Monday, May 30, 2011

Grandmommy's Guest Book

Sometime back, I posted about Grandmommy's button box and how it used to entertain me for hours as a child. Equally entertaining to the adult me is her guest book (well, at this point really guest books since she has filled more than one). On the front hall table, which is a very traditional front hall table, there sits a very traditional, red guest leather guest book. The pages are onion skin thin and gold on the edges, and the book is completed filled, cover-to-cover with notes, quotes and well wishes from guest to my grandparents' houses over their lifetime.

Tonight, over my cousin's birthday, we got a little show and tell of some of the more exciting entries. Jim Lovell, who was the astronaut Tom Hanks played in Apollo 13, and others I can't seem to remember offhand. Tonight, the show and tell, was a note that was in the back of the guest book. I am posting a picture of the note and then below is the text transcribed in case you can't read it. It was from a friend of my parents' and a boyfriend of my aunt who wrote a letter for my grandfather so he could go down under the bridge in Paris and buy some weed. It was a letter "vouching" for his "coolness." It sets my imagination ablaze to imagine the conversations leading up to the writing of this letter and to wonder if the letter used...without further introduction:

This is XXXX X XXXX (my grandfather's name changed to protect the innocent). He'd like to get some dope off you (grass or hash only).

If you aren't paranoid about being approached by a straight looking, middle-aged guy trying to buy dope, you're a fool. But, he is your average IBM executive trying, and succeeding in bridging the generation gap.

This will be his first time, so give him at least a half an ounce of grass or two grams of hash. Just think if we can get all these guys turned on what a better place this would be.

Thanks alot (yes, he uses the dreaded ALOT). If you're ever in Boston, come out to Tufts University and look me up.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strange Conditions...

Recently, while I was getting my haircut, I heard a very funny story regarding a condition caused by iPods. Do you remember when you were a kiddo and had bouts of swimmer's ear all summer long? Well, it's making a rigorous comeback throughout the land. Apparently people of all ages, especially in cities where donning of headphones before one leaves their house is key to survival, are getting swimmer's ear from not fully drying their ear canals after their morning shower and before inserting their rubbery ear buds. Doctors are seeing swimmer's ear crop up EVERYWHERE, at all times of year, with alarming prevalence. A new disease for adults. A very modern disease. A very hip one.

And then there's my texting wrist. Oddly, when I had my BlackBerry devices for years, I had NO wrist pain, but the slightly slender Droid Pro has sent my wrist into a tizzy. Goodgle "Droid" and "wrist pain" and you will see how popular this pain is. It's carpal tunnel syndrome attacking the masses. No longer just reserved for those with jobs requiring repetitive strain, we now have hobbies and methods of communication that cause repetitive strain. This isn't even considering the strain texting causes on relationships...

There have to be a myriad of other of these modern diseases that I have yet to hear about...Facebook depression? Xbox seizures? TV vision? Who can come up with some? How else is our modern technology harming us?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

It occurs to me that I am a special sort of bird. This thought occurs to me many times a day, but here, on my 41st birthday, it's again prevalent in my thoughts. Here's why...I am a person who usually throws my own birthday party. I don't plan it absurdly in advance, but at least weeks, and I usually throw it for a group of friends, family and family friends on the weekend closest to May 14th. Now maybe this isn't odd-bird behavior, but it's what I've always done. Perhaps it's because I want to make sure that the venue, food and company are exactly what I desire, or maybe it's because I am a control freak. Who knows? I just know that I almost always throw myself a party. This year, however, was an exception.

I'm not sure why, but I just didn't feel like celebrating. And, before you start supposing it's that the ripe old-bat age of 41 has got me down, think again. I have always believed birthdays are just a day to celebrate me and haven't really been hung up on the actual age since probably my 21st. Personally, I am only one day older than I was yesterday, when I would have called myself 40, so I am pretty sure it's not the trauma of turning 41.

And before you imagine me depressed and forlorn, sad and lonely, let me dash that imagine from your mind as well. Although I'm not feeling quite as upbeat and positive as usual, I am certainly not down in the dumps. I am just sort of low key. It's like I just eradicated any expectations for my birthday and then have been just sauntering through the day.

There's a part of myself that keeps checking in with myself to see if I am ok (those of you who are not as weirdly out of touch with your emotions, will not understand this statement, but those like me who need to literally "check in" with themselves to see what they are feeling, will totally get it), and my self seems to continue to say, "I am fine, just chilling, just calm. I am fine with spending the day with my kiddos doing family stuff. I'm ok with making my own birthday cupcakes. I'm even ok with cooking my own birthday dinner and doing loads of laundry and cleaning house on the auspicious occasion."

I wonder if this is what it's like to grow up completely? But then, one tiny little thought entered my brain and it's what drove me to write this blog. What if the only person who really wants to celebrate me IS me? What kind of a thought would that be? Depressing? Scary? Realistic? And, then I started to get kind of glum. Don't other people have friends who would be sure that they were not alone on their birthday night? Don't most people's friends throw them a party for their birthdays? Do mine not just becuase I always have done it myself?

But, my sisters both offered to come down and create a party around me. I declined.
A friend invited me over to have s'mores around her fire. I decided I would rather be home.

So, I sit here on the night before it (thankfully) is no longer my birthday and ponder, and being the ebullient optimist, I come to this conclusion:

I am an odd bird. I have always thrown my own parties with lots of friends of all walks and generations around me. Because I didn't do that this year, I am alone. No one is worried about me or concerned, because they know me. They all probably suspect I am having a wonderful dinner with friends, am being taken out, or am being treated like a queen. I would assume that as well. I'm the type to be out having a ball on my birthday. Oh well.

Happy birthday to me.

Monday, May 02, 2011

It's a Virtual Dinner Party

I was just thinking about Facebook yesterday: why I love it so, why it suits my personality and how I use it. I came to the conclusion that it's like a big online party where all the conversations that are being had are visible at the same time, all my friend groups, from all walks of life are there and I can ask any question and get a response at almost any time of day.

This weekend I saw a movie and they previewed another movie while I was there. I decided I REALLY want to see it. I immediately thought about posting it on Facebook..."Anyone see this yet?" On Facebook, the responses would most likely be many within minutes. If I wanted to efficiently accomplish this same goal at a party, I would have to wait until a weekend day when I was invited to a party, wait until the subject comes up in conversation, and then repeat this process and infinitum until I had found at least one person who had seen the movie. Wait. Wait. Wait. Anyone who knows me knows this is not a strength of mind, that thing called patience.

Facebook is a world of online gratification that is absolutely perfect for a praise junkie like me. I love to show and tell about my life. It can be a bit much, this passion I have for reporting on the details of my life, and Facebook it turns out, is a oversharer's paradise. I photograph pictures of my food (hey, I grew up in an Italian family who orbited around their next meals) and people "like" them or post about them. Some even tell me how crazy I am for always posting pictures of my food (like I don't know this).

Facebook is an outlet for my overzealous self-centeredness. But, ironically, it has helped me to be less self-centered and more self-confident in my offline life. People exposing their idiosyncratic thoughts, passions and quirks online has helped me immensely to deal with a host of inner wackiness. It's also a great place to try out jokes and stories. If you post something and it gets fifteen likes and a bunch of comments, maybe it's something that has been beta-tested and can be pulled through the looking glass and into real life.