Sunday, December 30, 2007

Reason #4,239 I'm not ready to have kids...

I love my niece. She's the cutest thing I've ever seen, and I'm not saying that just because she's related to me (not that it hurts, ha).

She's my first niece, is the first grandkid on both sides of the family and is an only child. So, um, yeah, she's spoiled rotten. Not that she's bratty in the least - she just loves being the center of attention. Ashleigh is cute, smart and happy... just a terrific all-around baby.

Most of the time, that is.

We spent nine hours together in the car on two separate occasions last week on drives to and from Buffalo for Christmas. That's a long time for anyone to be confined in a small space, never mind a 1-year-old strapped into a car seat. On the way out there, she did great for 7-and-a-half hours. But for that last 90 minutes? As they say in Jersey, "fuhgeddaboudit."

She was not happy. And she was vocal about it. Her entire face was contorted into the most pitiful expression you'd ever seen. Her mouth, with every single one of her gappy, sparse baby teeth showing, was wide open. The pink tongue stuck partly out as scream after scream rolled over it. She screamed high, she gurgled low and gasped for breath and then she screamed again. And again. And again.

I have minimal experience with babies. But what I have learned from the few friends of mine that are parents is that sometimes, kids just need to cry it out. They get overtired and a good cry will help them fall asleep. I, in my blissful ignorance, assumed this would be the case.

Sadly, it was not to be. Lil' Ashleigh is a stubborn baby girl. And, apparently, she had drank some Red Bull or something, because she was not about to just roll over and fall asleep. Nope; she was just going to keep on screaming.

Jen (my sister) and I were in the car together... I was driving and even though cruise control was on, I didn't feel like it would be safe for me to turn around and start making funny faces to my toddler backseat passenger, so Jen was in charge of quieting Ashleigh down with the help of my shouted suggestions. It sort of went like this:

M - "Give her something, anything!"
J - "Here's a book, Ashleigh, you love books."
A - "Wahhhh... AIEEEEEE... EEEEEEK!"
M - "Try the cups! Try the cups!"
J - "Here's your stackable cups, you love those things. Remember, you were playing with them for an hour while we drove through Albany."
M - "Try milk!"
J - "Do you want your milk?"
A - (takes bottle and throws it on floor, continues one constant scream, uninterrupted by a single breath, for 270 seconds straight)
M - "Try water! Try singing! Try baby-talk! Try yoga pressure points! Try speaking in tongues!"

This went on for half an hour until we both gave up and sat in silence, listening to her varying pitches of screams. It was an operatic performance, indeed; she put on quite the Baby Einstein aria for us.

Finally, we caved. Jen called our parents, who were driving in a different car. We ended up pulling into the next rest stop and switched cars for the final 25 minutes to Buffalo, both of us with a splitting headache.

My parents reported that Ashleigh didn't peep once for the entire ride.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

What is Mike up to these days?

Okay, so here's part number 2 in a 500-part series... "What is Mike Up To?" If you somehow missed the chance to have your life, your beliefs, your very soul changed by reading my first submission, here's the link to catch up.

You're welcome.

Pure and simple, I'm going to give you a list of some of the things that have caught my attention/obsession over the last month or so, just in case any of you out there in web-land care to know. And, in case you don't care, you can click here or here to go to much more fun ways to kill time.

(If you followed those links, I've already suckered you into doing what I suggest! Muah-ha-ha-ha...*cough* *hack*... that was my best attempt at an evil laugh. I think I hurt a lung. Let's move on...)

The Best of 2007

It's been suggested by a wonderful, faithful reader that I write more about music, which actually surprised me, because normally when I start talking about music in a bar, everyone around me either decides to go to the bathroom or their eyes glaze over and they start staring at the shapes the foam makes on their glasses. But maybe things are different when I talk about them on the 'net... so here goes nothing...

(Wait, what's that sound? Hundreds of mice clicking away from my site?)

Anyways, I used to compile top-10 lists of the year's best music, but I'm not going to do that this year. It's actually a ton of work because, heaven help you if the list doesn't stand up to the test of time or you leave something out. So, instead of giving you my top 10, 25 or 50... I'll give you links to some experts with much better ideas on what you should be buying:

Woxy's top 97 of 2007 Listeners' and Editors' choices's alphabetized list and their Editors' Picks
Pitchfork's staffers' favorites
Spin's random selection of 50 albums that contain no surprises and a sucky, cop-out #1 pick

And, while I'm not going to do my own list, I will give you a list of albums that would probably make it and you should go buy. In no particular order:

Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
I found it extremely surprising that this record didn't show up on anyone's top-2007 list and I have to chalk that up to the band being a victim of its own success. Their debut, Silent Alarm, was THE ALBUM of 2005 - the one everyone bought, everyone loved, everyone talked about. So, when 2007 rolled around, everyone was Bloc Partied out.

That's too bad, because A Weekend in the City is a great album. It still rocks with the band's signature, frenetic, alt-punk energy, but has some lovely ephemeral touches painted on its canvas. It's as if the politically minded band is now less concerned with blowing up the world and more interested in bandaging the wounds it perceives. Solid.

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I arrived to Spoon late, having bought Kill the Moonlight last year and then forgetting to listen to it (a really bad habit of mine). I finally did crack the spine on the CD case when their latest record dropped and all the indie sites started buzzing with glowing reviews.

Let's just say that Spoon is now one of my favorite bands.

The Texan trio isn't supremely talented in any one aspect... vocals aren't outstanding, music is simply arranged and hardly uses more than four or five chords a song, lyrics are fun but not special... but they do know how to be a band. The guys work function well together and don't try to push the envelope further than they can deliver (yes, I just mixed two cliched postal metaphors).

If you want a free sample of their music, I can burn you a copy or you could just rent Stranger Than Fiction (solid flick and the soundtrack is mostly Spoon songs). If you're not singing Spoon's songs in your head the next day, then I'll give you your money for this post back.

Kings of Leon - Because of the Times
This disc should come with a warning label - "Listen at your own risk. Kings of Leon is not responsible for any injuries sustained by bourbon-drinking, beard-growing, tight-jeans-wearing boogieing down while listening to this album."

Because that's exactly what happens. I find myself having to shave every time I listen to this Southern rock masterpiec and that has really worn down the blades on my Mach 3.

Radiohead - In Rainbows

It's Radiohead. Tons of people have written about it. Go out and buy it, you'll like it.

(By the way, I wrote about this album in a previous post, so feel free to check that out, too.)

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
I have a thing for acoustic, singer-songwriters. Maybe it's because I've always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, so I can be the center of attention at every coffeehouse, fireplace and drum circle I visit.

Bird probably put out the best solo project of the year. His light, airy guitarwork accompanies twisting, complicated lyrics perfectly... he doesn't try to overdo anything. It's the perfect cloudy-day album (and Lord knows we'll have enough of those in the next few months).

And, in case this isn't enough to keep you entertained and Santa's given you more dough than you know what to do with, go buy: The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible, Raine Maida - The Hunter's Lullaby, The National - Boxer, Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War and, yes, even Paul McCartney's "my career isn't dead yet" release - Memory Almost Full.

Once You Pop, You Can't Stop

Even though it looks like microwaved popcorn may cause deadly lung diseases (see this story, about a guy who eats two bags a day and will now die because of it, but not before winning a giant lawsuit), I'm still eating more of it than ever.

Why, you ask? Well, it's because of this - Mr. Orville Redenbacher's delicious Natural Buttery Salt and Cracked Pepper. Oh. My. Goodness. It is the most amazing snack I have ever microwaved. If you could make something taste like stardust, rainbows and cute puppies, this would be it (except for the dog parts).

AND it's good for you! It comes in individual-serving bags that are under 200 calories. The popped kernels aren't covered in that fake orange butter-like substance, rather they are "all-natural popping corn" and are lightly salted with a hit of butter taste and sprinkled with pepper for some yummy kick. The flavors are natural, too, so this stuff is actually good for you. At least it's marketed that way.

So, yes, of course I eat two of them at a a time while drinking beer and sitting on my couch, but I could be injecting black tar heroin, so it's not the worst thing ever.

Christmas Cards

No, I don't send them out. But I have gotten quite a lot, which means that... A) I might be popular and B) my friends are apparently getting older and doing more "adult" things. I feel as if I should be doing the same, but I'll probably wait it out... My thinking is I should be married and have a shot taken of myself, my spouse and my Labrador retriever all wearing matching sweaters and sipping cocoa first.

Because, right now, my picture would probably be me alone, wearing sweatpants and a flap hat and shoveling my parents' driveway.

Once I get a shot of that, I'll put it up here for you all to appreciate.

Seriously, though, thank you to everyone kind enough to send me a card... I've put them up on my bedroom dorm, a la dorm style 2000. They make me cheery and holiday spirity in the morning, when I'm stumbling out of bed and groping for the shower and coffee.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

And while we're on the subject of J.C.'s birthday, I just finished reading Lee Strobel's best-seller, A Case for Christ.

Without getting all religious on you, I do highly recommend this one. Heck, if you want to borrow my copy, you're more than welcome to. Just shoot me an email (or, better yet, leave me a comment! I love comments! And exclamation points!) and I'll send it over to you.

Here's the thing... too often, people get all in a tizzy about different faiths and religions without really researching their background from a open and, for lack of a better term, academic mind. This book takes care of that, when it comes to Christianity... it visits the questions of Did Jesus Exist? Are the Gospels historically accurate? Did early Christianity draw on other, more ancient, religious traditions? Are there other, non-Biblical, sources that can confirm the historicity of things like Christ's birth, death and resurrection?

It's a fast read in itself and simply touches on the surface of many of these questions, but does give resources for additional research. I'll leave it at that, but I do think that this book is more than worthwhile for anyone who's questioning some of religion's big questions or just looking to know more about Christianity.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Take this and shovel it...

Punny, very punny, Mike.

Now that Old Man Winter has settled in, by which I mean he's like some stranger who bursts through the door of your apartment, takes off his pants, microwaves a burrito, takes over your couch and ottoman and immediately starts watching E! at full volume - obnoxious, uninvited and a little scary - I thought I'd share some observations I've come up with about snow shoveling.

I've been shoveling for years, ever since I could walk, actually. My parents, all in the name of "building character," sent me out there, bright orange snow shovel in hand and frozen snot running out my nose every time we got more than an inch of powder. In college, I was the only one who owned a snow shovel in our entire apartment complex, which meant that I was A) occasionally popular and B) constantly ridiculed. But, I was also C) the only one who could make a pizza run during a snowstorm. Now, I keep a shovel in my car and also make sure my adorable 78-year-old landlady's porch is cleared off. Here's what I've learned...

Shoveling is Fun

Kind of. At first.

There's something to be said for the simple joys of manual labor and working up a sweat in a brisk, winter breeze with the flakes falling all around you. It's a great workout and gives attention to muscle groups that you hardly ever use. While the "Shovel Workouts IV" video has been shelved for lack of sales, I still don't mind getting out there.

BUT that only applies to November, December and parts of January. Ask me if shoveling is fun when I'm doing it in April and I may just smack you upside the head with my ergonomically designed Backsaver shovel.

Cityfolk Know Nothing

Seriously, people, how hard is it to dig out your car?

It takes maybe all of ten minutes to pile all the snow within 2 feet of your fenders on the sidewalk, leaving a nice, clean parking space for the next person to come looking for one. But the result is that I am not woken up at 6 a.m. by some idiot spinning their tires for ten minutes trying to get out of their un-shoveled space. And then, when and if they finally do get out, they drive away, leaving iced over ruts and a foot of snow for some poor sap to try to park in. The next parker will then repeat the same process, further complicating everything for everyone.

Also, by not shoveling out parking spaces, city dwellers leave piles of snow lining the streets. Meaning that if you drive a mid-size car (like mine) , it's impossible to fit into a spot of someone who drives an economy car and didn't shovel away the piles. This leads to almost endless circling of city blocks, trying to find two piles of ice that you can fit between.

Staind sucks

Okay, so this has nothing to do with snow, but remember Staind's first hit, "Mudshovel?" Yeah. I heard that the other day and praised the Lord that I no longer listen to terrible, sludgy cock rock.

Shovel (eating with)

Is it just me or is eating with chopsticks so much more fun than eating with Western European utensils? Instead of using a fork or spoon to just shovel food down your gob, you get to daintily pick them up and place bite-sized portions into your mouth.

Chopsticks are like extensions of the finger... they're so much more fluid to use than the mechanical metal utensils. I just really enjoy them.

Okay, observations on shovels done... wow. I think I'm boring myself...

Saturday, December 15, 2007


In case anyone's reading this and wondering how the follow-up to this post (where I talked about trying to find a hat) went, I was successful.

Last week, I went to Urban Outfitters and tried on hats for half an hour before settling on the one pictured (left). As you can see, I've gotten much more ruggedly handsome and am even capable of growing stubble.

(Seriously, though, same hat, although mine's navy blue).

I had some reservations about going for the beanie-with-a-brim, because they generally look really stupid on me. I have an odd-shaped head, I guess. It's fairly wide, but it isn't too tall. So hats will either cover my eyes or poke up on the top of my head. I hate both and, either way, it looks ridiculous.

But this hat fits pretty well (probably because it's closer to children's size, than regular) and matches up with either a casual jacket or my dressier wool coat. It also covers my ears all the way, too, which is nice since my other hat doesn't and they tend to freeze solid during my 1-mile morning walk from my apartment to the T.

So, that's the updated. Hat bought, crisis averted. And all it cost me was a month of trying things on and $9.99.


All aboard the panda express...

I've hesitated to talk about this, in case I would jinx anything or would be accused of counting my chickens before they hatched (I'd much rather be considered a "counter of cells before they've split"), but it looks like thing are in place to take your favorite blog to Beijing.

Yes, I am slated to go to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China as part of the Olympic News Service. All together now...

"Bahm dahm da-dum dum dum dum.
Bum ba-da dum ba-da dum da-dum dum dum dummmm"

If you don't think I wasted 10 minutes making sure I had the right number of "dums" in that , then you don't know Mike.

It took a while for all this to come together, for a number of reasons that I won't bore you with here. In the end, though, my college was one of five schools selected to send grad students/upperclassmen to the Olympics to help with the news coverage. And that's the extent of what I know about the program. Everything else has been given to us in the vaguest of terms, because, basically, the ONS has never done this before. So, here's what I know...

- I'll be in China
- probably for two months
- they think I have a place to stay (at the Communications University of China) and maybe someone will even feed me
- we'll be covering the Games, but there is no information on what venues/sports or even in what capacity we'll be working in

And that's about it. But, screw it, who cares? My next travel adventure has begun and I'm pretty pumped about it.

I know next to nothing about China. For example, if you had asked me yesterday which city housed Tiananmen Square, I couldn't have told you. The only words I know in Mandarin are "been-fau-tong," which means "marshmallow" and "meso-hoh-nee," which directly translated is "I have sex you long time for money." So, yeah, that's wicked helpful. The only info I have on China in my apartment is my bread machine and coffee maker (both have "Made in.." status). Discounting my weekly visit to my main guilty pleasure, Panda Express, I have almost no interaction with anything China-related. Oh, except for those wonderfully vague fortune cookies I always add "in bed" to (since I'm still mentally in junior high).

Turns out, I'm your typical, politically incorrect, American traveler after all.

I'm going into this thing completely blind. BUT I think this does provide a great blogging opportunity... when I learn something, I'll share it with you. So, as I learn Mandarin, you'll learn Mandarin. As I find out the rules of ping-pong, you'll find out the rules of ping-pong. And, if I find out they do have Panda Express in China, I'll post a picture of me eating some of that delectable orange chicken.

Yum, yum.


After I wrote this, I looked up the nutrition information for the Panda. Orange chicken has 500 calories and 27 whopping grams of fat per serving. Both are 200% more than the next-worst menu item (discounting the pork dishes, which are so disgusting that even the homeless turn them down).

No wonder that stuff tastes so good. Just call me Mikey McFatFat.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Habitual offender...

Those of you who have known me long enough understand that I am a creature of habit. It's not something that I try to be, it's just who I am. I am a Nagel - I cannot help it. Actually, I think that my habitualness (is that a word?) is the be all, end all for the Nature versus Nurture argument. Mike does the same things, the same way, every time. End of discussion.

I try to break out of my habits, I really do. When I was growing up, I read a lot of Louis L'Amour books. He wrote Westerns, where his main character was invariably a tall, dark, quick-drawing guy with a rugged past that was misunderstood because he was invariably good at heart. And I wanted to be that dude, especially since it meant gunning down bad guys in dusty street standoffs and then riding off in the sunset to tap some calico ass. Doesn't get much better in the mind of a 12-year-old.

All of L'Amour's heroes shared the same characteristics, right down to their tricks of staying alive on the dusty trail - they never tied their guns down (so they were always ready to fight), they swung first (element of surprise), they didn't stare into the fire (cuts down night vision) and they always, always made sure that they never took the same path twice. Mixing up your daily routine and not falling into habits were methods of survival.

I found that I couldn't cut it. I simply cannot break out of my habits. I squeeze toothpaste from the botton, I re-fold shirts in clothing stores, I put my gloves on right-hand first, I alphabetize my music, I file papers, my shoes are arranged in order of preference, my closet is categorized first by season and then sub-categorized by shirt type and favorite status.

It's not that I'm OCD (much), I just like to have a place for everything and everything in that place.

This means, however, that it takes a huge mental and physical effort on my part to change any part of my routine. But, as we all know, I'm not perfect, so there are some things that are going to have to change. I guess you could call this "Mike's Preparation for Having to Come Up with a New Year's Resolution."

My Manicures

Yes, I get manicures. No, that does not make me gay, just like leaving my phone number scrawled on the walls of bathroom stalls when I'm drunk doesn't mean I like men.

Here's the problem, though... For 22 years, I bit my nails. And then, I managed to stop and started getting manicures (I don't know how to cut my own nails, since I always bit them and my nice group of South Korean ladies really do an awesome job at it). However, I've fallen back into the bad habit of biting my nails... maybe it's because I've been stressed out, or been bored in class or stopped chewing as much gum so my oral fixation is compensating.

Anyways, I need to stop this. It's discusting and my cuticles look awful because it's been months since someone else soaked them, smothered them in goop and buffed them to a shine. I kinda miss that.

My Journal

I have kept a journal off-and-on for over five years now. It's kind of fun to read back through it and see what a jackass I used to be. Or what a jackass I've become. Same difference.

There were periods in my life where I wrote in that thing every day. Some of it was good stuff, too... things about travel, happenings in my life, answered prayer requests and such. But lately, I haven't been doing that. The journal (which, incidentaly, is actually a 99 cent notebook from CVS and not a pink book with a ribbon and a key, thank you very much) sits collecting dust next to my bed as I ignore it on a nightly basis.

Need to get back to that.

My Social Life

My social life is kind of non-existent. By the time I get home from work, finish all the crap I have to do for grad school, clean the house and/or make dinner, I'm spent. When the weekend rolls around, I have lately taken to renting on-demand movies and drinking wine. Alone. I'd switch to gin or scotch, but I have a scary feeling that that could resemeble the actions of an alcoholic. Plus, that stuff is more expensive.

However, there was a time in the Life of Mike where I would go to the theater (alone or with friends), see random concerts, visit museums or even just walk around the city. I miss that.

Now that I'm about to start some time away from work, I feel like I have the chance to get back into that. So, for all of my Boston compadres, let's start making plans!

My Emails

I am THE WORST emailer. I receive emails that sit in my inbox for months. I literally have an email from my friend Sarah that came in September. Of 2006. I haven't replied to it yet. I guess I must've been "busy."

I should get better at this. But I'm afraid that it may be a hopeless cause. I have never been good at it and, as more time goes by, the excuses for not writing back just continue to pile up. If anyone stumbles on this blog who emailed me years ago and assumed I died, I'm actually okay. I'm just a jerk.

I think emailing will continue to go on the back-burner... mostly because I haven't thought up a proper apologie for not writing that doesn't involve a coma, a collection incident with the Mob gone wrong, sudden amnesia or a monkish vow of solitude.

But, hey, at least I can get started on getting my nails done! Maybe I'll get a pedicure, too...

That won't make me gay, right?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This is your morning wakeup call...

Good morning everyone!

I say that because it's morning now, when I'm starting this blog. But it may not be the a.m. when you're reading. In which case, buenos tardes or good evening or why the heck are you reading this at three in the morning - go to bed you insomniac!

I just want to discuss a rather embarassing event in the Life of Mike. It actually wouldn't be embarrassing,if I weren't sharing it with you, Dear Reader, because no one was there to
witness it. But I am posting it here because, let's he honest, self-deprication is what the Internet is all about.

(side note: who decided that the Internet deserves the same respect as God. Auto-type always capitalizes that "I." Did Al Gore mandate this? Is it Bill Gates' way of subtlely deifying himself? I need to know...)

Back to our hero...

I gave myself a "hot oven" this morning.

For those of you not familiar with the term, it does not denote a deviant form of furious masturbation with a microwaved pop tart. Rather, it's the name given to a practical joke where two people are sharing a bed and are underneath the (preferably heavy) blankets. The joker rips a fart and simultaneously pulls up the blankets over the jokee's head. The result of this action is that the jokee becomes trapped in a "hot oven" of odorous, flammable and sometimes even visible flatulant.

It is the highest of high comedy.

However, there was nothing funny about the situation this morning when I awoke to find that I was both the joker and the jokee. It is only humorous when two or more are gathered to share in the hilarity. Trust me on that.

My alarm went off at 6:30. I was snuggled deep under the covers, where a cave of warmth was keeping the December cold at bay. I'm always a slow riser (not E.D., you perv!), so the noxious fumes that greeted me slipped slowly into by consciousness, until...


"Pungent" doesn't begin to describe it.
"Palatable" gets closer.
"Perverse" probably sums it up best.

I had, apparently, been repeatedly ripping off juicy farts for at least a half hour and, upon waking, found out I'd burned away all my nose hair and had an oddly acrid taste on my tongue. I mean that stuff stank. You could practically see a green haze floating below the ceiling.

It had nowhere to go. My door was shut, my windows are covered in plastic (that's right, ladies, my boudoir is decorated like an 80-year-old woman's) and there was no fresh air to be found.

I crawled to the doorway, retching, trying despretly not to breathe and managed to get the door open without moving my head more than six inches from the floor. The effort and the stink caused me to pass out right then and there, but thankfully I'd reached some untainted air and my life was spared. Otherwise, my blogging days would be over.

When I came to, I lit one of those idustrial-sized Yankee Candles. After an hour, my room still smelled like poo, but at least it was mingled with the scent of Banana Bread Housewarmer. I plan to burn my sheets tomorrow, you know, like the did back in the days of the Plague.

Oh, and I'm never again eating meatballs for dinner without cracking a window.

Note: this is my first mobile post. Sorry for any typos. How's it look?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wait for it... wait for it... wait for it...

It's 11 o'clock and I'm going to bed. Before I go, however, I want to point out that I have had the above screen up on my computer for 13 hours today.

Today is the first day Red Sox tickets go on sale for the 2008 season. Unlike most teams, the Sox don't release their entire season at one time - that would not only crash the MLB server, but probably start blackouts on the Northeast's power grid, leading to rampant rioting in and around Boston and definite destruction of anything with the words "New York" in it north of Connecticut.

So, at 10 a.m. this morning, nine "Sox Packs" (tickets to four different games interspersed throughout the season) and a half-dozen April/May series individual games went on sale. Unlike Ticketmaster, which is run on a first-come, first-serve basis, the Sox choose to make use of a virtual waiting room. That above-pictured page reloads every 30 seconds. Each time, a user is randomly selected from the room to purchase tickets.

I had six computers at work loading the page. When I left at six, I went straight home and started up two more computers.

Zip. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

I've got nothin'... and now, the message on the bottom of the page says that all the packs have sold out and that there is extremely limited availability for the remaining games. This may not be happening this time around.

I love the Sox, don't get me wrong. But it's disappointing, sometimes, to not be able to see them live. And when you do, you have to pay the scalpers twice the face-value of the tickets (which are MLB's most expensive, as it is). Walk-up tickets are a thing of imagination in Beantown, just like the tooth fair and Jeter's heterosexuality.

There is something to be said about the simple joy of being able to say, "Hey, let's catch a game tonight. The home team's in town," and being able to go see a ballgame that night. This summer, I was on a business trip to Dallas and some of us decided to see a Rangers game. We bought $20 tickets, had great seats in the 2nd deck and sat right in front of a bar that served $5 beers.

Sox fans would kill just for the opportunity to have one of those things.

Then again, Red Sox Nation is the most devoted fanbase in this country. They've proved it by selling out Fenway for hundreds of games in a row and ensuring that I won't have the chance to buy tickets for this coming season.

Stubhub, here I come!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I [miss?] NY...

For those of you that don't know, I lived in New York City for just over a year (June '04-August '05). While I wasn't there for the longest of times, my life did confirm to me that I really don't ever need or want to live there again.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the City knows that there are a ton of things to dislike about it:
- it's enormously overwhelming, and that never changes
- living expenses are so wildly out of proportion to the rest of the country
- the abundant bouquet of smells: from the rotting essence of the East River to the garbage-juice squelch streaming down back alleys to the piss-smell of the subways to the fried, over-cooked oil burn of street vendors to the unmistakable and overpowering cologne of a Guido all dolled up for date rape
- paying $12 for a Corona, repeatedly
- the thousands of mustachioed Yankee fans
- JAPs
- massive crowds blocking sidewalks, taking pictures of buildings, hideously-decorated Christmas trees and the dark Today Show studio in Rockefeller Center, thereby causing your commute time to double during the months of October-January
- the way the wind whips up and down the Avenues, turning the city grid into one giant wind tunnel
- people. Everywhere. All the time.
- Times Square

I could go on, but you get my point. New York is a rough town to make it in. I think if I had stayed, I could've gotten used to a lot of that, but, quite frankly, I didn't want to. I was comfortable being an outsider and I never wanted to become a "true New Yorker." Now, I know enough to take visitors around to the main sights, go to a few out-of-the-way places and have favorite restaurants, coffee shops and bars. That's all I really need.

Every now and then, though, I do start to miss life in the Big Apple. These feelings are fleeting and they're never accompanied by a desire to pack up my cheaper, bigger and better-located apartment in Boston and head south, but they do happen from time to time.

For example, I was walking through Copley Square here in Beantown the other night and saw the image above. It's pretty and full of holiday cheer, but that's not what grabbed me. What got to me were how the lights from the tall buildings sparkled against a clear, cold night sky. Looking up, I was able to ignore the few people around me and enjoyed a brief, sparkling moment of Zen.
(Either that or the burrito I had for lunch was acting up.)

Sometimes, when I lived in the City, I'd have those same moments. Most often, they would come on a Sunday night, after I left my church. Morningstar New York is located in midtown, in an old, renovated theater. Some nights, when the snow fell softly over the city, I'd decide to talk the long way to the subway. Instead of catching the N train around the corner from the church, I'd bundle up, wrap my scarf around my face and walk a mile north to 63rd and Lex.

It was like stepping into a photograph. Nine p.m. on a Sunday night, after the shops close and taxis look elsewhere for business, the east side died down. I could walk for blocks and not see another person out-of-doors. The snow would crunch softly under my feet as I picked my way across the concrete sidewalk slabs. The big, white flakes drifted down and the skyscrapers loomed above me, lit up and stretching toward the sky. It was as if I was walking inside of a giant snow globe.

Invariably, I'd switch to listening to Death Cab of on my iPod... the mournful sounds of Transatlanticism filling my ears...

I need you so much closer
I need you so much closer
I need you so much closer
I need you so much closer

At times like those, completely alone in a city of millions, I'd find a peace unlike any I've felt before or since. It was the sort of mournful solace that only comes from a solitude multiplied against the masses.

I felt a touch of that here in Boston the other night and, just for a brief instant, I missed New York.

Thanks to Jessa Barder for the photo. I stole it from her facebook page, not having the wherewithal to take the picture when I was actually there.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This is a photo of what my room looked like this morning, right before I ran out the door for work. Observe...

Kind of messy, right? (The bed has been made, though, so I get extra credit for that.)

The image got my brain working, algebraically, and I thought up this equation: S=FM2

Normally, I'm allergic to math and I've avoided taking anything even resembling a math class this century, but it was an Einstein lightbulb moment. Sparks flew, angels sang and a 80-watt cartoon bulb popped up over my cranium.

With four, no five, characters I had clearly illustrated a corresponding relationship in the Life of Mike. I could prove to my faithful readers (both of you), that the state of my mind (S) is equal (=) to the state of the floor mess squared (FM2).

As you can see, my floor's a little messy. For me, that's about as bad as it gets. I cannot stand clutter, hate wrinkled clothing and can't function in a dirty environment, so I'm usually pretty OCD about my things (just ask my sister/roommate). The only time I allow clutter to build up is when I don't have enough time to clean it up. A buildup like the one pictured takes about a week to accumulate. I can break it down day-by-day:

1) The stack of books are from my Non-Fiction Lit class, which meets on Mondays.
2) And some other books are from my Publicity class, which meets on Tuesday.
3) Wednesday I didn't do much besides go to work, but I didn't clean, either. Natch.
4) That white shape in the bottom, left-hand corner is an inflatable mattress. Jen had a friend over Thursday night.
5) Friday, I went to the gym before work, hence the schoolkid's backpack.
6) I worked late in the office on Saturday, coming home, dropped my blue Puma bag on the floor and cracked open a beer and one of the books to do homework. Par-taaaay!
7) Sunday and Monday, I went up to NH to see my girlfriend and do work, hence the black, skull-and-bones dop kit and the Target bag of laundry.

I don't remember when I wore the jeans or the scarf, but it was in there somewhere.

By now, you're probably wondering... "Why is Mike boring me with this?" and "Man, that was a long explanation, I should probably pretend to do five minutes of work since I'm in the office and all."

Basically, I'm apologizing for not posting. I've been stressed and busy. Last week, each day consisted of going to the office, working non-stop (I had two new people to train) and then coming home to immediately start homework.

It wasn't a good week.

I know I'm getting stressed out when my body starts to hurt (in addition to floor clutter buildup). I clench my teeth, so my jaw gets sore (when I wake up with a sore jaw, stress levels go from threat-level orange to red). My head hurts because I don't take water breaks at work and get dehydrated. My butt hurts because I get constipated from the lack of water and my sphincter becomes tighter than a balloon knot. My shoulders and back hurt because I don't take the time to remind myself to correct my terrible posture. And my eyes hurt because I have to stare at a computer monitor for 90% of my waking day.

Let's just say that now my teeth are flat, I'm chewing aspirin, we're out of toilet paper but I haven't noticed, I pee dust and I've developed a hump.

But, enough with the excuses... I'll get back to posting this week. Scout's honor. I can't let you down, right? I mean, you may actually have to be productive in your office environment and I simply cannot allow that to happen.