30 April 2007
As the 39 mile walk looms only 6 months away, I've started an informal training schedule that really is just a way to gauge how much it's going to hurt when my sister and I embark upon my stupid idea. A few weeks ago, I took the initiative and walked to Central Park (about 1 mile, according to Google maps) and then did the 6 mile loop, and returned home. A whopping 8 miles - less than one-third of what we'll walk on Day 1 of our two-day trek.
It was long. But beautiful - with the trees just blooming, perfect weather, new shoes, breeze blowing, and people-watching at an all-time high. Bring along some kickin' iTunes and... well... I made it through and didn't feel too badly. But it took three hours. Which means that the first day, my sister and I will be walking 10 hours. In a row. To quote my sister: "I don't do anything for 10 hours straight!"
Eh gads. What have I done?
So I started walking home from work every day. (Or, at least, every day that I worked, and it wasn't raining, which - so far - has been about 4 or 5 times.) It's a bit over 2 miles or so. The first day, I did it in my 'healthy-good-for-you' sneakers, lookin' mighty sexy in my mandatory NYC black wardrobe paired with brand-new glow-in-the-dark WHITE sneakers. My feet felt great, but I was stylishly uncool. Even my office mates took second glances at the shoes and tried to be nice, but I could read their minds... So the second time, I decided to walk home in my new NYC walking shoes.
NYC walking shoes are great, but they are not meant for the 'put your head down and see how many walk signals you can beat as you weave through the tourists on 5th Avenue for 40 minutes' pace. And by the time I got home, I had blisters, arch pangs, and toe cramping. Not fun. Desperately in need of a foot massage.
So this Sunday, when my sister and I took the boys to the zoo and we walked around for 4 hours, I wore my pseudo-healthy trendy black mini-sneakers with my arch supports in them... And we were exhausted. And my feet were killing me. I think it might be time for some serious reconsideration of my sanity for signing up for this walk. But let's look on the bright side - if both feet hurt at the same time, you don't limp. It's true!
But there's no going back now. So from now on, it's geeky white shoes, dammit. I don't care if I look like a loser... I'm still cool - on the inside. And I won't be limping. One day, I'm going to get serious enough about this to walk to AND from work... just as soon as I become a morning person. Which will be in ... oh ... my next incarnation on this planet.
Until then, walk on, dear readers... walk on...
29 April 2007
Suddenly, it seems that everyone around me is getting knocked up. Several people at work are near hatching; my divorce lawyer was so 'due' that I was happy we made it through dinner without water breaking; and a friend just shared her happy news that she's due in about 6 months. On a related note, romance is spreading at a blistering rate through my life... with one wedding a few weeks ago, another getting hitched this weekend, another couple just sent me a "save the date" for their wedding, another pair is on the verge of proposal, and one more friend who took the ring and the sentiment, but insists on wearing it on another finger. (yes, that other finger.) I guess spring is in the air... even the peacocks at the zoo today were showin' off the plumage... Bring it on!
In other completely unrelated news, I am having flashbacks to my senior year of high school lately (it could have something to do with reminiscing with my sister through old photo albums this weekend.) I wonder where my senior prom date, Matt, is keeping himself these days? Prom night, Matt and Pat (the boys) set up an entire dinner in the middle of a field for the four of us.... a portable grill with filet mignon, mushroom sauce of some sort, vegetables, salad, and dessert... all pulled from the back of the car. Complete with candle centerpieces, wine glasses... the whole nine yards, in a clearing in a field... it was brilliant. I didn't quite realize the imagination those boys had until recently. If I ever remember to do it, I'll be sure to scan in some of those old and embarassing photos. I would ponder this a bit further - it was a major relationship turning point in my life, and no doubt this would turn into quite a psychobabbly trip down memory lane - but the work week is looming, and the writing frenzy I was in last night was enough to make me temper my keyboard adventures this evening.
I'm off to bed... a bit tired... how can four mini-boys be so energizing and exhausting at the same time? Phew!
27 April 2007
This is so incredibly moving... I think I'm going to cry (though that could also be PMS)... Stephen Hawking in zero-gravity... how inspiring... Here's the FULL STORY.
(photo credit: Zero-Gravity Corporation/Reuters)
I think I might have to add "Zero gravity flight" to my list... who wants to come with me?
Until then, the daily adventures continue... Not so inspiring this morning was waking up, and opening the blinds to look across the street and find my cross-window neighbor nude and standing full-frontal, brushing his teeth while taking in the sights and sounds of the morning traffic on the street below. Well, you have to give him credit for not being shy... but at least his partner was wearing some tighty-whities. On the flip side, he's probably been subjected to my underwear-clad wanderings in my own apartment at times... and I don't want to even think about what I look like from across the way while doing my silly workout videos... (*shudder*)....
Friday night socializing is at a maximum tonight... and I definitely could use a few pink drinks right now! Let's see how low the tolerance has really gotten of late, shall we?
26 April 2007
During my formative years of 12 to 18, the view out the window as I lay on my bed was unique... there was a massive tree... and the leaves of the uppermost branches formed the shape of a huge silhouetted Bullwinkle head against the sky. Every night, he and I stared off into the cosmos together until I fell asleep, to dream of high school crushes...
For some reason, I find that bizarre memory comforting tonight....
It's been rather a whirlwind of late, I'll admit... sorry about my lack of blogging. But...
... last night, I managed to get two tickets to Frost Nixon at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre (thanks James!) Frank Langella and Michael Sheen were brilliant as President Nixon and David Frost, respectively. I am usually underwhelmed by actors portraying Nixon, but Mr. Langella was stunning, and Michael Sheen is - without a doubt - one of the best actors I've ever seen on stage. I was blown away by Mr. Sheen's portrayal of the playboy-esque demeanor of David Frost, while simultaneously revealing him as painfully vulnerable and human. It was a long show (nearly 2 hours without an intermission) and the auditorium was freezing (making the perspiration jokes by Nixon a touch ironic)... but overall a thoroughly riveting performance. As a former newsie, the 'checkbook journalism' debate was treated a little too lightly, but that's really a personal thing. The only annoyance was what I considered too much narration by Stephen Kunken's character, Jim Reston. While the historical context he provided was interesting, at times it felt slightly invasive and almost as if I was listening to a dramatic reading of a Nixon-era historian. I don't know why, but when Corey Johnson (playing Nixon's former Chief of Staff, Col. Jack Brennan) chimed in with Nixon's perspective narrated, it wasn't nearly as distracting. Friend Dan who accompanied me to the show disagreed, however, and found the added narration very helpful in establishing context.
In other news, there's not much other news... other than the fact that I'm seriously overstressed and need about a week of sleep, several massages, a stiff drink and some serious mental down-time. Ever feel like your brain activity has reached a level where it's just about to make a fizzly-electric "pop" sound, and then a small tendril of smoke will waft silently out of your ear? That's about where I am right now. And my horoscope says "Don't let yourself be intimidated by a powerful authority figure today," which I find hysterical for some reason.
(large amounts of blog edited out due to too much psychobabble.)
Ugh. Massive headache. Too much introspection for 5 hours of sleep. Time to find some orange juice.
Happier blogs ahead, I promise.
Meanwhile, Happy Richter Scale Day... and Happy Hug An Australian Day... you choose.
23 April 2007
It's Monday, folks... and while (if you round up) I technically succeeded in keeping the majority of my houseguests alive, they did start to smell so badly that Sunday morning, I had to get rid of them. (Click here for context.) But lest you think that I'm so hard of a New Yorker that I did something as cruel as throw the worms away, think again.
I set the surviving buggers free in a lovely patch of daffodils in Central Park. (That's probably illegal in some way, I'm sure.) But yes, I walked a mile - each way - in order to give the guys a nice place to... well... do worm stuff.
I know exactly what happened to cause the odor - my aeration efforts were not up to par, and the little guys on the bottom suffocated and became... well... worm goo. That's what smelled. (And in my full defense, it kind of smelled a little "gooey" before I took them home... honest!) And while studies have shown that the smell of freshly baked bread can help you sell a piece of property, I'm taking a wild and unscientifically tested guess that the smell of rotting worms has exactly the opposite effect. So I had to get them out of the house during my open house with sufficient time to let the Method air freshener take over.
However... there is an up side! Several up sides, actually...
First, approximately 1,800 worms are now helping to create a more naturally sustainable habitat and create mineral rich soil by eating and pooping in Central Park (unless some passing dog or birds ate them all before they burrowed.) (I'm also guessing at the 1,800 number here - I didn't actually count them... but my sister probably would have.)
Secondly, new worms are being found all over the place - literally! Even worm types that were thought to be previously extinct! So there is loads of good news in the worm world.
In the television world... we had to buy new, non-stinky, goo-less worms. Tune in tomorrow to see the successful fruits of someone else's worm-sitting labors.
Next weekend, I'm babysitting my nephews. Hopefully they won't turn into goo.
22 April 2007
Hm... a counter-argument to a previous posting... or is it? I suppose searching for "amore" is quite different than searching for a "relationship." But I'll let you draw your own conclusions... I'm heading to Central Park to look at arms...
As City Begins Spring Stir, Romance Is in the Air
New York Times
April 22, 2007
By Anthony Ramirez
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single person in New York in possession of a sunlit day must be in want of a companion.
Just ask Eric Jacobov, 24, a commercial building developer, who strolled with two friends in Central Park yesterday.
“I like spring,” he said, lighting a cigarette and peering at sunbathers in the Sheep Meadow.
“I like that the girls come out,” he continued. “Much more skin. Much more to work with.” He put on his sunglasses. “Nice.”
Elsewhere in the park, a bachelorette party of New York, Chicago and Florida friends was convened on a bench near the Plaza Hotel.
“Love is in the air, and the guys wear less clothes!” exclaimed Amy Witherspoon, 23, a pharmaceutical sales representative from Orlando.
Suddenly, a war whoop of “Woo hoo!” erupted from all nine women, as a shirtless man glided by on inline skates.
“That’s what I like about spring!” shouted Lauren Schneider, 23, the bride-to-be.
Yesterday, after a stretch of chilly days following a drenching northeaster, the temperature in Central Park reached a high of 79 degrees at 3:54 p.m. under blue skies. The forecast for today is for a high of 80.
The city began to stir yesterday, as if at some unheard signal, or perhaps at the many signals of ubiquitous birdsong, giggling children and flowering trees.
New Yorkers shed their winter garb — the Ugg boots, the turtlenecks, the long skirts, the overcoats, the parkas, the gloves, the hoodies and the fedoras — and exchanged them for flip-flops and dishabille.
During a random and unscientific survey in several parts of the city yesterday, not everyone immediately volunteered that the preening, peering and mating season was upon them. But it didn’t take much prompting, either, once the gambit was opened.
New Yorkers were savoring the day, said Donna Ratner, 47, a health counselor from Weston, Conn., because “It was such an odd winter.”
Ms. Ratner, sitting in Columbus Circle, said, “We never really got a true winter. It was a tease of winter, with some nice days in the middle. Our bodies got confused. On the East Coast our bodies are ready to hunker down and they never really did.”
And how did Ms. Ratner feel at the moment? She smiled and said, “I’m feeling a little amore.”
Megan McWade, 30, of Bronxville, N.Y., and the director of a child-care center, said, “In the spring, you get to see a little more of the arms on the men.” She described herself as newly single and then laughed. “The arms get me.”
As befits New York, spring is theater. In other places where troupes of the fit and the comely can also be found, like Miami, Los Angeles and Hawaii, the curtain rarely rises because it hardly ever falls. There, it is always butterfly weather. But in New York, the curtain has drama because the cocoon is never far away.
In a cafe in the West Village, Scott Pelkey, 44, of Astoria, Queens, said that spring in New York was “about checking people out,” and that it arrived just in time because he happened to be looking for a new boyfriend.
“We’re out of hibernation!” said Mr. Pelkey, a Long Island University pharmacy student. “You can see that everyone’s out in their new outfits, it’s a fashion show.”
In Washington Square Park, Greg Rodriguez, 24, a concierge from Bushwick, Brooklyn, said he had just bought a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses. “It definitely makes it easier to check people out with sunglasses on,” he said. Sunglasses “mean you don’t have to look like a creep.”
On the beach and the boardwalk in Coney Island, however, the way of all flesh may be so commonplace that ogling may have died out or perhaps evolved into something less detectable.
“It’s been very tame today,” said Kate Queram, 25, from Kensington, Brooklyn. “We really haven’t been ogled at all.”
Michael Schorr, 55, who was shirtless, explained the local tendency toward restraint. “Russian people, they know each other around here,” he said. “If I met someone, in five minutes my wife would know.”
Kate Hammer and Daryl Khan contributed reporting.
20 April 2007
Do you remember when you were a child, and the classroom had a "pet"... probably a guinea pig, or a rabbit, or maybe a frog or turtle? I remember the guinea pig from - I believe - first grade. Every weekend, a different kid (read: parent) would have to take the bugger home, and make sure it didn't die. For some reason, I remember the guinea pig's name... "Rocky"... which I'm sure is a gem of a piece of knowledge that is taking up space in my brain in place of something far less important, like my pin number for my ATM card.
Well, I thought the days of having to babysit animals over the weekend was over... at least until I popped out a few (human) puppies, they made it to the world of kindergarten or first grade, and then they were roped into the same babysitting duties.
I was mistaken.
This weekend, I am a proud pseudo-parent once more... to 2,000 worms. Yep, for the next 60 hours, I am responsible for the care and well being of approximately 2 pounds of red wiggler worms. They must be aerated (by turning the soil over a few times a day), well-fed (with a few pieces of lettuce), and I must ensure that they don't escape (by keeping a light on them.) They can't get too hot, or too cold, and I can't close the lid on the bin completely or they'll suffocate. Needless to say, the light is not going off in my apartment for the next 60 hours.
Now. What am I going to do with them when I have an open house on Sunday? Shall I take them for a stroll to Central Park, do you suppose? Or maybe for a cuppa tea at Starbucks? Maybe I'll take them... FISHING! (*gasp! wormicide!*)
Seriously, though, in case anyone ever asks, *this* is a perfect example of the glamorous side of the entertainment business.
On a slightly more cultured note, last night I went to see "Inherit the Wind" at the Lyceum theater... what an amazing experience. The limited-engagement performances include Brian Dennehy as Matthew Harrison Brady, and Christopher Plummer as Henry Drummond. These are two actors that I've LONGED to see in person on the stage since I *knew* there was a stage. These men were absolutely brilliant on the stage. You could literally watch Brian Dennehy deflate as his character developed through the 2 hour show... He filled the entire stage with his presence, and by the end, was no bigger than a frightened child in the arms of his stage-wife. Christopher Plummer was likewise stunning... but not in an overpowering way. He played his unkempt role perfectly, drawing in the audience slowly to the passions hidden within his character. I cannot tell you how quickly those two hours went, or how energized I was... I was literally transported to the small, overheated courthouse portrayed in the theater, while simultaneously awed by the seemingly effortless expressiveness combined with the commanding stage presences of Mr. Dennehy and Mr. Plummer. *This* is what great theater is made of!!
The performances by Mr. Dennehy and Mr. Plummer were amazing, but not surprisingly so. After all, when one gets tickets to see giants, one expects to be amazed by them. I have to - honestly - give the standing ovation to Denis O'Hare, who portrayed the cynical, slapstick, sarcastic big-city reporter perfectly, and was able to more than hold his own while being on stage with such legendary leads. Bravo!
On to my next wish list of Broadway performers to see live.... Kevin Spacey, Mandy Patinkin, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart.... (*swoon*)
Now if you'll excuse me - I have to go aerate my guests. And then scrub the worm slime from under my fingernails. (Did Carrie, Samantha or Charlotte *ever* have to do this? I think not...)
19 April 2007
All I can really start this blog off with is a "WOW". In less than 24 hours, I exceeded my minimum goal of $1,800 for my fundraising. You guys ROCK MY WORLD! Thank you to everyone who donated...
But in the name of sisterly love (and peer pressure), I also managed to drag my sister into my madness, and she and I have created a team! Whoo hoo! (I guess me making her jump out of an airplane wasn't scarring enough, so she let me drag her into this madness too.) We're calling ourselves "Adventures in Boobland". (I wanted to be Boobalicious, but that name was already taken.) In any case, here's our TEAM PAGE... check us out! And note that my sister hasn't met her minimum yet. So if you're going to give, you can give to either of us... but we each have to raise *at least* $1,800 in order to walk. We will, I have confidence, raise a LOT more... but that all depends on you!
Shameless plug for donations over.... (for now... ;-) )
In other news, I strive each day to learn something new. And yesterday, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn that yes, indeedy, I am allergic to owls. After this fabulous photo was taken, my eyes started watering and still today, my sinuses haven't forgiven me. Still, it was worth it to meet Ernie...
Plummer and Brian Dennehy - two people I have been desperate to see perform live on stage since I moved here! Now I just need to find a date to go with me...
17 April 2007
I could have picked the 5K race. Or even the 10-mile walk... but no... when I go insane in the name of a good cause, I go all the way.
So on October 6 and 7, my sister and I will be walking the equivalent of 39 miles (that's 1.5 marathons) in order to raise money for breast cancer awareness, research and treatment.
I think I once walked 2 miles around my high school track for a charity, but other than that, I haven't done much in terms of charity fundraising efforts.
So today, she and I registered for a 2-day, 1.5 marathon-distance walk - they'll even provide an "easy to set-up, 2-person tent" for the overnight sleep ("You’ll bring whatever you need to make your tent 'interior' comfortable - a sleeping bag, pillow and sleeping pad, if you wish." Can I bring a masseuse?)
Anyhoo, the kicker is that we need money. From you. You guys have to donate to the cause, because in order to walk, we each have to raise $1,800 - minimum. So dig out the credit cards and click HERE to donate to me.
My sister is joining me in this stupid-but-still-a-good-cause adventure... so if you know her better than you know me, don't donate to me... donate to her instead by clicking HERE. We'll both need to raise at least $1,800 and this way, she won't stop talking to me because I stole her donations.
For those of you wanting a bit more context as to why we're doing this, our mom passed away in 1999 after a 5 year battle with breast cancer. It has stolen family, friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, partners, and acquaintances... and it needs to stop. Our mom still watches over us.... and she's going to be walking with us in October, too.
To sum up:
.....Donate to Beth: click HERE
.....Donate to Beth's sister: click HERE
(That's me and mom, at my college graduation in 1995)
15 April 2007
14 April 2007
After a few glasses of sangria, one is most apt to do the strangest things. Today, I think I broke the law.
13 April 2007
11 April 2007
A recently-discovered photo of my sis and her brood waiting for me to drop out of the sky last november...
(insert context here)
p.s. how inspiring!! i have a sinking feeling that i am about to decide to do something stupid... i'm feeling itchy for adventure again... anyone have any suggestions? (besides dating)
p.p.s. my new favorite song: Lay Me Down by Ashley MacIsaac. Do you think the lyrics were meant for someone? Or are sentiments like that just sappy bullshit? Or does it simply depend on how hopeful one is when listening? Hm. Oh well, it's a good tune, anyway.
10 April 2007
In the last year, I've had a love affair with New York. I've ridden more subways than I thought possible (including adding a 'commute' to my daily routine.) I've gone to exhibits, concerts, performances, shows, fairs and festivals.... some of which were fabulous, and some were... bizarre at best. I've haggled with street vendors, fought the crowds in Times Square post-theater, given directions to Rockefeller Plaza, the Empire State Building, Macy's, Central Park, Lincoln Center, the Met, Guggenheim, Natural History Museum, and Lincoln Center. I've shopped at Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Sacks Fifth Ave, Madison Avenue, SoHo, Union Square and all places in between. I've been to the Cloisters, the East Side, West Side, China Town, Little Italy, Meatpacking district, Tribeca and Flatiron. I've eaten Thai, Lebanese, Italian, American, French, Greek, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and just about every "fusion" cuisine available.
Today I was walking down the street and I realized... I don't know if I love New York any more. I think I have downgraded it to an "I like New York" kind of day.
People say that New Yorkers are snobbish, distant and aloof. But I don't necessarily think that - in general - this is true. My theory is (actually, it's more of a hope), is that there are mostly cool people in New York.... we're just all so focused on where we need to go that we simply don't take the time to stop and look around at where we are. And I think I miss taking that time. I mean, if anyone in New York (besides a tourist) were to simply stop in the middle of the street, and just look around... people would think they were nuts. Actually, I take that back... they wouldn't give a crap, unless you happened to stop in front of them.
But my point is, it's hard to be a 'real New Yorker' and just stop to smell the coffee... (unless you're in a Starbucks updating your Myspace page on a wireless internet connection or sunbathing in Central Park on a Saturday afternoon scoping out guys and trying to avoid tan lines.) When I walk down the street, I walk with purpose, and am not easily distracted... and this may very well come across as "aloof", but I think it's more of an emotional survival technique.
To be honest... I miss a place to get away from the noise... a place to let down my New York guard. I miss driving to a secluded place, sitting in the middle of an open space, looking up at the stars (we don't see many of those in NYC) and just listening to... nothing. I miss driving... the solitude and meditation of being in a vehicle that you know and love (my cars are always named Nellie Bell, thanks to my mom.) I miss diners where you know the waitress, and walking in a town you know well, and recognizing people well enough to say "hi" to them and stop to chat. I remember growing up and trips to the grocery store would always take an hour - even just for a loaf of bread - because you'd inevitably meet 3 or 4 people that you knew and would have to catch up.
Perhaps it struck me today that New York - for all its bustle and noise and people and crowd and energy - can be a very lonely place. Each person walking down the street is their own world... and cracking the shell into that world is nearly impossible. Even if you manage to catch someone's eye (rare, but possible), by the time you smile and nod... they're gone. You never know who you might meet in this city... you also never know who you're missing.
I don't know if it's my mood tonight, or if it's an observation that others' have made. But the distance between people in New York is off-putting for me today, and the press of the population is stifling.
Perhaps it's a nostalgia thing, and perhaps it's a sign of a slight burnout? Who knows... But maybe I'll just hail a cab and drive to Arizona... I'll just sit and look at the sky for a while. Want to come with me?
09 April 2007
6 oz of solid milk chocolate.
4 servings per container.
21g of sugar per serving.
230 calories per serving.
8% of your RDA of calcium per serving (and no other nutrients.)
And it's shaped like a bunny.... in RUNNING SHOES... ostesibly trying to overcome his own lack of nutritional value and... get in shape? C'mon... this *has* to be a joke... right?
(Why is spinach is never packaged like this?)
I'm off to smash the cute little bunny up into tiny non-fitness-oriented pieces and make not-getting-in-shape chocolate chunk cookies. (S'alright though - I already did my 50 pushups and 100 situps today.)
07 April 2007
(And you guys out there wonder why we want to drag you to dance lessons? it's really for our own safety...)
Woman dropped on head alleges 'negligent dancing'
POSTED: 9:25 a.m. EDT, April 3, 2007
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A woman is suing her dance partner, claiming he dropped her on her head after flipping her into the air at an office party.
Lacey Hindman, 22, was a victim of "negligent dancing," says her lawyer, David M. Baum.
In the suit, Hindman claims that during a party at a Chicago bar and restaurant in April 2006, David Prange grabbed her by the forearms and tossed her in the air, and then she crashed to the wood floor.
"I was in the air, over him," Hindman said. "I fell hard enough you could hear the impact of me hitting the floor over the sound from the jukebox."
Hindman said in the suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, that she suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries. She is seeking damages for medical bills and lost wages for time missed from work.
Hindman worked for Prange's wife, Kate Prange, at Shop Girl, a women's boutique.
There was no immediate response to a call seeking comment from David Prange on Tuesday.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
06 April 2007
|Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ISFP)|
Your personality type is caring, peaceful, artistic, and calm.
Only about 7% of all people have your personality, including 8% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving.
05 April 2007
04 April 2007
The first piece of media is a recent NPR "This American Life" program called "The Allure of the Mean Friend" (originally aired 9/5/2003, and re-aired 3/23/2007.) To quote the description of the program:
What is it about them, our mean friends? They treat us badly, they don't call us back, they cancel plans at the last minute, and yet we come back for more. Popular bullies exist in business, politics, everywhere. How do they stay so popular?
Prologue: We hear kids recorded at Chicago's Navy Pier and at a public swimming pool, talking about their mean friends. Host Ira Glass interviews Lillie Allison, 15, about the pretty, popular girls who were her best friends — until they cast her out.
Act One. Return to the Scene of the Crime: Jonathan Goldstein interrogates the girls, now grown up, who terrorized him and his classmates years ago in school — and finds they can be just as scary as ever.
I have spoken to numerous people about this, and some of them do admit to a certain allure of people who are - for lack of a better way to qualify what I understand of this - emotionally abusive. I guess I'm lucky enough to be in a situation where I've never suffered from emotional abuse (perhaps emotional neglect, but I don't think outright abuse.) I do admit, however, that I do have friends who I feel are a tad too judgmental and say things that I feel are inappropriate. But am I drawn to them? Honestly, usually I'm simply embarrassed for them, and feel badly that they have no sense of empathy or decency to keep their negative and unhelpful opinions to themselves. Granted, if I have a wad of spinach stuck to my front tooth during a party, I hope that someone will tell me, and not in any unkind way... But beyond that, I don't think I have an innate desire to surround myself with particularly mean people. Even in high school (which is when the bulk of the first parts of the NPR story was based), I thought that the mean people were just that - mean - and not the least bit alluring anyway...
Do you think perhaps that attraction to mean people really feeds on a sort of dependent personality type? Or is being mean a reflection of our society's judgment of the value of the 'if it bleeds it leads' mentality, where cruelty garners great ratings? (I'm thinking Simon from American Idol here.) I honestly don't understand this (and honesty requires that I disclose that I have never watched American Idol, either.)
Further, I don't understand why a) one would want to be a victim of such abuse, or b) why one would want to be cruel to another person. It seems to me that the world is cruel enough without adding fuel to the fire. After all, Paula Abdul is the "nice" judge, and she's constantly fighting off rumors of substance abuse, drunkenness and plain, basic stupidity. (Why can't she just be 'a nice person' with a strange personality? No no, let's blame her 'niceness' on drugs, while Simon's 'honesty' gets lavish praise and a million-dollar-plus contract.) Apparently in the modern world we live in, being 'nice' is overrated, and being 'mean' gets a positive response.
And thus, apparently, I'm screwed, because (hold on, this will throw you for a loop).... I actually like being a nice person. (*gasp*)
I know, I know... I'm going to end up at the bottom of the heap for a lot of things because I'm "nice", and "polite" and have a certain amount of empathy for people's feelings. I know I won't ever be at the top of a massive corporation, or even at the top of a social hierarchy of any sort except my nephews' when we have 'dessert first dinner' nights.
But you know what else? I don't really care if you don't like me being a nice person. Because in the end, I like being nice, and if you don't like me because of that, you can just go f*ck yourself.
The second item that caught my attention recently was an interview in yesterday's NY Times with Phillip G. Zimbardo (click here for the entire article). He was, for all of you who missed out on Psychology 101, a social psychologist who created the extremely controversial and now legendary Stanford Prison Experiment (S.P.E.) in 1971. In his words:
In the summer of 1971, we set up a mock prison on the Stanford University campus. We took 23 volunteers and randomly divided them into two groups. These were normal young men, students. We asked them to act as “prisoners” and “guards” might in a prison environment. The experiment was to run for two weeks.
By the end of the first day, nothing much was happening. But on the second day, there was a prisoner rebellion. The guards came to me: “What do we do?” “It’s your prison,” I said, warning them against physical violence.
The guards then quickly moved to psychological punishment, though there was physical abuse, too. In the ensuing days, the guards became ever more sadistic, denying the prisoners food, water and sleep, shooting them with fire-extinguisher spray, throwing their blankets into dirt, stripping them naked and dragging rebels across the yard. How bad did it get? The guards ordered the prisoners to simulate sodomy.
Why? Because the guards were bored. Boredom is a powerful motive for evil.
First off, that the last sentence terrifies me. Since when does boredom create evil? When I'm bored, I don't dream of doing horrible things to people. (Okay, so that's not entirely true of every bored moment in the last year of my life, but social circumstances at the time did provide some fodder for that, you have to admit!) Now, when I'm bored, I like to read books or papers, or see shows, or dance around my apartment with my iPod doing irreparable damage to my eardrums. Did these 'guards' not have any books?
He also ties his logic and reasoning of this misbehavior into an explanation for the horrible abuses witnessed at Abu Ghraib. The combination of long shifts with no time off, overcrowded, filthy and dangerous living conditions combined with lack of clear directives on how to handle prisoners lead to the inevitable abuses, Dr. Zimbardo claims. (In fact, the photos in the article of the S.P.E. abuses and the photos from Abu Ghraib are terrifying in their similarity. Eek.) Basically, his theory is that if you put good apples in bad situations, you get bad apples... and this was a perfect example of that effect in 'real life.' Only this time, there was no psychology professor available to pull the plug when abuses got out of hand.
Lest we fear no redemption from our evil ways, Dr. Z says:
"... Human behavior is more influenced by things outside of us than inside. The "situation” is the external environment. The inner environment is genes, moral history, religious training. There are times when external circumstances can overwhelm us, and we do things we never thought. If you’re not aware that this can happen, you can be seduced by evil. We need inoculations against our own potential for evil. We have to acknowledge it. Then we can change it."Fascinating... we need inoculations against our own evil. So by this description, the first step in overcoming our innate (and apparently unavoidable) evil is to acknowledging the fact that we have the natural tendency in the first place. (Is this beginning to sound like an AA meeting of sorts: "Hi, my name is Beth, and I'm innately evil." "Hi, Beth!")
Something of this theme was echoed in one of the most disturbing books I've read of late, called "Blindness" by Jose Saramago. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, but for the life of me I cannot figure out where this bleak, depressing perspective on human nature qualifies as "peaceful", unless you take it as a warning to use as a personal 'inoculation' against our own evil nature.
The two articles were a fascinating dichotomy to me... In the first place, I don't want to be a mean person. But apparently if I get bored, I won't necessarily be able to avoid the allure of being evil. Then again, if I'm evil, do you think more people would like me? Hmmm...
Honestly, I would ruminate on this more, but I think my brain just shut down. Plus this posting is now officially way too long. So I suppose this is just something I'll have to think about while taking a bath this evening.... and trying to avoid becoming bored / evil.
Totally random quote du jour, from an email I received today: "Oh, and boobs. Don't let me forget to borrow your boobs."
02 April 2007
Photos from this weekend's wedding extravaganza... Here's the bride and groom... yay!!! Matron of honor, and her way-cute husband:
01 April 2007
Happy April Fool's Day. Thankfully it passed without much incident... I do loathe practical jokes.
There was a minor frustrating moment this afternoon upon my return to NYC... but not enough to color the day. Just wish I knew what to do in situations where there's nothing I can do... (how's that for a Capricorn's worst nightmare?)... It made me a little sad.
On top of that, I heard some rather unsurprising (yet still surprisingly painful) news this weekend... As independent and strong as I would like to think I am, others' opinions of me admittedly have an emotional impact that is sometimes more substantial than I initially think it will be (and more than I hope it will be, I'll admit that too.) I've pushed off letting this particular piece of information sink in, and tonight, it's finally reaching from the recesses of my brain into the frontal lobe... and it sucks. Just sayin'.
Yesterday I went to a wedding... it's the first time I've ever been at the "singles' table." Fascinating and slightly shocking change of social positioning. But friend Chris and I pulled through, and eventually I ended up dancing like a madwoman until midnight... Lots of pink drinks and blistered toes later, I was a very, very happy woman! I realize, though, that I do miss dancing.... I think maybe I'll start taking Salsa lessons... it's kind of sexy, and it feels so good to move to some kind of rhythm again... After 14 years without it, I think I miss my music...
Today I helped dye Easter Eggs with my nephews... I'm madly in love with them, you know... There's nothing like 4 really cute boys fighting for your attention at the same time... Now *that* is a dream come true...
In other wildly cool and bizarro news, seems as though Amelia Earhart might not be totally missing any more....
And my other random thought of the day: Don't you hate it when you are really thirsty and have to pee at the same time? (Thanks for that, Dani... and we need to have tea again sometime. I miss you.)