Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Unplugging The World

My father is made of completely different stuff from me.

A couple of years ago, he started a new job as the HR director for a company, and when he joined them, they gave him a Blackberry. Apparently, all of the executives had them.

After a couple of weeks, he gave it back.

My father is the kind of person who doesn’t like to be available anywhere he goes. He didn’t even have Call Waiting until recently—and I’m pretty sure that he only did that because it came with a package deal. His point was simply that if somebody needed to get in touch with him and he was on the phone, they would call back. Simple. Straightforward.

I, on the other hand, am almost constantly reachable. At work, at home, in the car. I have email and the Internet at my hip. My laptop is wireless and if I really needed to, I could tether it to my cellphone and have a full Internet connection—anywhere there’s a cell signal.

The word tether is rather interesting. Lately I’ve been wondering if that’s not exactly what this constant stream of connectivity is doing just that: tethering. My father has sometimes referred to a cellphone as a leash. Oh, he has one, sure—but he rarely uses it and mostly, it’s just there in case of emergency. When he and my stepmother go away for a weekend, I don’t even think they take it with them, which is annoying if I need to talk to them when they aren’t at home. Sometimes I wonder what the point is, having it and leaving it on the kitchen counter.

And sometimes, I wonder if my dad doesn’t have the right idea.

Most times, I enjoy the universe that’s at my fingertips. If I want to talk to my friend Anna in Germany, the only thing I have to worry about is whether the six-hour time difference between us means that she’s asleep. If I want to bone up on a subject that’s caught my curiosity, a quick glance at Wikipedia can fill me in on everything about it I ever wanted to learn and more. Who was that guy who was in that movie with that other guy? In fifteen seconds, I can tell you.

It’s downright addicting.

And that’s what I worry about. After all, Step One is admitting that you have a problem.

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of unplugging. Oh, I couldn’t do it completely—my job pretty much totally prevents me from doing that, given that I sit at a computer all day. But several of my coworkers—not so oddly, they tend to be the older ones who have families—tell me that when they get home they don’t even think about a computer until they get into the office the next day. Me? I get home and the first thing I do after closing the door and perhaps putting down whatever groceries I was carrying is to power up the laptop again. After all, since it doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time, I can have it in the kitchen with me while I’m cooking dinner. But am I missing out on something bigger by not being “out there?”

I mentioned to a friend today that I was thinking about disconnecting for a bit (knowing that he had done the same thing several months back) and he said, “It’s not that hard and it’s honestly pretty fun. Less intarweb, more real life.” And I thought about that for a second and realized that I don’t have much of a real life to speak of. Most of my friends are people that I work with, and sure, we socialize in varying degrees. But since moving to this city more than a year ago, I haven’t really developed a life and circle of friends that were my own. I tend to stay at home a lot and do my own thing, which is fine to an extent, but am I missing out?

I think that truly, the idea of removing myself from what has been a pretty major part of my life since I first went online in the early ’90s is downright terrifying. Back when I started, it was much easier to stay offline: you had to use a phone line to do it, and it cost money while you were online, so there was a limit to what you could do. Also, it was slow as molasses. But these days, the constant-on source of information flowing through the air is as ubiquitous as water, and it’s much more difficult to turn it off.

Is it something to worry about? Maybe, maybe not. But small as it may seem… I think I might have a problem here.

Damn Knives.

Do you remember that Charmin commercial where there was the little girl practicing the piano with no success… until she puts the toilet paper on her fingers and all of a sudden she’s playing like she was Mozart?

That’s what my right ring finger looks like right now after a trip to the Emergency Room.

I was making steak and went to clean the chef’s knife after I cut it up. And then boy, did I ever cut it up. My finger, that is.

I called my friends Steve and Nichole over because I had nothing to dress the wound with, and it wouldn’t stop with the bleeding. So after a call to my stepfather, I decided to head to the ER.

By the time they got to me (around 10, and I got there at 8), the bleeding had stopped and what was left was a fingertip that looked like it had been split with an ax. The doctor gave me a tetanus shot and put some Dermabond on the wound, which was the only option, since stitches wouldn’t have really worked there.

So now, I’m wondering how I’m supposed to shower with this thing on, let alone cook or clean or type (which is proving to be quite difficult at the moment).

Update 9/25/07: Check out the picture. Yes, that’s a Taco Bell quesadilla in the background. :)

Didn’t Get It.

Well, the theatre just called, and I didn’t get the part. Can’t say as I’m surprised, but I certainly am disappointed.

Oh well.


I had an audition tonight. It was for a show I’ve always wanted to do called The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown. It’s got everything I want in a show: it’s witty, challenging, and absolutely moving.

I think that my audition went very well—as well as could be expected, given the relative inexperience of the teenage rather young accompanist. I sang quite well and felt quite good about the whole ordeal. They told me that I could come back and sing again tomorrow and there will be callbacks later in the week.

Here’s the thing that’ll most likely prevent me from getting the part, though: My looks. That’s not to say that I’m not good-looking enough. It’s simply that the character I’m auditioning for is, well… well, he’s Jewish. And I’m SO not. I don’t even remotely look Jewish, if you consider the traditional stereotypes. It’s not that there aren’t Jewish people who look like me, but the character’s name is Wellerstein, which would imply that it’s a German origin, and I definitely don’t look like that.

But if they can rationalize it enough, I think it’d be a really great opportunity and I know, I just know, that if I get it I’ll absolutely knock it out of the park.

Keep me in your thoughts. I could really use this thing right now.

Counting the Grays

I’ve been reading quite a bit in the last several days, trying to catch up on my re-reads of all of the Harry Potter books so that I can get to its conclusion, which has been kindly awaiting me on the bookshelf, slowly pulsing a golden glow and calling to me every once in a while.

I ran into an interesting problem today at work: after all of the reading I had done over the last few days (I spent hours at it nonstop over the weekend), I couldn’t see—in the sense that I simply couldn’t get my eyes to focus on my computer screen. Perhaps this was because it was further away than the books I’d been reading, or perhaps it was because the text on my laptop screen is generally smaller than the books I’d been reading, but whatever it was, nothing would come into focus. I finally decided that perhaps it was best if I head home and rest my eyes or take a nap or something (something that will be taking place as soon as I finish this post and eat lunch).

On my way home, though, I decided to try something. I stopped in at Walgreens and bought my first-ever pair of—gulp—reading glasses. If it was simply that my eyes were overworked and tired, perhaps reading glasses would help me to relieve that strain. And sure enough, these things are awesome. Yes, it’s a little strange what happens when I take them off (having never really worn any kind of glasses, besides a short stint when I played baseball and the doctors thought that they’d help my depth perception—they didn’t), but for reading up close or working on my computer, I think these things are going to get a lot of use.

At the same time, though, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just turning into some older, grayer version of myself. One that can’t party like he did in college and shouts at kids to get off his lawn. And it’s because of that guy that I ask the question:

Why are we so afraid of growing old?

Like I said before, these glasses are awesome. I don’t even have to work to focus my eyes on what I’m reading, and that’s saying a lot, given that I only have one eye that’s normal. But the fact remains that as I start to get older, and the gray in my hair—which started showing up around the age of seventeen—begins to become more and more noticeable by other people instead of just by myself, I start to, I dunno, resent myself for not being able to do the things I could do when I was younger, or at least not without help. Even that resentment started when I was relatively young, when I discovered that I had a congenital ankle condition that essentially prevented me from doing the same things that other kids did—running, for example, was something I could only do in small amounts, because any lengthy pressure on my heels caused immense pain later in the day. And it made me feel a little more useless inside.

I think that’s where this fear of aging comes from, too. As we get older, we realize that we aren’t as solid as we used to be, and that makes us feel more, well, mortal. Maybe it’s precisely because kids don’t feel those aches and pains and little quirks of age that they tend to feel invincible, whereas the wisdom of age comes from knowing that this isn’t the case.

Maybe it’s just that I think reading glasses are a crutch, and I don’t feel like I need it, when obviously, I do. Maybe someday I’ll need crutches for my ankles, too, and I’ll go through this all over again.

Best. Birthday Week. Ever.

First, I want to thank everybody for the birthday wishes (it was Thursday, if you didn’t know); it meant a lot.

I took Thursday and Friday off last week and went down to visit a friend in Philadelphia. Having never been to Philly, it was a very interesting trip. I’d never driven down the Jersey Turnpike before, so it was… educational, to say the least. It was actually much more fun than I thought it would be—the traffic on the Turnpike itself wasn’t bad at all. Hell, the traffic up to the George Washington Bridge was far worse than what came after it.

The mini-vacation was pretty laid-back, which was nice. My friend Mike and his girlfriend Meg were consummate hosts and they made me feel completely at home. Even their pets did a great job at that: their cat, Charlie, spent the night with me the whole time I was there, and both dogs (Ralphie, a beagle/something mix, and Stella, a full-blooded beagle) spent a good amount of time on the bed with me as well. We went out to dinner on Thursday night, then Meg had to go to bed because she had to work on Friday. Mike and I stayed up and I showed him the wonders of Guitar Hero, which he’d never seen.

Friday was somewhat of a lazy day; while Meg was at work, Mike and I went out to lunch, then came back and put on the Porcupine Tree DVD, at which point I fell asleep on the couch (with the cat lying on top of me). Waking refreshed, we took the train out to Mike’s friend’s apartment; said friend was holding a “Bro-BQ” (i.e. no girls allowed). Several hours of food and beer later found Mike and I waiting for the last bus on the route to take us back, and an extremely grumpy but very nice bus driver allowed me to ride even after I, idiot that I was, hadn’t realized that I would need exact change for the bus fare and only had a $10 bill.

Saturday saw the three of us all sleeping late—I was up the earliest at 9:30, at which point I showered and then headed downstairs so as not to disturb the others, started reading (On Writing, by Stephen King, which is an awesome book), and after about twenty minutes promptly fell asleep on the couch (with—you guessed it—the cat lying on top). Once the others got up I joined them and they made us a big home-cooked breakfast (did I mention what awesome hosts these people were?). The idea was brought up to me after lunch of going to an amusement park—a water park-slash-amusement park, to be more precise, and given that it was going to be around 90 degrees that day, it sounded like a wonderful idea. A trip to Target later for a swimsuit and we were off. We got to Dorney Park around 4:30 and waited 15 minutes before entering the park, because we got in at half price and lots of people were leaving, which was nice. What wasn’t nice, however, was my not thinking about what was on my feet. I had worn my shoes to the park, because I knew that we’d be riding roller coasters and stuff later on, and I had just assumed that I would walk barefoot around the water park, but what I hadn’t planned was that the cement would be textured like the rough side of Mount Everest. It wasn’t but ten minutes before my feet had holes in them so large you’d have thought I had the stigmata. I went on one water ride and couldn’t deal with it anymore, so I went to the first aid station to get bandaged up—they gave me bandages and waterproof tape and asked me why I hadn’t bothered to get “aqua socks”, which had been on sale at the front of the park. I stated simply that if I’d known they sold them I would have bought them but I hadn’t seen any signs (and sure enough, the only signs for them that I could see were visible only when looking toward the exit of the park). Long story short, I’m wearing giant band-aids on the soles of my feet and they hurt. :( But it was made up for with many, many rides on some really, really awesome roller coasters (there were something like seven of them in the park).

Sunday was another sleep-in day for us. Mike and I had made plans to play a round of golf in the morning, but that was squashed the night before, given the situation with my feet and the fact that the roller coasters had pretty much made us all extremely sore. It was essentially a morning to recover and prepare for what turned out to be the most surprising and pleasing part of my trip:

On Thursday, while I was driving down, I had stopped to get gas and my phone rang. It was my friend Melissa, calling to wish me a happy birthday. Melissa moved with her fiance to Tampa a few years ago and I hadn’t seen her since the going-away party, and over the last while we haven’t talked as much as we would like, so it was a real treat to hear from her. She asked if I was at work, so I told her what my plans for the weekend were, and when she heard that I was going to be in Philly, she excitedly told me, “I’ll be there too! I’m coming up on Sunday for a conference. We should have lunch when I get in!” So I agreed to meet her at the airport and we would go to lunch. So when I got to the airport, I had no idea where we could go—she suggested that we just start heading north on the highway, since that was the direction she was headed toward her hotel, too. I had no clue as to where we would eat, so we kind of kept an eye on the sides of the highway for a decent place to eat, and then Melissa spotted a sign pointing to an area of town that she thought her hotel was in, so I pulled off that exit. We found a pizza place to eat, caught up for an hour or so, and then I took her to her hotel, which luckily only happened to be about a mile and a half from where we were (thank you, Melissa’s quick eyes and Google Maps on my phone!), said our goodbyes and I headed back to the highway.

A long, long drive later, including about an hour and a half waiting for the GW bridge and I-95 past it again, and I finally got home last night at around 8:30. I was exhausted and not altogether ready to come back to work today, but after all that it was good to be home, even though there are no pets coming to keep me company this evening.

Thanks again to Mike & Meg, and to those of you who remembered my birthday. :)

Doing the Right Thing

I was pulling out of a parking space in my apartment lot yesterday afternoon while on the way to the golf course. I was already running late, so naturally, I bumped a car. It was a minor thing at most; simply one rear bumper against another—that’s what they’re there for, isn’t it?

Despite the fact that I wasn’t moving more than a couple miles per hour, I thought it best to take a look. Getting out of my car, I looked at my bumper and saw a smudge of dust from the other car’s bumper, but when I turned and looked at the other car (an Explorer), I was amazed to see a bunch of damage on the liftgate: it was dented right in, the bumper was out of place, and there was a piece of plastic chipped out of the bumper.

It was a moment before I realized that all that damage had already been there, and that I had most likely done absolutely nothing to this car to damage it. Being the good person that I am, however, I left my insurance card and a note that explained what had happened with my phone number on it. I then headed off to my golf game.

During the course of the day, I started thinking about whether I had actually done the right thing by leaving my information. It would be quite easy for a person to take advantage of a small bump like that; far too easy to claim that I had done more damage than I actually had. On the other hand, isn’t that what insurance claim adjusters are for? They would take one look at my unhurt automobile and, knowing that there’s no way I could have damaged that Explorer like that, they would have closed the claim immediately. At least, that’s what I’d have liked to think. But there was still that nagging doubt in the back of my mind.

Throughout the whole of our golf game, I didn’t get any calls. Nor did I get any while out to dinner with my friends. I called my insurance company to open a claim, just in case, and then ate dinner and came home.

The note was still there on the windshield of the car. Part of me seriously considered taking it. But in the end, I left it there for whomever to take it.

In the morning when I left for work, the note was still there, and it was there all day today. When I finally got home, there were some people out in the parking lot and I asked them if they knew whose car it was. One of the ladies piped up, stating that it was hers.

“Oh,” I said. “I bumped into it yesterday. I saw the damage on it and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t the cause of any of it.”

“Pff,” she said. “God no, my ex got into a nasty accident with this thing. You couldn’t have done anything to it. You didn’t call your insurance about it, did you?”

I informed her that I had, but that if she decided not to file a claim, after thirty days they would simply close it. She simply shrugged it off.

Since she didn’t seem to care at all, I took the note and my insurance card, just to make sure. Can’t be too safe.

I thanked her and started heading up to my apartment and she said, “Hell, you can crash into that thing any time you want.”

I felt much better about having done the right thing after that.

Tempus Fugit

Two things occurred to me as I loaded my site this evening. The first was that I haven’t posted anything at all in over a month, and nothing of real substance in six weeks or so. The second was that I have a birthday coming up in a month. All I could really think was “What the hell? I just had a birthday eleven months ago. Surely it can’t be time for another already.”

But the thing is, it wasn’t eleven months ago. Or at least, it didn’t feel like that long. I mentioned to my friend Lynsey that it felt like it was more like six weeks, and her reply was “What are you, a dog?” (Ruff, baby, ruff.)

I remember being told that when you’re little, the years fly by, but when you get old, time drags on and on and on. This doesn’t really seem to jibe with my own observations: It seems to me that time sped by when we were little but still continues to go at pretty much the same rate, or maybe even faster. I was at my parents’ this weekend and my brother Chris made a remark about how time seems to speed up as we get older (he’s all of 19, bless his heart). I joked that the reason was because as we get older, a year takes up a smaller and smaller percentage of our entire lives, making everything seem shorter.

Everything moves too quickly. I can’t remember the last time I just sat and enjoyed silence, or some other equally enjoyable task that doesn’t involve sitting or lying on a couch. Probably the closest I get to that kind of activity is when I play golf. Hell, at least now I’m getting outside. But what is with this American necessity to always be doing something?

Speaking of doing things. Something I did instead of updating this site: Creating a site for my sister (the why part I’ll get into in another post—I don’t want to deal with typing all that up tonight and hey, it’ll give me a reason to write something else of substance). She makes a video on YouTube called High Society that is essentially a short soap opera created entirely from using The SIMS2. Heck, she probably has more people watching her videos than I do reading this blog. Anyway, you should really go check it out. The videos are quite impressive.

Ciao for now.

On Migraines and Bright Lights

I’ve had headaches all my life. That’s not saying much, as lots of people get headaches, except for the fact that based on the descriptions (and what my stepfather has told me about them), mine are all migraines. Though not always severe, they’re almost always localized to a pretty specific spot on one side or the other of my head, sometimes both and usually centered around a temple. It hasn’t ever really been much of an issue; most of the time if I take something, it goes away or at least lessens to the point where I really don’t notice it.

I know that some people have absolutely debilitating migraines. I don’t happen to be one of those people, so I consider myself lucky. I had a friend who a couple weeks ago woke up one morning and was half blind in his left eye; after trucking himself to the Emergency Room he was told that he had an “ocular migraine”, which meant that it was affecting his vision without giving him a headache. I, personally, never experienced a headache that was affected by vision.

Until last week, that is.

I had a fairly standard headache, sitting somewhere around my left temple, and apart from the throbbing, it was something that I could fight through. I took some Advil when it got worse, but didn’t really think much of it, until I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

The blinds in the office windows were all open because it was a gorgeous day out, and the sun happened to be at just the right angle to reflect off all the cars in the parking lot. Right into the window. And into my eyes.

And I swear to all that is holy, the inside of my head screamed. Actually screamed. I’m not kidding, I actually heard a noise. My headache flared up so quickly that I almost had to sit down for a minute.

Here’s hoping that I never have to go through that again. I’d take a hundred mild headaches in a row in comparison to that one flare-up.

WANTED: One Cushion

When I headed out for work today, the weather was warm (warm enough that I considered shedding the inner lining of my coat). It was sunny and what the weatherpersons would call “mild.”

Which means that when I reached the bottom of the stairs, I was not expecting ice.

Yeah, that’s right, you know where this is going.

Needless to say, I ended up flat on my ass, my keys skitting across the ice and coming to rest alongside my car. At least they managed to make it there without coming to any harm. So in short, yeah, I’m a little bit sore.

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