Archive | July, 2012

Why I’m Missing in Action

30 Jul

Not that anyone has actually missed me.

But anyway, I have not been posting

because my life is on hold

because I am consumed by the Olympics.

You see, I was the kid who turned the living room into a gymnastics competition arena for the entire duration of the Summer Games (I’m talking opening ceremony to closing ceremony.  Devastatingly, I was not allowed to practice during Trials.)  I also made up cheers, typed them up, printed them out, colored them, passed them out, and demanded that everyone in my family do the cheers in unison… repeatedly.

In any event, unrelatedly, here’s a picture I came across today.  Good memory.  Seems like forever ago (actually: 5 years).

The roof of my dorm at Harvard. I spent some (unauthorized) nights up there, looking down over the Quad.  Then looking up… and literally counting my lucky stars.

Love My Funny Friends

22 Jul

Law school friend just sent me a check for his share of expenses for a little trip… in January.  [Okay, okay, I just billed him two weeks ago.]  Here’s what I get in the mail:

Oh yeah, and here was the trip in question:

Indispensable! Travel Advice

20 Jul

By this point, I have read a lot of travel advice books.  What have I learned?  Well, for starters, I’ve learned that people smoke a lot of crack when they write these books.  As an example, let’s take Thalia Zepatos’ A Journey of One’s Own: Uncommon Travel Advice for the Independent Woman Traveler, which boasts a five-star rating on Amazon. Here is some of her advice, in the order in which it is dispensed in the book:

Gee wiz, I will go from lawyer to prostitute in one plane ride!

So the men, they want to marry prostitutes? They must watch too much Pretty Woman out there.

Okay! Great. Don’t even want to know how that works.

Well I’ll be damned.

Edit: “To add to how stupid your pasty ass American potato face presently looks, wear your clothes backwards.”

I do like the author’s Final Word, though.  I’m calling it my 23rd Psalm!

Is This a Dumb Idea?

16 Jul

I’ve taken a vow of silence and am trying this out with my co-workers.  They are ready to kill me.

I wonder, how do you communicate with people who don’t speak English?  Everyone is like, “oh, just learn a few words… you know, to show you are trying.”  Okay, nice idea.  Until (1) you remember that you couldn’t learn elementary Spanish in the tenth grade and (2) you realize your freaking vocal cord setup is not meant to pronounce phonemes common in other languages (i.e., the guttural ones like you’re hocking loogies in your esophageal tube, etc.).

See, say I need a canoe. I just flip my book to page 52 and point!

Ultimately, I gave up Spanish and studied American Sign Language in college.  So I usually go with the sign language.  When that doesn’t work, I draw stick figure pictures.

Dieter uses his Point It book!

So I thought I had a genius, novel idea: print out some pictures, paste them on index cards, laminate them, and take with.  I googled it; turns out Dieter Graf already had my idea.  And he fit pictures of 1,300 items in his miniature book.  So I bought it (from here).  It currently costs $6.18 (with free shipping).

The big question is: will this work?  Or will it just make me look like an idiot?  I figure something, good or bad, will come out of this book.  Which makes it worth $6.  Stay tuned, and feel free to make fun of me.

Another thing I learned today, which I wish I would have known ten years ago (I should start making a list…).  To get rid of stickiness, particularly after removing labels or price tags, use peanut butter.  No joke.  It is amazing.

My Grandparents Are in Nat Geo!

15 Jul

My grandparents in a June 2012 spread in National Geographic. The caption: “Newlyweds Alaina and Justin Crowder pose with a couple who paused while strolling on Kill Devil Hills beach to wish the youngsters good luck.”

In this life, there are many people who have helped and inspired me, in ways big and small.  Perhaps one of the most formative of those people is my Grandad, who passed away a year ago.  A lifelong reader of National Geographic, last month he finally made it in there himself.

My Grandad married my grandmother at age 18, days before enlisting to fight as a B-24 navigator in World War II.  All in all, he flew 22 Allied combat missions, with a pilot who didn’t have a driver’s license.

They were part of The Greatest Generation: a pack of Americans who grew up in the Great Depression and, when called, with little education and little personally in the offing, went abroad to fight on foreign lands because, quite simply, it was the right thing to do.  And then came home and built this country into a superpower.

For the son of a trolley car driver, my Grandad lived a life that exceeded all expectations: Colonel in the Air Force, prolific world traveler (visiting over 100 countries!), rock-solid marriage of 67 years.  [And who, along the way, raised 5 boys, the middle of which is my father.]

I came to really know him in my early 20s, and my Grandad was one of the first people to believe in me.  He thought I was a neat person and, at that point in my life, it meant a lot.  He taught me that life is what you make it.  But the big full color lesson was: Time is life’s currency.  When you think back on your life, you’re going to think back on how you spent your time.

Which makes you think — what if life is not measured by making, building, collecting?  What if you already have every minute you’re ever going to have?  What if life is not about saving pennies and dollars, but about spending minutes and hours?

If I learned about life from my Grandad, then I also learned about death.  It really is the great equalizer, and you can’t die the way you live.  If life is a grand adventure, then death is the last stop: home.  When your stop comes — when you arrive home again after a long journey — you pick up your knapsack, you tip your cap, you take a deep breath, and you step out.  Even if your life has been a struggle — and isn’t that what it is, a beautiful struggle? — death is about acceptance.  A sigh of relief, a pleasant smell in the air, a familiar rustle in the wind.  It’s about coming home.

Get Ready, World.

11 Jul

I googled it. The noodle says “You know you love it.”

My friend Alex just sent me this picture.  From what I recall, it is me riding a giant macaroni noodle across from Wrigley Field in Chicago.  I have no idea who the people behind me are.

I’m a Recovering Busy Bee

10 Jul

Me: “How are you doing?”

Everyone: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.”

Read: NYT Op-Ed “The ‘Busy’ Trap” by Tim Kreider.  It hits the nail on the head (okay, maybe not totally squarely, but for the most part).

Being busy is the thing to be.  And, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and company, we can now boast to everyone, constantly, about just how busy we are!

Our society has glorified busy.  Busy means: You’re important.  You’re desired.  You’re doing things.  You’re living life!

Baloney.  Busyness is every bit the numbing agent that binge eating is, except it’s more dangerous — because people applaud you for it.  Says Kreider:

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

I used to be busy.  So busy.  Crazy busy.  I would, with pride, take out my calendar and marvel at all of the neatly penned things on it.  What a dashing, exciting, enterprising little life I led!  Then I realized it was, however clever, merely an antidote.  But the modern world doesn’t understand that not all ills are meant to be cured.  From a recovering busy bee:

Busyness traps you in the inertia of life.  You don’t have time to think.  To dream.  To ponder the big questions.  It can be a survival mechanism; yet another way to numb yourself from the gnawing, nagging, disquieting, discomforting thoughts about your life.

In sum: life is too short to be busy!