Monday, March 24, 2008

Technically Spring

The vernal equinox was three days ago, and today almost felt like spring: it felt, really, like winter hasn't quite given up yet but spring is fighting to get in the door. It was warm in the sun. It seemed like a good day to get out the camera:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Things You Leave Behind

It's funny how things can change so fast. One day you're meandering through your twenties, minding your own business, and the next thing you know you're a few months away from uprooting completely and starting a new life in a new time zone - new apartment, new friends, new school (for the first time in a long time). New you. And there's a lot you'll have to leave behind.

- Impromptu dinner parties with The Girls, who make you laugh harder than anyone you've ever known.
- Friday nights out at The Spot, where you're genuinely happy to see the people who stop to say hello.
- Ice skating in the park.
- Ice cream cones in January.
- That one view of the city that you still love, even on days when you can't wait to leave town.
- Your roommate's cat who barfs at least once a week but still manages to be quite endearing.
- The dive bar in the 'burbs you all end up at until much too late on a weeknight because you just can't help yourselves.
- Remembering what used to be in the storefronts where the chain restaurants have since moved in.
- Those rare perfect days when the wind lets up and the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue.
- The friend's family who have taken such good care of you when you needed it most.
- The friend with the extremely expressive face to match the extremely snarky sense of humor. The friend you've known since at least two lifetimes ago. The new friend who you hope won't get lost in the move. The friend who helped this whole change to happen in the first place.

And so much more. Bad stuff too, but you never think of the bad stuff when the melancholy of leaving sets in. It's all wistful glances backward at the good times that were had.

There are many reasons to go, better than the reasons for staying. The new town, new school, new career path, new you all promise to be not just new but improved - that's the big selling point, right? You'll be new and improved and there will always be long drives back to visit and see how much has changed since you left.

It was twenty years ago that you cried over the ugly, broken dining room chandelier that was being replaced. Even then you knew that the new light would be so much better, but you couldn't help being sad for the loss of the one you'd always known. Is trading one city for another any more or less trivial? Any more or less difficult? At least Boston won't be sent to the garbage dump on Monday morning.

Monday, March 17, 2008

An Open Letter (1)

To the woman at the grocery store who was working by the self-checkout lanes tonight,

Thank you for coming to my rescue. Thank you for not blaming me for making the machine not take my change. Thank you for not heaving a sigh and giving me that look that says "it's almost 10pm, I'm tired and I hate my job - can't you just put another dollar bill in?" Thank you for having a sense of humor about the damn thing not working. Most of all, thank you for opening up the machine and beating it into submission. Literally. You brightened my evening AND allowed me to efficiently dispose of two pesky pennies.

May life bring you many opportunities to hit uncooperative machinery.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rent Them Pants

Outlet malls are the homes of black magic. I firmly believe this. How else is it possible to spend 2.5 hours and slightly less than $84 and go home with 2 pairs of perfectly fitting blue jeans (a major miracle in and of itself), 2 shirts (from a trendy boutique), and 3 Corel cereal bowls (to help fill out the extremely lopsided secondhand dish set your parents contributed when your roommate moved out and took all her dishes with her)?

I called my parents as I was on my way to the mall. My father, unfamiliar with the town of Wrentham (because lives in a different state), thought that I said "rent them." He asked if I would be renting my new pants. I told him I hoped not.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good Posture

I’ve just discovered that if I sit up, I can see the water in the reservoir through the office window, which is almost like having a nice view. If I don't, I just see the traffic on something that might be I-95. This may or may not be enough to inspire good posture.

Good posture is also one of my friend’s reported self-help secrets. I think that any day that starts with a failed attempt at a half hour nap in the driver's seat of one's car, in a cold parking lot (at 7:30am) can use all the help it can get, self- or otherwise.

Thinking about the difficulty of maintaining good posture in the chair in which I’m sitting (which probably cost as much I’ll make all week at This Place - a very sturdy leather jobber, with wheels that actually roll, and arms and everything) has now led me to lower the seat of said chair, which might significantly improve the quality of my remaining 28.5 hours here. (Not counting the extra day at the end of the month.) *

I wonder what else good posture could do for my life: land me a better job? get me into graduate school? win me a husband? make money appear in my bank account, gourmet food in my kitchen, gasoline in my car's tank.... perhaps this is something I should investigate further. Perhaps an entire self-help regime could be invented (and marketed) based solely on sitting - and standing - up straight: books extolling the effects of good posture on your life; videos of exercises to improve your posture; small desktop reminders to 'sit like a winner'; even specialized clothing or braces like you'd wear to cure scoliosis, only much sexier and designed to be worn outside your clothes so that 1. you can show everyone that you're a stand-up-straight winner, and 2. you can more readily display the brand imprints and advertising messages emblazoned on your corrective device.

I could really be onto something here: the new cure-all for the new generation, the money-maker of the century, the savior of so many lost-twenty-something-souls. "Sit up straight" - what a battle cry! It would make my mother proud.

So I’ll quit working, give up graduate school, throw everything out the window – and talk my friend into creating the Sit Up Straight School of Self Help with me. Brilliant, no?

Just you watch – in eight months you’ll be surfing channels at 4am and see an infomercial for the Posture Plan, and you’ll know I was really onto something.

* For some reason I'm working four consecutive days at This Place, and then one random day in another two weeks. More on This Place in a future post.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Since sometime very late in 2005, I've spent a fair amount of time at various open mics around the Boston area. Some are "better" than others, which in open mic terms pretty much means that at some people listen to you and at some they don't even pretend to. Overall, I don't really like open mics. All too often I spend the evening feeling like everyone in the room just wishes everyone else would hurry up and get off stage so his turn would come faster. And sometimes the performers are actually terrible (you know it's true, don't get all uppity on me).

There is one thing I love about open mics, though: the moment just before someone begins to play, sometimes extending into the first moments of the first song. For just a few seconds, the person on stage could be my new favorite artist, could be the Next Big Thing. The song could be brilliant, the voice could be beautiful, the playing could be exquisite.

Alas, I'm usually disappointed by what follows (now you can get uppity - I'm a bitch, I know). But I do love that moment of anticipating the possibly-great, that Moment Before. It's the beauty of the beginning.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Birth of a Blog

I have never liked being told what to do.

I got along all right in school because, oddly enough, I liked school. But once I hit the working world my authority complex came out in all its glory. Perhaps the problem is simply that I'm too stubborn, and impatient: I know what I want, and it doesn't involve getting up at 7am, wearing 'business casual', and showing up at someone else's company to file papers all day.

Some people don't seem to mind this employment model. They're okay with going to the office every day and letting someone else tell them to write this report or crunch those numbers. Most of my friends don't fall into that group. Most of my friends' career objectives include things like 'owning my own company' and 'being in charge'.

One of these friends and I have been discussing, lately, how frustrating it is to give so much of our time and energy to Those Places (the companies that employ us) when we have SO many other things we'd rather be doing in pursuit of our own objectives. The Job satisfies only one objective: don't become homeless/go bankrupt/starve to death.

Unfortunately, that's a pretty important objective to keep pursuing. Forturnately, The Job is only one way of fulfilling that particular need. There are many other possible ways of staying financially solvent. Some that I've thought of include:

participating in psychological or medical studies
handing out fliers on the street
winning contests/going on game shows or reality TV
recycling bottles and cans for the deposits
busking for tips (as a musician)
becoming an egg or sperm donor
getting a grant
getting a 'sugar daddy'

Most of those aren't terribly appealing, though I wouldn't mind busking if I could actually make some money doing it. (When was the last time you threw anything better than a penny or an old newspaper into an open guitar case on the street?)

Then it hit me: this particular friend and I both have no end of things to say about any number of subjects. Why don't we start a blog? There are, in fact, professional bloggers out there - why can't we join them? And thus Better Off Crazy was born.

So, welcome to our experiment. If nothing else, now we'll have a forum in which to shout our opinions to the world - and hopefully get some opinions thrown back at us. I'm looking forward to it.