Thursday, December 31, 2009

top five movies i saw in 2009

2009 was not a good year for movies. there were very few to recommend to others (in my opinion, at least.) so here is the list of the best five movies i saw this year. these are movies that came out this year. i did see several of my favorite movies again this year, but here we're just talking about new ones.

5. the blind side

sandra bullock. sandra bullock with a gun and a kick-a attitude. awesome. this movie isn't particularly well made. the only good actor is bullock. it's a little cheesy. okay, a lot cheesy. there's also not much of a conflict. the story is pretty much happy from beginning to end, which is not usually the kind of story that is fun to watch. but it was fun to watch. it entertained me, made me laugh, but more than that it made me feel something. i actually felt emotion while watching this movie. this is something almost all the 35 or so new movies i saw this year totally failed at. but even more than that, i felt inspired. inspired to do something wonderful for someone else. inspired to look at people in a different way. inspired to do something a little different in my life. and when you're talking about art, what more can you ask for?

4. sherlock holmes

robert downey jr. and jude law make this movie worth seeing. there's nothing really spectacular about it, but these two characters grab your attention and are really fun to watch. i've heard a lot of complaints about pacing problems, but i didn't think that it dragged at all. sherlock is a lot less annoying than he usually is, in part because of rdjr.'s charm, and in part because his character is kind of a loser (he's a drunk who has only one friend). there are many aspects, though, that are very loyal to the holmesian tradition. he's smarter than everyone else and not afraid to show it and he's constantly helping out the always-one-step-behind police. the movie itself is pretty stylized and artistic. but's just fun to watch. simple as that.

3. up

well, if you saw my review for this movie back in june you're probably surprised to see this here. but again, i've been surprised at the low quality of movies i've seen this year. yes, this movie annoyed me with it's sexist plot line. and holy cow i wish the talking dogs weren't in the movie. so annoying. but overall it was a fun, very well made movie that deserves to be near the top of my list. up was also a very emotional movie...the most romantic movie i saw no question. it's a movie i would definitely see again and hope to own one day.

2. harry potter 6

this was a GOOD movie. i have to admit i like the fifth movie better, but i think they did an excellent job with this one. the teen angst was really at it's pinnacle here, and the action was wonderful. they skipped all the boring stuff that doesn't move the plot along. it was very artistic and exciting and those kids are getting a lot better at acting. there's not really a lot of argument here. i don't know anyone who didn't like this movie. i haven't seen it since the theater, and it has been too long. anyone who says that sequels are never better than the first movie has never seen this movie.

1. (500) days of summer

i love love love love love love love love LOVE this movie. i'd never seen a movie three times in the theater until this year, that's how much i love it. someone asked me a few weeks ago why i love it so much and i kind of didn't have a reason. i hadn't really thought of it in great detail like i normally do when i see movies. i just LOVE it. it was just so...good. i mean really. i don't know many people who can't relate to this movie in some way. the soundtrack is awesome. the story is different and refreshing. so many movies these days are just regurgitations of the same basic plot. but this one was new and fun. the main character is adorable. this movie is happy and sad and funny and emotional and romantic and depressing and hopeful. if you haven't seen it you're definitely missing out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

run, that ye may obtain

i think my big problem with completing new year's resolutions is the same for any type of goal i set. namely, once i fail i just quit trying. actually, this is how i am with anything. once i do poorly at something i just give it up completely. from something as small as a single homework assignment to the always-in-my-life goal of quitting my nail-biting, once i mess up, i'm done. this is also my pattern for when i do something well. if i reach what i believe is my best, i quit. that might actually sound healthy, but it's not. i'm talking about things i could possibly get better at, but feel like it would take a lot more work than it's worth. like playing the clarinet. or getting a b instead of an a. all this being said, i've never been the sort to make new year's resolutions. i feel like most people don't actually fulfill their new year's goals and i don't want to be one those people who makes a goal and tries really hard for two weeks and then gives it all up, and then does the exact same thing the next year. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting the same result. at least according to einstein.

so this year i've decided to make some new year's goals. i've excluded the word resolution from my goal making because one-it just sounds like something people don't actually accomplish, and two-the only time people use this word is at the new year, which doesn't sound like something you'd continue working on in july. so...what should i work on this year?

i haven't made any solid goals yet, but i have entitled my list "operation keep it together." right now all i have on my strawberry shaped notebook page is the title, which is a reference to a joke from a movie some of my close friends and i recently watched and quote quite a bit more often than is probably funny. it's also refers to the feeling i have that everything is about to fall apart. of course this is me being pessimistic, but it's a looming feeling i have. things just aren't currently headed in the right direction. probably i should try to be more optimistic this year.

things i might make goals about:
-writing in my journal (which i didn't do even one time in 2009)
-reading more books (i'm decent at this already, but i want to step it up)
-biting my nails (sigh)
-learning something
-getting stronger
-taking care of my car
-saving money
-continuing my education
-being social at church (which i am infinitely bad at)
-going to the temple (holy cow i have not been good at this lately...and i live in utah...)
-studying habits
-making plans
-being nicer

i won't be making a goal in all of these areas. that would be overwheming. these are just ideas. ideas of things that i wish i had the desire to work on, which isn't true for all of them. for example, i have no desire to write in my journal. this is because i am just not the sort of person who goes back and reads what i wrote x number of years ago. i'm the one who wrote it. i don't have a lot of interest in my own personal past. i don't know why, i just don't really care. it's so...boring. so that would be hard. another one is being social at church. the reason i'm not is because i just don't want to. i abhor small talk. it makes me want to rip my eyeballs out of my head. my personal version of hell would look oddly familiar to a church classroom where i had to talk to strangers for a few minutes at a time about insignificant happenings in their daily lives and their tiresome opinion on the sunday school lesson. a d&c sunday school lesson.

so we'll see. i'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

can you read it?

i don't normally read this blog, but i'm just sitting here waiting for my sister to show up. i hope this is fake. and illegal.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

perchance to dream

Many things--such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly--are done worst when we try hardest to do them. --CS Lewis

Monday, November 23, 2009

'til a new computer purchase do we part

so there's this column in slate magazine called 'dear prudence' where people write in their questions about manner and morals. or at least that's what they're supposed to ask about. i was reading some old ones the other day and ran across this question sent in:

Dear Prudence,
I recently married my dream husband. We have incredible chemistry and a shared commitment to each other. When we disagree, we settle our differences by balancing logic and gut feelings. That is, until we came to our disagreement on which laptop I should buy to replace my Mac PowerBook. We are both in the software industry and have strong preferences on which operating system we prefer. I have been a happy Mac user for years. My husband can't stand the Mac, and his only explanation is the image associated with Mac users. Whenever he sees me with my PowerBook, he thinks of the "Get a Mac" commercials where Justin Long, who is a Mac, ridicules John Hodgman, a PC. I agree with him that the commercials are obnoxious, but they have nothing to do with the usability of the Mac. My husband said jokingly that I could get a Mac only over the divorce papers. I don't believe he was joking. It's getting to a point that we cannot discuss this without getting our blood boiling.

—Boiling Blood

are these people serious? it seems to me that you would know what kind of computer your significant other had BEFORE you married them and if it bothered you that much you'd just break up then. but for the love, how could this bother you that much? if you are this passionate about what type of computer OTHER people use, please seek counseling.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

that's the story of, that's the glory of lasik

on friday i had lasik. for two weeks before i had to wear glasses. bah!-bane of my existence. i hate glasses. i have, no had, absolutely no peripheral vision when i wore glasses. horrible night vision too. so two weeks ago they measured the thickness of my corneas to see if i could have lasik. my vision was TERRIBLE. a -8. if you don't know anything about vision prescriptions, a -8 is really really bad. without my glasses i couldn't tell you who the person standing three feet away from me was. basically the higher your prescription the more of your cornea they have to take away, so they measure you to make sure you have thick enough corneas. luckily i did.

so on wednesday afternoon i went in and had my eyes measured for the procedure. and then on friday morning sarah drove me to the eye place. they gave me goggles to sleep with, steriod drops for my eyes, a prescription for an antibiotic, and samples of artificial tears. then they made me put a valium under my tongue and let it dissolve. apparently it gets in your bloodstream faster this way. but holy does it taste sick. they give you a life saver to try to make up for it. and then you sit and wait for it to kick in.

when they call you back it all happens really quick. you sit in a chair that is pretty much a dentist's chair. they lean you back and put numbing drops in your eyes. they took away my glasses so when the doctor came in i couldn't really see him at all. but it all happened pretty fast after he introduced himself to me. they covered my left eye and then the horrible part happened. they pried open my right eye. ow ow ow ow OW. "look at the flashing red light." the nurse said something about suction and i went blind for about thirty seconds. then i could see again. "perfect flap." and then the laser started. it felt really good, like little puffs of cool air shooting into my eye. then it stopped and the doctor put my flap back on. it felt like he was using a paint brush and gently wiping all around the circle of my eye. they had me close my eye and covered it and uncovered the left eye. and the whole thing happened again. only this time it hurt when they suctioned and cut the flap too, and not just when they pried my eye open. i don't think i could have handled this if it had lasted longer than thirty seconds, but the cooling feeling of the laser made it better. after brushing my flap closed, the doctor took the covering off my right eye and sat me up and told me to come sit in a chair so he could check my eyes. they were fine, though the light he used was incredibly bright. and then they sent me on my way. just like that. from the moment the doctor introduced himself to me to the time i walked out the door...ten minutes tops.

my vision was really...milky, i guess. that's not quite the right word. everything was a little blurry, but it also felt like i had some sort of cloudy lens over my eyes. sarah took me to walgreens to fill the prescription. and i could see. not perfectly, but i could see. then she took me home and i slept off the valium for an hour and a half. i had to put lots of drops in my eyes that day and i still have to for the next week. by friday evening i could see pretty decently.

by my estimation, my lasik procedure was at 10:30 am on friday. at 8:15am on saturday i had another appointment. 20/30 vision in my right eye, 20/40 in my left. good enough to drive to provo and go to the byu football game, which i did. the cornea in my left eye is swollen so it's more blurry than my right. the flaps were barely visible and i had almost no dry spots in my eyes. all great things. also, when sarah had her lasik done she had scary bloodshot drug addict eyes for days. i have one little spot on my left eye that's slightly red, but you can barely see it. otherwise i look totally normal. no bruising at all. this is either due to the fact that i've been sleeping with my head elevated or to something the doctor did. who knows?

so yeah. my vision should improve by the end of the week. i don't like the eye drops. they are gross and sticky and goopy. but i can see. i can SEE. without corrective eye-wear. it's amazing. and totally worth the five minutes of pain. totally and completely and absolutely worth it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

cause baby it's christmas, all over....again dadadadada, again, dadadadada....

what should i blog about? what should i blog about? hmm.

so i was reading time the other day and there was a little blurb called "call it a nasal spray" with the subline "new studies on how clean smells can improve moral behavior." as soon as i read this i figured it must have been a mormon who did this study. it must be the phrase "moral behavior." really, who else would study moral behavior but a mormon? and sure enough, as i read on, i discovered that this study was in fact done at brigham young university. a quote, from katie liljenquist, an assistant professor at the marriott school of management: "what we wondered was whether you could regulate ethical behavior through cleanliness. we found that we could." so basically they did a couple studies and found that people in citrus-windex smelling spaces were more likely to act in a fair and charitable manner. moral of the story: spray citrus windex around your house and you're on your way to heaven.

in other news, i'm getting lasik on friday. the fact that they'll be cutting my eye open doesn't really scare me at all. however, the idea of them prying my eyes open with metal prongs for even two minutes FREAKS me out. just thinking about it makes my eyes water. oh well...clear vision here i come.

i made my christmas list. there are only three people on it without a gift next to their name. it's funny to think that i already had a blog at this time last year. and look at how few posts there are since then! maybe i should go on a blogging kick again and shoot for 25 days in a row this time. but we'll see.

today's uplifting thought of the day comes from cha sa-soon, a 68-year-old south korean woman. she said "you can achieve your goal if you persistently pursue it." she would know. she finally passed her country's written driver's license test. on her 950th try. holy. south korea's driving test must be crazy hard. also i wonder how much it costs to take it and if they ever started giving her a bulk discount. but don't give up, right?

also, this week i learned that dry cleaning can be bad for both the planet and your health. why didn't anyone tell me this? i mean, i'm still going to take my silk dresses to the dry cleaners, but how is it, with all the talk about green this and green that, that i never heard about the evils of dry cleaning until this week? i tell ya.

big news this week is the opening of the second twilight movie. gag. seriously people? seriously?

there is also a meteor shower happening tonight. this happens every year. i went to it when i was a freshman. or maybe a sophmore. it was cold and i saw a bunch of shooting stars. yippee. so not worth it. what's the big deal about shooting stars anyway? i always thought it was because you stare up into the night sky for hours and if you see one shooting star you're really lucky and you get a wish or something. but if there are dozens of shooting stars an hour, where's the magic in that? bo-ring.

also, the woman behind 'secret life of a call girl' has a doctorate? what? i guess i just don't imagine highly educated women choosing to have sex for money. gross. gross gross gross. i mean, i can't imagine any good reason people want to have sex at all, but for money? with strangers? that's got to be the worst reason of all. ew gross. changing the subject.

here's my shout-out to garrett for joining the blogging world. welcome. it can be a really entertaining world to be in. or it would be...if people blogged more often. HINT HINT.

yes, i know i'm a hypocrite. but in my defense, i'd blog more if you did. (yes, i mean you.)

any last words? seriously people? twilight? vomit.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

pick on someone your own size

probably none of you will read this, because you'll look at it and realize that it's 25 pages long and think that it would take forever to read it. it really doesn't take that long to read, but whatever. it's the report of a study done at the university of new hampshire (people actually live in new hampshire?) about corporal punishment and cognitive ability. since you won't read it, i'll just tell you. kids who are spanked/physically punished average five points lower on iq tests. but i'm not going to explain why. you'll have to read it if you want to know that.

according to this study, 94% of american toddlers are hit by their parents. this is appalling. what the heck is wrong with people? how can full grown adults hit these little helpless people? you're supposed to be TEACHING them, not attacking them. learn to control your emotions and body, because if you can't, then how can you expect your toddler to?

murray straus, one of the two authors of the study, said "It is time for psychologists to recognize the need to help parents end the use of corporal punishment and incorporate that objective into their teaching and clinical practice. It also is time for the United States to begin making the advantages of not spanking a public health and child welfare focus, and eventually enact federal no-spanking legislation." i completely agree.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

forget about your worries and your strife

seriously? i haven't posted anything in almost a month? crazy. lots has happened. and lots hasn't happened.

i started work a month ago. i work at the school district's children's behavioral therapy unit. as the teacher in the training i went to the other day said, "kids with extreme emotional disorders." as i say, "kids with completely dysfunctional parents." working with kids is pretty interesting. they make me crazy. they also make me laugh really hard. they all have a lot of problems and they all can be so so bad. they all have a lot to deal with and they all deserve so so much better.

sarah and i lost two AMAZING apartments this month. big annoyance. i am so sick of looking at apartments. i am so sick of emailing and calling people about apartments. i am so sick of thinking we found the right place and then it not working out. and now we're waiting to hear back about the third apartment we found. this one is mediocre and i wouldn't care much if we didn't get it. but i would be so nice to just have a place.

other than that i've just been dealing with a lot of people. annoying people, impatient people, suicidal people, sick people, drunk people, crazy people...the last several days i've pretty much holed myself up in my room to avoid others, because sometimes you really just need to sit in the dark and watch house.

there are a lot of people who i've been contacting much less lately, but i'm not mad at you or avoiding you. i'm just busy. and tired. i am SOOOOO tired. i now get up at six(ish) everyday, but that doesn't mean that it's any easier to fall asleep. even if i got three hours of sleep the night before and have been exhausted all day, it'll still take several hours to fall asleep. sucks. but such is life i guess. adulthood is all about being tired...all the time...for the rest of your life...sigh.

what should i be for halloween?

"they'll come to you...they'll come to you"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

something enormously important

i read this article a few weeks ago, but something about it stuck with me. i don't even know what it was really, but as i was thinking about what to blog about (since i haven't done so in such a long time), i remembered this. i particularly like the paragraph that starts "i don't believe that inner beauty is sufficient in this cruel world." i don't actually agree with it (the paragraph), but i think it's an interesting way to express a sentiment that the majority of the world feels.

Monday, August 3, 2009

august rush

does it seem like summer is almost gone to anyone else? june was such a rip-off this year. it rained 28 of the 30 days. for real. i'm not exaggerating. that's not summer. and now it's august. how can this be? how can it possibly be august already? and before we know it, it will be september. and labor day. then halloween, and thanksgiving. and then it will be christmas! holy cow-i am not ready for christmas!

i have actually bought one christmas present already. that probably seems insane, but i have an excuse. the things i bought were only for sale for a few days before they sold out. had to do it. by christmas i probably won't even be friends with the person i bought them for, but oh well. still couldn't pass up the opportunity.

in four days i will be on a plane headed to the big apple. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i'm pretty excited. especially for the yankees/red sox game we're going to. it's okay, you can be jealous. i would be if i were you. although the red sox are not doing so hot this season. hopefully it won't be too brutal. we'll see.

if your friend was going to nyc, what would you want him/her to bring you back? (hint, hint)

when i get back my family will be in town. well, part of my family. so i'll probably hang out with them for a while down in cedar. and then my good friend angie will be in town. and right after she leaves, school starts, which means that i'll be working. working. i haven't worked in so long i've forgotten how much i hate it and am actually looking forward to it. sarah and i will be switching roles. now i'll be the one who's bored after work and she'll have loads of homework to get done. but she's all responsible and such so i doubt i'll be able to get her to procrastinate her assignments as well as she gets me to procrastinate mine. for crying loud out, i need to do my homework.

can you feel the pressure? actually, it's weird, because for the first time in my life i don't feel it. i think for me the real pressure comes from having to make the big life decisions. and the little things just add onto that and stress me out. but i've finally procrastinated making any major decisions long enough that i've just stopped caring. if i can push them back this long, who knows how much longer i can keep them away? another year? five years? ten? keep tuning into this blog for periodic updates on my life-procrastination project. maybe i can make it to forty before i actually decide anything.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

what is the government thinking? has a news of the weird section every week. these two stories caught my attention this week. i can't bring more than three ounces of liquid on a flight, but apparently suspected terrorists can buy explosives.

1. "A June Government Accountability Office report revealed that people on the U.S.'s suspected-terrorist list tried to buy guns or explosives on at least 1,000 occasions in the last five years and were successful 90 percent of the time. One suspect managed to buy 50 pounds of explosives. Federal law treats the suspected-terrorist list as "no-fly" and "no-visa" but not "no-gun." [New York Times, 6-21-09]"

and 2. "The normal way that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons transfers "low-risk" inmates between institutions is to buy them bus tickets and release them unescorted with an arrival deadline. In the last three years, reported the Las Vegas Sun in May, 90,000 inmates were transferred this way, and only about 180 absconded. Though supposedly carefully pre-screened for risk, one man still on the loose is Dwayne Fitzen, a gang-member/biker who was halfway through a 24-year sentence for cocaine-dealing. (Since the traveling inmates are never identified as prisoners, Greyhound is especially alarmed at the policy.) [San Jose Mercury News-Las Vegas Sun, 5-23-09]"

i admit, only 180 out of 90,000 is pretty good. but still. i bet you think twice next time you ride the bus.

the hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn

today as i was driving i had an idea, which we'll call 'action a,' and decided to do it. when i got to the place i was going i didn't end up doing action a, and left. i got about twenty minutes away when i decided that if i didn't do action a i would regret it. so i drove all the way back, sat there for a few minutes, and decided that if i did action a i would regret it. and then i drove away.

the actual idea behind action a is irrelevant. what i'm concerned with is how i can regret both doing and not doing something. if i know i'll regret it either way, WHAT THE HECK am i supposed to do?

life can be so annoying sometimes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

shinkin' like an american

by 2015 there will be three new high speed train lines in the united states. one will run from boston, through new york and philly, all the way to d.c. another will run from san fransisco through sacramento to l.a. and the third? chicago will have three loius, detroit, and minneapolis. is this a surprise to you? it was to me. i'd heard that this was being talked about, but i didn't know it was actually being done. the line from minneapolis to chicago looks to be running through my hometown, so maybe going to chicago will be a more common occurrence. but maybe not...depends on what outrageous fee they decide to charge. by 2025 they'll have connected d.c. with atlanta, miami with orlando, seattle with portland, l.a. with vegas and phoenix, and dallas with houston. and there are more plans after that. too many to detail here.

technically there already is a high speed train running from boston to d.c. it's called the acela. ever heard of it? it runs at up to 150mph, which is measly compared to china's 267mph trains. a plane goes about 500mph. can you imagine those chinese trains? wow. anyway, the acela. i'm not sure if they're planning on updating it or what, but it's part of the plans for this big railway experiment.

the problem i see with this idea is the immense cost. yeah, it's going to take like a bajillion dollars to build how much do you think it will cost to ride it?

for example, one of the most popular shinkansen (high speed trains, affectionately known as "the shink"--rhymes with 'blink') trips in japan is from tokyo to kyoto or the other way around. kyoto is famous for temples and cherry blossoms and lots of other stuff and tokyo is...well, tokyo. it's a distance of about 500km which is like 310 miles. not very far, huh? for a little perspective, provo to vegas (a five hour drive) is like 375 miles. anyway, the shink trip from tokyo to kyoto takes like two hours and 15 minutes or so. it also costs something like 25,000 yen (according to i don't really know what the exchange rate is anymore, but lets just say it's about $250. it's more than that, but let's just keep it simple.

now think about that for a minute. a lot of japanese people don't have cars. but most americans do. really, would you pay $250 a person to travel from salt lake city to vegas on the train? when you could drive? when you could fly for less than $200 bucks a person? (i kayaked two totally random dates and it came up with $184.)

on the acela you can get from d.c. to boston in six hours and 36 mins. this really only comes to an average of 72 miles an hour. you can drive faster than that. and you can't even be on the internet the whole time. what is up with that? a round trip ticket costs $280. flying (again through kayak) is $135. so why take the train? because it's green. but let's face it, americans aren't as concerned with being green as they are with having money. maybe like a thirty dollar difference, sure, but $145? and three more hours? i think not.

so who is going to ride these trains? they're going to have to charge way less to get people to ride them. i'm not usually very conservative, but i feel like there might be a better use for the $13-500 billion the government is planning on spending on this...especially with the current economy. 2/3 of americans who EVER ride trains reside in nyc. so...yeah, it's more green...but like i said before, who is going to ride these trains?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


today on there was an article called 'i believe i can fly' by mason currey. please click here to read it.

it's about lucid dreaming, which is basically being able to control yourself in your dreams. it requires a few steps, all of which i think are silly and useless.

you see, i have experienced this lucid dreaming, or at least i think i have. pretty much everyday i set my alarm to go off a half-hour before i need to get up. and usually i pull myself out of bed an hour after my alarm goes off. my snooze button lasts for an entire ten minutes. perhaps that is the trick--giving yourself enough time to have a dream might be an important part of becoming conscious in your dream.

but i have to admit i personally think the key to lucid dreaming is logic. one of the steps currey mentions is having some sort of test to tell if you're dreaming or not. in my opinion, if you have to ask yourself if you're dreaming or not, you're dreaming. it's just logical. [pinching myself doesn't work at all. when i pinch myself in my dreams it hurts. really, it does. it's weird, cause i know i almost never move in my sleep, and i know i don't actually pinch myself, but it will hurt even after i wake up. like my nerves actually experienced what i was dreaming.] but anyway...logic is what it's all about. usually in dreams i do things i wouldn't normally do, like touch people, or things are just so weird that i inherently know it's not reality. so i do agree with this step--that you must become aware you are dreaming.

but in all my lucid dreaming i've never actually TRIED to do this. it just happens. some nights (okay, late mornings/early afternoons) i just know i'm dreaming and can control what i do. the one thing i can't control when this happens, though, is waking up. no matter how hard i try in these dreams, i can't wake myself up. once i had this dream where i woke up and went through all the menial tasks of getting ready. and then i woke up and realized it was a dream. so i did all the getting-ready-for-the-day-things again. and then woke up and did it all again. and again. and again. after a few times i had realized i was dreaming so i kept shouting at myself to wake-up for crying out loud. but it just kept cycling. it was the most boring dream ever. and incredibly hopeless too. eventually i was screaming at the top of my lungs at myself to WAKE UP but to no avail. nothing i did changed the fact that i was still dreaming.

maybe if you can't wake yourself up it doesn't fit under the definition of lucid dreaming. i don't know. but that's my experience with it. no matter what i do in my dreams, no matter how i can change the little things in them, i can't get out of them.

i once saw this episode of law and order:svu in which the two main detectives were called to a house about an attempted rape. the boyfriend of the girl's sister had been staying the night and had tried to rape her (the sister, not his girlfriend). but it turned out that this boyfriend had a sleep disorder where he acted out everything in his dreams and so the detectives couldn't do anything about it. and the guy walked away scot free.

whether that's a plausible result of such a scenario i have no idea. but it begs the question that i've been wondering about a lot lately: are we responsible for what we do in our dreams?

even in lucid dreaming we can only partially control what we're doing. the scenario doesn't necessarily change. just some of our actions. being conscious while dreaming doesn't always mean that you even change anything. you can, but you don't. sometimes you just wait and see what you'll do. it's almost more entertaining that way.

a lot of times it seems like what we dream is a whole mess of things we've been thinking about lately. so maybe what we allow ourselves to think about during the day gets chewed up and regurgitated into our dreams. and we're responsible for our daily thoughts. so are we responsible for our nightly thoughts? what do you think? are we accountable for the choices we make while we dream?

Monday, July 20, 2009

continuing the saga

in the early 60's, JFK urged that the US get to the moon by the end of the decade. the space race has already been going on for many years, with russia beating the US to space in '57 with the launch of sputnik, a satellite that didn't do anything. but americans didn't know that, so much fear and speculation ensued. in 1962 JFK said this: "the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. we have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding."

star trek first aired in 1966. star trek was actually canceled in it's third season, if you can believe that. but a cult following was able to revive it eventually spawning five more tv series and eleven (11!) motion pictures. according to popular belief, star trek has always been a big nerd fest. [i am somewhat skeptical that it always was this way because the 1979 original movie made $139 million. so either a lot of nerds went to see this movie A LOT of times (which is possible, i guess) or a lot more people went to see this movie than they would probably like to admit.] but anyway, my point is star trek fan=big nerd.

as i'm sure you know, 40 years ago today apollo 11 landed on the moon. neil armstrong and buzz aldrin walked around, planted the flag, and made a little movie. the entire country watched on tv. for more than a decade apollo missions continued landing several more people on the moon. but eventually russia stopped being america's greatest enemy and the space race sort of...fizzled out. eventually being into space stuff became just as nerdy as being into star trek. well, maybe not AS nerdy, because star trek fans are really really REALLY nerdy, but close.

does the american flag on the moon mean that america owns the moon? is the moon a US territory? i don't know. but with all the hype about getting into space and getting to the moon i find it kind of sad that NO ONE CARES. the fact that america got to the moon first means absolutely nothing. no one even cares about the moon anymore except those whack-jobs who try to prove that the whole thing was a fake. who cares if it WAS fake? would it matter? no, because no one cares about the moon. very VERY few people even care about space anymore. innovations in space do not make it easier for us to text or twitter, so public interest in space has all but disappeared. the international space station is about to be shut down from lack of funding. news stories about crazy rich people who are willing to pay big bucks to get a chance in space catch our eye, but that's pretty much the extent to which the average american even notices anything about the space program.

and then star trek came out this year. already it has grossed $378 million dollars and succeeded in making star trek less nerdy: further proof that hot young actors can make anything cool. anything. i did see this movie and although i didn't love it, everyone else i was with did. i felt they should have ventured even more away from the original series than they did, but i guess they were afraid of the nerd uprising that would have followed. anyway, all kinds of people saw this movie, probably especially teenagers (the boys for the action, the girls for the oh-so-dreamy chris pine), leaving star trek still a little bit nerdy but also a little bit cool.

so how can the US space program get the funding/public support they need? why by investing in a hollywood movie, of course. they could get chris pine to play armstrong and shia lebeouf to play aldrin. never mind that these men were MUCH older when they landed on the moon than pine and lebeouf are--what matters is that the actors are considered HOT in the eyes of swooning teenage girls everywhere. add in some awesome high-speed car chases and some scenes where big-breasted women take off their clothes and you've got yourself a major hollywood hit...and sudden interest in the space program.

the power of negative thinking

so this week in time magazine there's an itty bitty article about a study done in canada. i don't know about the validity of the study (i mean, come on--it's canada) but the picture they used really caught my attention. it's a stack of books with titles such as "embrace your failure," "you're fine: 10 steps to avoid total collapse," "the seven habits of losers like you," "you can't do it: so don't even try," "building toward average! how you can keep muddling on," and my personal favorite "sleep through life: it doesn't matter anyway."

anyway, basically the study has found that "trying to get people to think more positively can actually have the opposite effect: it can simply highlight how unhappy they are" (time magazine, finding your inner loser by john cloud). at the end of the article it become apparent that this story is about a scientific paper, which in my mind cannot possibly be much longer than the six paragraphs in this article, but in reality is probably longer than war and peace. we're told that in this scientific paper these canadian psychologists/"scientists" cite a 1990 experiment done by some people out at princeton (most likely an attempt to give validity to their ridiculously drawn conclusion). this 1990 study had a bunch of people (read: poor college students) write an essay arguing that no money should be given to (poor helpless) disabled people. later these people were "praised for their compassion," which made them feel worse (read: GUILTY).

um...duh. when you do something you feel is wrong and someone tells you how great you are for doing the feel guilty. obviously. the fact that they had to do a study to figure this out is beyond my comprehension.

but i digress. that is the 1990 study. the one that was just published that we're talking about right now was published in psychological science, a journal i've never heard of but who i suspect only published this study because it's argumentative, or at least just different. why, you may ask, am i being so hard on this study? well, remember earlier when i said that i didn't know the validity of this study? yeah, i lied. you see, in this study college students had to write their thoughts and feelings for four minutes. half of the students had to tell themselves "i am lovable" when a bell rang every fifteen seconds. the other half just wrote their thoughts and feelings. the students who had low self-esteem actually felt worse after telling themselves that they were lovable. one of the problems i see with this study is that only--count it--68 students were studied. sixty eight. a study conducted by people at two different canadian colleges and published in a journal that i could have done in my own basement. for free. in like two days.

the other problem is that if a person ALREADY has low self-esteem then the person telling them they are lovable doesn't actually believe that it's true. i see no evidence that i should stop telling people i hang out with who are feeling low how great they are. because I believe it's true. hello-i'm hanging out with you aren't i? (why do more people not see this as the compliment that it is?) anyway, my point is SINCERITY. i think most people can sense it. and we don't learn anything about the people with high self-esteem who told themselves they were lovable. my guess? their self-esteem went up.

i believe that if a person hears something enough times they will believe it. even if it's not sincere. that's how people get low self-esteem in the fist place. they keep telling themselves how much they suck, and after awhile, they start to believe it. brain washing. however, you can use this technique to your advantage. if you tell yourself something positive enough will inevitably come to believe it's true. i've done this tons of times, and i can attest that it really does work. how else could i think i'm as cool as i am? so QUIT telling yourself how ugly/fat/stupid/worthless you are or soon you'll have no choice but to believe it. and START telling yourself how great you are. how beautiful you are. how smart and thin you are. and how much i like you! because i do! sincerely. otherwise we wouldn't be friends. duh.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

wilde wisdom

every night for the last week or so i've opened up my notebook and looked at my list of things i need/want to blog about. right now there are twelve different subjects that i at one point was incredibly interested in and super excited to blog about. but every night for the last week or so i've opened up my notebook and looked at my list of things i need/want to blog about and thought 'ehn.' for some reason i'm just not that interested right now. don't get me wrong-i AM interested in these things. just not right now. i seem to have found myself, as one of you would say, "in a funk." so i thought i'd just try freewriting today. no plan on what i'm going to write at all. just...write.

i once took a creative writing class, and the teacher had us all get a little notebook and we had to journal something creative every single day. so i started carrying around this notebook with me all the time. eventually there were tons of entries, more than one for each day, ranging from topics such as my grocery list to an inventory of all my dvds to 101 reasons not to like the guy my roommate likes (because for crying out loud he's not that great and why can't you see it?!) anyway, it's old fashioned, but i've kept carrying the notebook around. ok, it's not the same notebook. i've gotten several different ones since then, but i still carry one around pretty much all the time so i can jot down whatever i'm thinking about. it's where my list of things to blog about is. it's also where my list of books i want to read is.

sadly, the list of books i want to read is getting so long i'm losing hope that i'll ever be able to read them all. newsweek this week (don't be fooled by the one you saw in the store about michael jackson-the real cover was about books) published a list of books that 'you should be reading.' that's 47 more books added to my list. 47 because i'd read one and i thought two looked so boring i could never bring myself to endure 600 pages of dull. if you know me at all you know i'm always reading a book, but i'm the first to admit that i don't always read faithfully. this week i have yet to open a page. part of the whole "funk" thing. but even if i read a book a day for a year i won't finish my list. it seems rather hopeless.

so i'm really bad at making decisions. and there's this decision that i've been procrastinating for quite some time now. there's also this text message that i get about three days a week (sorry this is vague, but it's unimportant) but i never know which days it will come. so i decided tonight that my decision would be made by whether the text came or not. i assigned one outcome to the text coming and one outcome to the text not coming. and i promised myself that i would let fate decide for me. deep down i really knew the text was not coming today. it just wasn't that kind of day. so i probably assigned the outcome i really wanted to the text not coming, right?

when you look up quotes about being yourself you'll read lots of quotes about how you need to be true to yourself to be happy. that sort of thing. but oscar wilde seems to have had a different perspective on the idea. he said "to be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up." you don't often think about it, but it really is silly for people to tell you to be yourself because when you're trying to be yourself you're not really being yourself at all.

it got really late and the text didn't come. i knew it wouldn't. and i was right. i told myself all the reasons that this is the best decision, the best outcome for me. and i really believe it. i am quite good at convincing myself of things. i do it all the time. i honestly believe that if you tell yourself something enough times it becomes true. to you at least. and when it really gets down to it, this decision is the most logical. and you know how i love logic. but this will work out best for everyone. in the long run. any normal person would probably be disappointed because the other choice is a lot more exciting, more selfish,'s less logical. so i'm sticking with the decision fate has made for me. the less exciting, logical choice. it's the right choice.

oscar wilde also said "man is least himself when he talks in his own person. give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." when i read this it instantly hit me that this is true. and then i thought 'well, what in the world does that mean?' after thinking about it, i guess it does make sense. imagine that you could go to a party where you don't know anyone and where you are absolutely sure you'll never see any of the people attending ever again. would you act differently just because you can? would you tell people things you normally wouldn't just because you could? i think that instant messaging and texting are forms of masks. it's why teenagers are always sending stupid things to people. they feel invincible-more like themselves-behind the protection of faceless communication. is it bad to feel invincible? is it bad to throw caution to the wind and just let go and be yourself? there are consequences to every action. and it'd be crazy not to consider them...right?

and then my phone vibrated. no way. i flipped it open and sure enough there was the text. the text i'd quit waiting for. the text that wasn't supposed to come. i think i'm still in shock. as i read the text's words my heart sank. it instantly hit me that i had known this text would come. it HAD been that kind of day. of course it would come. what had i been thinking? had i assigned the specific outcome to the text coming because that was what i really want? no, that can't be. and, i really didn't think it would come. but i knew it would. no. this is the WRONG outcome. the selfish choice. the illogical choice. that's not me. what a stupid thing to do-to leave this decision up to a PHONE. not even a call-a text message for crying out loud!, i can break a promise to myself. i usually try really hard not to, but just this once...i really was set on the first decision. when the text didn't come. it made more sense. it makes more sense. it'll make everyone else happier, which in the long run will make me happier. who cares that a silly text message came? technically it came after midnight, so it wasn't even the right day. so it doesn't count. we'll stick with the logical choice...because it's what i really want...because it's the RIGHT choice...right?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

my little sister makes me laugh...

especially when she's being completely serious. favorite quote of the week (for real every time i think about it i laugh out loud):

"also. michael jackson died. but i truly dont care. i didnt listen to his music, he looked like skeletor, and i just dont care!"

ahahahaha. skeletor.

in case you don't know/remember who that is, here's a picture:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

speaking of transformers...

i found this on it's not actually an article, it's a blog post. i searched all over and can't find the name of the author. it's interesting...or at least it was to me. i haven't actually seen transformers...don't know if i plan to or not. but anyway, i'll comment after the blog.

[note: puerile, according to, means childishly foolish; immature or trivial.]

the blog post:

"Upon his request, I took my nephew to see ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ last night. I had suggested ‘Up’, but to no avail.

I had the sneaking suspicion that Megan Fox in her Daisy Dukes was more of an incentive to see the film for my young teenage charge, than any giant robots doing battle, but so be it. And there she was: a slightly sweaty, underdressed, vapid stick figure of a girl- her only apparent function being to run away from danger in languid slow motion. As far as heroines go, Ellen Ripley she’s not.

But as puerile and obvious as the T and A was, it was nothing compared to the pornographic violence that assailed the audience.

And that’s really the word for it. Just as pornography takes the most base, animalistic approach to sex, and wraps it up in a tawdry package, here Michael Bay, the film’s director does the same with the mayhem. It’s one loud, howling, gratuitous action sequence after another. Ear-splitting explosions. Swirling, operatic destruction. Death, hollow, inconsequential and indecent.

There’s more. The filmmakers’ brand of humor has a runtish robot humping the aforementioned Ms. Fox’s leg, foregoing the difference between funny and stupid.

And comic relief descends into racism with a pair of robots (one with a gold tooth for chrissakes) wise-cracking in black slang. I thought the Transformers hailed from outer space, not a minstrel show. My mistake.

Even from a craft point of view, the film’s a mess and a cop-out. When the giant robots clash, it appears nothing more comprehensible than a thudding tangle of multi-colored pipe shavings. And easy enough for an effects artist these days to affect supposed realism by slapping digital greeblies (yes, I speak geek) onto every surface, far harder to render simple planes that would have had the creatures resembling what they transformed from- a truck, a car, a plane, etc.

I can hear fanboys’ admonitions for me to lighten up- it’s only a movie, right?

Wrong. This film was made by professionals- Steven Spielberg sadly has his name on it. For the many millions spent, why couldn’t it have been transcendent, or at least make the attempt? Because the filmmakers’ focus is not on the screen, but on our crotches, at least in the vicinity of where our wallets reside. Pornography makes a lot of money easily. This movie, resembling that low art, will unfortunately do the same."

whoever this guy is, he was right about the fanboys. tons of people commented on this post. most of them made uneducated comments about how they must have seen a different movie cause there wasn't any porn in transformers 2. people--he's not actually saying there's porn in the movie. pornographic violence. it's a real concept. i've heard professors talk about it before. the third definition for pornography from is "lurid or sensational material." how many filmmakers are guilty of the same thing? a. lot. just something to think about...

now, as promised, i'd like to take this opportunity to "preach against pornography." eh hem...allow me to step onto my soap box for a moment---pornography is a curse! it will ruin your life. it will obliterate your relationships. it will destroy you. will, not can. do not allow pornography to demolish everything you've spent years creating. stay away from it. run from it as you would a thief, because pornography will steal your soul and your life. and run not let it overtake you!---ok, stepping down now.

so anyway, i'm just trying to introduce a new concept to those who have never considered that something other than porn could be pornographic. hope it makes sense to you.

[note: i totally wrote "write" when i meant "right." this is NOT the kind of mistake i usually make. i must be WAY more tired than i realized, so if you notice anything else really odd, please excuse me :) ]

Friday, June 26, 2009

hasta la vista, baby

okay, okay, i've been posting a lot of articles lately. but today amidst all the silly michael jackson news (who was a creepy child molester in case you have forgotten) i found this article. it was originally published in real simple, a magazine that my mom gets but that i have no idea of the content. this article is not so long, and i really think they hit home with this idea. the author, a. o. scott, doesn't go into great detail about the symbolism of each point made, but if you really stop for a moment and think about each point, i think most of us will be able to apply them to our lives. it's also kind of amusing, so you just can't go wrong...right?10 things action movies teach us

(REAL SIMPLE) -- Every movie genre has special lessons to impart. Serious dramas offer sober reminders about how miserable people were in the olden days. A decent horror flick will teach you not to camp out in the woods with a group of rowdy, sex-crazed teenagers.

Romantic comedies helpfully illustrate that the guy (or the girl) who seems perfect is actually a narcissistic jerk, while the friend you took for granted is really your soul mate.

Action movies would seem to be the exception. They dominate the summer, when school is out, and specialize in car chases, explosions, and fights.

But they are also about heroism. And since we all want to think of ourselves as heroes, it doesn't hurt to ponder what it might take to be one. It's not easy. In fact, these lessons distilled from a decade of professional moviegoing are full of paradox and contradiction. Just like life.

1. Heroes don't always know that they're heroes. Sometimes a wise old Jedi or a magic owl shows up to inform you of your destiny. Sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time and you have to do the right thing. But sooner or later you will be called, and your life will change forever.

2. Heroism is a lonely, thankless vocation. Poor Spidey. Poor Batman. Poor Harry Potter. Ultimately, each is alone with his powers and responsibilities, burdened with expectations and misunderstood by even his closest friends and allies. Yes, it's cool to be that special, but the chances to really enjoy it -- to turn invisible, to fly through the air, to hang upside down and kiss Kirsten Dunst -- are fleeting and few. The reward for being a hero is not fame or adulation but the quiet satisfaction of having done good.

3. When the going gets tough, the usual rules don't apply. Your editors, commanding officers, supervisors, and teachers and other authority figures will insist on routines and protocols. You will try to explain that flesh-eating zombies, a psychotic super-villain, a global conspiracy, or an extraterrestrial eco-catastrophe (I'm speaking metaphorically here, more or less) calls for extra-ordinary measures, and you'll most likely be punished for your insubordination. Until, that is, your bosses need rescuing. And then they will take credit for your bold, imaginative thinking.

4. It's always personal. The bad guys will find a way to get to your spouse, your lover, your children, your mother -- the people who matter to you most. And your professional motives will thus be doubled by the more intimate imperatives of rescue and revenge. Your job is never just your job, and you never do it for its own sake, but rather because it's connected, sometimes painfully, to everything else that's important to you. Not just money or (if you're lucky) health insurance, but meaning, passion, conviction -- maybe even truth and justice.

5. You can't trust anyone. Your boss is working for the bad guys. Your best friend harbors secret thoughts of revenge. Even your husband may be in league with the terrorists who are trying to kidnap you. The crew on that trans-atlantic flight Jodie Foster was taking with her young daughter in "Flightplan?" Not friendly at all! Be vigilant. Keep your ears open for whispers and your eyes open to hidden agendas.

6. There is always someone you can trust. Everyone else in the world may be out to get Jason Bourne, but there's Joan Allen in her office, whispering into the phone and staring down the malefactors as she tries to bring him home safely. Bruce Wayne has both Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman to soothe his soul and mend his suits. And even if you lack such highly competent, Oscar-winning support, you can at least have a dog, a tagalong child, or an eager sidekick. The job may be lonely, but you don't have to do it alone.

7. There is always enough time. Just enough. Even when things are most hectic and dangerous, even when the red LED digits on the doomsday timer are zooming toward zero, there are a few moments, at least, for a meaningful kiss, if not for a full night of passion; or for a night of passion, if not for a full-fledged honeymoon. There's at least enough time to tuck your children into bed and tell them you love them, if not to have the heart- to-heart you've been hoping for; to sit down and open a beer, if not to drink the whole thing.

8. You should never get too comfortable. As soon as you've had that first sip or that deep kiss, or as soon as the kids are settled down, your cell phone will ring, the alarm will go off, the spaceship will land in your yard, or something will come crashing through the living-room window.

9. Everything will be OK in the end. The planet was very nearly destroyed and a lot of people may have died, but you will find your way back home, having done your job and quieted the demons. The point is not that all of those terrible things didn't matter, but rather that, even in the wake of mass destruction and near apocalypse, life will find a way of going on.

10. There is always a sequel. Wipe the soot off your face, embrace your family or the love interest who has been eluding you for the last two hours, sail off into the sun- set, or walk slowly up the front steps of your house. Wounds will heal. Time will pass. But within a year or two -- maybe even by this time next summer -- evil will rear its ugly head and stuff will start blowing up again. But you're prepared for that. You are a hero. Your work is never done.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


i stole this from court. but it made me laugh. very hard.

Monday, June 22, 2009

a little bit free

so i told someone i would post this article. it's a bit old, but whatever. i'd just post the link, cause this is LONG, but i can't seem to find the actual article online anymore. it's about a guy who decides to stop making his own decisions for two weeks. imagine what your life would be like if you let others make all your choices for you. it's by someone named t.m. shine and it was in the washington post back in december. enjoy!

Choosing Not To Choose

This social experiment had to begin with doughnuts. They have always been my downfall. Not because of the fat, floury contents or the mortality-threatening sugar count, but because I can never decide which dozen to order in the intense pressure of a crowded Dunkin' Donuts. I start to drown in a torrent of rushed decisions and false moves, with nothing to look forward to but inevitable dissatisfaction with the choices I've made; the act has always been a metaphor for my life.

At some point, it occurred to me that my problem wasn't really doughnuts.

It was making decisions.

These days, there are so many choices to labor through, from the most basic, such as paper or plastic at the grocery checkout counter, to the nearly suicide-inducing, such as the friends-and-family plan or unlimited texting. And don't even get me started on undercoating or extended warranties.

In these tough times, the abundance of life-changing decisions -- finances, health care, career moves -- can be overwhelming. But don't take it from me. Ask the guy who wrote the book "The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making." That would be Scott Plous, a psychology professor at Wesleyan University. "There's no question that we have more choices than ever before," Plous agreed. "And decisions are generally harder and more time-consuming when there are lots of alternatives."

Even Steve Jobs, whose technology allows us the misery of 18,000 music selections in our pockets, has to counteract so many choices by wearing the same outfit -- blue jeans, black turtleneck, New Balance sneakers -- every single day of his life. With every move you make, you're bombarded with predicaments from the banal to the extraordinary, and you obviously can't trust yourself to make the right decisions anymore -- look where that's gotten you.

I know I'm not alone in this. We're all feeling a little needy now that The Decider is about to caravan back down to Texas. Whom can we turn to? The new resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. might have some more important things on his mind than our individual indecisiveness. Friends and family always have their own agendas; therapists are useless; and, since the economic meltdown, there is a three-month wait to get in to see a psychic in this town. So, who's left?

Strangers, of course. They're everywhere.

"Excuse me," I said to the woman behind me one morning in the queue at Dunkin' Donuts. "I'm currently asking strangers to make all my decisions. Would you mind picking out a dozen doughnuts for me?"

"I'll order two, but then you're on your own," she said.

"Never mind."

Everyone knows the first two doughnuts are the easy ones.

"I'll do it, but you'll have to tell me what you like," a gangly woman who had overheard the previous exchange said.

"Thanks, but that kind of defeats my purpose," I responded.

"As long as you're paying," a thick-armed guy shrugged at me just as it was his turn to order.

He attacked the chore with glee. His choices were a blur of glaze and frosting. He stopped only once, looked back at me and said, "Sprinkles, two sprinkles," and they fell into the box with the majesty of a fireworks grand finale.

It was a win-win, a successful random act of indecision (RAI). And I was striking a blow for science. "Your experiment will reveal how much pleasure in a dessert comes from it simply being a dessert, rather than a dessert that you would have chosen," Plous had observed. "In many cases, the difference in benefit between two choices is smaller than we'd guess."

And that's not even counting the pleasure of not having to be the one to make the tough decisions. I couldn't wait to get home and have someone in my family make a face about the two apple crumbs -- Why'd you pick the-e-e-se? -- so I could reply quite proudly, "I didn't."

Just Add Water

This may be the best idea I've ever had. For two weeks, I relinquished control over my decisions. I turned the reins over to perfect (well, I don't know about perfect) strangers.

Imagine the possibilities. You go shopping for sneakers and ask the person in the next aisle to pick out a pair for you, or you hop in a taxi and ask the driver to take you where he thinks you should go. Start small. At a restaurant, approach the couple eating at the next table -- "I hate to bother you, but I need to know what I want for dessert" -- and work your way up to bigger decisions: "Burial or cremation?"

You can't start smaller than Starbucks. I was bellying up to the barista, perspiring heavily from a bike ride, when I started to ask the woman beside me what I wanted to drink. She cut me off midway through my spiel about how I was asking strangers to make my decisions and social experiment and whatnot ... She didn't need any of that nonsense.

"Just have a water," she said, snatching a bottle from the front case and thrusting it at me.

She herself ordered something that took the barista 11 moves to make, but I was suddenly a model of simplicity: a sweaty man drinking cold water.

Already, my life was beginning to emerge from the fog. Left to stew in my own brew of insecurities, I'd still be tortured over caf, decaf or half-caf. And the encounter didn't seem odd. Thanks to television shows such as "The Office" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," awkwardness is now fashionable. Awkward is the new suave.

Moments later, I asked a gentleman at the newsstand if I should become a night shaver instead of a morning shaver. I always wanted to be a night shaver -- go to bed cleanly shaven and wake up with sexy stubble that would be alluring until at least noon and ...

"Absolutely not," the gentleman said.

I'm sure he's right.

Later in the day, when I asked a sandy-haired woman at Old Navy to pick out a shirt for me, she began to look me up and down as if I were trying to pass through a security checkpoint. I didn't mind the once-over, but the twice-over and the thrice-over were a bit annoying. Her eyes were darting and zooming in on my weaknesses. Zoom: Stain on shirt he's wearing -- sloppy guy. Zoom: Right ear noticeably bigger than left -- bad genes. Zoom: Scar on wrist -- possible suicide attempt.

I had to fight the urge to stop her and shout: The scar's just from punching a lamppost. It's not even going the right direction for a suicide attempt.

Zoom: Chicken legs. They're not really chicken legs. They're more like free-range chicken legs, which are a little more muscular than chicken legs because they're ... you know ... running free. But I stopped myself. I didn't want her decision muddied by all the same junk in my head that muddies my decisions.

Once committed, she was sincere and devoted to the cause. "I want you to have a crisper, cleaner look," she exclaimed.

When an actual employee of the store overheard part of our conversation and asked quizzically, "Sir, can I assist you?" my new helper quickly snapped back, "No, I've got this."

She did. She had this all the way. "And don't tuck it in," she said, as I headed for the checkout counter. "It's designed to be worn out."

I was still feeling crisp and clean when I stopped at the library. The mission: to give a stranger the chore of selecting a book for me.

"You sure? Picking out a book ... that's kind of an intimate decision," the chosen one said. She was sitting at a tiny table with a little boy and looking up at me as if I was one more irritation in an already long day. But once I said I was positive, she popped up as if she'd just adopted me, no questions asked.

"Follow me."

With the little boy in hand, she cut across the library with the supermarket stride of a mom who just realized she'd forgotten the Fruit Roll-Ups two aisles back. We were headed deep into the bowels -- past the large prints and the self-helps, beyond the reference books, even. Then she stopped short, pivoted, dropped a four-pound book in my hands and said, "Here."

I thanked her profusely, but I'm not sure it even registered. She just mentally checked me off her list and was on her way. The whole encounter -- in fact, the entire day -- was astonishing. By dusk, my new life's course had been set by an entire team of people whose names I didn't even know.

I'd accepted all advice without question, with one exception: While at the local cineplex, I asked the third woman in line what I should see, and she said, "Nights in Rodanthe." I just couldn't do it. I went home to watch "Bones" on TV.

At an ATM stop on the way home, I gave the gentleman waiting in the shadows behind me no preface, no social experiment bull, no need for a full body scan. I just asked -- "Should I get up early tomorrow or sleep in?" -- and he just knew.

"Sleep in."

Good decision. I needed the sleep, because I stayed up late reading "The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong." I got to Page 136 before closing my eyes on a brave new world.

Not Sweating the Big Stuff

If any one group of people was ever in need of a diversion it's the group waiting for the 12:15 p.m. to Newark.

At least that's what I thought when I arrived at the airport with an armful of decisions that needed making. In my hands were printouts of several health-care and financial options, as well as a brochure for night courses available at a nearby junior high school. With that kind of workload, I needed people both bored and contained.

I figured it would be awfully hard for a stranger sprawled out on industrial grade carpet, barefoot, using a pink duffel bag as a pillow and reading OK! magazine to tell me, "Sorry, I'm too busy right now."

It wasn't that hard. In fact, she didn't even stretch out the response that way. She just chirped, "Bizzy."

My next stratagem was to approach individuals who appeared friendly, which meant they were wearing sneakers. Well, people who wear sneakers are actually quite ornery.

Oddly, it's the Bluetooth type -- and, more specifically, individuals with two laptops -- who are the most gracious, endearing people on the planet and who are ideal for this type of social experiment.

"I don't do experiments, but let me see those papers," a two-laptop guy said, snatching the documents out of my hands.

I told him he didn't have to do it all, that I was going to spread the work around, but he ignored me. Then, without looking up, he handed the junior high brochure back to me and said, "Get somebody else for this."

I left him looking over the financial papers and found a guy four seats over who took two phone calls just during the 15 seconds it took me to explain my predicament.

"Okay, what have we got here?" he finally said as if he were used to people constantly sticking things under his nose to sign off on. When it came to making big decisions, he was on cruise control.

"Does the class have to be useful?" he asked. "There's stuff like 'How to Start a Home Business,' and then there's just junk like ... like calligraphy."

"Useless is good," I said.

Back in the next row, just as Two-Laptops started thumbing through the health-care and financial documents, a colleague of his showed up, and he was quite gregarious, so I thought for sure my man was going to get sidetracked. But Two-Laptops was homed in on my task, and the next thing I knew, the associate wanted in and had his hands on the health plans.

"I used to be in the insurance business," the associate said. That initially turned me off because I thought he might still have cronies in the business and try to sway me toward his old buddy Kenny who sells overpriced coverage to imbeciles. But then he added, "They're all scum," so I nodded my approval.

My approval. Listen to me. I had become extremely giddy, especially when I spotted Night-Course Guy using the Wall Street Journal as a makeshift desk as he circled items in the junior high brochure.

It was at that moment that I decided that when I do "Random Acts of Indecision" motivational talks -- around the Northeast and selected regions of the Midwest -- this will be the anecdote I wow my disciples with right before the lunch break buffet, which is going to be excellent.

While the boys were diligently working away on major decisions I didn't want any part of and there was a good 20 minutes till boarding, I had planned to leave them alone. Tell them I'd be over by Gate 34, sitting with the people waiting to go to Detroit.

But before I could stray, they started bombarding me with questions. With hands raised, they had me running back and forth between them like a schoolteacher monitoring a class.

"Do you already have coverage?"

"Yes, but I need to switch."

"So, it hasn't lapsed yet?"


"Are you going to be adding money to your 401(k)?"

"No, I don't plan on ever making any more money."

"Do you like watercolors?"

"No, I mean, yes!"

I kept thinking that all this unusual activity at the airport could attract the attention of Homeland Security agents, and possible Tasing.

"Are you the type that would seek out unconventional treatments and never give up?" Two-Laptops asked.

"No, no, I'm famous for giving up."

But, they didn't give up. Which is the beauty of RAI.

End result:

1. BlueCross BlueShield Limited Benefits Plan 71 -- hospital and surgical only.

2. Straight Vanguard money market account with annual yield of 0.09 percent.

3. One-stroke painting.

Okay, people, let's break for lunch.

Danger Signs

When I told my friend Laura about RAI and how much I was getting accomplished, thanks to leaving all my decisions to strangers, she posed an interesting question.

"What if you can't stop?"

That is a good question. And, in fact, I've decided there is no good reason to shut down this adventure after only two weeks. Random Acts of Indecision is not a social experiment. It's a lifestyle.

I was finishing up this story at a restaurant not far from my house, the first laptop loiterer this pizza place had probably ever seen. It was a glorious day. A day for calling in sick to work, buying 14 pounds of grapes from Whole Foods and stomping them into wine in your basement.

I was so giddy with indecision that I wanted to come up with decisions I didn't even have to make. Should I rotate the crops on my squash farm this year? What color ribbons should I put in my lapdog's hair after today's grooming? Should I start Terrell Owens on my fantasy football team this week?

I'm not usually one to look too far into the future, especially since several people have told me I don't have one, but nothing gives me more pleasure than to envision myself at a roof garden party in 2012 as a woman nudges her date while muttering, "Look, that's the guy who hasn't made a decision of his own since November '08."

I couldn't wait for some moment of great turmoil -- a bind, a dilemma, a predicament of major proportions -- with people coming at me from every side shouting, "What are you going to do? What are you going to do?!" so I could calmly respond, "It's not for me to decide."

Midway through this endeavor, I interrupted Maryland-based professional life coach Christy Helou's lunch to get her expert opinion on Random Acts of Indecision. "It's an interesting and intriguing experiment," she said over the phone. "Except for a little thing called the loss of control over one's life."

"Oh," I said. "I hadn't thought of that."

That sounds a lot like a disaster in the making, doesn't it? But it also sounds a little bit like being free.

As I wrote these words, I was eating a slice of pizza with toppings -- mushroom and sausage -- chosen by the frail man I had held the door open for five minutes before. I was wearing a crisp striped shirt picked out by a meticulous sandy-haired woman and, between sips of iced tea, glancing at Page 351 of a book that was enlightening me to the "Cho-WE Cho-WE" of the Carolina wren -- all the while patiently waiting for the next customer to come through the door to decide whether I wanted to use the eatery's rarely cleaned restroom or wait until I got home.

The burden of responsibility for my life has lifted. Evangelicals and alcoholics have their moments of being born again, and this is mine. The old adage "You have no one to blame but yourself" doesn't apply to me anymore. Next year, when things go wrong, I will have no one to blame but each and every one of you.


so once upon a time in the olden days a woman had five babies AT THE SAME TIME. now these days this doesn't seem like much of a feat, seeing as people are having eight babies at the same time every other day. but this was way back in 1934, BEFORE fertility drugs. so it really was quite a phenomenon. if someone had five identical quintuplets now-a-days without fertility drugs it would still be pretty remarkable. but anyway, back in the day this was pretty much the equivalent of a freak-show. and the girls were treated as such. the government in canada put them on display at a nursery-amusement park known as "quintland." sounds totally freaky to me, but according to newsweek 6000 visitors came to watch the dionne kids play every single day. holy. cow. anyway, years pass. two die and so that leaves three. and i'm taking this from newsweek...but in 1997, when an american family, the mccaugheys, had septuplets the dionnes wrote them a letter. this is what it said:

"we hope your children recieve more respect than we did. their fate should be no different from that of other children. multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products. our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered." many of you are thinking about jon and kate plus 8 right now? ha-i knew it. when i hear the word 'quints' i think of dolls. when i was a kid they had these doll sets...they came with five identical palm-sized dolls, called quints. they were all the rage one summer. we had several different sets of them. does anyone else remember these?

anyway, back to the letter. maybe you are thinking that jon and kate should stop exploiting their children. and maybe you are right. but "our lives have been ruined...?" GET REAL. no one can ruin your life. only you have the power to do something that extreme. stop throwing yourself a pity party and move on.

and come on people. quit worrying so much about jon and kate. you don't actually know them. your life will not be affected by their choices. and those kids are going to grow up, go to whatever college they want to because they are rich and famous, and they're going to create their own lives. yeah, their parent's messy public relationship will probably affect them in some way. but not neccesarily in a bad way. you don't know what they'll learn. in ten years you'll most likely barely remember who jon and kate and the eight even are. and don't pretend that you just care about the kids and what's best for them. if that were true you'd stop talking about them and you'd stop buying people magazine. for all we know jon and kate could truly be doing what's best for them. who are we to say?

yep. that's my story. "and i'm stickin' to it."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

my super awesome yesterday

yesterday i woke up at 7am. yuck. this was after three hours of sleep so i was pretty tired, but no matter how little sleep i get and how much more i enjoy sleeping in, there is something...optimistic about getting up early. so i got ready and i took my car to the shop because the air conditioning wasn't working and driving in a hot car is just horrible. horrible. the night before sarah and i had worked out a plan so that i would walk the four blocks to the trax station and ride to downtown salt lake to hang around and stuff. good plan. as i was leaving i almost put my flipflops on, but then thought, 'oh i'll only be walking a total of 14 blocks, all spaced out quite nicely.' so i wore flats. bad plan.

the trax station was not where the website said it would be. i walked around for awhile and called sarah who looked the address up again. and after walking around for an hour and getting stopped by the longest train in the world (seriously, 10 minutes passed and i still couldn't see the end of the train) i finally found the trax station. it's surrounded by industrial (and run-down) buildings and was not ON the roads it was supposed to be on, but back behind buildings that were on the said roads.

whatever. i got on trax and road downtown where i walked to gourmandise, ordered a blueberry biscuit, and started reading the news. gourmandise is a little bakery downtown that is wonderful. it has great desserts. GREAT. i have yet to eat actual food there but i'm sure it's good because it kept getting busier and busier as the day went on. also they have free wifi. so i read my daily news and started some blog posts and such. at 11:30 ben and sophie picked me up and ben dropped us off at an indian restaurant. i love indian food. i especially love nan. and sophie and i got to talk and try to decipher the barely audible head waiter's jokes.

we then walked back to sophies place. on the way we got to stop in this really cute store that sophie knew. i don't remember it's name... we also saw several antiques stores and hipsters hanging out along the sidewalks thinking about how much cooler they are then everyone else. quite the sightseeing tour.

then i walked back to the trax. once the train was moving i pulled out my newsweek. i don't want to talk to people on trains. i got my full of that in tokyo. but at the next stop patrick sat down across from me. apparently my newsweek wasn't a big enough hint for patrick. he started talking, asking me a million questions, and even though i buried my nose back into my newsweek after every question he kept going and soon i was pulled into this conversation with a total stranger on the southbound sandy trax. patrick moved to salt lake three and a half weeks ago in hopes of finding a job. he left behind his two, count that-two, 15-year-old daughters in chicago. and of course there are no jobs here, so he hasn't been able to find work. he also hasn't been able to find a "female" (his word, not mine) (obviously) because all the "females" he meets here are "effed up." they act totally interested one day and then are incredibly distant the next. and then they go back to being interested and patrick just can't understand them. it took all i had not to laugh at this because it is really hard to imagine that girls in chicago are any different from the girls he was describing. i'd always thought that most girls did just that. but anyway, i couldn't help but feel sorry for patrick. he seemed to be the typical down and out of work american, which sadly is so so common these days. after he got off the train i realized that i don't understand the economy at all. where did all the jobs go? and if people can't afford to pay workers anymore because they don't have the money then...where did all the money go?

anyway. walking from the trax station to the car place was incredibly painful. my feet had had it and i was sunburned and my old lady hip was hurting. but i got there. somehow. three hundred bucks to fix the air-conditioning, the headlight, and get an oil change. ugh. but when i got in the car-HEAVEN! the air blew cold! ice cold! so wonderful!

then i headed to provo. now typically this would have taken less than an hour. but for some reason there was "congestion" on the highway. it was so crazy busy we were going 15 miles an hour the whole way to provo. so i was late meeting laura and brandon and takako (kawasaki takako...she lived in chiba and shibuya and kumamoto in case any of you know her) at the mtc. we were going to volunteer at the trc, which is where you listen to missionaries give the lessons. it requires pretending, which i HATE, but i can do it because it's volunteering. so i got there forty minutes late and they hadn't started yet. which was weird. they didn't need japanese right away, so taka-chan and i listened to two missionaries from mexico who are learning english. they were so adorable and hard to understand. amazingly taka-chan (who is japanese) understood them much better than i did. and i wondered if i would be able to understand the missionaries learning japanese better than a japanese person. questionable. anyway, at the end we started talking to these elders and one of them is going to pocatello! which is where my sister is serving a mission. i told him all about her and i'm going to email her about him. elder merino.

then they asked us to stay for japanese. all four of us got to listen to ONE japanese elder give a lesson. he was originally called to italy, but he doesn't speak english almost at all. so he struggled for a week trying to learn italian through english. can you even imagine? so he got his mission call changed to hawaii and now he's learning english with a tutor that speaks japanese. he told us that he was so grateful for the opportunity to finally bear his testimony to people who could understand him. and it was great. and i felt so bad for him. how hard would it be to not be able to communicate with ANYONE. to have a companion that couldn't understand a word you said. muzukashii na.

then we went to strawberry days in pleasant grove. we ate strawberries and cream and rode a ride. it was a ride i'd been on a hundred times, but this one was SO much faster. i think all four of us laughed hysterically the entire time. it was really a fun night. a good mix of english and japanese and funnel cakes.

so that was my yesterday. i'm sure i forgot a million things. if you remember something you can just add a comment. i'm exhausted, sunburnt, and my feet are all cut up-but it really was a super awesome day.