Thoughts on a Gray Hair

I found a gray hair today. I’m pretending it’s the first one I’ve ever found, that the one I found a few months ago and yanked within an inch of its life didn’t exist because my mind won’t let me remember it.

Gray hair is for old people. People that have mortgages, 401Ks and who are on low sodium diets. I can’t be old, I’m a Millennial, a generation whose tag line is ‘children of baby-boomers’. I’m defined by the fact that my parents can’t let go of the fact that I’m their baby.

But then I think about how long it took for me to get that gray hair. Almost 30 years. Years of disappointments, triumphs, heartbreaks, laughter, shitty relationships; it’s a sign of thousands of good days and thousands of bad days. It’s my award for getting through things that could have brought me to my knees.

I think I’ll let it stay.

A Place Like That

“How do you work at a place like that?” someone will inevitably ask me when they find out I work in a nursing home. Sometimes it’s more of a statement, sometimes it’s an admission that they could never do it, sometimes they say it with a shake of the head; an intrepid person will occasionally say it with a wrinkled nose. Why work in a place where smelling someone’s excrement is the norm? Where the worst of what a human body is capable is shoved in your face day after day? After all, I didn’t even pick a major even close to nursing (if someone asked you the opposite of nursing, you’d have to say English). I started working there after 6 long months of unemployment full of ice cream, bad TV and “where-the-hell-will-I-get-health-insurance” panic attacks. Luckily my dad knew someone who needed a receptionist in a nursing home he ran, so off I was to the land of gainful employment.

I’ve been there for 7 years now and sometimes I ask MYSELF how I can work there. Having to call housekeeping to clean up pee, telling 80 year old women 15 times that their mom is not coming to get them so please turn around, and smelling the foulest of odors routinely… well, it sure doesn’t make me happy to work there some days.

A few months ago, we got a guy named Joey (names changed to protect the innocent). He has a trach, and that means he can’t speak (he’s Irish, so that usually doesn’t stop him). At 50, he’s younger than most of our elderly residents but in need of nursing care nonetheless. I’ve gotten to know him mainly because of his brain injury; he was caught smoking a bunch of times (a no-no at our facility) and has lashed out at a few people earning him a permanent friend 24 hours a day (a staff member has to follow him around and make sure he’s not causing trouble).

I started picking up shifts watching him because it was overtime (a scarce commodity doing an office job) and it was a good chance to sit and read for a few hours. I continued picking up shifts because as it turns out, he was a really sweet (offering to buy me dinner and getting me candy from the vending machine) funny (loves a good sarcastic joke) and caring guy who likes getting to know people. He has his maddening moments, like when he gets angry at you for no actual reason, but overall, he’s a nice guy that cares about other people.

Today was his 50th birthday. It started out like an ordinary day. He didn’t get a card from his mom (a fact I had to awkwardly confront his mom about on the phone since he can’t talk) and he didn’t seem too happy to have to be followed all day, particularly on a day like his birthday.

Meanwhile, three of us in the office downstairs (who have been picking up 1 on 1 shifts with him regularly) all pitched in to get him some birthday gifts. We got him a modest bag of some snacks, Snickers (his absolute favorite), car magazines and a toy car (his other favorite) and cupcakes to celebrate the occasion. He sat there smiling, and for the first time that I’ve seen, contentedly speechless.

When the celebration was almost done, he grabbed the envelope of the card we gave him and wrote on it: “you really came though with this party. I didn’t think anyone would. Thank you”.

That note actually answers our question: that is how I can work at a place like that.

Anonymous said: What happened to this blog?

I don’t know! What should I write about?

Hanukkah Interview: My Dad

Yesterday, at our annual get together, I interviewed my dad about Hanukkah: an 8 day festival of lights where Jews everywhere get together and give and get cool gifts (and something about oil lasting 8 days when they only had enough oil for one night and Macabees or something). So what does the cheapest man alive think about the most commercial time of year? Here is what my dad had to say about giving gifts, what Hanukkah was like back in the olden days, and what happens when Discover card bill comes.

Are you excited about Hanukkah 2012?
I’m extremely excited to see what I’ve given to people.

What’s your favorite part of Hanukkah?
My favorite part is getting together with my family.

What was Hanukkah like when you were little?
They’ve made it into such a big deal. [Back then] it was a nice little gift. My father used to get us stuff for our electric trains. Aunt Gertie used to give us plaid shirts. She wanted us to know we [my twin brother and I] were not identical, so she would get us plaid shirts in different colors.

What makes a good gift now?
I like it to be thoughtful and frugal.

What do you hope to get this year?
I hope to get something useful and thoughtful and that didn’t put a
crimp in someone else’s budget.

What did you get for your son Adam and his girlfriend Carly?
Ask my wife.

What did you get for your son Eddie and his wife Rashmi?
Ask my wife.

What did you get your daughter Andrea and her boyfriend Tom?
Ask my wife.

Are you excited to see the looks on your children’s faces when they
open their gifts?
I’m even more excited to see the look on my own face.

What will you do when you realize how much money your wife has spent?
Mom made a realization a few years ago that she only wants to get
yelled at for spending a lot of money once. So she stopped telling me
when she bought things. It backfired though, because now I arranged
with Discover to alert me to when more than $200 dollars has been
spent. It tells the amount and location. So now we fight three times:
when alert comes, when the bill comes and then after the the gifts are
given.

Don’t you think it’s worth the money, seeing the joy on your children’s faces when they open their gifts?
Yes, but you see, you shouldn’t have to give a gift to see happiness
on other people’s faces.

Then why aren’t you a better person to be around?
Look who I am around.

Thank you.

Salt In The Wounds

Sometimes, you wake up after a full nights sleep feeling refreshed, stretch every muscle in your body, feel totally rejuvenated and then get up and get ready so your day goes as smooth as possible.
 
Last Thursday was not one of those days.
 
I woke up after only a few hours of sleeping in my actual bed since I spent most of the night on my gross and uncomfortable couch watching gross and uncomfortable TV. Since my roommates and I have gotten cable after a year and a half hiatus, I haven’t done much of anything but watch TV. And of course, you SAY “Oh, I miss knowing what’s going on in the world, I really would like to watch the Nightly News again”. But let’s be honest, that’s not why we get cable. It’s to watch Half Ton Killer on TLC, and Bridezillas on WE (gross and uncomfortable right?)
 
Anyway, so as I awoke, I looked at my clock and saw that it was 9:30am. I’m supposed to be at work at 8:30am. Great. Though I can usually convince myself that I can make my 35 minute commute in 3 minutes if I wake up at 8:27, this time I was totally, complelely, unmistakably late. I grabbed some clothes, grabbed some food (I dont even know what, a full bag of carrots and an apple) and then made my way outside.
 
Snow.

Yeah. Beginning of November and there was snow on my steps. Since I am 28 and have spent every single winter here in Massachusetts, I decided, fatefully, to just brave the steps because it was just snow. Just snow.
 
When I fell, I landed squarely on the middle of my back. The crack I heard was a nice touch too.
 
Your first thought when you do something like that is “do I have clean underwear if I need medical attention?” But the second thought is something with expletives. After swearing silently or outloud, I have no idea, I decided “if I can’t move, that means I broke something.” I got up as quickly as I could. Good news and bad, since it hurt, but not as much as I thought it would.
 
I ran to my front door (locked of course, with my keys lying in the snow a few stairs down) and then went into my house to call work with my dead cell phone (of course). After a few minutes of almost passing out and trying to figure out how to scratch out a will half dead on my living room floor, I finally got to a couch. I plugged in my phone to call work. As I was waiting for my phone to charge, I looked at the clock. It was 8:30. So how was it only 8:30 if I woke up at 9:30? Daylight savings clock changing procrastination strikes again. 
 
The salt in the wounds. If only I had that salt about 15 minutes earlier.

President Shmesident: Don’t Get Out The Vote

You’re not planning on voting tomorrow, are you? Save your gas. Here’s why.
 

Voting is just a big, stupid waste of time. Everyone knows that it doesn’t really matter how you vote, because nothing really changes when the president does. I mean sure, the biggest healthcare reform in our countrys history was passed because our nation voted for Barack Obama, but our day to day life really hasn’t changed all that much. For example,  under both Bush AND Obama, I still got broken up with by guys I liked. So who cares who runs the country? Everything pretty much stays the same day to day here in America.  Let’s face it, they’re really just figure heads, like the Queen of England and Big Bird.

Secondly, everyone knows that it’s the loudest voices that are the ones that count. Going into that voting booth all by yourself, secretly connecting the arrow to who you like, then discreetly giving it to someone who won’t even look at it? What good does that do? Millions of people do that! You think YOUR voice will be heard? Everyone knows that the only way to really get your voice heard is to head over to Facebook and Twitter where people actually hear your opinion. There, you have hundreds of people who actually want to listen to you talk about all your opinions on abortion and how gays are going to hell because gay sex is gross. You think your local polling official cares what your opinion is on the liberal agenda with so called “global warming”? No way! They just want to get the ballots filled out and so they can get you out of their face!

Thirdly, politicians don’t care about you. I have voted in three elections and not ONE has helped me finance or achieve my goal of staying home, acting out Dawson’s Creek scenes and getting paid for it in Twizzlers. THAT is what I WANT, Obama and Romney. So I have to suffer while Lucky Lucy over there with a broken hip gets her medicare benefits to go to a rehab facility? And Fortunate Fatima over there gets to go to nursing school to feed her kids? Not fair. If I don’t get to benefit from the government, then NO ONE should.

Next of all, everyone in this country is dumb. Everyone knows that the average joe shmoe is really stupid. That’s why we have the electoral college. Do I want some dude in north carolina who voted for Romney because Obama is a Kenyan socialist? No! Or some whore in California who wants me to pay for her birth control because “seriously, you should have seen him he was sooooo cute and I have like, no self control”? NO! Their votes shouldn’t matter, and neither should mine, because my vote usually goes to someone for the wrong reasons. Think about it. I’m sure there’s some really dumb reason that you’re planning to vote for who you’re voting for (I mean, Obama is a hottie, am I right?!)

Voting doesn’t even mean the best person wins. Must I remind you, America, of the worst miscarriage of justice in the history in American voting when Taylor Hicks won American Idol’s fifth season while Chris Daughtry was sent home? Taylor Hicks, America? REALLY? He doesn’t even have a record label anymore. Really? And I want you picking my PRESIDENT? No thanks America, stay home. 

Lastly, encouraging politicians only makes them keep doing what they are doing. Take the case of my parents cat, Emily Rose. Emily was using her litter box and everything was well and good until my mom started finding piss all over the house. Did she ignore it and tell the cat to keep doing what she was doing? No! She showed the cat what she did wrong and that she was displeased with having cat piss all over the house by rubbing the cats nose in it. And the problem stopped. Sick of political attack ads? Voting only encourages them to keep it up! Let’s rub their figurative noses in their figurative piss by (literally) not voting, and then they’re sure to stop, right? 

So stay home. Don’t vote. America is counting on you.

PS: Clearly I’m your average Joe Shmoe, so don’t listen to me. Go vote.

Book Your Book-cation Today!

The summer travel season is just winding down, and many people are remembering their lavish, awesome summer getaways. Did I go anywhere? Yep, I took the best getaway…  through books!!! (don’t roll your eyes at me, the economy sucks).
 
Hear me out. Book-cations seem kind of lame (and compared to Fiji, they are) BUT how else can I travel to 1920’s high society New York City without changing out of my pajamas or even getting out of bed? Also, who needs jetlag? Bed bugs? The French? I got to go travel all the way to the Congo without having to get weird shots!
 
I have to admit here that I’m not that much of an avid reader. I like books, but books take WORK to read, and we all know how I feel about working. I never regret reading a book, but I will bitch about reading a book on every damn page until a week after I’ve finished, exclaiming “Oh, (insert name of book)? I read that! I loved it!”
 
Probably the greatest payoff of reading a huge amount is the fact that I’ve written a few (extremely shitty) books. And it’s fucking hard. Reading a book by someone else is nice. It’s like letting someone else drive. You don’t have to frantically figure out how this character changes. You don’t have to decide if something that happens to the main charater makes them or breaks them (heavy stuff!).  Someone cared about you enough to spend months, or years, to carefully craft something just for your enjoyment! What could give you a bigger, warmer, fuzzier feeling than that?
 
So while you’re looking through pictures of your whirlwind vacation to Bora Bora, I’ll be in outerspace, fighting aliens over music rights. Catch ya later!

Anonymous said: Hey:) I've just read your writtings for the first time and I really liked it:) The little problem is that I can't really speak english very well. So, my question is connected to that issue... Can you speak other languages, too?:)

¡Hola! Yo estudié español para siete años pero no recuerdo nada. Pues, un pocito. ¡Lo siento!

Book Review By Andrea: The Hunger Games

It was good.

Everything (Will Be) Comin’ Up Millhouse

Happy 2012, friends!
 
I have to say, I love this time of year because I love making resolutions. You get to look in the mirror with your head held high and say “it’s okay that I’ve gained 40 pounds in 12 months, alienated all of my friends and family, and managed to somehow make less money at my dead end job, I will make it all okay!” and hope for a better future.
 
It doesn’t matter that that bitch Robin Roberts is giving you the “good luck with your resolutions, you loser” face on Good Morning America, the internet is practically screaming at you that of the 45% of people that make resolutions, in a month only 64% will still have kept them, and in 6 months it dwindles to 46%. And only 8% of people hit their goals every year. This is your year! Right? Right?
 
Usually not.
Why don’t they stick? My theory goes something like this: most people hate what they have to fix so much, that they can’t get past the first few weeks of working toward it to see they are making progress. So instead of giving you tips on how to acheive your goals like other lame blogs, I will give you some ideas on how not to hate yourself until you can run 100 yards without bleeding from the lungs, and get your mom to forgive you for ruining Christmas. 
 
1. Be realistic about where you are now. I’m always amazed at how awesome my denial system is. If you feel like you’re 100 pounds overweight and can’t look in the mirror without crying, there’s no use in telling yourself you look like Mary Kate Olsen, because when you do get a look at yourself in the mirror, self hate will abound. Being honest about something you hate about yourself is hard, but telling yourself you will make it better cushions the blow.
 
2. And don’t hate yourself for it. So you had to buy 6 packs of cookie dough before you were successfully able to not eat all the cookies before your holiday party at work. There’s being unhappy with where you are and motivated to change (productive), then there’s calling yourself every name in the book before collapsing in a pile of tears on your bed (unproductive). 
 
3. Put yourself on autopilot for the first month. It takes 21 days to make a habit, so decide on your goal, brainstorm a list of ways to acheive it and then put yourself on autopilot and just effing DO them. 21 days will be over before you even realize all the great work you’ve done.
 
4. Don’t be an idiot. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that people can rationalize ANYTHING. I need to eat that can of frosting because I haven’t eaten enough sugar today and I’ll just exercise for 8 straight hours to burn it off tomorrow. No. Smoking ‘just one more’ won’t help you quit smoking, eating a can of frosting doesn’t help you lose weight (trust me on this one), and shoving all your clutter piles in a closet and making big plans to clean them later doesn’t make them (or you) more organized. “Don’t outsmart your common sense”. Tell yourself to shut up, stop being an idiot and use your common sense to do what you know is right. 
 
5. Tell yourself the opposite. I once read something that said for every assertion you make, the opposite is true as well. So next time you get up and lament about how much you hate getting up early to work out, tell yourself that you love it, put on your autopilot and press on (eventually you’ll find things you love about something you hate).
 
6. It’s the journey. Believe it or not, you will look back on this time when you’re just starting fondly, because that lame, fat, smoker, mess of a person that you thought you were did all that hard work that got you to your goal. Working toward a goal is just as fullfilling as achieving the goal itself because you are proving to yourself every day how strong you are (how fabulous!). So relax, put on a smile, turn the negatives to positives and enjoy the ride, because it’s not going anywhere. It’s not the top of the mountain, “It’s the climb” (oh, don’t be surprised I just quoted Miley Cyrus).
 
While you’re working hard to get things done to achieve your goal, there will be those times when your autopilot will shut off and all the sudden you are starting to see the mess you got yourself into. “I’m eating carrots all day and I still look like Edna Turnblad’s fat sister?” but if you can stay positive enough LONG enough to see changes, it’ll all be coming up Millhouse before you know it.