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Archive for August, 2012

Because I spend too much time looking at stupid websites like the Daily Mail (just kidding, Daily Mail! You’re not stupid and I love you!) I wonder a lot about the lives of people who don’t know or care that I exist.  Recently, I have been wondering about celebrity children and how some manage to stay out of the news and others

Gwyneth with children Apple and Moses. Or, complete stranger children. No one would really know the difference since we’ve never seen them.

are more likely to be fodder for tabloids. The first time I thought of this was because I saw a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow out somewhere with her kids, and the kids’ faces were blurred out. How does she make this happen?  If this is a possibility, wouldn’t all famous people pick that option?

Remember Michael Jackson’s poor kids, and how he made them wear masks everywhere to protect their identities?  If someone had said to him, “Hey Jacko, you can either dress your kids up like circus freaks every time you leave the house, or we can just blur out their faces any time they’re photographed.”, wouldn’t he have chosen the latter?  Or maybe not, he did always seem a bit off.

As another example, I would like to cite the Jolie-Pitt brood. I know what all of their children look like.  Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are some of the most famous movie stars in the world. If anyone has the power to keep their kids’ identities secret, surely it would be them? But those kids are famous whether they want to be or not.

Angelina Jolie with her three daughters.

They were never given a choice.

The saddest example of all, of course, is little Suri Cruise. That poor kid. Sure, she seems like she’s well on her way to being a very spoiled, very rich kid (and now as a child of divorce, there’s no telling what sort of riches she’s in for).  But if you ever look at her when she is walking down the street, or being carried by one of her parents amidst a sea of paparazzi who are all yelling her name, she looks sad and miserable. There are times when she is very obviously shielding her eyes and hiding from the cameras.  And who can blame her? She’s just a little girl.

Tom Cruise is pretty darn famous, pretty rich, and, for most intents and purposes, fairly powerful. Couldn’t he prevent his daughter’s image from being plastered all over every tabloid magazine and newspaper across the world? What has Gwyneth figured out that everyone else hasn’t? Does she just have the world’s best publicist who threatens publications with lawsuits if images of the Paltrow-Martin children are published? But again, if that was an option, why wouldn’t they all do it?

Cute little Suri, in plain view of cameras

Suri, soon after the previous photo was taken. Seemingly, she is having a meltdown about an ice cream cone, but my guess is that she’s thinking “Enough with that f*ing camera in my f*ing face!” Her language may not be that appalling yet.

PS:  I would just like to note that I do have some decent design/desktop layout skills, but Word Press makes it next to impossible to insert pictures and place them where you want them. It makes everything go haywire, and when you move a photo, it will often put the copy of the blog into the caption of the photo. It drives me crazy, and then I just give up. As I have done here. You get the point.

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Watching the NFL pre-season games this weekend, I made a decision.  Since I am from Boston, I will always love the New England Patriots as my #1 team. They rule. But I have decided to have a back-up favorite team, and it will be the Cleveland Browns.

This probably seems exceptionally stupid, but I am sort of in love with this idea.  The Browns seemingly have had more losing seasons than winning seasons since their inception in 1946.  But this is why I want to root for them! Maybe it’s because I grew up in Boston, where we were constantly complaining when our sports teams lost, which they seemed to do often. The Pats weren’t good when I was growing up. One year they made it to the Super Bowl and they lost. So when they all of a sudden became awesome in the early 2000s, it was a bit shocking.  The same with the Red Sox – all anyone ever did was moan about the “Curse of the Bambino”. Then the Sox won the World Series.  Within the past few years, the Celtics have won an NBA Championship, the Bruins have won the Stanley Cup – what do we have left to complain about?  As a Boston sports fan, your identity is stripped when you have nothing left to bitch about.

So, part of the appeal of the Browns to me is rooting for a team that is such an unbelievable underdog.  When they become awesome and finally win a Super Bowl (they’re only one of only a small number of teams in the entire NFL to never have made it to a Super Bowl), it will be a very sweet victory indeed.

It occurred to me to be their fan when my boyfriend and I were watching the pre-season highlights yesterday, and saw a score of the Browns game, and I said, “Oh no, the Browns lost,” and we both laughed because no one really cares. Then I thought, that’s really sad, and someone has to care.  Thus, I have taken it upon myself to be the one who cares.  I also decided it was sad that they are the only team in the NFL to not be named after something cool (being named after an owner is ok, I guess, but how does that hold up to things like Panthers and Jaguars?). The trademark of their helmets is that there is nothing on them. Let’s think about that for a second. Their “look” is nothing.  It’s burnt orange accented with a brown stripe, sort of like one of my outfits from when I was a kid in the 70s. Even then, I knew it was ugly.

Burnt orange and brown

Incidentally, everything I now know about the Browns I learned today from their Wikipedia page.

But that was how I also discovered that I was wrong in my initial assumption that they are without fan support. The Browns have a global fanbase, called “Browns Backers Worldwide“.  According to Wikipedia, they have 100,000 members and are considered the largest sports organization in the US.  This is pretty cool, and also speaks to something I also read today about Cleveland fans being the most loyal fans out there, when you consider their level of dedication to a team that doesn’t win very often. Also, how many times has someone tried to move this team out of Cleveland?  I think it’s pretty cool that they’re still around.   Generally speaking, Boston sports fans are some of the most obnoxious people you will ever meet in you life, but this is why I love them. I love them for their passion and their loyalty, and I respect any die hard sports fan for loving their team through good or (most especially) bad. I don’t even mind Lakers fans when they’re all in my face hating on the Celtics because I think, “At least they love their team.”

I respect the Browns’ fans, and I respect a team that just keeps getting out there and trying again because of the love of the game and because they don’t want to let down the fans, who support them through the good, bad and the sometimes very, very ugly.  So, consider me, from this point forward, part of the Cleveland Browns Nation (sorry, I will never use the term “Dawg Pound”), as I support them in all their ugly burnt orange and brown glory.

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Last week in Russia, members of a feminist punk-rock group Pussy Riot – known for staging provocative political protests – were convicted of “hooliganism” and sentenced to time in prison for a protest they performed inside of a Russian Orthodox church. The protest was something against Russian presdient Vladimer Putin.

Since the sentencing, this has been everywhere on the internet. I consider myself liberal as well as feminist, and I like getting riled up over injustices as much as the next person (if I happened upon Congressman Todd Akin on the street, I would spit in his eye and then kick him in the shin – or worse), but I am having a hard time getting riled up over this.

First of all, Americans are getting outraged by this incident because they are looking at it through the filter of our spoiled-American ideals and principles. We have more civil liberties as a country than most places on this earth. We are very lucky for that, and I’m willing to bet most of us take that for granted and don’t consider how lucky we are. Maybe it’s good that people will look at this incident and think, “Jeez, thank goodness we have Freedom of Speech in this country.” The point is, that is what we have in America.  This Pussy Riot protest happend in Russia.  Russia, a country where you can be convicted of something called “hooliganism.”   I’m not saying that people should be scared into submission because of this, but you have to have an inkling in your head of what the consequences can be when you stage a protest about the leader of your country – in a church. Were they surprised?  It seems like they shouldn’t have been.

I know other countries are speaking out about the sentencing of these girls, which I suppose is nice. But then it kind of irritates me when I think about what is happening in Syria or the places in Africa where genocide is taken as a fact of life.  International relations people surely have more pressing things to take up their time than a punk-rock collective who probably knew what the potentical consquences for their actions were before they even step foot in that church.  If you don’t want to be part of a country where you can be convicted of hooliganism, then maybe you should move before you offend half the country and desecrate a church. It seems to me they caused their own problems here, and I’m having a hard time feeling sympathetic.

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We’ve all probably been in the situation where we’ve been trapped in a conversation with a BAD conversationalist. You know, the people who blather on about themselves, and seem completely uninterested in any contributions you might have?  It is exhausting to try to talk to one of these types of people, not to mention awkward.

Today I discovered that there is a particular type of the Bad Conversationalist. It is the Bad Question Asker.  As a prime example of this, I would like to introduce you to my Mother (that statement might be more effective if she actually knew this blog existed and read it, but the nature of this post will tell you why that is not a possibility).  She has knack for asking such bad questions, it is clear to me that she either doesn’t care or isn’t remotely paying attention to the details of my life. Her questions are so off the mark I wonder if she even remembers who she’s talking to half way through the conversation.  She also has a habit of holding on to a seriously useless pieces of information, and asking about those in lieu of, say, asking me about my many doctors appointments or what is going on in my personal life.  Or, worse than useless, is just the outdated nature of the questions. Like, she was paying attention five years ago, but that’s when her brain became full of data about me and she has since given up trying to hold on to information.*

This type of bad question asking is only slightly more disheartening than the people who ask you a question, and as you answer, you realize they aren’t even remotely paying attention to what you’re saying. The question was only asked to set up the “conversation” the asker wants to have. I used quotes there because, in those circumstances, it ends up being less of a conversation and more just someone talking at you and telling you about themselves.

Today my mom asked me how my knee was doing. I went to physical therapy for a knee injury last fall (I was actually done with therapy by November) and it hasn’t bothered me since. I have, however, been suffering with sciatica since May.  Glad she’s keeping up.  In the same vein, my boyfriend periodically suffers with a bad back. He’s usually ok with it, but last winter, while visiting my family over the holidays, it was bothering him one day and he had to take a muscle relaxer and a nap to set himself straight again.  It really wasn’t a big deal. Yet today she asked, “How’s [insert boyfriend’s name here]’s back?”  It was a very random and out of the blue question.  Maybe she didn’t know what else to ask about him, but why pick that?  Just a general, “How’s he doing?” would have sufficed.

The effect of a conversation with a Bad Question Asker is that you walk away from the conversation feeling kind of crappy.  As though, it’s almost better if they don’t bother asking any questions at all instead of asking questions that are so woefully unrelated to anything actually happening in your life.  Of course, you can forgive a relative stranger of this; but from friends and/or family, it has a crummy lasting effect.

* Before you feel too bad for me, or dismiss me as some sort of ungrateful jerk who doesn’t appreciate their mother, I would like to note that my dad is the opposite of this. He is the best Question Asker ever.  I think it’s because most of his career was in sales, which is all about talking to people and relationships, but he pays attention to every last detail when you talk, and will come back weeks later and follow up with questions on something you yourself will have forgotten about.  Why I love My Dad Part III?

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The other morning, coming back from the gym before work, I hit traffic.  Traffic going down the small side streets on the way back to my place from the gym. Side streets that go by a high school. There was traffic because it was the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. It’s August!!  Not even the end, but the middle!! What is wrong with these people?

Ever since I was a kid, Back To School time made me totally depressed.  I think it was because I loved Summer so much, with all of my dorky little heart.  I remember the feeling of freedom, waking up whenever we felt like it, playing outside all day, and eating dinner outside on warm summer nights.  The feeling of not having to do homework after dinner was so liberating – instead, we were allowed to go out and play more before coming home when the street lights went on, to clean up and settle down for bed.  When I was a kid, it was not the social norm for kids to go to some type of camp all summer long (at least not that I was aware of; no one I knew did it).  We just used to play around the neighborhood, riding our bikes, playing games, amusing ourselves.  If we were lucky, the one person we knew with a pool would invite us over to go swimming,  a total luxury for us on a hot, humid Northeast summer afternoon.

The first indications that the school year is impending are those evil Back To School ads.  They range from things like clothing (going to a Catholic school and having to wear a uniform every day, these made me feel especially left out), to school supplies, to snack foods that many parents will pack in their kids’ lunches (my parents were pretty strict about crappy junk food, so those ads made me feel left out too).  It was what these ads symbolized that depressed me the most – the end of freedom, the return of slogging to school every day – especially a school that was overrun with mean nuns.  It was like being at Hogwarts – with none of the magic – when Dolores Umbridge was in charge, times 10.

I’ve never before considered how much I genuinely love Summer, and how much, still, to this day, almost 20 years after graduating from high school, I hate Back To School season.  I can’t stand the excitement with which these evil corporations peddle their wares – it’s like they find joy in the misery of children! (in my adult working life, I have since learned that Back To School season is one of the biggest retail selling periods, right behind “Dads & Grads” (June) and Christmas)

My 9-year-old nephew, who is like me in personality so much that it’s scary (my sister thinks she gave birth to my child by accident, and on days when he is driving her crazy, she will call me to say, “When you have my kid, we’re trading!”), seems to feel the same way.  The other day was his birthday, and my sister told me that he asked her not to talk about going back to school until after his birthday was over.  Who can blame the poor kid? The end of summer sucks.  I know everyone complains about how quickly stores put up things for various holidays (Halloween, Christmas) seemingly many months earlier than anyone is prepared to think about them, but the benefit of it is that it gives you something to look forward to.  Maybe these poor kids need to be reminded that the next bout of freedom is just around the corner, if they can make it to December and Christmas break.  I am in their boat, crossing off days on the calendar to get to the next fun thing that doesn’t involve slogging to work/school everyday, when I, too, can relish in that feeling of freedom again.

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Unless you live under a very big and sound-proof rock, you have surely heard about all the bru-ha-ha around Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy saying he is against same-sex marriage.  The ensuing media firestorm has been pretty hard to miss. Mayors are banning the expansion of franchises to their cities (Boston, Chicago and San Francisco); the Jim Henson Co. decided  to pull their toys from the Chick-fil-A Kids Meals; protestors from both sides have been flanking restaurants for weeks now.

It’s all gotten to be a bit much. I felt that when I saw another news story on it last night – it just has that feeling of, “Enough already! We’re still talking about this?”

I am furiously liberal and furiously pro gay marriage.  I believe in equality for all and I hate, hate, hate when people have close-minded opinions about such a thing that is, ultimately, none of their business. However, you have to concede that we live in a country where everyone is allowed to have a voice and say what they feel, even if it is ignorant and perpetuates hate and prejudice. It’s just their right to do so. We don’t have to like it, but we don’t have to listen to it, either.  I don’t particularly feel like a dramatic boycott is necessary.  I disagree fervently with In ‘n Out’s support of Pro-Life charities, so I simply don’t eat there. I know many, many people who love In ‘n Out and eat there, regardless of whether they agree with that stance or not.  I don’t argue with them for it. That’s their right. And it’s my right not to eat there.  I do not wish to contribute my hard-earned money to something in which I feel so passionately against.

I’ve only eaten at a Chick-fil-A once in my life. It was fine, but I would certainly not go back there now. And I’m not going to make a big deal out of it, I just don’t want to eat there. I don’t agree with what they support. And they’re entitled to support whatever they wish, but I don’t have to eat there if I don’t like it.

I just saw this story in the L.A. Times and it made me very sad.   Poor Don Perry. He probably worked very hard for years at this little chain restaurant that served friend chicken, and never in a million years did he ever think he’d have to contend with anything on this level. His worst nightmare was probably something like a salmonella outbreak. But all of a sudden his company is caught up in the biggest PR nightmare imaginable and he was probably so massively stressed, his body just couldn’t take it. I wonder if he went out cursing Dan Cathy for having such a big mouth and starting all of this in the first place.

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I work in one of those corporate cultures where people are married to their jobs. My bosses and many of my colleagues clearly prioritize their jobs above their families and social lives, and many people are here until 7, 8 or even 9 o’clock at night.  I refuse to do this.  I think my health problems have given me a different perspective, and also, I will never love a job enough to put it above the things that are important to me, like being with my family, friends and loved ones.  I work to live, I don’t live to work. My job is what allows me to get paid a decent salary to do the things I want to do outside of here. It also provides me with awesome health benefits, which is paramount because of my health problems.

It is the norm for people here to come to work when they are sick. My two bosses do it all the time.  It permeates the culture, and becomes the example they set for the rest of the team. Like, what we do is so important, even if you are on your deathbed, you better get your ass into work (for the record, what we do is NOT very important at all; we do promotional movie tie-ins. No one dies if I do a bad job or take an afternoon off to get better).  This has affected me negatively in two specific instances:

1) After my stroke last year, I was recovering at home and on disability, and got pressured to return to work. This was in private. When I panicked and went to HR, they sat me down with my bosses who put on phony faces and assured  me, “Oh no, your health comes first!” But the damage has been done. I know they don’t care about my health as much as the care about me sitting here between the hours of 9-6 every day. Also, I had been working part time, and working the rest of the time from home – which my doctors had even advised against – and it still wasn’t enough. I will never forget that.

2) With an auto-immune disease, you have a harder time getting over illnesses than the average person.  Right after last Thanksgiving, I came down with the flu. I was supposed to travel to northern California for a day trip to meet with one of my partners, and I just couldn’t do it. I was so sick. I tried to come in for a few hours at a time to prepare for the meeting for my boss and assistant who were covering for me, spraying my office down with Lysol and using Clorox wipes on everything I touched.  After the meeting, which, from what I heard, went off without a hitch, I got a stern ‘talking to’ from my boss that started with, “I know you can’t help getting sick, but…” and then she tore into me for not being prepared enough.  I was a loss of what to say – I had the flu!! What was I supposed to do?

When I was coming back from disability, one of my bosses was coming into work every day even though she had walking pneumonia. The other boss seems to get sick with some kind of respiratory thing at least every 3 months.  Of course, she still comes into the office when she is like this, which makes me want to scream. If she’s going to be such a hard ass about me being sick and needing time to get better, then it would be nice if she wasn’t the one getting me sick because she doesn’t know how to stay home and take care of herself.

Besides just me and my problems, I’m pretty sure no on else who works here wants her disgusting germs. This is how epidemics happen.

This whole issue has taken on a much greater proportion for me right now because one of my colleagues has a wife who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery a few weeks ago and starts chemo on Monday.  So they expect him to sit here all day while they cough and hack and spew their disgusting germs, and have him go home to his wife who has a compromised immune system? It defies all logic, intelligence, and basic human courtesy.  Can you complain to HR about something like this? Because I just might do it.

If you ever wonder why I insist on keeping my blog anonymous, this entry is a prime example of why.

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