Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Student Burnout...

I think I’m running out of steam. I have to write yet another story for my journalism class, and nothing is appealing to me. This scares me. Writing is usually a no brainer for me, however, this time it’s a daunting task (sorry Prof. Callahan!).

I scan the online newspaper sites to find some sort of current event to rant and rave about, however, I’m distracted by the article on Tom Brady’s current hairstyle and ones throughout the decade (I still say Giselle has her spiny little hands in on why his hair is so long) but I’m not bitter. I vote on which movie is the best romantic film of all time (of course Bridges of Madison County wins over Ghost). I scan Facebook (just because I’m addicted).

I can’t focus. I think about the next day I’ll have off from work, how many weeks left until finals, and the thought of not having to get up at 6:15am on a Saturday to trudge into Algebra class.

I’ve had enough. It’s time for the semester to end. I think what I have is diagnosed as Student Burnout so I decide to investigate.

I find a website called Helpguide.org. They define burnout as “a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”

Yep. That sounds like me.

It goes on to say, “You may be on the road to burnout if everyday is a bad day, Caring about work or home life seems like a total waste of energy, You’re exhausted all the time, the majority of your day is spent on tasks you fine either mind-numbing dull or overwhelming, or you feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Now I don’t know about you, but that just defined what most working mothers (single or married) think like on a daily basis, or at least this mother does.

Take that as a hint to call your mother kids.

So, how do we avoid burnout? The Texas A & M University website has a special section in their student resources that outlines ideas to keep burnout at bay. They suggest:
> Recognize the problem. Watch for signs of stress
> Build positive social supports and control negativity in your environment.
> Gain control where you can.
> Quit doing something. In other words, say NO and mean it.
> Use stress-management techniques. Meditate.
> Rest.

Like me, you’re probably saying, “I’m already burnt out! What do I do now?”

Well, About.com has a Top 10 Stress Relief Strategies From Your Inner Child.
1. Daydreaming – taking a mental break to visualize something pleasurable helps deplete stress levels throughout the day.
2. Naps – power naps consisting of 15-20 minutes rejuvenates the mind and body.
3. Hugs – never underestimate the power of a good hug from a loved one.
4. Playing with Pets – studies proven they lower blood pressure better than medication.
5. Singing – loud and proud! Nobody says it has to be on key.
6. Playing Games – playing a quick online game of Boggle or other fun games relieves stress.
7. Drawing, Painting, Sculpting – Grab a coloring book and crayons and feel the stress dissolve!
8. Writing notes – Doodling or journaling helps with keeping focused to tasks.
9. Team Sports – group involvement and exercise can bring down stress levels.
10. Imagining the Future – reminding ourselves of our goals may bring motivation back.

And if that is still not enough, well, there is always chocolate.

Yes, I said chocolate.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate has many health benefits. Included in that list is that it lowers stress levels. According to Life Mojo.com, “Eating a delicious piece of chocolate could possibly reduce stress levels; it works by stimulating the production of endorphin that may give rise to a happy feeling. In addition, the dark chocolate variety contains stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine that are major stimulants.”

So if you can see yourself as I see myself here, try and take a break, take a breath, or maybe just enjoy some sweet, dark chocolate and feel your troubles melt away.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I see you! Stop that texting!

Ok, so now that we’re all familiar with the new state law on texting and driving that went into effect on September 30, 2010 I’d like to address another texting issue that’s happening right here on the Northern Essex Community College campus.

Yep. You guessed it, texting during class. We’ve all done it and probably 90 percent of you who are reading this right now have texted in class at least once.

As I sit in my classes, I periodically look around the room. I observe 50 percent of the people who nonchalantly take out their phones and either check texts or respond to texts during class.

Call me crazy, but this action enflames me.

For one, you’re not as slick as you think you are. People DO notice that you’re texting. Second, vibrate still makes a noise and can or will make others check to see if it was their phone or look at you, which ends up in a 30 second disctraction away from a lesson.

Forgive me if I start to sound like your mother, but, shame on you!

It’s just downright rude.

I have even scolded my own daughter who is a sophmore in college and was texting me during one of her math classes that she had to take over. What she wanted was something that could have waited until the class was over. When I asked her to stop texting me and pay attention, her response was, “It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on.” My response, “Well then I will be expecting an “A” from you in this class.”

The texting stopped.

One professor I interviewed has strict rules about texting in class. I asked Professor Crivaro what her policy was on texting. She responded, “I expect the full attention of my students during the time they are in my class, both for their benefit and that of other students. Those kinds of distractions are detrimental to the class as a whole and, therefore, I have a zero tolerance policy which I clearly spell out on the first day of class. The first offense is a warning and the second is the student will be dropped from the class.” Professor Crivaro takes her lesson time extremely serious since omitting texting will only benefit others in her class.

KUDOS Professor Crivaro!

Other professors aren’t as strict. For example in Professor Stewarts’ syllabus she states to only silence cell phones or pagers as a classroom courtesy.

I wanted some feedback on what students thought of texting in class. So I sent e-mails out to my fellow classmates asking what their thoughts were on this subject. The responses I got were interesting. I was surprised to see the amount of students that actually were against texting in class.

Amy Thompson stated, “I’m against it, I believe you should show your professor/teacher the same respect he/she is showing their class, be attentive, listen and focus on the material not your cellphone.”

While another classmate brought up a point that I overlooked. She stated, “As a mother of an infant I need to be able to text information at times to my child’s caregiver. I would rather not have to leave class to make a call when I can simply send a quick text.”

There is also the opportunity for cheating. One student stated she saw another student text during an exam and later admitted it to her.

With the younger generation being considered a generation that has such a short attention span, I’m thinking that maybe there is something to look at with this issue.

Is this an attention span issue or are students just addicted to texting? Maybe 50 minute classes are too long for them to pay attention. I’m thinking that maybe we could incorporate breaks during class so students can get their texting in.

Sarcastic? You know I am.

As one student stated, “We are in college, not high school. We are paying for education, so we have the right to decide whether we will focus in class or not.”

And a part of me has to agree with her statement, however I ask you to stop and think the next time you send a text.

It could be the one that will cause someone else to lose focus.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

McRib Phenomenon or Just McDisgusting?

“I have got to get one of those!” my boyfriend excitedly states from the other room as he overhears a commercial that the almighty Mickey-D’s is now offering the “McRib” sandwich nationwide once again since 1994. “Why?” I said, “What’s the big deal?.” “You don’t know? He says, “McRibs are this huge pop cult thing. You should read up on it.” “You’re kidding, right?” I flatly state. He responds, “Not kidding, Google it.”, as he giggles at my reaction.

So I take him up on his challenge.

What I found was astounding. Several stories announcing the McRibs limited reappearance beginning on November 2nd and lasting until December 5th have been posted on The Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post, and amazingly enough, The Wall Street Journal. Heck, it even has a Facebook page. I bet the Big Mac is pretty McJealous, never mind the bitter McAttitude of the Quarter Pounder.

It’s more like give me a break today instead of ‘deserving one.’

So after getting by the Wikipedia description (as if we needed one) and images of the sandwich I find a link to a website called “The McRib Locator.” Here is where anyone can document which McDonalds they claimed their sandwich and also pinpointed which McDonalds’ around the country that others have successfully found the barbeque slathered piece of pork-particle-mystery-meat-on-a-bun.

After doing some research, I decide that in order to write about the McRib, I will have to eat one. Take one for the team, so to speak.

Suddenly, I break out in a cold sweat.

Since I don’t make it a habit of eating anything processed, I at least wanted to know what I was going to clog my arteries with. I found an image of a “naked” piece of McRib. It looked like a piece of shriveled up flesh that had been sitting in formaldehyde waiting to be dissected.

Oh yummy.

Then I made the mistake of reading up on exactly what the “McRib” is made of. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. What I found, in my opinion, was truly disgusting. Directly from the McDonalds website are the ingredients of the rib “meat”. Ingredients: Pork, water, salt, dextrose, BHA and BHT and propyl gallate and citric acid (preservatives).

Attached to the saturated fat ingredients are the equally ugly nutrition stats; 24g Fat, 10g Sat Fat, 70g Cholesterol, and 44g Carbohydrates for a whopping 500 calories per sandwich.

Personally, I think the McRib, is McGross to be McHonest.

Ok, I’ll stop.

I found myself procrastinating to purchase the sandwich. Every day, I told myself, “Today’s the day.” Before I knew it a week went by and I hadn’t consumed the sandwich that has people visiting McDonalds sometimes twice a day.

However tempting, I just couldn’t do it. The pictures were too horrifying. The nutritional stats were equally disturbing. I let down my team.

Or did I?

I wanted to know what others on the Northern Essex Community College campus thought of the McRib so I sent out a blanket e-mail to 70 of my fellow students requesting any and all comments they had on the McRib phenomenon.

Surprisingly, I had only received one lengthy and descriptive e-mail from classmate, Peter Piantigini. I feel his e-mail is indicative of exactly why nobody cared to bother with a response to my original e-mail.

Peter commented, “I just want to urge the people out there thinking about what a great deal they are getting on a $3 rib sandwich, that they could go to a legitimate barbeque restaurant and get something that costs roughly $10 that tastes 30 times better.”

I totally concur with you Peter.

I could only gather that people think the McRib is just gross and not worth commenting
on never mind consuming.

With that being said, I will leave you with something else to chew on. While researching the McRib, I stumbled upon a story about Sally Davies, a New York photographer who left out a burger and fries from McDonalds for 180 days. The burger and fries did not mold or turn color in any way shape or form. To see this, go to


Friday, October 29, 2010

Misunderstood Puppets?

I can’t believe the news actually wasted 90 seconds of my life broadcasting that Bert from Sesame Street could actually be gay.


I look over at my boyfriend and flatly state to him, “You have got to be kidding me.” He lets out a giggle and shrugs his shoulders at me. I continue my rant. “Seriously, they have got to be joking. Who the hell cares if Bert is gay? He’s a puppet!”

Honestly people. Get a grip. Is there nothing else more important to report on than the non-existent, hypothetical sexual preference of a puppet? I’m sure they could have at least dug up some new information on Whitey Bulger or Jimmy Hoffa.

Anything would have been better than a story on a puppet who switched teams.

But hey, since they opened that can of worms why stop there? If they’re going to start dissecting Sesame Street characters why not take a look at the other puppets?
Yes. Let’s do that.

How about starting with Big Bird?

He has a pretty, effeminate voice and loves teddy bears. You never see him with a female Big Bird, and is always with his male pal, Mr. Snuffleupagus.

Hmm. Very interesting.

Oh, then there is Grover. He’s a silly little blue creature that constantly flails his arms around in a panic. Could he be gay too?

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

To be honest, I’m pretty ticked off about all of the talk about the twitter comment that was left on the Sesame Street page on October 25, 2010 that was supposedly left by Bert himself.

The comment was in reference to an upcoming A-Team re-make. Bert tweeted, “Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo’, and a little less ‘hawk’".

This single comment actually sparked the LA Times to do a three page story on whether or not the executives at Sesame Workshop are consciously trying to appeal to gay viewers and how PBS may not be so eager to embark on such a topic.

Personally, I couldn't care less if the Sesame execs are trying to do just that. However, if they are, I say Kudos to them! Sesame Street has always tried to be as diverse as possible with their puppets and their actors.

If you were an avid Sesame Street watcher as a child, take a moment and think about the characters. I bet there was at least one you could relate to in one way or another.

When I was a child, I remember Linda, the adult actor who was deaf and taught us all sign language. The way she communicated fascinated me and still does to this day. Aside from her disability, she was projected as a warm, funny and kind person. Had I not been exposed to her uniqueness, and educated on it, she could have been someone that I viewed as scary, odd, or even could have been prejudiced of.

Mr. Hooper was the grumpy but lovable store owner. He was a person that most of us could relate to as an elder, grumpy relative. C’mon, admit it, we've all had one.

Then there was Louis and Maria, the married Latino couple who raised a child on the show. Admittedly, I saw my own father in Louis even though I am full blooded Italian.

Then there was Bob. Bob was everyone’s confidant and buddy. He was a safe and secure person who always had it together. A sort of mother figure, but never paired up with anyone.

I think that as the years go on, and families change, so should children’s shows. Same sex marriages are now legal and couples are forming and raising families of their own. They are fantastic, conscientious, parents who only want the best for their children as we all do, and they are exposing their children to such great shows as Sesame Street. So why not show those children that there are other families just like them?

Currently on television there are two shows that promote gay parenting. ‘Modern Family’ and the other is ‘Glee’. According to the UCLA Williams Institute there are currently 1 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents raising about 2 million children in the U.S.

Hardly a drop in the bucket if you ask me.

There is so much left to be discovered with the statistics on children who are raised in same sex homes. I could only hope that there are lots of positive outcomes in the coming years. Only time will tell.

However, presently there are still many people that will never agree. There will always be people who will never believe that same sex couples should have children or raise them. No matter what the statistics positively conclude or how many studies have been conducted.

Some things we just can’t change. However, the one thing we can do is surround ourselves with people who love and accept us for who we are and try to educate the ones who don’t.

Just like Bert and Ernie.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Workouts, Painkillers, and Porno Doctors

It was Tony Horton's P90x's"Ab Ripper". A workout routine that consisted of 340 sit ups. Just one in a series of nine DVD's that was supposed to shred you in weeks. 

After noticing that my once firm; well, moderately firm; okay, my stomach that was once almost totally flat has now started looking like a bowl of Jell-O, I decided it's time to 'make time' and get back to working out.

After taking a look at my daily schedule, I find that I had two opportunities to workout; 5 AM or 9 PM. So I pick 5 AM because by 9 PM I'm comatose, whether I want to be or not.

The next morning I'm up and in front of the TV getting my abs ripped. Impressed that I completed workout by performing 315 out of the 340 sit ups, I felt pretty good that day. I could feel my stomach shrinking as the day went on.

Oh, Hail to the almighty P90x man!

This was it, I could see myself becoming just like the women in the video.

Except, I would have to get a tummy tuck, a boob lift, and possibly grow about five inches.

Ah, to dream the impossible dream. Alas, being the eternal optimist that I am, I set the alarm for 5 AM, and go to sleep, pumped for the morning workout.

The alarm rings and I turn over, hitting the buzzer. When I go to sit up, I realize exactly what I have done to myself. I am now the proud owner of an abdominal charlie horse and have to roll out of bed. My abdominal muscles are screaming at me. Seriously, I heard them. They were saying, "What the fuck were you thinking?!  Do you even remember the last time you even did a hundred sit ups? Let me remind you bitch, it was last November!"

Then, as I was getting into the shower, I faintly heard the left oblique say to the right oblique, "Oh, just wait, the lower abs have a plan. They're not done with her yet". After the minor bodily confrontation in the shower, my abs did feel pretty tight. They were convulsing; however, they were tight.

Yayyy P90x man.

As I wait for the pain to subside in my abs, I try the arms, legs, and full-body core workouts. All were very good, however, there is nothing like the Nazi regime of the Ab Ripper.

A week later, I decided to try the 'ripper again, now that I was able to laugh, stand erect, and lift a fork,  I turn on the TV, watch my beloved P90x man, Tony Horton get into position. As I begin, I complete two crunches when something goes "POP!" and makes me immediately go "WOWOUCH!" and curl up into the fetal position (which by the way I haven't been in since my divorce, but that's a story for another time).

I hold the lower part of my abdominal flab and wait a moment for the pain to subside. Since I still haven't learned my lesson, I continue.

I couldn't even lift my leg without yelping in pain.

FUCK! I'm screwed. I've never heard anything go POP on me before, and the only thing I could think of is that I opened my 8-year-old c-section scar or I just received my first hernia.

Damn me and my stubborn behavior.

Well, I was down, but I was far from out. Determined as I am, I quickly pop in the arms and shoulders DVD and finished what I could. Rocky, eat your heart out. 

Since the pain failed to subside, I made a visit to my general practitioner. After pushing on the injured area and making me do more sit ups, she suspected a hernia. She advised me to not work out until I saw a surgeon.

Surgeon?! Oh, beautiful.

I call the surgeon that she recommends and am given a three-week waiting period. The earliest time they have available is the day after my daughter's tonsillectomy. Begrudgingly, I take it. I figure I will sort things out when the time gets closer.

My daughters "day surgery" turns into a hospital stay, so the plans I had for my appointment were quickly dashed. Thinking fast on my feet, I called the doctors office to see if they could move up the appointment for later that day or possibly the next day. The conversation goes like this:

"Hi, I was wondering, if it was possible to reschedule my appointment for later today. My daughter was in surgery yesterday and ended up staying the night, so I'm not going to be able to make my 10:30 AM appointment. I know it's last minute, but I wasn't expecting her to stay. Anything you have for today, or possibly tomorrow, would be great."

"Oh, um...hmm. I'm sorry but there isn't any time today or tomorrow. She is booked solid, so you'll have to reschedule, and she is scheduling out three weeks."

Now, this receptionist either has  #1, no children, #2, no mercy, #3 no experience working with people, and me, already being grumpy, worried and tired due to lack of sleep, picked the wrong woman to say "No" to.

"Umm .. Noo. I don't think so, I said.  I've waited three weeks already, and I am not about to reschedule another three weeks when I have an injury that is already three weeks old. I need to be seen within the next couple of days.

 "Hold please." I wait approximately five minutes when I get an older and more experienced woman on the phone.

 "Hi, can you come in at 3:45 this afternoon?"


"Okay, great, see you then!"

"Thank you very much for squeezing me in. I appreciate it!"

 I bring my daughter home and settled. I head out to the doctors office early just in case I get lost, or some meathead decides to cause a traffic jam. I want to make sure I am on time since I caused such a ruckus earlier. I don't know why, but the minute I stepped into the office, I got this overwhelming feeling that this was not the right doctor for me. I approach the window and a snobby 17 year- old receptionist is on the phone completely ignoring me for about three minutes. Somehow her social calendar was much more important than a prospective patient.

Priorities, you know.

When she hangs up, she hardly glances at me. I tell her my name, and we do the usual "first-time patient" dance. You know the one, the receptionist hands you the paperwork, you hand her your insurance card and your co-pay, then tells you to have a seat. Cha-cha-cha.

I am filling out the paperwork when I notice that the waiting area that was supposed to be 'completely booked' is completely empty.

I hand the receptionist my paperwork, grab a magazine and sit down. As I sit, a young female medical assistant calls my name.

As I approach her I am shocked at the way she greets me.

 "Hi, how's your daughter?" "I heard she was in the hospital."

 "Um.. yeah, She unexpectedly stayed overnight."

As I entered through the door heading towards an exam room, she continued to discuss my daughter's tonsillectomy. Three things ran through my head as I'm talking with her. One, why would she comment on my daughters surgery in front of others in the waiting room. Two, why I felt the need that I had to explain myself to this young assistant, and, three, how the hell did she know in such detail? I mean,  I'm sure they discuss reasons for pushing patients around but, did she feel the need to discuss it in full? The last one made me the most uneasy. It made me think what exactly were they talking about that allowed the medical assistant to know what was going on with my daughter. 

She leads me to an exam room and begins to take my vitals. She then tells me to unbutton and unzip my jeans then tells me to scootch both my underwear and jeans down around my hips so the doctor can access the hernia area. So I am sitting on the exam table, with my waistband pinching my ass and a little paper blanket to cover myself up. Feeling extremely awkward, it was like I was waiting for something very creepy to happen. 

I tried to reassure myself  that since she was a female doctor, she would be the most gentle of the sexes. However, I was about to have that theory shattered. 

The doctor comes in wearing sneakers, a pair of jeans, a Red Sox t-shirt, and a nylon zip-up sweat jacket with racing stripes down the arms. My first thought was, did I pull you away from something, Doc? She's kind of masculine looking, not that I mind, just be competent. Again, my hopes would be quickly dashed.

 The first thing she says to me -without making eye contact- is, "So, your daughter was in the hospital, huh?"

What the fuck?! Is this a test? Does this whole office think that I just made this up in order to get an appointment without waiting three more weeks? I wanted to show her my daughters discharge papers to prove to her that I wasn't lying.

She washes her hands, and asks - no, demands- me to lie down.

So I do.

She pokes and prods in my popped area, and again demands me to stand up.

So I do.

Now, remember, I have my pants unzipped and half way around my hips. She stands there watching as I try to hop off the exam table, fight with the paper blanket trying to keep my pants up around my hips. Then, something comes out of her mouth, that in a million years would I ever expect a doctor to say,

"Drop 'em."

I can't believe she just told me to "drop 'em". Feeling very uncomfortable, and even a little scared, I 'drop em'. I'm standing there, pants around my ankles and paper blanket hanging off the exam table. Needless to say, I'm humiliated. She says she can't feel anything then goes and sits on one of the chairs and tells me to come stand in front of her.

Awkwardly, with my pants around my ankles, I shuffle over to her. I felt like it was the beginning of a bad porno.  I'm expecting Ron Jeremy to walk in the exam room at any moment and "assist" in my exam. As I am standing there, she sitting in front of me, head in my crotch (so to speak) poking around, she says, "I don't feel anything."

 "Really?", I said afraid to rebut her. "Because now that you've poked around there, it's quite tender."

She states, "Yeah, well, you don't have a hernia, well, you could possibly have a small one, or you could possibly have a muscle pull, either way, there is no need to do surgery right now."

Umm...ok, so it's either I don't have a hernia, or I have a small hernia or it's a muscle pull. Jesus, which is it, Porno Doc!

All this in a grand total of three minutes.

She then continues to prescribe me 800 mg of Motrin three times a day for six weeks. Wait, what?!

 As I'm doing the math in my head, I'm thinking, wow, this is so wrong. That would be 2,400 mg of Motrin a day! For six weeks!

Doesn't she know what that would do to someone's stomach? I wonder quickly if she is in 'cahoots' with a GI doc in the office.

I leave with a follow-up appointment even though I had absolutely no intention on going back. The next day, I called my general practitioner for another referral. The next doctor's office was very accommodating, friendly, and took me within a week. The appointment goes very well. This doctor was kind, soft spoken, and most of all very conscious of being discreet while examining me. I state the reason why I was there, and that he was a second opinion. When I tell him the Motrin that was prescribed, I got a very validating raised eyebrow. We decide together that the surgery was the way to go, and it gets scheduled. I knew I made the right decision to get a second opinion.

As I am getting prepped for surgery, I have a slew of doctors and medical students coming in and asking my name and birth date several times, while poking and prodding me. I'm lying there getting my IV started and in walks a student doctor who introduces herself. Behind her is my doctors assistant. He introduces himself and tries to make a cute remark about removing my belly button ring (which I do not have). He looked exactly like Ron Jeremy, 70's porn mustache and all. 

I took one look at him and thought HELL NO!  I'm not having the porn king of the 80's down in my 'area' assisting with my surgery. It'll turn into some kind of kinky operating room group sex session! I try to fight off the 'happy shot' they gave me to relax, without success.

Damn drugs.

The surgery was a success. They removed a lump within my abdominal muscle and put me in the recovery room. As one nurse passes me off to another rotund nurse that sees me lying in the corner, and states, "Nobody puts baby in the corner." She giggles at her own joke then pushes my bed into one of the recovery room stalls continuing her impromptu stand-up act, advises me not to do any sit ups for a long time.  

"Pretty ironic, that's how I ended up here," I said.  

She laughs and says, "See, this is where exercise will get you."

I think to myself, Yeah, yeah, everyone's a comedian. Just give me the drugs lady, and keep your jokes to yourself. 

As I'm discharged, the doctor tells me that I am not to work out for several weeks in order to give my incision time to heal, and ordered me not use the P90x workout sessions. 

 I listen to his advice and dump the routine and go back to running.

However,  I think there is a bootleg video out there of my exam with Porno Doc.

If you find a copy, please, let me know.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My New Beginning

The subject of this blog was going to be about my recent break up, how devastated I am of having lost what I thought was the love of my life, how it has ripped my heart out and left me an empty shell, just existing for weeks on end eating way too little and sleeping way too much.

But then I thought, Fuck that.

Out with the old, in with the new, I say.

So as the old man is out I would rather discuss the new men in my life.

Let me introduce you to:

Guy #1.

A very cute, self-made, successful, and funny man. Great qualities, right? I thought we got along great. Somehow he started calling me "Bubba", which I found cute, and returned the sentiment by calling him "Gus". It was fun. Just us, Bubba and Gus. We had these great conversations on the phone, but whenever we got together, all we could talk about was the weather.

Two dates into it, and it's not looking good. (red flag #1)

I also noticed that both times we went out, somehow I would end up ordering items on the menu like Meg Ryan did in "When Harry Met Sally". You know, the scene where she orders her meals with special instructions like; the salad dressing "on the side" or about how she wants her pie heated and the ice cream either strawberry or vanilla, and if they have neither, she wants whipped cream but only if it's real whipped cream and if it's not then nothing. Kinda like that.

What's funny is I never order my meals like that, and it makes me wonder why in the world does that happen every time I'm with him? I explain my embarrassment to him and chuckle about absurdity of it all and how this is not the way I usually order my food.

He smiles, gives me a look of disbelief, and no matter what I say, it still makes me look like a neurotic wacko.

Which of course, I'm not. I'm just saying.

So that's Red Flag #2, and I haven't heard from him since.

So, on to Guy #2.

Out of the blue, I receive a text from a guy I met over nine months ago, saying that he wants to test my memory skills by seeing if I remember him. His text sounds like we had this long courtship and he's my bestest buddy. (red flag #1)

Annnd, here we go.

Here's the condensed version. We first met while I was on my morning run and he was driving by on his Harley. We chatted for a bit after I finished, and exchanged numbers. He said, "Give me a call the next time you want a running buddy. So, I let four days go by before I gave it the old college try (twice), and he never called me back. Figuring he had a change of heart, I tossed his number and actually forgot about him.

Until his text showed up on my phone.

By the way, women never forget guys who don't follow through.

So, I humor him and agree to talk. I want to know the reason he never called me back.

This ought be good, I think to myself.

We exchange a couple of texts and talked on the phone one night. First, I tell him that I'm flattered that he had my number all this time and remembered me, then in the same breath, ask him, why he never returned my calls.

This was his answer and I quote, "Um, well, in all honesty, I was kinda in a relationship at the time."

Kinda? Wow. Not only did he hit on me while in a relationship, he kept my number for future reference! That flag can't get any redder now, can it?

I didn't think that guys actually had little black books anymore. I felt like a slip of paper in a Rolodex and he was up to the letter L. I begin to imagine if he had notes on me. Little adjectives jotted down next to my name that would spark his memory. "Cute runner"or "Big Boobs"or maybe "Townie".

I also wonder, when I didn't call him back this time around, if he crimped the corner of my note card, or put an "X" after my name in his blackberry.

Like the amount of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, somethings I will never know.

Let's move on to:

Guy #3

Cute, sensitive techie that cries at the drop of a hat.

Right-o. Onward to:

Guy #4

Hot. Ok. not just hot, but H-O-T kinda hot. Africa hot. We met in a snowstorm for some coffee and great conversation. He could have talked about his colonoscopy and this guy would have made it sound sexy.

Yeah, he's that kind of hot.

Twist my arm, but I'm willing to play this one out too. Ah, the things we do for love.

There are flags, they are yellow in color, but my God, did I mention? The man is hot.

Lastly, an odd thing started happening couple of months ago. Every week, I put my trash and recycling out like every good standing citizen. When I would return home at night, my barrels would be neatly placed back in its respective place, and not thrown across the lawn like everyone elses in my neighborhood.

Weird, I thought.

At first, I thought it was one of my neighbors being thoughtful. But then, I noticed that hers would still be on the sidewalk. I took a look around the neighborhood to see if anyone else had their barrels put neatly back.They hadn't.

Mine were the only ones placed back. Even if it was one of the other neighbors being, well, neighborly, they didn't take the time to bring their own in.

I was perplexed about who was doing this. Eventually, it became a game. Every Wednesday I would wait to see if my barrels were placed neatly back into their rightful spots, and every Wednesday, they were.

Until one day, I was telling my mother this story, and when I got to the part of not knowing who was doing it, my daughter chirps up and says, "Oh, the garbage man puts them back for us".

"Really?" I say, stunned, flattered, and bit creeped out all at the same time.

I quizzed my daughter. "What do you mean the garbage man puts them back"? "How do you know?" She responded, "Yes Mommy, He puts them back after he empties them." "I've seen him do it."

Oh. My. God. Could it be? Could the garbage man have a crush on me? Why else would a garbage man take the time out to neatly place back my barrels and recycling bin to the side of my house?

Besides the fact that it's entirely possible he's a lunatic stalker, why else?

I'm not definite on which one he is exactly, but I have a feeling. I've seen him a couple of times when I was playing "Beat the Clock" with bringing my barrels curbside. He would look and laugh at me, and I would just smile, wave and head back in the house. I never really gave him a good look, I mean, who really looks at the garbage men, right? Unless its the summer, and they are totally ripped (smelly or not) we sort of look past them, and really don't pay much attention to them.

Then one day, we were home when they came by, and I asked my daughter to point him out.
We sat in front of the window, peering outside from a distance. We didn't want to be noticed.

She looked at them. I said, "Which one do you think it is?" As one of the men came forth to grab our barrel I said quietly as if he could hear us, "Is that him?" She said, "Oh, yes, I think that's him!" I said, "Are you sure?" I leaned a bit closer toward the window to get a better look. Then with her next breath, said, "Oh, um, well, I don't know. Maybe not, Mum."


On that day, the barrels were not put back. They were thrown on my lawn just like every other garbage man handles our barrels.

It was not him. Or maybe it was and didn't want his cover blown. I may never know who is doing this, however, to this day, my barrels are still getting neatly put back every week in their rightful spots, and I am still trying to figure out who he is.

So there it is.

The old.

The new.

The twisted.

Here's to the new year.