Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love in the time of Cholera

This story is in no way about love. It's all about how I'm about to get cholera. The title was the best I could do under these circumstances. It was either that or "If you had the choice of being the top scientist in your field or having cholera, which would you choose?"

I returned home this evening to find not one but both of my bathrooms completely flooded with, um, not exactly water. I've only lived in this apartment for two weeks, so I don't take this as a particularly good sign. Our super did come very quickly to clean the mess, so at least I am thankful for that.

Now, I wouldn't exactly call myself a hypochondriac, but that is because I would call myself a CRAZY hypochondriac. So, of course thoughts of the bubonic plague and diphtheria ran through my head, mostly because I had no idea what causes these diseases. Apparently I am relatively safe from them. My biggest concern is Cholera.

It's not even like Cholera has been confined to third world countries. According to Wiki (hey, its better than CNN), there have been recent cases in rural England and the mid-western region of the US. Cholera is, like, totally the new black.

So I'm not going to freak out, because I realize that the chances are very thin that I will actually contract Cholera. But from now on, I'm going to stay away from the Internet. We don't need a repeat of the time WebMD told me I had prostate cancer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On the Road, Part Deux: "Hell is Real" or "You're in the WRONG city"

I should probably preface this post by saying that I wouldn't hate* Cincinnati if I wasn't (having been born and raised in the wonderful region of Western Pennsylvania) contractually obligated to hate Cincinnati. If it's any consolation, I hate Cleveland slightly more. But on with the road trip life lessons.

Leg #2 -- Pittsburgh to Cincinnati

"Hell is Real." At least Cincinnati warns you that its coming (ba-ZING!). No, seriously, someone paid to put not one but TWO giant billboards somewhere along Rt. 70 (or was it 71? It's all flowing together) in Western Ohio to remind you of this very fact. Listed on the back of the billboard are the 10 commandments. Just in case you were planning on creating false idols while driving in your car.

SAT prep question of the week: West Virginia is to Pennsylvania as ________ is to Ohio. The answer is c) Kentucky. Any "Deliverance - esque" jokes we make about West Virginians can definitely apply to those who call Northern Kentucky home. I'm not sure if it was the binge (liquor) drinking on a Sunday afternoon, the deep accents, or the way that each couple resembled each other just enough to question the familial distance, but lets just say they stood out in the crowd.

"Whoa. You are in the WRONG city." Someone (who may be jealous that my football team is better than his) "let it slip" that I was from Pittsburgh. To the Kentuckians. Now, if the tables were turned I would have been prepared to be pummeled by a barrage of Iron City Beer cans, but in this case I remained physically unscathed. However, I was definitely warned that I was in the wrong place. I took it in strides. I win -- I get to cheer for the Steelers.

*I don't actually hate Cincinnati. It was a lovely city, but a Pittsburgh girl has to keep up appearances.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On the Road, Part 1: "Truckers like to be flashed"

In an attempt to help fulfill a friend's dream while simultaneously proving the New York Times wrong, I embarked on an "epic" journey this weekend. The dream, still in progress, is to visit every baseball stadium in America, so we decided that a nice quick jaunt to PNC Park in Pittsburgh (yeah!!) and a stopover at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati (boooooo) was in order. To prove the NYT's wrong, free room and board was provided by friends and family. The following is a list of important life lessons along the way.

Part 1: New York to Pittsburgh

"Truckers like to be flashed." Or, at least, so we were told by the chalk-written sign on the back of an 18 wheeler on 80. Who knew? We did not oblige. (Did I consider? If you know me you know that answer.)

The only good race is a pierogi race. I wasn't close enough so I have to steal someone else's picture, but you get the idea. Brilliant.

Photobooth cameras favor the right and I have a huge head.

Pittsburgh, in its never-ending desire to be part of the south (Confederate flags above the Mason Dixon Line? You know it...) has actually gone so far as to not even know the difference. Labeling 279 South as 279 North is not funny and will not make me pledge my allegiance to Robert E. Lee when I accidentally end up in West Virginia. Fix that freaking sign.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Life is too short to be anything but happy...

Today I received a tragic and heart-wrenching reminder of just how fragile life really is. Without going into detail (a blog that invocates Brit Brit must remain lighthearted), I just want to dedicate a few of my insignificant thoughts on life.

My first suggestion is to stop reading right this now and pick up the book "The Last Lecture." Randy Pausch's wisdom on how to live-like-you-were-dying (he is) is as inspirational is it is grounded and realistic. He calmly states, "We have a finite amount of time. Whether short or long, it doesn't matter. Life is to be lived."

I spent a long time thinking about this theory today, and I'm still mulling it over in my head. Honestly, I think "short or long" does matter. Because 24 years is way too short. And 2 months of marriage is outrageously unfair. And, of course, the thought that this may all be a reason to reassess one's own life is selfish. But life IS to be lived, and I couldn't help but imagine myself in the situation of this lovely girl that I hardly knew. If it really can end so suddenly, am I living my life to the fullest? What does that even mean?

If I understood my finite amount of time, would I go skydiving? Rocky Mountain climbing? Ride 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu? No (but thanks for following along, Tim McGraw fans). But I would strive, as I do every day, to be HAPPY. And this is not a forced happiness. Not an i-better-do-this-while-i-still-have-the-time mentality. Because you can make just as many memories watching Project Runway and dancing to bad pop songs and drinking wine in the park with your friends as you can scaling mountains. And you will cherish the time spent with those you really love rather than forcing relationships for the sake of companionship. So I guess my advice to myself (who else is reading this anyway?) would be to surround yourself with what you believe is good and don't put up with the bad, even for one second. And don't force looking for the one "true love" -- because true love is all around you everyday.

But Pausch is right on with the idea of "fulfilling your childhood dreams." One of mine was to be She-Ra. I'm pretty sure that I can still do it. Hopefully I have the time.

Update: Randy Pausch passed away on Friday, July 25th.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In the heat of a summer night (or A little bit Country, A little bit Rock and Roll)

Some of my earliest childhood memories recall cozying up in my parents' car, turning on that special radio (this was before you could tune in with your own), and enjoying a summer blockbuster in the middle of the woods. I was lucky enough grow up in a town that still boasts a drive-in theater, so these experiences continued throughout high school and college (albeit in different cars and with sometimes questionable decisions). It was an indelible part of our culture, and it reminded me that the kitsch of my hometown could be serene, comfortable, and somewhat enviable. Imagine what these city kids are missing!

And yet, after 3 full years of living in New York, tonight I finally rediscovered this feeling. The possibility had always been here, yet I had been too busy, perhaps too caught up in the city culture to notice. But it had caught my eye that the Bryant Park Summer Film Festival was showing "Arsenic and Old Lace," a film that had always been on my short list but had never quite made it to the top. So I rounded up some brave friends on a sweltering July night to share wine and a classic movie. What I didn't expect was the nostalgia the experience provoked.

Sure, there were no cars. No matter -- by the time high school came around (especially on carload night), we were bringing blankets and sitting on the ground anyway. Everything else brought back the magic that was the country summer. The sights (with a quick glance, those skylights look like stars), the sounds (warning signs of PDA), the smells (ahem...), the friends, the laughter, the closeness of complete strangers. Because nothing brings people together like a shared experience, and this one feels a lot like home. Maybe as I become more intimately tied to New York, the more I crave to recreate my country upbringing. Or maybe, just maybe, my two hometowns just aren't as different as they seem to be.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Words to live by

the arts are not a way to make a living. they are a very human way of making life bearable. practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. sing in the shower. dance to the radio. tell stories. write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. do it as well as you possibly can. you will get an enormous reward. you will have created something. ~KJV

Shameless Plug Sunday -- Summerstage

I may love blogging partially because there is no need to maintain any sort of journalistic integrity. I like to write about (and promote) things that are important to my friends, which apparently is a no-no in the editor's world. So here I would like to introduce the first shameless plug of "I like Bad Music" -- Central Park's SummerStage.

Some may think this is a backhanded compliment, seeing as how I can fully admit to liking "bad music." But I don't ONLY like bad music (I promise!), and personally, I go to SummerStage for the ambiance.

Take, for instance, last Friday's "25 Years of Video Music Box." Now, I'm not particularly "down with OPP" but seeing 6,000 people (capacity 5,000) "throw their hands in the air like they just don't care" in the middle of Central Park is a pretty cool sight. And the people watching is phenomenal (kudos to the guy who jumped the fence, immediately got caught, and turned around and jumped the fence the other way).

Now, you may not have the "extreme VIP" pleasure of sitting in the Skybox (translation: slightly raised platform with a few chairs) but you can't miss these FREE concerts if you are in the city for the summer. If nothing else than to drink a beer outside, listen to some music, and appreciate Manhattan and its residents in all their splendor. But try to get there early. The lines can get long and the fences are under heavy border patrol.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How can I be "angsty" while dancing to Bon Jovi?

While dutifully working at my cubicle on Wednesday, I stumbled upon this article. Now, before you say anything, I understand the dangers of holding up CNN as a beacon of news "truth." But who am I kidding, sometimes I get pulled in by headlines such as "Yikes! 8ft snake found in laundry" (how is this news?) and "Teens free neighborhood from fear" (If they are so good at fighting fear, can we get their help with the war on terror?). But I digress...

As a single gal, I can *kind of * understand the reasoning behind this article. Going through what I like to refer to the "first wave" of friend weddings, I have been alone at these ceremonies on more than one occasion. However, I would like to point out some resounding flaws, lest those overeager brides try to follow CNN's advice.

* We single girls actually aren't all "angsty" or even embarrassed about our current situation. It's a wedding...there are unflattering dresses and free alcohol to cause all that. Looking back at all the nuptials I've attended in the past 4 years, going alone doesn't even come close to the "Top 10 most embarrassing moments." Those are reserved for foolishly purchasing my bridesmaid dress in Queens (You know what's appropriate in a church? Cleavage and booty.) and not realizing that a cameraman was documenting a word for word, fully choreographed version of me rapping "Baby Got Back." I'm lucky I DIDN'T have a date to witness that.

* Please DO NOT have what CNN considers a "fun table." Because all that translates into is me sitting with your 18 year old cousins and that weird family friend who acts like he has to, by law, inform the locals when he moves into a neighborhood. Guess what, if I'm important enough to be asked to and actually attend your wedding, you can be pretty sure that we have mutual friends. Please seat me with them. If our couple friends are so obnoxious together that I don't want to be at a table with them, well, we need new friends.

* Seriously, ban the chicken dance. Sure, don't have your reception ONLY contain slow songs, but I don't think I'm leaving my drink to do a dance best remembered through roller skating parties in the early 90's. Why don't you try some music that you would want to hear if you and your friends went out for a night of dancing? And if Bon Jovi isn't in the lineup, he's being requested. I practice my fist pump for moments like these.