to my emotional self, any downfall that befittingly comes to Mark seems like a move in the right direction, even though my rational self knows that a bunch of horse crap.

Either way, i did not accept his friend request.