Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Samaritans Rescue Poor Planning

I must say that even the best of us and the most careful forget or make poor planning decisions.I had this experience last night due to carelessness and having the notion in my head that my stupidity could be mitigated by someone else.

Last night, I went with my friend to the bar nearby. I pointed out that I forgot my cell phone, but insisted we just kept walking- it was freezing. Long story short, after I returned home, I realized I had either locked myself out or lost the keys at the bar. At an effort to just get in my apartment to confirm, I rang the bell several time waiting for my roommate to answer. Once. Twice. Three times. Umpteen times later, still no answer. Her sweet tired soul was dead asleep and I gave up. I tried curling up in the hallway but it was quite uncomfortable. I went back to the bar: A) to see if my keys were anywhere in sight and B) to have another drink- if I was going to have to fall asleep in my hallway I would need the proper tools (Vodka and Cranberry juice. Instead, I wound up going home with this very friendly 'Newsbian' (newly lesbian) where I met a hyperactive pug and her cozy wooden floor. It happened that what I thought was a Frenchman sleep-talking french was actually just one Frenchman speaking to the other he was cuddled up next to. Needless to say, it was a peculiar and tiring night. At 9AM I finally got to my bed within the apartment. It turns out my keys were on the key hook.

Why did I tell you a story you probably found frustrating due to grammatical errors and strays from my usual blog entry format? It has to do with the kindness we take for granted from good Samaritans and how we could have avoided their generosity. Why didn't I go back for my phone? That was disabling even if I did have my keys. Why didn't I make sure I locked the door and had my keys when I left? These simple innocuous precautions could have saved a lot of trouble, energy, and effort on behalf of my host for the rest of the evening. It seems that we (or I) should plan better and think how one small action could influence others? How hard could this be?

For example, you are having a dinner party. You want to bake a special dessert and this dessert contains almonds. You could either call all the people in the dinner party and ask if they are allergic to almonds which could seemingly take short minutes of your time or you could assume no one is allergic based on previous experience of what they've eaten in front of you. You choose the latter option and you've just killed one of your guests. This is an extreme example but I think you get the gist.

Planning ahead and pondering worst-case scenarios in order to think of possible backup plans is essential if you want to avoid a situation such as the one I had. Although, it does make a great story.

So, in an effort to help everyone out, here is Mission 9
(and it's a two-parter oh boy!:

1)Take a business card sized piece of paper and imagine a few worst-case scenarios.
Write down emergency contacts, phone numbers of those with spare sets of keys, friends that live near by that can let you crash or might have the numbers of people you need to get a hold of, taxi services, nearest hospital, plumber, locksmith, etc.
Just in case you lose your phone and your keys, you hopefully still have your wallet. If you want to take an extra precaution, upload this list to somewhere online that you can access from any Internet connection. You don't have to get too paranoid about this, but these extra steps will definitely help you when those extreme situations actually occur.

2)Be a great Samaritan: While it is someone's own responsibility to correct their mistakes or fight battles, sometimes a little kindness can help. Whatever happened to people helping old ladies with their groceries? Do something for someone that takes some time or is a little bit of a burden on you. Who knows when you might need the favor repaid?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Flash Gordon Approaching

With it being almost Halloween, I think this is quite relevant to the attitudes of people at the moment.

Super Heroes, X-Men, Heroes the television show and other forms of comics have repeatedly depicted people that either are born or made with super-human, supernatural or weird abilities. This dictates the notion that people want to have some kind of 'specialness' and that the only way we can do good is to have a power no one else does. This of course is augmented by Batman, ironman, and the few other various exceptions in which very rich people become something entirely unique. What I wonder though is what ever happened to just being a Hero in the classical sense of the word?

Ordinary people have risen to the occasion to build large empires of industry when born in less than pleasant situations. The capitalistic system we have today, theoretically, allows someone to build their own future and accumulate vasts amount of wealth through entrepreneurship and other business methods- which can give hope or safety to others who desire the same. Are these heroes? Do they have something within them that is special and unique to battle aversing forces in the system?

Or, Let's ponder Greek Tragedy Heroes: These players did not fly, did not become invisible, did not shoot webs or partake in DNA manipulation. They simply became doers of good and guarded against evil nature. These heroes also had their downfalls, hence why they are tragic.

We are obsessed with getting abilities and while it is fun to think about, why not think of ordinary people as heroes. Why not the single mother working 2 or 3 jobs just to take care of her child (or father, I won't assume gender stereotypes). What about the transgendered individual who fights for equal and fair treatment at the workplace? Aren't these individuals the ones with real power and drive to achieve the greater good and guard others from discriminating treatment?

It is my conclusion that people do not need claws and regenerative capability like wolverine to recognize that they have a unique power or ability. The heroes that cannot read minds and triumph over fear of their own mortality should be placed on a pedestal instead of Superman- a figure that doesn't need to worry about flying bullets.

Mission 8:
1) Recognize an ability you have that makes you a hero to someone or to some cause
2) Recognize a specific person in your life that has been a hero and write about it on this blog. Most importantly, tell them what impact they've had.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cash, Credit, or Debit

I've had enough and I think you have too. How many times do you go into a drug store and the person behind the register is bored, doesn't care, or maybe doesn't even talk to you.

"Next customer"- in that pissed off 'I want to go home but I just got here' attitude.
It is atrocious how these people carry on with this type of behavior and do not do anything about it. I understand-life sucks-you work in a boring environment and you get nothing out of it except minimum wage. I understand that you deal with annoying needy customers, but please don't pass that onto me.

Whatever happened to the days where someone would say, even in an obviously scripted way 'Hi, welcome to _________, will this be all you would like to purchase?" and then a 'Have a great day!"? Not only this, but doing your job at an immensely slow pace- especially when I'm hungry and you're making my sandwich, only makes me think that there is a lack of motivation or incentive. There is a lack of reason why anyone should care. Why aren't these companies or businesses talking to their employees or doing anything about it? Why don't the managers take any action? My guess is that they don't care either. My impression is that they make money anyway and think they are so important to the world that they can do whatever they want or rather not do anything and people will still use their services.

If someone you hire was to give you a massage and didn't try at all and you couldn't feel it, would you go back? If someone cut your hair and it came out terrible or they were rude, would you go back to the salon? I really hope customer service remains top priority. I know several companies still concentrate on this such as Dell, Harry and David, and Utrecht -but it is sad to see that people do not care.

This rant, of course, is very subjective to where you live and the relationship you have with the businesses around you. If you live in a more personal small town, service should be much better, but in a city, you're one of a million that walk through the what is one person with a bad experience? But the problem is that certain places, (rhymes with schwane Brede) do this to everyone. I say i'm not going to stand for it and you shouldn't either.

Mission 7:
1) Next time you are given an attitude or they seem bored or don't even talk to you, COMPLAIN- but not to them. Do not make a confrontation. simply ask to speak to the manager. I realize that this takes time but how is anything supposed to get better?


2) Stop going there and make a point of calling the company with the complaint.
Then tell everyone you know not to go there and find yourself a friendlier place. It may be a little bit more expensive but you won't leave feeling frustrated or like you want to strangle the girl behind the counter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Other Side of the Pillow

Okay, so, you just had a great night (or morning) full of intimacy or purely physical activity- you feel good, confident, and all you want to do is cuddle. There's something wrong though: You are tired and you need to rest. What's stopping you?
Your arm is falling asleep.

Ever have those times where they lay on your arm and you really just need to find a way to shove that beautiful person just a few inches over? I find that it's mentally hard to even try to move them entirely to the other side of the bed. Hey, I need my space and I want to cuddle with you- but I have to get up in a few hours and I need to feel every limb of my body (but thank you for making me aware of them approximately 30 minutes ago).

It seems as though asking for it will make you seem distant or you try to do it in subtle ways but they still curl back up to you even if you nudge your body away slightly. It's not that you don't like them, but "Seriously, I can't afford to be sleepy when I've got midterms on Monday and errands that need to be completed".

But there's a catch: Don't you have that fantasy where the person won't care and they will cuddle and rest for hours and not think of anyone or anything but you? You can make breakfast in the morning and slowly wake up or maybe even just lie in bed until 2pm. We say we want this, but as soon as the climax is finished-we want to wipe off, take a shower, and become clean again. We say we dream of certain things, when in reality, when given the opportunity, fight it and come back to reality again. This reality has laundry to do, groceries to buy, homework to be done, and doesn't involve 1 hour of sleep because this body is next to you.

So, I may be ranting again, but I think it's interesting what we do or how we feel in this situation. I'm not saying the experience wasn't sublime, but some rest and some space would be too.

So herein the mission lies...
Mission 6:

Don't be offended if someone needs to roll over to the other side and remove their arm from under your body. Believe me, cutting off circulation of blood flow is the last thing you want to do- especially if you count on having more of these experiences. And in turn, don't be afraid to do the same. They will probably be grateful that they too will be able to get some R+R to to charge up for some more.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Adolescent Observer

How well do you think you know your family or friends?

This is not the kind of 'know' when you add your latest acquaintance on Facebook, but more of an intimate knowing. This knowing is different from noticing habits or hearing about the daily lives of others.

After re-watching a few episodes of Six Feet Under (arguably for me one of the best written and acted Teledramas of modern age), I realized how little I know my family. I could not even answer if I knew how my father's mother died when he was 10. I never truly listen to my dad's stories because they are repetitive and have nothing to do with his life before my parents got married (which ended in divorce years later, thankfully). I know little about him and don't want to regret not having gotten to.

I always say that I love my parents but do not like them as people. This, of course, may be true with your family-but mine are totally wrapped up in their own little worlds. While I won't get into anything too personal because this is not my blog to rant and rave about life, what I will say was that I think I might be wrong to some extent. And you might be too.

The truth is, I have met many people, stayed in contact with many people, hang out, drink beer, smoke, laugh, and sometimes let them know my business-but I don't 'know' many people very well. You think you know your family, especially your parents because you live with them , you see them, they tell you the same stories over and over-but do you truly know them as people-before you were born? We are observers and until we grow up, realize this, and make it worth our time and effort to pursue knowledge about those we don't know in a true and tangible way, I believe we are stuck in adolescence.

Which brings me to this post's mission:
Mission 5:

Find someone in your life that you thought you knew.
Get to know them as people.

What does this entail?
Ask their history, their feelings, hear their childhood stories and let it be clear you are interested. It doesn't have to be your parents or even family. For the one who thought you knew and judged harshly because of it may not be there one day for you to ask.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Simple Days

On this lazy Sunday of waking up late and doing laundry I experienced something that substantiated why I live in the part of Williamsburg, Brooklyn as opposed to the trendy Bedford avenue stop everyone else does.

While getting coffee I asked Pat, a 79-year old man for a light.
As he walked towards me, he puffed on his very large brown cigar and said he could tell I was searching for a way to light my cigarette. I wound up having a conversation with him that lasted about 20 minutes.

Pat has lived in my neighborhood his entire life. He has been married for 51 years, his son has three masters degrees, he went to college when he was 50, and he is ambivalent about all the new young people moving into the area over the years.
"I will probably be long dead and buried before this happens, but I wish there was a good Jewish Deli around here". He explained that 'life is a crap-shoot' and that times have really changed.

I mentioned that I'm a native New Yorker from Canarsie. I feel like if you ever speak to someone this engrained into the community, in order to get any credit, you have to have been from around here. It's like street credit for the older generation- if I didn't mention it, I doubt he would've talked to me for as long as he did.

"life used to be so used to have one wife, one job, and fishing used to cost you three dollars. You lived like a king". He told me that our generation has it rough and he understands that life has gotten so complicated. Young people 'play house' and live in a world where we grow up so quickly.

Something he said caught my interest- there was an old trolley in Brooklyn that would take you around, I decided to look it up and came across an old brooklynite's webpage. It refers to the photograph located above today's posting.

This is what it said,

"Here we see the trolley on Rockaway Parkway coming from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn (along Rockaway Avenue) with the last stop at the train depot. From there one could either take the train to Manhattan or the shuttle trolley to the "shore" (Golden City Park).

Until 1942, though, a free transfer existed at the Rockaway Parkway station of the BMT (now the LL line) that allowed you on a trolley line that traveled on a private right of way between East 95th and 96th streets to its terminus at a long-departed beach resort at Jamaica Bay called Golden City, complete with an amusement park, fishing boat rentals and beer halls.

The trolley car extension of the subway (it ran on the ground until New Lots Avenue and the up on the elevator until Broadway Junction, and only then did it run as a "subway") ran through a littered lane between the back yards and unkempt gardens of rundown houses. Here and there passengers caught a glimpse of Canarsie's better dwellings, of its village-like business section on Flatlands Avenue, of great stretches of dump and marsh, and of unpaved streets. Canarsie then underwent changes as the new Circumferential Highway [Belt Parkway] around Jamaica Bay was completed and the shore improved"


Pat seemed to think our lives are complicated. But I'm not so sure. His generation had to have a wife and kids and grow up just as quickly as us. Now, college students don't really do anything until after college, get apartments paid for by their parents, and have gadgets that cost a fortune before even stabilizing themselves. I agree that we live in a complicated world but I think no matter what era you live in, life is still life. There are easy things about it and there are difficult things to get through. In Pat's day, you could not truly be yourself, if you were unhappy in a marriage it was socially looked down upon and you needed to stay with that job to be stable and raise your family. I hope that when I'm older i can look back and say that the present is the best time because I want things to progress and I want to keep up with the times. I think there are certainly good things to miss from the past, but in order to be happy you need to appreciate the state you are in.

I hope for Pat's sake, he will see a Jewish old-time deli reappear in this neighborhood before he passes so he can enjoy his last years in his home in this decade.

Today's mission requires a bit more work but I hope that you find it rewarding.
Mission 4: Find a way to connect with an older person native the neighborhood you live in. Have a conversation and make sure not to hold back your thoughts. Listen to what they have to say and ask them questions that ensure a story or their views on current life. Get to know a glimpse of someone you probably would have never known. I think it will be a rich and valuable opportunity to learn something about yourself as well.

Good luck, BRETSA nation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2 For 1 Draft?

2 for 1 drink specials should really be defined better. Is this offer 2 drinks for 2 people or 2 drinks for 1 person? It depends on whether you are at the bar alone or not. There are certainly things I've noticed by going to the bar near me- and on some occasions- by myself.

People think one of three things when you say you go to a bar by yourself:
A) You are pathetic
B) You are brave
C) Wow, should I refer you to see my AA counselor?

Either way, it is very hard to approach someone in a place if there is a remote possibility of making a romantic connection. While I am usually very social and can easily enter into a conversation, it is just that added pressure of speaking to someone that scares the jeepers out of me. But this isn't just me I figure.

From speaking with a friend last time at the bar, we discussed the following:
People are insecure- at the bar alone or with friends. Everyone wants to be approached and in doing so they put on a show. I call this "Drincurity". There tends to be a boost of confidence with a drink and a cigarette in the hand and people tend to try and get other's attention by being louder, blowing smoke in a sexy way, giving other's the "eye", etc.

And when someone actually does approach, good or bad looking, interest or no interest whatsoever, it is an ego boost. Why do we need this? Why are we so insecure about ourselves that we put on shows to get attention when in every aspect of our lives, we can be downright social and tell what is on our minds. Maybe its just me and I'm preaching to you, who has no problem? Furthermore, in a room full of insecure people who want to be approached, does anyone get approached? We should get a scientist to do some charts or something.

Once again, I'm probably not the first person to write about this or talk about it but I feel like it's not just happening to me and its good for others to see that they aren't alone. (Although, does anyone truly read this? oh, well. )

so anyway, I know you've been waiting for it: The Mission

Mission 3:
Approach someone in a bar of possible romantic interest. If you haven't done it before or if you have a hard time doing it -you'll need to accomplish it in order to complete the mission. It doesn't need to be in a bar- it could be on a train, in the grocery store, shopping mall, race track, your cousins bat mitzvah- I don't care. Just DO IT.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spy Games

You know you do it. You know you want to. They know you're doing it and say it might be creepy but they do it too. What is this? Spying.

I've noticed that i love to watch people in the subway, the grocery store or even just spying on my neighbors. At first, I thought it might be a terrible thing to do- but everyone does it. From afar I will look into my neighbor's windows and see them preparing dinner, getting drunk, or at 3am- half naked running to get a glass of water after they've had a long night of know.

It's not that we plan to do this or want ourselves to be spied on..(or so we say), but this innate feeling to see what others are up to. Many films have made this point such as Shortbus or Disturbia which leads me to believe that it's perfectly normal. (Especially if you catch a serial killer). My roommate and I will sit on the fire escape and make up play by play commentary as if it is a sport. It's simply fun.

Another aspect of this is on the train. Please, a show of hands, who has deliberately chosen a subway car just to be in the same relative space as some eye candy? I call this Transpor-candy. It isn't that we want to date them, screw them, or even talk with them- but simply just to watch them and not have to think about work, school, or that project coming up. It is that we'd rather have something hot to look at from point A to B. You see them listening to their ipod or reading and you want to be in their world. You are curious. I say stop being ashamed and break out those binoculars.

This leads me to our second mission:
Go on the subway or to a supermarket and watch one person for 10 minutes.
Bring a pad of paper or your nifty electronic notetaker and:
1) jot down what they do.
2) Bonus points for wearing sunglasses
3) Extra Extra bonus points for taking a picture of the person and posting it on this blog. If there is a technical issue. E-mail it to me.

If they notice you, keep doing it-even if they seem creeped out by it. Maybe you'll even make a connection or meet your future partner.

Good luck, BRETSA Nation.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Breathing The Same Air

Ah okay, so this is the first posting. I am not sure how this will develop or whether anyone will read it, see it, search it, love it or curse me to the heavens-but that doesn't matter. What matters is that it exists and I write it even for one person.

I try not to talk about myself too much as there are already so many social networking sites that the advertisement of my electronic self becomes exhausting sometimes. With facebook, okcupid, dlist, myspace- how does anyone come up for this air? How do we function in person? This leads me to what I gather is my first topic.

I've come up to a wall in the way I develop relationships or why I seem to not care as much as i used to about maintaining relationships. It's simply- I don't care enough to. But really, is it ever that simple? So, I went to counseling services for the first time ever without being forced. This is what I came up with through great drunk reflection at 3am last week: We are so logged on, so connected to computers and these sites that if it isn't as easy as pushing a button-then we don't want to do it. I am lazy. I have become so lazy that I already know what friends are up to because they advertise it on their pages every second they can.

I've decided I should try to unplug-and hence, not working because this blog exists. It's kind of like making playdough- no one makes their own playdough anymore. My mother would use regular dough, food coloring, and then I'd play with it. But everyone just goes out and buys playdough. There's no experience involved. and the same 5 year old playing playdough will probably go on his leappad and text his 10 year year old brother a picture of him playing with this orange playdough in the shape of Sean Connery. And how does he know about Sean Connery at such a young age? He gets weekly updates from IMDB on his iphone.

This subject is unoriginal, my writing is horrible, and I should probably quit. But I think this is something we should pay attention to. When was the last time you took a walk, or sat down to play cards or connect four?

I think I've got it. With every new blog posting- there will be a mission. I will follow the mission and you can too, if you'd like or care or even want to re-visit this blog. So here it is:

Mission 1: Grab a friend you have not seen in at least 2 Weeks and :
A) Play a card or board game for 45 minutes.
B) Both read the same book for 30 minutes and talk about it.

I'm going to give you 3 days to do it. Once i've done it, I'm going to report back but I want you to also.

Farewell and unplug,