Monday, November 29, 2010

Open Letters

Dear Security Guard,
Good morning. Hello. Yes, hi ... yes, good morning. We have established that the morning is good and in doing so, this has ceased to be an acceptable form of greeting. Can you stop that now? Ok. Here's the deal: I'm not what you'd call an overly friendly guy. I'm not technically a misanthrope but if I were you I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for me to strike up a conversation on say, an elevator for instance. You probably will be disappointed if this is what you are expecting. Now when I come into the office building in the morning and you are seated there at the security desk, I understand that there is probably a security reason for the you to acknowledge that I exist. It may even be part of your job. But see, I'm usually in a post-commute funk and just starting to coming down off of my coffee high so I say pish posh to this social construct. Let's just allow this morning's awkward exchange be our coup de grĂ¢ce. You don't want to be sitting there greeting every douche who walks through the door with some variation on "Good morning!" anymore than I want to come up with a Pavlovian response and/or a comment on whatever the weather conditions may be on that particular morn. Please understand that it is not a reflection on you as a person nor is it a sign of arrogance on my part (at least I hope it isn't). I just don't want to talk to anyone at 7:55 a.m.

Dear Guy Who Creates a Toilet Paper Privacy Screen, 
Hi, no, I'm not entirely sure who you are yet (although I have a couple of suspects), but I'd like to address your behavior if I may. You know how you create that privacy screen of toilet paper where you configure it to bridge the gap between the wall and the metal toilet stall wall? Yea, to close up that 1 inch gap there? Um, I don't know how to break this to you but I think you might be insane. You're certainly profoundly paranoid. First of all, really? I don't think we have many voyeurs here at the office but if we do, I'd be willing to bet that they don't want to watch you taking a dump. Ok, let's say that perhaps there is a remote chance, albeit small, that there could be a pervert lurking somewhere in the company who's particular fetish is watching people pinch a loaf but that bathroom is particularly busy and even if they were able to situate themselves so that a) you were not aware they were watching, and b) that they were on some bizarro angle so that they could actually see the toilet area, someone else would walk in on them. Oh, that's part of the thrill they get you say. I see. It heightens the experience for them. Gotcha. Don't you think that you might be a bit conceited to think that you were the one they want to view? At any rate, here's a step ladder that you can use to get over yourself. Please stop wasting TP like that. It's silly.
Boo! I see you!

Dear Bon Scott (of AC/DC fame),
I think I may know why you were "Shot Down In Flames" as you put it. I listened to the words as you sang this song and I have to say, it sounds like it was your own fault. Now, we don't know each other and there may also have been some extenuating circumstances at play here but, well, let me just quote this to you and see if you can figure out where the conversation may have gone off the tracks. Now keep in mind, these are your own words here so it's not like I'm getting this through a third-party source. Ok, here goes:

She was standin' alone over by the jukebox, 
Like she's got something to sell
I said, Baby what's the goin' price –
She told me to go to hell

Ok, I think the first problem was that you made a pretty bold assumption right off the bat that this woman was a prostitute of some sort. I think that's going to stand out as mistake #1. Just... well, just don't do that. It's in poor taste (to say the least) and if I may, I'm quite surprised you thought this tactic would work in the first place. Then, we go right into mistake #2 where you acted on that assumption and said, in no uncertain terms, that you do indeed think she is a prostitute. And like, right to her face too. This is mistake #3 and the most glaring mistake of them all. There's really no way this scenario was going to end well for you. Personally I can't believe that all she did was tell you to go to hell. You could have easily endangered one if not both of your testicles by this action. I hope that this exercise in breaking down why you were shot down in flames was helpful to you. I'd like to think that I'm helping people use communication to further their relationships and build on the skills needed to be a better person. What's that? You died in 1980? Oh, then fuck it. Carry on sir.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Think I Can, Maybe

As the whirlwind of the holiday season descends upon us like a glittery dragon that smells vaguely of pine needles and sadness, I have accepted a challenge. I will participate in the 5-Boro Bike Tour next year. Last year I attempted the ride without even once taking it seriously and proceeded to fail miserably. Hey, did you know you can't not exercise for years and then just jump on a bike and go 42 miles in the rain? Technically I can say that I knew that as well but I didn't remember. I was reminded when I realized I couldn't continue somewhere in Queens. I have learned my lesson.

I have a little over 5 months (the ride is on the first Sunday in May) to train and get into some semblance of physical fitness. I have been...let's say "dormant" for some time now. The attempt at the bike tour the last time actually made my lack of enthusiasm for exertion even worse. I regressed and the dreaded belly took over. My job is also not helping as most of it can be done while seated. It's not like I'm crawling around in people's attics anymore so I have to actually make an effort to get some activity going. I have no plans on turning this blog (still hate hate hate that word. Can we please come up with a better name?) into a log of my progress but I thought it was worth mentioning. Your humble author will be endeavoring to become less of a lazy shit. Further updates as events warrant.

Meanwhile at work I have been moved into the "Thunderdome" (a.k.a. the cube farm). I think I've mentioned that I used to share an office space and while it wasn't ideal (meaning, I'd rather have my own space and not have to share at all), it was pretty sweet compared to cube dwelling. In the office scenario, we had what is commonly know as a "door". This "door" allowed us to block most of the sounds coming from the rest of the people in the office. There was also a "thermostat". This device allowed us to actually control the temperature of our space in order to make it more comfortable. The main office space is, in my opinion, always too damn hot. Like now for instance. It's gotta be 76°F out here. What the fuck people? Are you all lizards? How about a nice comfortable 68°? Heck, I'll even bend and agree to 70°. No? You all like it super dry and roasting? Great.

I have nothing against sitting in a cube per se, it's just that when you are a cube resident, invariably they place other people around you. It's with these other people I tend to have issues. For one, they all talk. They really shouldn't be allowed to do this. Talking is noisy and goddammit they should be quiet. They also type on their keyboards too loudly and shuffle around in their 7 x 7 foot spaces. Of course there's always the coughing, sneezing, and other noises that people make on a daily basis. Hey there person who sits a couple rows over from me. You know how you keep sniffing every 3 seconds? Yea, if you actually blow your nose, it might get rid of some of that snot all in one semi-efficient action. What's that? You'd rather just sniffle constantly? Oh, ok. Carry on.

There is another person who sits nearby who is not only loud and makes every sentence sound like a question (this is a fairly common phenomenon by the by. It totally drives me crazy? When people do it? I find it frustrating? to listen to?), but she also sounds almost exactly like Rosie Perez in Do the Right Thing (minus all the swearing). Now while Rosie is super cute and charming I challenge you to sit within earshot of her all day every day. It's not easy. Use your inside voice lady who sounds like Tina, you're making me stabby.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Stuff Happens Too

Where to begin? Do I even want to discuss this? I dunno. If I'm to take this blog thing seriously (and by that meaning I want to use it as a place to talk about not only the silly and hopefully funny things that happen in my life but also the issues that have more weight and significance. That's not to say that having a fireplace mantle fall on my foot on stage in front of the entire elementary school wasn't a significant time in my life but you get the idea), then I have to talk about this too.

Last week my father-in-law, Amy's dad Bob Davis, died after a short battle with lung cancer. He was 69 years old. Amy and her dad had a much different relationship than what I had with my dad. Her parents divorced when she was 13 and it wasn't what you'd call a good break-up. Not that any of them are really. He had a drinking problem and their contact was sporadic at times before he got himself cleaned up. He became a "friend of Bill's" and had been sober for over 20 years. By the time I came into the picture, he was living with Carol (one of the best people I've ever met by the way. She literally saved his life by befriending him and letting him move into her house. They remained close friends and companions right up until the end), a family court judge and no-nonsense woman of the highest order. It was the stable environment of her house that allowed Amy and her dad to mend their fractured relationship. Carol played a huge role in helping them get things back on track.

What I found hard was that it didn't seem like Amy and her dad ever really talked things out. It was like those years were swept under the rug. They may be mentioned in passing but only briefly and with the understanding that they were not going to discuss them further. I found it infinitely frustrating during our visits since I knew that no one was actually going to say anything that would start a real conversation. I understand it, since that wasn't really the purpose of visiting her father: the investigatory breakdown of her childhood memories and his role in her development, but I still wanted them to have a better relationship and I felt strongly that difficult conversations might help facilitate that.

I'm also colossally full of shit too. I have to admit to looking back on my own relationship with my parents with rose-colored glasses. After my mom died I would go to the apartment in Malden to visit with my dad. We'd sit in the kitchen (my dad always sat in the kitchen watching a little 13 inch TV) and play cribbage. I'd ask him questions about his life growing up in South Boston or how he met mom or whatever. I got some information that I didn't know about him and mom but for the most part, it was just an exercise in trying to get to know him at a different level. When he died I felt better about how I had made an effort to know who he was since I didn't really have the maturity to do that same thing with my mom at the time. I don't know why but I just never talked to her about stuff that really mattered to me. Maybe because I wasn't sure what actually mattered yet.

In the years since their deaths I've been asking my aunts and uncles about their relationships with my parents since they saw knew them as friends, or as a sister or a brother. It's been great fun and enlightening but unfortunately they are a dwindling resource. My Aunt Mary was an amazing person and I used to love to visit with her in her kitchen (much like my dad ... hmmm, they were brother and sister ... maybe that's an O'Malley trait? Sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and shootin' the shit?). When she died, she took a lot of good stories with her. My Aunt Sissy passed away this summer and that's a loss with which I still have yet to come to terms. She was an amazing story teller and loved to talk about her little sister Eileen (my mom). My Uncle Don is another one that I'm worried about. He's been in failing health lately and I'm doing the typical "not-thinking-about-it-so-it-can't-be-happening" defense mechanism. He is another one who can tell a good story and he's told me stuff about my dad that allowed me to view my dad in another light.

This is what I mean about being full of shit though. I never really got into deep philosophical discussions about life and our family with my parents, I got most of that from other people and their perspectives. My sisters were a good source for that matter. We all grew up in the same house but have our own memories and angles on how things were. Sometimes I'm shocked to find that my view is different from the way one of them remembers the same event. It's been helpful but again, it's not something that we do that often or with any real goal in mind. I'm not even sure what it is I'm looking for with regard to my need for information about my parents. I guess it's just to know them better as people since I didn't know how to do that when they were actually around.

Amy is an only child. She doesn't have siblings to help her validate what she experienced. She just has herself and she admits to not knowing what that experience was. She says there are major gaps in her memory of her childhood and subsequently it affected how her and her dad got along. Watching her and her mother work on their communication over time has been interesting. Again, like my own parents, I'm not sure they have been able to talk to one another as adults until fairly recently. I often wonder what it would be like if my parents were still around. I wonder if we'd have the close relationship that I didn't even realize I wanted and needed until it was too late. They were just my parents y'know? I was in my mid-twenties when they died and now that I'm (gulp) 40 I find myself missing them more and more. I want to talk to them. Bob's death brought all of these thoughts to the forefront again. I'm really good at ignoring shit that is bothering me. Sorry if this post is kind of rambling but I'm just writing this as I'm thinking about it. This is all first-draft stuff that I don't want to edit and re-edit until it's all cohesive. It needs to be messy and raw because that's what it feels like right now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Random Shit That I Have to Get Out of My Head Before it Fills Up

When I find something that I like (like a fun website, blog, TV show, etc) I become voracious. I consume all the content. I'll go to a site I like and spend all my time reading everything that is posted there. You have a kick ass webcomic thing? I'm-a-gonna read all them motherfuckers in one sitting. Your blog is super awesome and funny? Hey, look at me reading every goddamn post you have. You have a way-cool TV show? I'll Netflix the shit out of it. This is all well and good but ultimately what happens is I catch up to whatever the latest post/episode is and then there's no more. I have to wait in REAL TIME for stuff to happen. It's bullshit. I need more of  your funny/interesting/thoughtful/whatever content and I need that shit now. Don't make me navigate away from your page. I'll do it. I may totally forget that I love your page too. I'm flighty and I have short-term memory issues. Of course I will then obsessively check and re-check to see if there are any updates. It's not healthy. Hurry up with my entertainment stuff already.

Misty rainy bullshit rain today. I was driving in to work and the rain was like "Weee! I'm annoyingly hard to wipe away cuz I'm not quite rainy enough to warrant a full swipe of the windshield wipers. And I'll make the wipers stutter across the window. What setting will you choose for the intermittent wipers? No setting will suffice! Ha! Ha! And you forgot to replace the crappy blades again cuz you only remember when you're in the car!"

Fuck you rain. Why don't you stop being so misty and commit to real rain drops? What kind of a storm constists only of tiny, tiny rain spittle? If I was a storm I'd be totally like "Awwww, yeah! Here comes them BIG drops bitches! I'm gonna be all up in your face with the rain. Holla!" That'd be awesome.

And then my windshield wipers were all "Weee, I've got a notch in me that makes a big ol' streak right in your line of sight forever ok?" Goddamn it. Note to self: buy wiper blades TONIGHT. Or forget again, whichever's easier.

I'm getting a new laptop at work. My old one is ok but kinda slow so it has been decided that I should get a newer, faster model. This is fine by me. The problem is that the IT guy who is backing up my data stinks. This isn't me being mean because this is a fact. He smells of bad breath, poopy and other terrible things. Also, there is a thing on his neck and I think it's trying to talk to me. I think it started out as a mole but it has become evil I don't want to talk to it. I feel it staring at me when he's talking his death breath all over me. When he was using my computer to do whatever, he kept touching his face and hair and then my keyboard and mouse. Duuuuuude, now I have to dump some industrial strength purell over everything in my space. I think I have to throw them all away. Again, this cannot be mean because it has the power of the truth to back it up.

That is all. Carry on.