Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Scenes from a Phone Call

Me: Tell me something to make me happy?
?: I have nothing to say, I didn't do much today.
Me: Well tell me you miss me.
?: How can I miss you, we've talked every day for the last few days.
Me: Well we haven't seen each other in a while.
?: (silence)

A little while later

?: Well I should go and try and get some sleep.
Me: OK, but first say something nice to make me happy.
?: I miss you.
Me: No you don't.  You said before, How can I miss you we talked every day.
?: OK, Fuck You, goodnight.
Me: (silence)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Routine

I hate routine.  Routine is what ruins a happy life.  Routine makes us fear the unknown.  Routine makes life a monotonous cycle from which we can not escape. Routine also makes some comfortable. It takes away surprises and allows one to manage their day.  Routine allows some to divide their day into little parts and masks inefficiency with the appearance of productivity.  What routine does is fuck with the key part of life - adaptation.

When I was working at my last job, sometimes I would go to sleep at 2am, sometimes at 5am.  Either way, I had to be up at 7:40am.  I would jump out of bed, wash my face and brush my teeth and run out the door.  I would get to work at about 7:57 every day and I would generally leave the same time every day.  Some days later, some days earlier.  These slight changes made life a little less monotonous.

My father is retired and while visiting he and my grandmother a few weeks ago, I noticed the thing that gets me the most.  Routine. Every morning at the same time, the door opens, the cat is fed, the coffee is made, my grandmother appears, the breakfast is made, the coffee is drank, the dishes are placed in the sink, the aid comes, the parties part ways and the day begins. What is so amazing about this routine is that it take nearly two hours. As a visitor, I have nothing to do but join in. Meals are great times for people to chit chat and discuss the upcoming day.  The only problem I have is that I watch from a distance and my ADD starts churning away in my head.  Yesterday, I couldn't take it.  In the time that it took them to get through this routine, I showered, I shaved, I checked my e-mail, my Facebook, my games. I got dressed, I came down and made a Greek omelet, I did my dishes and the crew, which also included my brother and his wife, were still in their spots.  Going through the motions, those monotonous motions.

The meal was barely finished and the normal discussion started - "what should we do for lunch?'  The last sip of coffee, barely down my gullet and the talk was on the next meal.  Lunch at 1:30, ice cream at 3, a nap at 5pm for one, a drink for another. The talk is all about going out to dinner.  Not tonight I respond, as I've responded the last three nights and like I did six of the seven the last time.  Dinner is late, 7-30-8pm, not finished til nearly 9.  "where's the coffee," my grandmother exclaims.  As she does each and ever night.  This all seems so odd to me.

Last night, my father went out.  I was in charge.  Dinner, Tilapia Francese with rice and sauteed spinach. She called to explain to a cousin that because I was cooking we'd have hot dogs and baked potato.  An insult? Prepared, served, eaten, coffee served and sipped all within an hour.  I half expected the earth to open up and suck us in.  I have thrown off all that is known in these parts.  Discussions of swimming, walks and watching golf happen every day, almost to the minute they were reported the day before.  The Olympics is on.  How does this affect the normal routine?  A two week event, all day long.  This can't be good.

Am I complaining?  No.  My father's generosity and hospitality is unparalleled. It's not my life.  It never has been. I've always had jobs where the routine changed day by day.  I think that's why times were tough when there was steady work.  I fell into a malaise that I couldn't handle. It's why I love kids.  There is no routine to their behaviors.  Sure they need routine, but their actions open up a cornucopia of opportunities to experience life, a different life, each and every day.

I think about my life at home. Sure there is a routine, but I try to change it. Last year, moments waking up in another bed, long talks on the phone.  I crave these things.  Not every night, I don't want either of us to fall in.  I miss my friends of old, with their last minute plans and impromptu barbecues.  I miss the ability to do what I want, when I want.  It's not about the money, of which I have none.  It's about that freedom.  It's about waking up to a new day, a different day.  Sure there might be the inconvenience of work, but I remember my youth, where work was the stepping stone to a different plan.  It was like Where The Wild Things Are every night.  I was Max and the world were my monsters. My lovely monsters. Every day a new one.  They were my friends. Each one representing the differences my life craves.  Today I still have them, but they represent everything I despise in life. I'm no longer Max.  I don't know who I am anymore.  Four days in a row, I've finished my breakfast at the same time.  I used to ask myself, what adventure can I explore, but now it's different.  Now it's mundane.

What's for lunch?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Things I Can't Currently Live Without

OK, So another shitty list.  Nobody likes lists anymore and nobody likes blogs anymore, but I don't care. I need to put shit down in words.  I need a record, so when the government comes after me, they know where I'm at.  Alone and not dangerous.  I'm not OCD or anything, but there are certain things I'm craving now.

Twitter - I can actually do without Facebook, but I get so many news sources and first run news, I need it.  I crave it.  I make a fool of myself on it, but that's the real point, isn't it?

Avocado and Tomato - rarely is there a day or two that go by without me indulging in a sandwich or salad comprised of these two bad boys.  Throw in some red onion and we're set.

The Wire - I am so hooked on this show it's nuts.  Watched Season 1 in three days and Season 2 in two days.  Halfway Season 3 in one day and then took a little break to slow my roll and enjoy it a little.

Two Friends - One I see every week and no matter my mood, he either enhances the good mood or makes the bad mood disappear, even if for a few moments.  He teases me when necessary and is a voice of reason when called for.  The other friend is a friend who I can tell anything too.  Sometimes our bond lets us say things we shouldn't but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I need this person more than ever, if just to listen to my woes.

Air Conditioning - after two nights sleeping with a fan on me, I know how important a cool evening is.  Sweating at night is almost like drinking a pot of coffee at midnight. For someone who already struggles with insomnia, this is a true killer.

Words of Kindness - we live in a cruel world and the average person truly comes across as bitter and self absorbed. Three people have really come across as helpful without even trying.  One is a beautiful girl who I've known since HS.  Never realized she'd be so hot or I'd have tried harder.  The other is someone I've sort of known for years, but she makes me smile with her dry wit and straight forward approach to life.  Lastly is a friend who I've known for years, who every once in a while reminds me she's thinking about me.  All are taken, so this isn't about anything other than kind words.

Late Night Walks - while they don't always help, there are times when these little strolls are an integral part of my day and night. They give me time to get some fresh air, some exercise and think about life and all it's curve balls.

There aren't too many things that help these days. Times are tough and about to get tougher.  I look to these little things to get by.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  I'm thankful when they do, more than anyone can imagine.

Olympics - Parade of Nations

Every Olympics, we are treated to, in essence, what could be considered the longest red carpet ceremony ever.  The Parade of Nations is where every athlete comes into the Olympic stadium, behind their flag and waves to the crowd.  No matter what is going on in the world, we cheer.  We cheer humanity.

When I look at countries like Uzbekistan, Cote D'Ivorie & Mali it dawns on me how alike we all are.  We're proud of where we're from.  We don't show our troubles and our needs, but our athletes stand proud for all the good that is in the world.  In our country and theirs. If all these athletes could sit down and talk, I think we'd be better off than when our elected officials do so.  I'm sure the guy who just smoked the one athlete from Cameroon in the 200 meter respects him more than anyone.  I'm sure they could come to a common ground on anything, based purely on respect.

Why can't our leaders do what these athletes do for two weeks?  They train all their lives, some of them for a single race.  Win or lose, they hold their heads up high, shake their opponent's hand and they move on. Why can't our leaders act this way?  Why must religion, race and socioeconomic factors play such a role.

As the countries marched it dawned on me how beautiful these people are.  Some of them blond and pale as a freshly painted fence, while others are as dark as night. They all stood together, one as beautiful as the next. All good people. All the same.  Somewhere along the way, we've all forgotten that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Can't Dream

My lack of sleep has caused many ill affects, but probably the most troubling is my inability to dream.  I know I do, but I can't remember any of them.  Dreams are such an important part of my life.  They are rarely good, but in them I get to be with people I miss.  I used to always dream about my mother.  Especially during the holidays or important dates. This week is the anniversary of her death and there were none.  I also dream about someone who means a lot to me and honestly, while the dreams are erotic are at times, it's other moments that mean the most.  The dreams don't always end well, but the reality is, in life they didn't either.

It's 5AM, I am starting to fade.  Who knows how many hours I'll get. I don't.  I just hope that my next blog is titled "the greatest dream."  Somehow I doubt it, but I'll try to remember. Who knows, maybe someone will come and spend some time.  Someone who in the real world can't.

A Few Seconds

When you stop to think about your life, what is it that makes things good or bad?  Think long and hard about the things that really matter.  They aren't moments that last for hours or even minutes sometimes.  For me at least, they are those moments that last for seconds.  They are those magical moments when nothing else matters.  Those moments we lose ourselves in a kind of euphoria that no drug or drink can bring us.  They make life worth living. We don't always have them, but they are the times we strive for, without even knowing they happened at times.  They keep us up when things are down.

This week has been a rough week for me emotionally.  I had been having a good time in my life.  My spirits were high and then some things started to unravel.  My financial situation got progressively worse and future prospects seemed dim.  Then a fight with a good friend, which was 100% my fault occurred.  That coupled with some other minor hiccups in my life and things started to spiral.  I had a rough week, but there were some bright spots.  None of them lasted more than a few seconds.

I was about the lowest I've been in a while, but I got to give someone a kiss.  Not a moment of passion at all.  Just a kiss.  Basically saying, things are OK.  Didn't last but a second, but it made me smile.  Then I spoke to my grandmother.  She made me laugh and told me to forget my problems and come visit again.  "It's been too long," she said.  I was there three weeks earlier.  It made me feel loved.  It was important, because I needed it.  Saturday after speaking to my brother, he did something.  While I didn't appreciate it at the time, he did it out of love and concern. It's not my brother's way, but he's been the best the last few months.  From my time in the hospital since, he's really been there for me.  I'm the one who is supposed to be the support, but the guy has been a saint.  Monday was the anniversary of my mother's death.  I awoke to a phone call and the first words were, "how are you?"  The rest of the conversation wasn't important in it's content. The message was sent.  You are cared about. It meant the world to me. Last night, someone made a gesture to show me they wanted to help me out in a small way, but wanted to know, they were there.  That was it.  Meant the world.

Five little moments that shined on five days that brought gloom.  Five moments from four different people. Five moments that took about two minutes total.  Two minutes out of five days.  People can spend hours laughing together, holding hands, eating fine dinners, maybe even making love, but the reality is, it's those little moments.  It's something as simple as opening your eyes in the morning and seeing the person you love. Watching your child smile when they see you.  Maybe it's seeing a friend or family members happiness.  Maybe it's yours.  It doesn't matter, it's those precious seconds that let us continue.  That make us feel good about life and make us forget our woes.  A kiss, a laugh, a moment of appreciation, a phone call and being able to say thank you for something.  That's what has gotten me through one of the hardest weeks of my life. I hope for more, but if I could have those five every week, well, I'd consider myself pretty blessed.  Two minutes doesn't seem like much, but they resonated all week long.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reality

As I hit here on a Sunday afternoon, coffee getting cold by my side, I think about reality. The definition has become skewed over the years.  We have something called Reality TV, which ironically is so far removed from reality, it's become lifelike cartoon characters.  What has happened to us?  We have movies with simulated violence, sex and every other function a human can do.  We've become numb to what reality really is.  I fear that this trend, is no longer a trend, but an irreversible sin that we can not come back from.

This is not to mock any one's beliefs, but if one is to read the testaments, old or new, or the Quran, or whatever holy book, you will see much of the same, but back then, it was a given, that these were in many ways, metaphors the points we are making.  Sadly, today's world takes things as they see them and just as Sodom and Gomorrah, we live in a world of Transformers and Batman.  A world that is so unreal, we have lost reality on what is.  

Two days, maybe it was three, a lone gunman, whose touch with reality was obviously off, went into a movie theater and killed a group of people. He injured four times as many.  Reports say his semi-automatic weapon, which he obtained legally, jammed and he had to use a less efficient weapon.  A less efficient instrument of violence.  We are all saddened about the tragedy and the lives that were lost.  Facebook and Twitter blew up with debates over gun control.  The arguments were heated. Some were intelligent and some were a little less so.  I feel for those families, but I'm angered by what society and the media has done with this story in such a short time.  

A group of people lay dead in a morgue.  Is it really important that we know what the shooter did for a living, when we know nothing about the victims?  Is it important to know what kind of gun he used, but not know what kind of people the dead were?  Is it important for us to speculate on why, when the real question is how?  Regardless of your feelings on gun control, the Constitution and politics, you  feel for the victims.  We all do.  This, on some level hurts every one of us.

The reality is that these were deaths that could have been prevented.  A simple law.  A credit card flag when this young man had bought 6000 rounds of ammunition.  We wire tap people to find out if they are cheating on their wives, but not when they buy enough bullets to kill a small town.  We bash Romney for not admitting how rich his is and how he got that way, but we don't care or question how an assuming young man bought enough armor and weapons to shoot 71 people.  We live in a world where the reality, even the word reality, means something made up.  

We all love to lose ourselves in make believe, but when we sit down  in front of the tube or enter a theater, we want, if even for two hours, to lose ourselves in a make believe fantasy. We want to bury our hands in a buttery tub of popcorn and drink a cold watered down soda the size of our head.  We want to jump, laugh and scream at the screen.  We want to be shocked.  When it's over, we leave the darkened theater and reenter our lives.  Back to a reality that we don't necessarily love.  The mundane existence that most of us sleepwalk through.  We get back to our homes, lay in bed and arise to the sun.  A bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee.  We half heartily smile at our families or loved ones.  We take it for granted.  Twelve families will have that no longer.  That count might rise.  I know that as the week goes on, I won't consider some moronic housewives, or a pathetic loser looking for a date or even a dozen people locked in a house to be reality.  That is fantasy and maybe we should call it fantasy TV.  As I watched the news and saw the tears and the anguish, I felt the emotion.  That is reality. A sad sad reality.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Movies of the Decade 2010-2019 (4.5 Years In)

I started this in July of 2002 and I've updated it once (July 2013), with two movies getting bounced out, so I'm back at it. As of right now, before even looking, Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur is tied for 10th with The Secret In Their Eyes. Juan of the Dead is in 8th and Kick-Ass, yes really is in 8th and is the last movie I saw when updating the list. I should note that as much as I love Silver Linings Playbook, I just can't get myself to say it's better than Crazy Stupid Love, so it's getting left off, despite being incredible. I also apologize to the utterly brilliant and overlooked Juan of the Dead, which is by far the second best zombie film ever made (NOTLD is #1).

10. Stoker - Park's brilliant American debut, features the beautiful and strange Mia Wasikowska in a role that I thought would have her in every movie imaginable thereafter, but it doesn't seem that my love for this film has caught on. Nicole Kidman, who is usually quite bland is the epitome self-centered behavior and shows how purely evil it is. Matthew Goode bursts onto the scene an plays a Hitchcockian villain. Wentworth Miller's script is brilliant and thankfully captured perfectly.  Oh and that piano scene!

9. Crazy Stupid Love - Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in one movie?  This is almost to much for my heterosexual and homosexual side to handle.  All kidding aside, I think if the world were perfect, these two would be a couple and I would be their best friend.  Well at least film their sex tape.   Add Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon and you've got comic and sincere magic. The story of a down and out soon-to-be divorcee who really wants nothing more than to get the old spark back with his wife.  Along comes the debonair Gosling to help him out. One problem, he's infatuated with the man's daughter. Like some of the classic relationship comedies, this one oozes sincerity and it actually works.  Even I'm a sucker sometimes.

8. Lincoln - Is it possible to keep a Daniel Day Lewis movie off a top ten list? OK, so it's a little long, but it feels like an hour and a half. Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and DDL deliver epic performances and without ever getting sappy, it is truly a feel good movie. The only reason for it's lower end of this list is it's not the kind of movie you'll watch twice.

7. Django Unchained - The one Tarantino movie I was sure was going to be a bust, surprised me more than ever. Jamie Foxx, who is good in absolutely nothing is good, but it's Christopher Waltz who, like in Inglorious Basterds, steals the show. A killer soundtrack and perhaps, DiCaprio's best performance, albeit in a supporting role rockets this film into the top ten.

6. Let Me In - An almost scene by scene remake of the Swedish great, this stars Chloe Grace Maretz once again and Kodi Smit-McKee as the youngsters.  A vampire tale like none other, it's almost as good as it's predecessor, lacking only the surprise factors.  If you've yet to see the foreign film, see this if you want and you won't miss much.  Richard Jenkins is brilliant in the small role as Moretz's caretaker.  It's truly a sad, beautiful film about outsiders and that horrible reality that some of us are actually alone in the world.  On aside note.  I recently saw Moretz on Letterman and while she is only a child, I have a feeling, as I did with Portman, that this beautiful young lady will one day be one of the biggest attractions in Hollywood.

5 Argo - Ben Affleck's tale of the rescue of six diplomats from Iran during the infamous Iran hostage crisis, is a near perfect film.  Rarely is there a film with no surperfluous scenes.  The movie, despite everyone knowing the story, recreates the tension, albeit with some creative freedoms, but never loses the imortance of the moment. Affleck is also wonderful on the other side of the director's chair as the movie's star, but the supporting staff, especially John Goodman and Alan Arkin truly raise the bar.

4.  Shame - Rarely does a movie come along where you find yourself sexually aroused and filled with tears within minutes.  Shame does this to you.  Michael Fassbender, let's it all hang out (literally) in this depiction of a successful young man with a dark secret.  Sexual addiction.  One might laugh at this "disease," but Fassbender plays the role so brilliantly, you start to fear the sex scenes.  You begin to question, just how far is this film going to go with it. Carey Mulligan, who was equally brilliant in Blue Valentine, plays his sister.  A down on her luck cabaret singer who needs a place to stay, but in doing so, make Fassbender hide his addiction and bring out his pain.  There is a scene in the film where he goes to see his sister sing that is absolutely incredible and says so much, without ever actually saying anything.

3. The Help -Emma Stone is the female version of Ryan Gosling.  Everything she is in turns to gold and The Help is no different.  The tale of a white southern belle, eager to escape the clutches of her stereotypical upbringing, she writes a book about the black women who feed, clean and essentially raise these white girls, who all end up just like their mothers.  The acting is perfect.  Each scene, a tear evoking journey.  Stone is wonderful, but it's Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who truly shine as the women who perform the jobs she writes of.  The movie is so careful not to understate their importance, while never understating these women's knowledge and almost respect for their positions. I challenge any man to make it through this film without wiping a way a tear.  Special kudos to Sissy Spacek for the line of the movie and Allison Janney with two of the best scenes in the film.

2. The Artist - Rarely does a movie move you to tears both through joy and laughter.  This movie did so from start to finish. The take of a silent film star at the top of his game, who is faced with the harsh reality that his time may be up due to the advent of "talkies."  The woman who he got started excels, while his career fades, never knowing she owes it all to him and never forgets.  Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin (an obvious homage to Valentino), the debonair star.  Berenice Bejo plays his early muse who skyrockets to fame, but all she ever really wants is to care for Valentin. She has one of the greatest scenes in recent memory, co-starring a tuxedo jacket.  Beautiful, sexy and touching all at once. The movie is a love story, both for people and film.    The greatest aspect of this film might not be the facts it's in black and white or that it's silent.  It may be the third best actor in the movie is a lovable and loyal dog.  I know most will pass over when hearing of it's nature, but to miss this is to miss what acting is truly all about, telling the entire story, without ever saying a word.

1. Winter's Bone - one of the grittiest films I've ever seen.  The movie plays almost like a Bergman film in it's pace and build up, but it's filmed with such an eye, that we are never sure where it will take us.  When I first saw this film, I had no idea who Jennifer Lawrence was.  When I saw her stunning beauty at the Oscars, I was floored.  You do not lust over Ree in the movie, but you empathize with her.  She is only a teen, but has been given the responsibility of an adult.  She has to care for her child and make sure her deadbeat father makes a court date. Along the way, she has to contend with a group of vicious women, who don't want her snooping around. John Hawkes, once again is brilliant as the unassuming leader of the area. The movie is one that is physically draining and any movie that can make me feel like I've just experienced a workout, is pretty damn good.


Funny Quotes: From My After School Program Part 2

Week 1:

Basketball hits Ethan in the head and he starts to cry.  A few seconds later, I explain that it's his ball and he should start playing again. He then scores a basket about ten seconds later.


Asher (1st):  See Ethan, me hitting you in the face made you better.
Ethan (1st) stops, walks over and hugs Asher.

Luke (K):  Hey, you missed class the last few weeks.
Me: Well the class ended and we had three weeks between the first session and the second session.
Luke:  Oh......you must have been sick.  We were here.

Spencer: Mrs. Robinson, are we going now?
Mrs. Robinson:  You can call me Tammy, Spencer.
Me: Laughing
Mrs. Robinson:  Ugh, with that name.  Even at my wedding I wouldn't let them play the song.

Me: Ethan, please behave, you don't want what happened two years ago.
Ethan (2nd):  What happened?
Me:  Remember, I had to speak to someone on the phone for about an hour about your behavior?
Ethan:  Nope! Doesn't ring a bell!

Week 2

Me:  Darius, Where is Dillon?
Darius: He was sick.
Me: Still?  He was sick last week.
Darius: Yeah, he's still sick.
Nancy (one of the after school chaperones):  I saw Dillon today in school.
Darius:  Yeah, he went home because he's going to Florida tomorrow.
Me: I thought you said he was sick.
Darius:  Yep, I did.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Guns in our Community

With the latest horrific shooting out in Aurora, Colorado we are faced with the argument on gun control.  It's no secret that gunshots are the number one cause of homicides and suicides in our country.  Imagine how many people would be alive today if they weren't so readily available.  Proponents have convinced themselves that they are safer with guns in the house, but the reality is, even accidental deaths by gunshots are on the rise.  It's a scary thing.

Earlier today I got into arguments with obviously conservative yahoos who beat the patriotic drum on this issue and bring up the constitution.  They say it's in there so it's law.  Well laws were made to protect the people and the amendment, for those who don't know, was so we could defend our property from, quite simply, terrorists. Not the terrorist we know today, but those who might try and come back and defeat our land we fought so hard to secure.

When we look at who argues for guns and who argues against it's quite cut and dry.  The people who really never have a reason to have or use a gun seem to fight for it.  If guns were more difficult to obtain, 14 people would be alive today.  Trayvon Martin would be alive today.  Ronald Reagan wouldn't have been shot.  John Lennon would be with us.  How many little kids, hit by strays would be celebrating their next birthday.

People call me a die hard liberal and get angry and throw insults and cry about their rights.  I wonder some times, if they can go through this check list, check every line and still wave their flag, their NRA flag.  Have they ever:
Had a gun pointed at them
Had a friend who was shot in a theft
Had a friend forced up onto a rooftop and thrown off
Had a friend fishing with his father get shot in the eye by a ricocheted bullet
Had a brother almost get shot and have to wrestle the gun out of his hands
Had a cousin kill themselves with a gunshot wound, leaving a family behind

Not one of these things happened because the person with the gun needed a gun.  Not one of these happened while protecting themselves or their homes.  Not one of these things happened while serving one's country, state or city.  All unnecessary. All because it's just that easy to get a gun.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What My Town Needs

Every town has it's ups and downs.  When I grew up in Brooklyn, our neighborhood was so close knit, there was never a want.  People hung out together in front or back of their homes. People cooked in their front yards and generously offered neighbors a taste at their ethnic cuisines.  Then I moved to Eastchester and was lucky enough to move to Garth Road.  A movie theatre, an ice cream shop, a 7-11, Chinese, Japanese, Irish restaurants.  Italian and German delis.  Fried chicken, wine, video and dessert shops.  It seemed to have everything we needed. Now, I'm on the south side and boy is it lacking.

We have seven Italian restaurants, none of which are great.  We have three Chinese restaurants, only one of which is good.  We have about 15 places that serve pizza in a two mile radius.  It's arguable that any are great.  One is great, but the ambiance and other offerings are so poor, it's tough to stomach.  We have about five drug stores.  We have four places serving pub style food and ironically, they are probably the best places to get other things.  We have three ice cream/frozen yogurt places within about an eight of a mile.

So I've told you all the things that aren't great, but before we get on to the desired additions, let's look at the pluses.  Good or bad, we have a diner, but long gone are the days it was a 24 hour eatery.  We have or Strabucks and Dunkin Donuts and we have places that actually sell good coffee.  We have some decent delis, but none are truly great.  A day down on Arthur Ave showed me that. And Mona Lisa is a little bit of a hike by foot. We have some spas, barbershops and supermarkets galore.  We have gas stations.  We have banks.  We sadly have a great restaurant, which I haven't yet been to, which is closing soon.  We also have arguably the best burgers in town, a great big fun bar and some of the greatest wings around, if you know where to go.  We also have a great hardware store and a beverage center.  Not too many towns have that.

So what do we need? We need some variety.  Over the years, the face of the town has changed, but the surroundings are the same.  It would be great if one could walk down the street and have good sushi.  I know there are decent places in other towns, but not here.  I wish there was some type of ethnic foods.  A BBQ joint, maybe some Korean, Vietnamese or Middle Eastern (there was a place that served some good Middle Eastern dishes, but it was also kosher and failed as a deli).  I wish there was a true steakhouse.  No frills, just the classics.  Forget the white table clothes, do it Luger style.  I wish there was a movie theatre, but then again, that might cause problems late at night.  I don't want any fast food, but damn a KFC would be nice.  If someone ever opened a fried chicken place in the south end, it would be a gold mine. Wish I had the money.  It would be great if there was something for teens to do a night.  I'm a little tired of seeing kids running around town, cursing, littering, breaking stuff and sometimes doing and selling drugs.  Not to mention the speeding that seems to be going on every night.  With the absence of Champs and the legendary Sportland, we don't have any sporting goods stores anymore and that saddens me.  I also wish one of the larger vacancies would open up some type of sports facility.  It would also be great if we could have something like the Little Gym, but for school grade kids.

I obviously don't wish ill against anyone striving to open a business, but I have to wonder about some of the planning.  How long does a frozen yogurt place think they will last against Carvel?  Who would open a pizza restaurant right down the street from a pizza restaurant, in a town where an awful pizzeria has lasted for 25+ years.  Why would someone open a spa, when there already is one.  Why would someone offer Italian fare when the town is already inundated with Italian eateries.  What I worry about is that with all these vacancies we're going to get more of the same old thing.  Someone needs to find something new.  I just find it weird that one town over,  there is sushi, Indian, Mexican, Latin, an upper scale gastro-pub (and now an attempt at a second), it's standard average pizza and Italian and a great Italian place, posing as an Inn and a place with truly good pizza.  There used to be a Thai place, not sure if it's still there, but add that to the list of things Eastchester needs. Thai is some of the best cuisines around.

I could probably come up with some more pluses and minuses, but my lack of money to actually do one of these things will just sadden me.  So I'll leave it there.  I love listening to people talk about the old bowling alley.  Wish people would talk about what they want and someone would step up and do it. A friend mentioned a Walter's type hot dog place once to me.  Make it happen!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Is A Life?

Last week was my birthday.  A fun time.  A joyous time.  A few drinks and laughs with friends and a kiss from a beautiful girl.  Life was grand. For about five days.

This morning I awoke and looked at an old blog I wrote in January about things that are making me happy and sad.  What I realize is, nothing has changed.  The good and bad in my life are exactly the same.  The things I longed for then, and before, are exactly the same.  I've tried to change so much, but the issues that plague me never let me.  Whether it's financial issues or friends, it never seems to change.  I have tried to be so many different things for so many different people over the past few years that I've failed myself.  I have been a rock for those who have needed me, but never receive that support in return.  I've been backstabbed over and over by those who claim to be a friend.  I've watched as people have cheated and lied on their husbands and wives and all the while tried to maintain that friendship with both.  It tears at me.

A lot of people think I'm a pretentious prick and maybe I am.  I have a personal moral code that I live by that seems almost archaic.  Maybe I was born in the wrong era.  The people I know who work the hardest are paid the last.  Those who love unconditionally, stand alone.  Those who cheat, lie and steal seem to live high on the hog, receiving love and admiration from those they secretly fail.  I guess it's the world we live in.  I know I'm not the man to change it.  I hate it and don't want to live in this world.  Please, do not read into that sentence unnecessarily.

I don't know if I will be able to, but I think I'm going to try and shut it down for a while.  Shut down the silliness.  Shut down my own personal transparency.  I think I need to stop being so open and letting myself be hurt by the same things that have plagued me for years.  Those who need me, know I'm still here for them.  Whether they choose to seek me out is their choice.  I'm just tired of it all.  Tired of the facades and the lies.  Tired of the combative nature of everyone.  I like a lot of people, but I love very few.  I've let some of those people slip away and some have pushed me away.  The number is less and less as time goes by.  It's sad.  Someone yelled at me to "get a life" recently.  They may be right.  I just wish I knew what it was.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Questions of the Day

Second blog in a few hours. I was actually starting to write a final blog, but got a little inspired by a movie.  So here's some things that have me confused in my life right now.

In honor of Friday the 13th....Why do people think Jason Voorhees is so bad ass?  His mom did all the killing in the original movie.  He didn't pop out til before the closing credits.

Why is it when you trust people with unimportant information they don't tell anyone, but when you tell them anything personal it's open to the public?

Why would someone tell me I have two weeks to answer an e-mail and then call or write every day to ask where my response is?  Did they think my e-mail got lost?

Why is it since smart phones, doesn't it seem like falling asleep, being busy or just not wanting to respond right away is an insult.  I fell victim to this last night and feel kinda stupid right now.

When did loyalty become a bad thing?  I'm getting completely screwed by people doing something for a year, that I have given all of myself for twelve years.  Not a happy camper.

How can people vote for Mitt Romney knowing that he has lied about so many things? Doesn't this seem like a precedent (not president) has been set?

How can anyone compare the complete impact that the Beatles had on music to the Stones?  The Stones did their first live show 50 years ago yesterday.  Still performing.

Is the Penn State scandal the worst thing to happen in college football history?  No.  It's the worst thing to happen in sports history.

What has happened since the 80's to people's standards?  In the 80's teenage girls and their mothers made fun of Kelly and Peg Bundy.  The modern day equivalent is Snooki and Big Ang and now teenage girls and their mothers emulate them.

When, seriously when, will people realize that global warming has nothing to do with the air temperature?  It's disturbing how many people believe this. Almost as disturbing as 18% of all Republicans believing Obama is a Muslim.

Why is it that some people who love each other can't be together, but so many people who don't stay together forever?  I don't have any logical or witty comment to follow.




Movie Review: Shame

Not since Winter's Bone has a movie gripped me to this point. Many people who knows me, think sports and drinks at the bar define me.  I've worked with kids for 23 years, but this isn't necessarily my stamp.  People know my love of food and my sometimes snobbish opinions of local faves.  These mean nothing to me. My love of film is what defines me.  Movies for me are not sheer entertainment like they are for most.  For me they mean more and every once in a while, albeit infrequently, a movie grabs and shakes my very being.  Tonight, I saw one of these films.

Shame, directed by Steve McQueen (not that Steve McQueen) and starring Michael Fassbender tells the tale of a man addicted to sex.  More importantly orgasms.  The movie begins with a shot of him laying in bed. He gets up and within seconds there he is walking, full frontal nudity and it's apparent this isn't going to be a typical movie.  It's made obvious he's had sex and then we see him masturbating in the shower.  We understand almost immediately, that sex is what defines Brandon. The movie continues and we soon realize that there is no joy.  A beautiful prostitute, masturbating at work, a woman in a bar.  It consumes him.  A scene on a train where he trades glances with a woman on a train is one of the best cinematic moments I've seen in a while. No dialogue, just subtle movements and stares that are as powerful as the most boisterous yells. It's riveting and a scene, I replayed once the movie ended.

Then his sister, Sissy enters the picture.  From the first moment we lay eyes on her, we realize their relationship is not a normal one.  We know this already, before her appearance, when he refuses to answer her messages.  She moves in with him temporarily and we know that there is an odd chemistry between them.  She convinces him to see her sing and we are treated the second mesmerizing scene.  Once again, the entire scene is two people in pain, suffering their own inner demons and we see right there, that something has happened to this family.

As the movie continues, Brandon tries to commit to some type of normalcy when he connects with a beautiful coworker, but soon realizes this is not attainable. We are made quite aware of this in the following scene.  Brandon has an inability to care for others that is overwhelming. We know this is his failure in what appears to be a successful life.  He continues his evening, entering a male sex club and then provokes a man in a bar, when seducing his girlfriend.  He hates his life.  The night ends with a menage-a-trois that starts out so erotic, it's almost shocking to see in a mainstream movie.  The sex seems so real and so intense, but all the while it lacks any passion.  The entire movie is wrapped up in this one scene, where we are treated to a close up of his face during orgasm.  No relief, no satisfaction, just pain.

The movie ends with an incident in which we see a different side of Brandon.  The sensitive side he's been hiding away, but we also are lead to believe that this too causes him pain, because it's not him.  There is regret, there is pain, but most of all there is shame.  The movie ends with one final scene and a fade to black that lets the viewer decide Brandon's path.

Very few movies make my body physically tired from watching. Shame brings us through a run of emotions that are like no other.  The sexuality of the film is truly arousing. The sadness of it, is devastatingly painful. The moments where we realize each and every aspect of his being doesn't bring us closer to understanding, because it's in many ways the entire movie is a metaphor for misunderstanding what is on the outside is not necessarily what's on the inside.  Then, as I mentioned, we're left to decide Brandon's path.

While watching the film, I couldn't help think of people I've been with. I remember those who I've been with who have been just for sex and those for which it meant something and sometimes vice versa.  When you've truly made love to someone, it changes how you feel about sex.  If that love ends and you find yourself back having sex for sex, you like it for what it is, but the connection is lacking. Imagine, never ever having that connection.  Imagine not even enjoying the physicality of it. Imagine if it was a response rather than a desire.  The sadness that is evoked in this movie is traumatizing in ways.  To imagine the inability to love, to even enjoy passion and to wake every morning unfulfilled with that incessant need to repeat the process, all the while knowing there is no satisfaction to be had.  Knowing that your normal life is nothing more than a cover for your secret.  Imagine, for just a second, the greatest feeling there is, brings you shame.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Apartment


I will preface by saying . I am not good at poetry.  It never sounds like my tone and I feel uncomfortable, so don't expect much.  I rarely bash myself before the story, but this is just me venting in a way that's easier than a regular paragraph.  This is also why I'm posting at night.  Nobody every reads this at night.

As I lay surrounded by four walls, I see this place for what it is.
Not as a living space, but as a microcosm of my life.
The walls, closing in, strangling me,
but all the while asking me to break through.  

The queen bed, too big for it's setting, 
in the strangest of ways, how I see myself.
The broken light in the bathroom, hides the reality.
Masking the fact, I'm not who I want to be. 

I shave in darkness, enhancing my look for who?
The stranger I haven't met or the woman I've lost?
The floor littered with clothes, some dirty some clean.
Covered magazines and papers, some thought lost.

I stare at a pile of mail, unopened, unread.
A symbol of unknown possibilities.
I look over at a beige folder, it's contents invaluable.
A picture of my beautiful mother, covered so she can't see.

Many times I think of her, all the time really.
When things are good I'd gloat, but they aren't.
I know she knew what was best, and yet I was me, 
I was right, every time, even when I was dead wrong.

The room is dark, I can hide here.  
Nobody cares here, it's just me.  
Laying here, the darkness consumes me. 
Like life itself, and it's blinding reality.

An hour passes, I fade into a state of dormancy,
sleep is comforting, but comes with it's own harrowing moments.
I dream of better times, of holding hands.
I dream of worse times, of running dearly for my life.

My eyes open and I see slivers of light, poking through the blinds.
They too are nothing more than allegory. Of my future?
The tiny beams of light, shining into the my murky lair, 
showing me it's not all bad, that there is hope.

It may take minutes, maybe even hours, 
but I rise, with renewed vigor.
Seizing the day, is cliche isn't it.
I want to touch it, not necessarily grab it.

Maybe it was the words of a friend, my father, or grandmother,
or maybe it was a kiss, a hand on my cheek.
Is it all that simple and we make it so difficult?
Maybe by lessening life's expectations, I can deal with it.

Today I awoke, thoughts of a friend fresh in my head.
I sprung up and went through that mail, and started to clean.
I have a ways to go, I know it's a long journey.
I am not giving up, never will.

The walls seemed to move, the room expanding, 
possibly to let the new, brighter sun in.
As the clutter was lifted, some of the burden wandered too,
away from me, to somewhere far away.

Tonight I sit in the darkness, thoughts running through my head, 
thoughts of how I want life to be and how it is.
I know how I'd like my day to start, as it ended the other night, 
but either way, things are good and can only get better.





Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Positive

I'm busy today.  I've really had a crazy last week.  It was my birthday on Friday and the event basically turned into a 12 day party.  Nights out with friends.  Golf (Golf at Winged Foot no less).  Lots of drinking and eating and partying.  Late nights every night.  Seeing old and new friends.  Connecting with people who I've been missing.  Just good  things.  This coming after a wonderful ten days in Ithaca with my father and grandmother, just lead to a brighter outlook on life.  That all being said, I've slacked in my responsibilities and I'm going to suffer because of it.  The reality is, things are tougher for me right now than ever before in my life and I know it.  So I made a list.

I couldn't sleep this morning, because I was thinking of things good and bad in my life.  I decided to lay in bed for a bit and soak up the good things in my life, but then dove into the realities of life. I grabbed a pen and paper and I made a list.  I then divided the list into five groups.  The first was things that I must accomplish today.  That list had four items on it.  The second was things that must be accomplished by Friday.  That list had nine items on it.  The third list was things I must try to get done by the end of the month, but soon after will suffice.  That list had three items on it. The fourth list had one item on it.  It's the most important of the lists and while there is no timetable for completion, I hear the clock ticking.  I headed the lists A-D.  The final list was I headed with a heart.  That list has only three items and that list is things I would like to do in the near future strictly to make my life a little happier.  Only one of the items is time sensitive and honestly, I hope can be fulfilled. The other two, I will have to wait and see.

It sounds silly and for me this blog is about the most vague I've ever been about my life, but recently I've noticed that being a little vague can be as powerful and being an open book. So far, I have achieved half of the must do today list, with one attempted and failed, but will try again after I stop typing.  The other is a phone call away, but I may take a walk to achieve it.  This will also allow me to cross of something from list B.

We'll see how it goes.  Wish me luck.