New Years Kinda Sucks

December 30, 2008

Judging by the past two posts I made (X-Mas and this one), it looks as if I’m a Negative Nancy.  But I’m not.  I swear.  But follow me here.  New Years kinda sucks and here is why…

Every year, everyone has in their heads what the perfect New Years will be.  Maybe go out to a bar, or hang out with friends, or go to a bumpin’ party (or all of the above).  We think that our New Years will be like the New Years MTV has, where there is Kristal flowing, Chingy rapping, and Carson Daly being a tool.  Unfortunately, in all actuality, none of this happens (1.  Kristal is expensive.   2.  Who gives a shit about Chingy?  3.  I wouldn’t hang out with Carson Daly if given the opportunity).  This is why I hate New Years.  I hate New Years because I know somewhere far, far away someone is having a legendary time.  Someone is standing on a table of a bar with two bottles of champagne in their hands singing Bon Jovi at the top of their lungs (scratch the Bon Jovi part).  And you know who isn’t one of these people?  Most of us.  Most of us have a lame New Years and always come out disappointed.  So here is what I say:  don’t have any expectations whatsoever.  I know, I know.  You think you are going to be one of those people standing on top of a table with champagne.  But odds are, you won’t.  So don’t have any expectations.  Let’s look at Mike’s track record over the past three years:

New Years 2006:  I went to Times Square and planned this huge “fun filled” day.  But there is a reason why every single person who goes to Times Square for New Years says either not to go, or go and be miserable and never do it again.  I’m going to be honest:  Times Square blows.  Here is the situation: the NYPD makes you stand in dividers (and if you don’t get there at least 24 hours in advance, you stand blocks and blocks away from Dick Clark), and you can’t leave the dividers.  Period.  Not even to pee.  I had to pee really bad and bribed a cop with hot chocolate.  Did I mention it is freezing out?  Well if I haven’t, there you go.  It’s cold as hell.  Let’s see, what else…  Oh, you would expect the ball to be gigantic but it kind of looks like a marble dropping in the game Kerplunk.  It’s very anti-clamactic.   The ball drops and everyone goes home.  No champagne, a couple fireworks and nothing else.

New Years 2007:  After the over-ratedness of the previous year’s New Years, I decided to stay at home with a couple of friends.  My friend and I decided to go to a local party.  As I was sitting at this party, where I barely knew anyone, I decided that I would be better off coming home and playing Madden on Playstation 2 (clearly it was a shitty party).  And that is exactly what I did.  I got up at around 10:30 pm and left for home where I played Madden until the morning.  My parents came back from their celebrations at around 1:30 am, and I didn’t even realize that New Years had passed.

New Years 2008:  So I finally had a good New Years… in Italy.  So the solution to our little New Years conundrum is to leave the United States to have a good time (not that easy with our economy… unless you go to Canada, but everyone knows Canada is an extension of the United States).  We had a great time.  We were in a small beach town called Ascea, where a group of around twenty of us went from bar to bar getting pretty cheap drinks.  Our night included a stint singing karaoke (the Italians were appauled by this), getting free liquor from locals, and many other cool things.  In fact, although I woke up the next morning not believing this happened (I checked the camera for evidence and it was true), the cops in the town gave us bottles of champagne and made us drink and dance to a Cuban singer who was performing (go figure–a Cuban singer in Italy).  It was truly a memorable… er… somewhat memorable night.  Most impressive was the fact that I got up the next morning pretty hungover and gave a twenty minute presentation on Italian versus German fascism with very little preparation, and gave a good one at that (probably one of my greater life accomplishments).

So there you have it.  New Years sucks.  My solution: don’t have any expectations or leave the country.  Seeing how leaving the country isn’t feasible for most of us, I suggest not having any expectations.  Surround yourselves with good friends and cheap drinks and just see where the night takes you.  That’s what I plan on doing this New Years.  I’ll tell you how it goes.  But, let me tell you, I have no expectations whatsoever about the night.

Why I Hate Christmas, Part II

December 25, 2008

Back in 2006, I wrote an ode to Christmas about why I hate it.  It was solely meant to offend people and for that I say, well, nothing.  But, you should probably leave this blog right now.  Anyway, hate is a strong word.  So, I don’t hate Christmas, I just really dislike it.  Why you ask?  Is it because I’m Jewish?  That’s a start, but I’m not jealous.  So here we go, the real reason why I hate Christmas besides the obvious (i.e. Christmas music starting now before Thanksgiving (apparently it takes two months to get into the holiday spirit), traffic at the malls, crowds at the malls, and the resulting deaths at malls).

In today’s society, we always have to one up each other.  I remember last April when I was at a reunion for a study abroad program when we talked about grades.  We were all saying what grades we got in the class.  Some got B pluses, others got A minuses.  However, one kid said he got an A plus loud and proud.  Quite frankly, I don’t know if he truly got an A plus (I doubt it) but he wanted it to be known that he did better than the other twenty of us. 

This is seen everywhere, and on Christmas I see it too, and it really annoys me.  More specifically, I see it in my beloved religion’s Hanukkah/Chanukah/Hanukah/any other way to spell this crazy holiday.  Let’s be frank, in terms of religion, Chanukah is as important as Jesus’s first dump–nobody talks about it in the bible.  For the Jews, Chanukah is not even spoken about in the Torah, and only in passing in the Mishnah (another religious scripture for all my non-Jewish readers).  It’s really quite unimportant as compared to our Super Bowl holidays Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

So what does this has to do with Christmas?  I’ll tell you.  In the middle of the twentieth century, a bunch of secular American Jews (or Jewish Americans, but I’m not getting into that debate) decided that our poor deprived of Christmas kids needed an equivalent to the day that celebrates the birth of Christ (and let’s be serious here, who actually celebrates Christmas for that reason).  Why do we need an equivalent?  Because after Christmas break, the non-Jews would come into school and talk about their cool stuff they got for Christmas, and as a result, the Jewish kids became jealous.  Therefore, us Jews needed to outdo them.  We needed presents for eight craaaaazy nights.

So, I hate Christmas because of this idea of one-upping people.  Where is the holiday spirit?  Jews had to outdo the Christians, the six people who celebrate Kwanzaa had to outdo the Jews, the rich Christians had to outdo the less rich Christians, and so on and so forth.  For whatever reason, the holiday season turns everybody into these competitors where we have to show how much better we are than our colleagues, friends and family.  It’s quite sad.

Oh, and seriously, what is not corny about those ugly Christmas cards with the family and their dog in front of a Christmas tree with matching sweaters?  Seriously?

The Power of Reading… I Mean Females

December 23, 2008

Finals have come and gone and the proceeding celebrations have come and gone.  One thing I have noticed from this is that “Mike’s Theory of Female Power” (not to be confused with “Girl Power”) is as strong as ever.  Let me explain.  Females have a power over us males.  It’s incredible.  Uncanny.  They can do whatever (or whoever) they want, say whatever they want, or something else involving the word “whatever.”  Despite this, us men continue to come back for more.  We love it.  The drama, the chase, or anything else women have created that suck for us men.  We love it.

More importantly, is the female’s ability to get whatever they want.  In other words, females have a power to get whatever they want.  It could be a guy, get out of a parking ticket or cheaper prices for everything everywhere.  In regards to us men, we are fools for this.  We chase after a woman and try to impress them (for me it involves jokes, and eventually spilling something all over me, thus ruining any chances I have).  Meanwhile, the female does not reward us for all of our efforts.  However, if a female wants a man, all she has to do is ask (or for many, get really drunk,  make a move, and the next day, blame it on alchohol).  Furthermore, when the female makes a move on us men, we don’t say no.  It’s not in our vocabulary.  We do not have the ability to do so.

Despite the females having this special ability (I feel like this is an undiscovered ability in the NBC show Heroes), they don’t use it.  It’s like Spiderman not using his ability to spin webs.  It’s like Superman not using his ability to fly.  It’s like Harrison Ford not using his ability to destroy foreigners and end World Wars.  It’s just not right.

I’ve seen this all the time, including in my own adventures (Super heroes have adventures, right?  I just want to stick with the theme here).  Girls aren’t stupid like us men.  They can tell right off the bat when we like them (for us boneheads it’s not that easy).  And, you know what they do about it?  Nothing.  They wait for us to do all the work (and eventually wuss out).  So, ladies, do us men a favor:  just make it clear.  Don’t give us these coded messages because WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THEM.  Just say, hey so and so, you are a great human being with a pretty nice right bicep and left tricep and very muscular but not too muscular legs, and I like you.  Very simple.

If you need more justification for this, ladies, let’s take this a step forward.  Us men eventually have to ask us the hardest question in the world: “Will you marry me?”  Why don’t you save us from asking another hard question (“Will you go on a date with me?”/”I like you.  Do you like me too?”).  You could be considerate and just use your power.  Just tell us.

So there is the Theory of Female Power.  I just realized that this is my first post ever on the opposite sex, which is quite shocking.  I have a lot more theories so more will be coming your way.

Finals Part 2

December 14, 2008

I know, I know.  Two posts in one day?!?  You crazy, Mike.  Anyway, everybody needs to smile during finals and for me, I take a couple minute breaks and watch stupid stuff like this, this or this to get me through the misery that is finals.  I figured I would share these pieces of brilliance to help you get through finals, too.


December 14, 2008

With my second to last undergraduate finals week approaching in eleven hours (yeah, I know I should be studying), I began to think about the whole idea of what finals week is a couple of hours ago.  Finals week is the most unique time of a person’s year and maybe even our lives.  It is a week when time stands still and nothing else matters except for studying, eating and sleeping (and most of us do a lot of the first two and not a lot of the third).

Let me give you an example.  The weekend is just about over.  However, yesterday, it occurred to me that it was a Saturday at around 7:30pm while at the gym.  It just didn’t feel like a weekend and quite frankly, it didn’t matter.  What mattered is that I woke up at 9:30 and studied until my brain was dead.  It didn’t matter if people were hanging out or going out to the bars or whatever.  What mattered was studying. 

Also, most of us completely shut ourselves out from the outside world, with me being included in this category.  I have been at this chair that I am writing this blog at for probably around twelve hours already today and probably for another seventy hours in the next week.  I completely forgot that football was on today (but now, since I realized, I have the Giants on in the background), I didn’t talk on the phone, I didn’t text message, I had one AIM conversation, and I left my room a total of five times:  twice for lunch and dinner, three times to take a bathroom break.

So this is finals.  Nothing else matters.  For other people who think like I do, I think it is a testament to our mental toughness.  I know for me, I have always taken everything like it is sports.  Before a game, I would get myself into a zone and nothing else mattered except for the goal at hand.  This is this same for finals.  Whatever problems are in my life (which are little, thank the Lord) or whatever is bothering me, I leave it at the door.  It is game time.  I care about nothing except for the material and silence (to allow me to study the material).  I don’t celebrate until I have completed my finals and goals (and for the most part, the celebrations are small because I have a larger view of life and my short term goals only help me complete my long term goals).  So, there you go.  Even though I left competitive sports almost four years ago, I still am in the zone and want to win.  But, I will talk a little less trash.

Being Nice To People Does Not Take Effort

December 11, 2008

So a couple days ago, I was walking in my the hallway of my apartment to pick up my mail.  As I was walking, I saw a kid throw a garbage bag into the garbage room, just like anybody else would do.  Unfortunately, he did it right in front of the maintenance lady who works long hours in our building everyday.  After seeing this, she said, “Do you mind throwing your garbage bag down the garbage chute?”  He willfully obliged, but as he walked away, he said under his breath something incredibly rude and degrading to a lady probably just trying to make enough money to feed her family.

This really annoyed me for many reasons.  First, common decency is not that hard.  My parents always taught me that being nice is easier than being mean, so therefore being nice is the way to go (unless they broke your heart, stabbed you in the back, or took a shit without flushing).  Second, this lady does the dirty work in our apartment building so we could live in a clean and healthy environment.  If she wasn’t here, our apartment building would be a dump (I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen throw up down the indoor stairwell).  Just because we are getting a college education while this person is probably making close to minimum wage doesn’t mean that we should treat her like a different or worse human being than we would treat a classmate or teacher.

As, I said before, I have been raised to treat people with common decency and respect.  Because of this, I have grown a friendship with one of the maintenance men in my apartment building over the past couple years.  He really opened my eyes to how lucky I am, but also how even a maintenance man could be an amazing human being and incredibly generous, despite the fact that he does not have much.

The first time I met Martin was in August 2007.  Our hot water heater was not working and I put in a work order to have this fixed.  At around 12:30 that day, while I was sitting in pajamas watching Sportscenter I heard a knock on the door and a yell of “maintenance!”  I opened the door to an “Average Joe” African American with a big smile on his face.  He said, “Good morning, sir!” cheerfully, and then, “I’m here to fix your water heater.”  He went into the bathroom to figure out what was wrong and spent a good amount of time checking the heater as well as offering to check the rest of our bathroom while he was there.  I offered him a drink, and although he said “no thank you” I could tell that he appreciated the offer.  On the way out, he said, “Have a blessed day,” and he was off.

I thought to myself that nobody, not even the richest person in the world, could be as cheerful and happy as Martin was.  Over the past year and a half I got to know him, through playing Rock Band with him and my roommates, putting in work orders even when we didn’t need anything fixed, or just in the hallways, where he would say “have a blessed morning” every morning.  When I saw him outside the building, he cheerfully approached me and asked how my roommates and I were.

One time, about two months ago, I was studying in the lounge when Martin walked in to eat his lunch.  He carried with him a brown-bagged lunch and a bible to read.  Obviously, through my past interactions with him, I knew he was a religious man, but this gave me the perfect opportunity to ask him about his life since he had been apart of mine for over a year at that point.  He told me that he came from New York City where he was an established carpenter, plumber and maintenance man, but wanted to move to a safer neighborhood because of concern for his family.  He said he went to private Catholic school as a youth and dreams of becoming a minister in the future because he just wants to help people.  He said he takes great pride in just fixing a sink, or changing a light or whatever for us because he knows it makes our lives easier and more enjoyable.  He proceeded to tell me about his family and the rest of his very interesting history.

After about an hour of speaking, I knew right then and there that this guy was one of the most interesting people I have ever met.  I learned this all from just being nice to a guy who makes our lives slightly easier.  So, if you see a maintenance guy, or street worker or whatever, I’m not telling you to go up to them and thank them, but I’m telling you to just be nice to them.  Just appreciate what they are doing because you don’t have to do it.  And, more importantly, as my parents said to me as a youth, being nice is just easier.

The Reopening of Chapters…

December 3, 2008

So Thanksgiving has come and passed.  Of course I have a lot to be thankful for.  I don’t need to go into what I am thankful for, but an occurrence over Thanksgiving gave rise to something new that I am thankful for…

About a week and a half ago, I was invited on Facebook to play football over Thanksgiving.  Sure, who doesn’t like a Turkey Bowl?  It had been a tradition we had in high school (in addition to playing every Friday), but that tradition died the second I graduated from high school three and a half years ago.  In addition, my friendships from high school also died on that June night in 2005.  Obviously, the past is the past and this isn’t a weblog entry about that, but I was a little hesitant to play football in 2008 with these guys.  I didn’t know how they would feel about my presence there, but I decided to play anyway.  It ended up being a lot of fun and brought back a lot of good memories.  I am very thankful for this.

However, that little diddie isn’t the point of my post today.  What really stuck out to me in that game of football was the emergence of me from the past.  A lot of my mannerisms, jokes and other things that came out of my mouth I hadn’t heard since June 2005.  It didn’t really occur to me during the game what I was saying, but after the game, when I sat down and thought about what I said exactly, I was really taken aback.  I don’t want to get into specifics of what I said, but no 21 year old male who is six months away from law school would say that.  It was really quite terrible.

I thought about it more, spoke about it with others and really came to believe that we all are accustomed to act a certain way around certain people.  For me and my high school buddies, it was about being loud, obnoxious, and complete assholes.  I don’t act that way around others in college.  Sure, there are some remnants there, but overall, I have changed into a more mature, caring person.  This is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.  The fact that I changed and I changed for the better.  This Thanksgiving gave me a chance to reflect on the past (good and bad), on the present, and where I am going in the future.  I am truly thankful for the past, as it helped build me to the person I am today.  I am more thankful, however, that I have grown since 2005 and grew into the (semi) adult I am today.