Sunday, December 18, 2011


So, the holidays are upon us, and the stress levels can’t get any higher. Between final exams, Christmas shopping, bill paying, school plays, and holiday parties, my youngest daughter has decided that this is the perfect time to have a complete meltdown that forces me to think; I wonder how much a ten-year-old is going for on EBay. However, since that is highly frowned upon by Department of Social Services, I opted for her to lose television and computer privileges for an entire week.

Her response to that was another meltdown followed by tears and pleading. I stood my ground. Since things were out of control, she needed to be wrangled in. I think this will be good for her. It will give her time to get back in touch with her inner self and reflect on her poor behavior and the toys [that are on the line] for which she has begged for this Christmas.

For me, it is absolute heaven.

It gave me the opportunity to finish up an eight-page final essay a week early, and get my housework done with no other noise than the radio station that plays Christmas songs around the clock.

After a couple of days with no television, I found that she was able to focus on her homework, study for tests, practice her violin, and amazingly enough, the struggle with nightly routines was diminished. Why, do you ask? Because there is no arguing about missing her favorite shows. We have Netflix, and she can watch them next week.

Crisis averted!

Completely loving this new quiet way of living, I wondered how other people fared with this experiment. Not everyone can handle an entire week without television. After going to my handy dandy internet search engine, I found a link to the Coronado, California Patch online newspaper that ran a story about the town going "Screen Free". Tonia Accetta was asked if she was going to have her family partake in the “Screen-Free Week”.  Her response was, “The dates also coincide with the Easter break. It seems a bit mean to turn off TV when school is out. Plus we have to know who gets kicked off American Idol!” I can’t help but think; Heavens to Murgatroyd! God forbid Tonia is subjected to the daunting task of entertaining her children for the entire school break. Not to mention missing the next singer to get booted off American Idol. Anything but that!

Then there is a comment from Jan Spear on why there shouldn’t be a Screen-Free Week; “Screen-Free Week or National TV-Turnoff week impacts our escapism. Just a suggestion, how about limiting the amount of TV time per week, instead of totally tuning out? I wouldn't want to miss a Tsunami warning.”

Sarcasm wells up inside me.

Well, I can see how that’s justifiable, Jan. Tsunami warnings are so frequent in the United States these days we wouldn’t want to be caught off guard by a spontaneous Tsunami. Oh, and I can see how climbing into bed at night and escaping into a great book is completely out of the question.

Oy Vey, give me a break.

After being surprised and disappointed at the comments coming from highly educated adults on this subject, I decided to look elsewhere, hoping to find other information that I could use. I clicked on the next link to an article written by Charlene Lee, a fourteen-year-old girl from Los Angeles who challenged herself to an entire week of no television after she spent five hours straight watching the “Heroes” series.

What she discovered was surprising. After going through the withdrawal process, (aka the first couple of days with no television), she realized that she was able to be much more productive with her time. She found ways to fill her time with meaningful and important things like homework, studying for her SAT’s and submitting in her draft story for the LA Youth online newspaper early.

She began to not care about her favorite televisions shows and preferred to do something productive. However, by day five, she broke her own rules and went to the movies to catch the opening of Spiderman 3.

While sitting in the theater, she started thinking of other things she could be doing instead of wasting her time watching a movie. I find it pretty amazing for a fourteen-year-old to surmise how much television has impacted her life in a negative way just after five days.

Way to go Charlene!

I can only hope that after this weekend, my daughter will realize all the things she was able to do and that a week without television was not so bad after all.

Or at the very least will think twice before acting up.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the new Muppet movie starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams as well as a new muppet character; Walter. I have three words for this movie; Waka waka waka! The Muppets come back strong after a hiatus that I feel was much too long. How could America forget about Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang? Apparently, they have and the Disney crew has had just about enough of it. On November 23rd, “The Muppets” movie was released nationwide, and along with it came great reviews. The premise of the film is that while on vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) discover the evil plot from oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to destroy the famous Muppet Theater and drill for oil that he discovered beneath the theater grounds. Walter helps Kermit reunite the old gang who has all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs in a Reno casino tribute band called, The Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing businessman. In order to save the theater, the gang comes together to put on a telethon show. All the old favorite characters were included in the film, the Swiss chef, the old men in the balcony, hippie chick, even the Latin shrimp made a cameo. This movie was in true Muppet fashion-laden with celebrity names like Alan Arkin, Zack Galifianakis Selena Gomez, Jack Black, Jason Segal, Amy Adams, and Sarah Silverman, just to name a few. The Muppets come up against some resistance from the ABC executive (Rashida Jones) who refuses to air the Muppets telethon because they are passed their prime and America is now interested in such shows like “Punching Teacher”. Throughout the movie, there are songs with inspirational and moral messages. “Life’s a Happy Song” explains how much better the world is when you are who you are meant to be and sharing it with the ones you love.

My friend had invited me and my daughter to see it with her family. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about going since the last one I saw was painfully boring (aka “Muppets in Space” circa 1999). When I got there, I was surprised to see pretty much the entire theater full on a Sunday matinee since it was the first weekend of the Christmas shopping rush. I was also surprised to find that it placed second for the highest movie tickets sold in the country. With America is still in love with Vampires, which took the number one spot, and I still don’t get, but I digress.

As I watched, I discovered that I just couldn’t resist enjoying the silliness, uplifting songs, and very cheeky jokes that are weaved heavily throughout this film (Fozzie Bear’s fart shoes went over huge with the audience). I actually found myself laughing out loud and was brought back to my childhood days of innocence and wonderment that the Muppets brought into my life each week. The movie also had jokes and parts that only adults would get. There were actually a couple of instances that I had to explain to my daughter because the jokes went over her head. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Muppet movie without the song “Rainbow Connection.” I was heart warmed to hear it and softly sang along, remembering every word. I was instantly twelve years old again. I looked over at my friend and saw her wiping the tears from her eyes. It has to mean something when a piece of felt with ping pong eyes sings a melody has the ability to move someone to tears.
 Simplicity at its best, I say.
So why is it that we as a society refuse such simplicity? We are so stressed; our comedies are dark, cynical, and hardly silly. Gone are the days of movies like “Airplane” and “Naked Gun” (admit it, seeing OJ Simpson getting pushed off a balcony in a wheelchair was hysterical). Sure there have been some satires relating to “scary movies”, however, one would have to be under the age of 21 and into horror flicks to get the jokes. The Muppets make it completely OK for society to indulge in this guilty pleasure of simplicity and silliness for an hour and 42 minutes. Seriously, what is funnier than fart shoes? Absolutely nothing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ode to Andy Rooney

"Not many people in this world are as lucky as I have been. All this time I've been paid to say what is on my mind on television. You don't get any luckier in life than that."-Andy Rooney

As I sat down in my living room early last Saturday morning, a cup of tea in hand, I turned on the television and was very saddened to hear about the death of Andy Rooney. My heart sank. The journalism world has lost an icon in my eyes. However, I have a feeling that if Mr. Rooney had read that last sentence, he probably would have called me an idiot for thinking so. He hid from the limelight and absolutely hated when people would notice him on the street and yell “Hey Andy!” He also never believed in signing autographs. “What kind of idiot wants my name on a piece of paper?” He asked during a recent interview with Morley Safer.

You just have to love Andy Rooney. So brass and raw at times, Andy was real. He said things that most would think but never say. He saw the ridiculous in everyday life. Most of all, he made us think; if only for a moment.

If you are not familiar with Andy Rooney, please allow me to summarize. Born January 14, 1919, in Albany N.Y., Andy graduated from Albany Academy High School and attended Colgate University until being drafted in the U.S. Army in 1941; in his junior year. He became a correspondent for The Stars and Stripes newspaper for three years and reported several missions on the second American bombing raid over Germany to the Far East. After writing about his war experience in three books, Rooney was hired by CBS in 1949 after a bold encounter with Arthur Godfrey. After writing for several other television programs and becoming well educated  on the CBS news programs, Rooney convinced CBS executives that he could write on any subject when he wrote his first essay back in 1964. His first piece was a segment called “A Digression” seen on the “60 Minutes” premiere show back on January 24, 1968. By 1978, Andy became the Andy we know today as the opinionated, curmudgeon, humorous voice at the end of every show.

If you're still not familiar with his work, here's a taste of his personality; these are just a few of his more famous quotes:

“I didn't get old on purpose, it just happened, if you’re lucky, it could happen to you.”

“If you smile when no one else is around, you mean it.”

“The average dog is nicer than the average person.”

Lastly, one of my favorites, “The 50-50-90 rule; any time you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there is a 90 percent probability that you will get it wrong.”

They are words of wisdom in my eyes.

I looked forward to watching 60 Minutes every Sunday night just to hear what kind of ranting Mr. Rooney had for that particular week. Never censoring his thoughts from cotton in medicine bottles to his view on homosexuals; a view that landed him a three-month suspension from his job at CBS, Rooney consistently gave the audience his ‘last word’ with his signature sarcasm and curmudgeon attitude. If we were lucky, Mr. Rooney would occasionally bless us with his softer side.

I never realized how talented he was until I seriously began writing opinionated articles myself. To make the points he made in a matter of two minutes is a gift. Never mind continue to do it for over thirty years.

Rest in peace Mr. Rooney, you will be missed and 60 Minutes will never be the same.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recently in the news I have been seeing a lot of stories on ‘flash mobs’ that have taken a turn for the worse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought flash mobs were meant to be something fun and unexpected.

I wasn’t sure, so to satisfy my curiosity I looked up the definition of Flash Mob. Here is what I found; defines Flash Mob as: ‘a large group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration.’

Please note the word entertaining. Nowhere does it mention, violent or hatred acts.

I mention this because recently in Maryland, two dozen teenagers gathered at a Seven-Eleven at 1:36 am and robbed it within 60 seconds. In Philadelphia, upwards to 200 teens have been gathering for random acts of violence via “flash mob” technique. The International Business Times website writer Daniel Tovrov stated, “A flash mob occurred on July 29, when about 30 teenagers near City Hall severely beat two people, leaving one unconscious and the other needing surgery for a broken jaw. In June, some gangs attacked pedestrians and people leaving restaurants while others robbed train passengers. Still others walked into stores and businesses and walked out with stolen goods. “

This behavior prompted Philadelphia Mayor Nutter to put a 9pm curfew on the city youth for Friday and Saturday nights and have personally held the parents responsible for any child found out after curfew with fines upwards of 500 dollars. In the words of Mayor Nutter; “We've got the biggest, baddest gang in town - a committed group of citizens and a committed government and we're working together and we're not going to have this nonsense anymore."

Yeah, that’s how he rolls.

I was going to give a good tongue lashing and finger pointing on how the young people in these states have taken something enjoyable, positive, and surprising like flash mobs into something mean, disruptive, and violent.

However, trying not to sound like a grandmother, I am here to tell you that I am not going to be wasting any more of my energy glorifying these morons.

So I began to wonder. Where did flash mobs originate and why don’t we ever see the evening news broadcast all the fun and creative flash mobs? Personally, I would like reporters on the scene of a dancing flash mob (perhaps even partaking in the fun) than on a murder scene.

But hey, that’s just me.

So being of the ‘older generation’,( meaning that I’m over 30, but clearly under 50), I didn’t put much thought into where it all generated from. It seemed as if it just appeared everywhere one day.

So I did some research and came across some interesting facts.

Bill Wasik, the Senior Editor of Harper’s Magazine started the Flash mob movement back in 2003 where individuals came together at a Toys R Us store in New York City to gather around a giant T-Rex dinosaur and stared at it for three minutes, then genuflected and cowered beneath the giant toy. Employees of the store called security due to the fact that they became concerned of a cult like activity occurring in their store. They dispersed before security could arrive.

Crazy fun.

Then there is Charlie Todd; an actor that some feel should receive credit for starting the ‘Flash mob’ movement. Charlie started the ‘Improv Everywhere’ missions back in 2001, where people get together for pranks in the New York City area that cause scenes of joy and chaos in public places within a short period of time. The website ( posts videos and summaries of all the pranks Mr. Todd organizes. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the silliness, creativity, and human reaction that goes into each of these ‘pranks’.

A men’s room attendant at a McDonalds in Times Square? Priceless.

A suicide jumper that is on a ledge that is 3 feet high? Twisted, yet comedic.
Then there are mobs that get together for the message of saving a life. In Cheektowaga, NY, people gathered at the Walden Galleria mall to perform CPR on mannequins to the tune of The Bee Gees song, Staying Alive. This act was in efforts to get a bill passed to mandate CPR training in the high school curriculum.

Others do it to demonstrate the power of park and recreation programs. In Upper St. Clair, PA, assistant director Ryan McCLeaster stated, "We, here in USC, wanted to show how recreation plays an active role in many lives from youth to older adults through our programs and amenities, including the Community and Recreation Center."
Regardless of the oddities, reasons, or messages, what we discover with each act is a lesson in humanity. Everyone has a story. It’s like one big sociology experiment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about sex.” For those of you born in the late 1980’s you may be old enough to know what female vocal group sang this song.

For those of you who weren’t, it was Salt N Pepa.

The song discussed simply, sex and the disadvantages of being promiscuous. Believe it or not, this song was pretty controversial back in the day. However, presently sex is everywhere and is taken pretty lightly when it comes to expressing it.

Especially on college campuses.

I know we are a commuter school, however, NECC students at some point will go on to schools that are not. So, I guess I would have to ask, "Where do we draw the line when it comes to moral behavior on campuses?" When the Observer staff took out the first edition of the NECC Observer dated November 21, 1962, one story caught my eye. It was titled “Students’ Moral Behavior on Campus Discussed”, by Ellin Foreman. In it she discusses the recent flurry of articles that were in newspapers and magazines on the subject of sex and the college student. (Not to be confused with Sex in the City.)

In the article, Ms. Foreman focuses on a private assembly that was held by Vassar College President, Sarah Gibson Blanding on April 4, 1962 on student moral behavior on campus. She addressed the student body by stating “students are expected to maintain the highest standards of behavior and those who drink to excess or engage in premarital sexual relations are not living up to the highest standards of behavior." I found that statement pretty strict and was curious to read the rest of her speech.

I went to the Vassar College website archives and found an excerpt of her speech. It said; “premarital sex and excessive drinking would not be tolerated at Vassar.” She declared that sexual promiscuity was “indecent and immoral” and that “disciplinary action would be taken against those who did not follow the standards of the college.” President Blanding went on to state that, “those students who could not follow the rules to withdraw voluntarily from Vassar.”

Wow. You have got to be kidding me. She is stating this to students who were considered adults in society. Could we imagine if President Glenn said to us, if you can’t keep it in your pants, go elsewhere? (Of course, I'm using extreme and loosely stated terms; President Glenn would definitely be more eloquent if needed to address this issue to us on campus.) I wonder what students would do. Would they stay? Would they agree? When taking a poll from students who heard President Blanding’s speech, 52% agreed with her, 40% disagreed, and the rest were undecided.

I wonder what the students at NECC would think.

As I’m reading through the article Ms. Foreman wrote, the entire thing sounds so stuffy, rigid and so very 1962-ish. Students were expected to behave with the highest of moral standards. There was so much expectation put on 18 year olds and older. Acting like an adult was important back then. It was something that was earned not just handed over. Having credibility and integrity was highly regarded in society back in 1962.

This leads me to this question. Do we still have this integrity today amongst our young adults? The stuffy ‘old person’ in me wants to say we don’t. She wants to say that young adults today take everything for granted and there is this sense of entitlement that is just flooring to me. Then there is the hip and happening person who thinks that this is a totally different time, era, and lifestyle than in the 60’s and with this type of change so do the kids. And the optimistic in me hopes that with age, these young adults will become to understand society’s ways and wise up to what they need to do in life and make it all better.

But am I right?

I posed the question out to some fellow students and adults and their response was interesting. Rosanne Cudia Romano stated, “Students slack off because this generation thinks the world owes them something. Adding sex and partying into the mix brings down the moral even more because they are focusing even less on work as they are thinking about the next party coming up or who they are going to hook up with next."


Charles Russo stated, “a Brigham Young University basketball player, Brandon Davies got kicked off the team and out of school last year for having pre-marital sex (I think his girlfriend got pregnant).The student athletes at BYU had to sign a "contract" saying no drinking, sex, etc. BYU is a Mormon University. Additionally, I think the country has become morally bankrupt. Anything goes nowadays. Parents can't let their kids watch TV past the 6pm news anymore. All shows have sexual connotations or half naked actors and actresses. Sex is very casual now. Not a lot of meaning in it for kids of this generation. The kids nowadays think oral sex is like a handshake. I believe the whole loss of morality etc. impacts work ethic, respect for one another, elders, and how they view the value of a dollar and their possessions.”

Doesn’t look promising, does it?

I posed this question out to traditional college students but didn’t get a response. I wonder if it was because they just didn’t notice the e-mail request or they just flat out didn’t care to contribute their comments to a discussion on moral issues. The hip and happening person was really hoping for the other side to form an opinion, giving me a good ‘get with the program granny’ type response, and state to me that casual sex is where it’s at these days and to not be so stuffy; ‘kids of today are doing just fine’.

However, what worries me is that is exactly what I didn’t get.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Break a Child's Heart

(This was a letter to the editor that I wrote to The Downeast Coastal Press back in July 2001.)


This is an open letter to all parents of children who have ever planned a children's birthday party. I would like to express my feelings of disgust, anger, and disappointment with parents who do not respond to an invitation, or respond and end up not attending a child's birthday party.

I had recently organized a party for my daughter's birthday. In the eyes of a child, this birthday was of particular importance.

But that is beside the point.

After organizing the planning, the invitations were sent out a week before [the event] and, I might add, with well typed out directions to my home. [I also gave] a working phone number to respond to for RSVP or to answer any questions.

In the week prior to the party, my daughter talked about it with anticipation excitement. The day arrived and the house was decorated. We all waited patiently for her "friends" to show up. We waited and waited, we drove up and down the street to make sure the landmarks were in place.

Still no one.

Despair and panic set in my stomach. It ended up that not one child showed up...What a disaster. I shouldn't have to describe the feelings of disappointment and sorrow my daughter felt, not to mention my feelings as a parent who watched this unfold.

What does a parent say to a crying child as to why not one of her friends arrives [or calls] about her party? My mind is filled with anger and my heart with the deepest hurt any mother could feel for her child.

At this point, we were forced to deal with such disappointment that no child should have to deal with; an explanation why, which I could not explain. So it left me to discuss how people will let her down in life and the importance of family, which will and should always come first.

She understood, but still wanted her friends there.

My request to you - all parents who have received or have sent out an invitation for a child's birthday - is to remember this;

While you may not think it is of any importance that you call, regardless of your busy lives, what you do (or do not do) affects others around you.

Because of ignorance, rudeness or other unattractive manners, my daughter will certainly not forget this birthday nor will she forget the "friends" who didn't care enough to call. If we knew, we could have avoided such a horrible disappointment.

Unfortunately, this birthday will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Disappointed Mother

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


"Be a winner."

That's what I found in my fortune cookie at lunch one day. Pretty ironic because the next day I was headed to New York City to test out for the possibility to be a contestant on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire".

I'm going to try my damnedest.

It's funny what possesses a person to do such things. The idea first came to me when the show was announcing auditions for the fall season. Having recently overcome a very personal and challenging six months I figured what the hell, why not?

I went to the site, plugged in the required information, and within a few hours, they sent me an e-mail with my scheduled time and date.

Like a boyfriend who's afraid to commit, I immediately got second thoughts. I suddenly felt silly. I don't know why. I watch people every day on games shows, trying their luck and sometimes winning big. I sit on my sofa and think to myself how easy it is and I could be a better contestant. I yell answers at the television set and become frustrated when the contestants don't hear me.

Fantasy is always better than reality, and the reality is I am much braver from the comfort of my living room.

I was suddenly insecure, afraid of the outcome.  I second guessed my actions and kept putting it off. There were doctors appointments, school plays, no one to accompany me, etc. Anything I could use as an excuse to not follow through. The website had several weeks of testing dates, so I would keep rescheduling to the following week.

Until I tried to reschedule one last time and noticed that there were no more weeks to reschedule.

Crap. Now, what do I do?

I was at a crossroads. Either I scrap the entire idea and think for the rest of my life "what if" or I suck it up and stick to my plan.

Since my brother would have kicked my ass if I passed up this chance, I decided to follow through.

Life is an adventure, right? I thought to myself.

I booked a seat on the Acela express to NYC; taking on the "Big Apple" for one full day; by myself.
It was heaven. The seats were large, cushy, and made of leather. Of course, I picked one next to the window. Free wi-fi, electrical outlets by my side, footrest, adjustable desktop, and best of all; nobody sitting next to me. The only noise I heard was the clicking of the train on the tracks. It was like riding first class on an airplane.

This was the life.

Until he came on board.

Amtrak has a special car called the "Quiet Car". This is for people who want absolute quiet. I chose this car to ensure that I'm not bothered by crying babies, annoying business people, or loud iPods. I wanted to take this time to think and write. Amtrak is very strict with the rules attached to this car. They make sure to announce it several times at every stop and as the conductor collects tickets.
The rules are, no cell phones, no talking, if it is essential to talk, it is to be in short, whispered conversations and no music. Hell, even my computer had to be in mute mode. I could literally hear a pin drop.

It was very clear to everyone what car we were in, and I was about to find out just how seriously people took these rules.

We stopped in Connecticut and picked up some passengers. I remember being a kid on a school bus and not wanting someone sitting next to me. I would put a backpack next to me and avert my eyes, hoping that they would get the hint and pick another seat. Sometimes we got lucky and this strategy worked.

Unfortunately, this tactic didn't seem to work with the old man. There were several empty seats around me, but he decides to stop at my seat and smile.

Fuck. Really??

I had all my shit strewn about the two chairs staking my territory. There were clearly plenty of other seats available, but because the universe likes to fuck with me, this old man was attracted to me like a moth to a flame.


 "Is this seat taken?" he says looking straight at me.  I look at him, then look at my shit everywhere, and ever so badly want to say; "Hell yes old man! Don't you see I'm all settled here?? Go find another seat!"

It's times like these where I wish I was a cold-hearted bitch.

However, I'm not, so I smile weakly and strain to politely say, "Oh, no, it isn't, here, let me put my bags under my seat."

Me and my fucking manners.

As he puts his things in the overhead compartment, I'm scrambling to neaten up my area. In my head, I'm thinking, why me? Out of all the seats on this freaking train, why the hell does he have to sit next to me?!

Why? Because that's just my luck.

Now we're settled and the conductor goes through his announcements and the "Quiet Car" schpiel; No talking, no music, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I go back to my work and people around me are doing the same. Things are good. For about 60 seconds.

He then decides that he is going to spark up a conversation with me. "So, Where are you going?" in a rather loud voice.

Now, the woman across from us turns her head so fast in our direction, I swear she got whiplash.
Here we go.

So I look at her with a, "what the hell do you want me to do, ignore him?" look, and then turn to him and quietly say "New York City".

"WHAT?" he yells.

I wince and think, "Dear Lord; whatever did I do to piss you off today?"

Now, in addition to the pissed off whiplash woman, I have acquired two passengers sitting across from us who are very annoyed at the fact that the old man is talking in the quiet car.

Because the man is older than Christ himself, he can't hear me, and I'm forced to answer a bit louder. "New York City!" I said.

A loud sigh and a roll of the eyes comes from whiplash lady.

"Oh!" he says, "New York City is a great place to visit! There is so much to see and do..." as he was talking I became anxious and just wanted him to shut up. Suddenly his voice just went into an inaudible tone. You know, like the parents in the Peanuts cartoons. The parents' voices were just - "wahp wahap waaahh wahp". I couldn't hear a word he was saying.

I began to sweat because I could see the darts shooting out of the eyes of the other passengers who wanted me to tell him to shut the fuck up.

What was I supposed to do? Like it was my fault the old man didn't care what fucking car he was in.

Then to make matters worse, I hear a man equivalent to a flight attendant starting down the aisle with a cart that holds various candies, gum, soda, alcohol (you know, for those functional alcoholics) and salty snacks. He's quite the smart ass- he makes smarmy comments and pushes his overpriced crap onto people who just want to get to work.

He stops at the old man and me, then suggests that the old man buy some 'tasty pretzels' or a cup of coffee. The old man peeks over at the cart and comments on how he's not interested in this junk food and doesn't bite at the overpriced bait. Offended, the snarky snack pusher moves on.

He turns to me and starts talking about how annoying that man was. I turned my head, nodded at him, politely smiled then returned to my work.

Quiet means quiet, old man.

Noticing that I was not engaging with him, the old man decides to nap.

Thank Christ.

I continue to write, look out the window, and munch on the lunch I brought. I had about an hour and a half to myself. I felt like a parent who was trying to get in all the "alone" time she could before her kid woke up.

The train comes to a stop and the old man wakes up.


He looks at me and asks, "Where am I?"

Oh, great. Now he doesn't even remember where the hell he is?!

Hoping that he knew, I state, "In Connecticut." He flatly states. "I hate this state."

Hey, old man, thanks for sharing.

I ignore him, continue to type away. He glances over at me and asks me what kind of work I do. Inside I'm screaming "SHUT.THE.FUCK.UP!". People around me are looking at me like I'm the one encouraging his behavior.

I turn to him and sort of put up my finger to my lips and answer him in a whisper. Of course, he doesn't hear me and asks louder. I don't repeat, but instead, say "Shh, it's a quiet car." In perfect timing, Mr. Snack Pusher comes back with his overpriced loot.

This time, the old man purchases a Snickers bar. I think to myself, thank God. At least, his mouth will be full and can't talk.

I go back to my work and after a few minutes, I hear coughing.

I ignore him. The coughing continues. Then he makes this little squeak cough that makes me look at him.

Annoyingly, I turn to ask him if he's okay, and I notice he's choking.

Of course, he is.

I stared at him, watching to see how he does. I don't panic because he was coughing. The first rule; if a person is coughing, they can breathe. No need to intervene at this point. This I remember from my 20+ years of CPR/First Aid training.

His face was red, but he was still coughing. One last cough and the old man cleared his throat.

His face had a panic on it. His eyes were watering. I asked him if he was ok. He wearily nodded his head and said, "That was scary." and put down the rest of the candy bar.

Smart move old man.

Whiplash lady gave a raised eyebrow look as if to say, See what you get for talking in the "Quiet Car".

Seriously bitch? That was totally not called for.

I ignore the passengers, the old man, and the snack pusher for the rest of the train ride. If anyone tried to engage, I just pretended that I was so engrossed with my typing and didn't hear them.

Rude? Probably. But I had enough. What was supposed to be a wonderfully relaxing train ride for me, was nothing but stress, aggravation, and a near death experience.

I want my money back, Amtrak.

We pulled into Penn Station and I actually traveled on the NYC subway. No muggings, No bums, No panhandlers.

Finally, things were looking up.

I quickly found my way to the ABC Studio. Huge pictures of Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson hung on the walls in the foyer. I felt like I was on the set of GMA. I walk into the lobby and was greeted by security employees. I told them that I had an appointment (like I was important) for "Millionaire" at 5 pm. The guard directs me to a gray door down the building and informed me to be there around 4:30 pm. I thanked her and leave to find the door.

That's kinda sketchy, I thought. I found the door. It was flush with the rest of the side of the building and had no handle or sign on the outside. Now that I knew where I was supposed to be, I decided to take in the sites of Lincoln Center.

I returned to the designated door at 4:30 pm. Only, this time, there is a line with about 75 people in it.

There are two men with headsets and clipboards in their hands. I walk over to one and give him my paper. He finds my name, checks it off and tells me to stand in line.

So like a good and eager contestant, I do.

I'm behind a man who is like a large sumo wrestler. He keeps turning around and looking at me. I smile politely, he smiles back.

 I'm assuming that a smile was the New York City signal to converse. Nice. Now I have to entertain this fucker too? Shit. All I wanted to do on this trip was to blend. He asks me if we were supposed to bring any sort of identification.

Who am I your fucking mother? I think to myself.

Stunned, I look at him and say, "Yes, and there are two applications they wanted to be filled out and brought in."
 "Oh." he says. "Well, I didn't bring anything. I hope they don't ask for it. I just came here to get out of work for the afternoon. My boss thinks I'm at a dentist appointment." then turns around.

 New Yorkers. Gotta love'em.

He turns back around to me a second later, and asks, "So, what happens?" I said, "With what?" He says, "With getting on the show?"

Now, I'm thinking to myself, Do you even know what fucking show you're trying out for?! Thank Christ, it wasn't Jeopardy.

I explain to him (because I'm an ass like that) that there is a 30 question test we have to take to qualify, but other than that, I had no idea. He thanks me then turns around again.

Another second later, he turns back around and states that he will probably fail the test since he's not that smart.

Really? I would have never guessed. Up until now, you seemed pretty intelligent to me.

The line now starts to move. As we head into the non-descript gray door, there is a ramp that leads to a room that is quite large and has several square tables and chairs at one end, and round tables at the other. Pictures of various ABC celebrities hung on the walls and we were directed to go through a metal detector and have our bags searched.

Two young women conducted the testing. One directed us to our seat and the other handed us our test. At the tables were a "Millionaire" pencils and magnets.

Parting gifts, I'm assuming.

One of the women passed out large yellow manilla envelopes with numbers on them to each 'contestant' and an answer sheet. We were to remember that number on our envelope.

The other young woman went through the rules for testing and what would be happening if we qualified to move on.  Her tone was that of a tour guide. Bored and tired of saying the same thing over and over for hours on end.

We had 30 questions to answer in 10 minutes. There was no specification of what was a qualifying score. The answer sheets were passed in and fed through a computer for scoring. If our number was called, we passed and were to go to the round tables at the end of the room and wait to get our pictures taken.

At this point, I'm getting pretty anxious. I wanted to get going. All I could think of was my fortune. "Be a winner." This was my time. I could feel it. I started thinking of all the ways I would help my family, being able to meet Meredith Viera and 'ask the audience'.

I felt like Bobby Brady fantasizing about meeting Joe Namath. It just had to happen.

The ABC staffer starts the timer and the race was on. I did well. Or so I thought. I finished in record time and even had time to recheck my answers. Some of the questions were silly like;

"What is a national brand of oatmeal" A. Episcopalian, B. Quaker, C. Protestant D. None of the above.

Then there were harder ones like; "Entomology is the study of what?" A. Bugs, B. Snakes, C. Horses, D. Skin.

There were 100 people who tested out for the show, only 15 passed. To this day, I have no idea why they passed or why I didn't.

(By the way, the answers to the above questions were B and A.)

From start to finish, it only took twenty minutes to find out that I was not going to be a contestant or a millionaire.

So I left with my handy-dandy magnet and pencil for my efforts. But I'm not giving up. I will try out again.

Because I believe that someday I will, "Be a winner".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dating in the puddle of life

Having recently become single again, I've realized at the ripe-old age of 44, that dating truly sucks.

Why can't relationships just work out? I was perfectly happy with what I had, and frankly if the other person weren't such a stubborn-doesn't-know-a-good-thing-when-he-sees-it-meathead, I wouldn't be here right now trying to find some other meathead who does know a good thing when he sees it.

Oh, and the word "meathead" is a term of endearment; I assure you.
So my dating pool has become a puddle, and we all know what happens when you dive into the shallow end.

When I was in my twenties the chances and places to meet someone was unlimited. The days were numerous. I had Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to meet Mr. Right or, at least, Mr. Right Now.

The world was full of twenty-somethings, the opportunity for love was everywhere, and I was at the top of my game!

I was so eager, optimistic, and hopeful. The world was my oyster, and a pearl could be discovered at any given point. How could I lose?

I didn't look at the passing weekends as one closer to my thirties until devastation hit; the day I turned thirty.

That's when dating took a serious turn.  I dated with purpose. No wasting time on college-aged men. Oh no. No more of those young, wild and carefree men.  They became too young for me, and I was introduced to a new category of men; the older divorced male. It was at this point when dating made me feel old.

Reality hit me in the face like a brick wall. My time and looks were precious (not to mention limited) and I didn't want to waste them on just any guy. I had wants now. I had needs.

See how the pool turns into a puddle? Waddle, Waddle.

So to try and keep the puddle from completely drying up, I am forced to utilize the dreaded online dating.

Am I embarrassed? Quite so. I think to myself; What the hell am I doing on here? I'm not desperate like the other people who need to online date!

Yet, here I am.

 Trying to find love, friendship, happiness, or any other discreet or indiscreet activity at the click of a mouse.

Some call it shopping, fishing, harmonizing, figuring out if it's "our time", or swiping left or right depending on who you are and which site you're on. 

To me, online dating is like shopping at a thrift store for that 'treasure'. Something of value that was donated accidentally and I was the lucky girl to find. Like stumbling across an Ann Taylor dress pant in my size with the tags still intact. However, when I try them on, they either ride up my crotch or are way too short.

Which is why they are there in the first place.

For those of you who haven't tried this avenue of dating, anyone can scroll through hundreds of photos and profiles to see what attracts them. Then, with a "wink", a "flirt", or that ever-awkward "ice breaker" introductory e-mail, the love arrow has been shot.
Most of the time it usually bites me in the ass - but I digress.

Lately, all I've found are men who seem to think that all they need is a good profile title to win a lady's heart.

Here are some that I have had slip through my fingers:

"SpicyHero". He sounds like a lunch that will give me heartburn.

"Leftbygypsies". Really? I'm sorry you weren't loved by your parents.

"Whatifcliff". Seriously? What if what? Why would I want to date a guy who is in constant conflict with himself?

"Stoogeman". Shockingly, still available.

Then, there's the creme de la creme, the one that made my heart skip a beat;

"BigBalls1964". Oh yeah, baby. This is the one. The Big Kahuna. The end all; be all, of men. However, this makes me want to call a doctor. Elephantitis is not something to fool around with.

I don't want to give online dating an entirely bad rap. Even though I haven't made a 'love connection', I have gained some really great friendships with very supportive men who make me laugh on a daily basis.

So, as I continue the ever changing dating adventure, I'm still optimistic that someday I won't have to use the old cliche', "I shaved my legs for this?"

Until then, I'll keep on doing what I do; take care of my kids, strive to meet my goals, surround myself with great friends, and live my life to the fullest. And if someday I happen to bump into someone who wants to waddle along with me in the puddle of life; all the better.