Pleasantries and Niceties

I was reading about Russian culture recently and apparently they don’t share our value for incessant niceties. They don’t appreciate the nice smiles, head nods, or small talk that Americans take part in everyday. So, why do we do it?

In the past week I have said some form of greeting to different people on four separate occasions, with zero response. Nothing, not even a head nod. I obviously keep walking muttering shit to myself like a crazy person. I went out of my way to say hi to these people and I get zero response. This brings me back to the possibility that I look like an asshole. This has been proven time and time again, but when you say hi to someone usually they could give some kind of response. Even if its just a grunt, “morning”, or “nice day today.”

This week of being ignored made me really think about Russia and why they may not share our belief in constant smiling and hellos. Apparently, because of the untrustworthy nature of their country and constant government trickery, smiling is thought to show dishonesty. Russian people are also more likely to associate smiling with stupidity. That one, I get. The lack of small talk and unnecessary conversation is associated with the need for honesty among the citizens. Makes sense. When your government is shady as fuck, you need some type of consistency and honesty. But fuck, what government isn’t being shady lately.

So, why do we say hello to everyone we see? Everyday, I have to say hello to every other idiot walking their dog in this complex. I have to talk to every shmuck in the dog park. For what reason? Especially when all I hear about is their great job and life. It’s sickening. I’m not a very talkative person with strangers. I’m more of a listener, but it amazes me how long people can talk about themselves. I actually don’t mind this part because usually a person will tell some ridiculous life story and in turn, I’ll write it on here. It also means I don’t have to talk about myself. We’re not really allowed to talk about anything anymore though. So, all we have left is the weather, and even that we fight about.

I mentioned to someone the other day that I would love to live in South Carolina or somewhere down south because of the weather, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about being in such a old school part of the south. The person then said to me, “well, let’s not get into politics.” Let’s not get into politics? I’m just saying I don’t think I could live somewhere where people live their lives focused on Friday night High School Football and church on Sundays. It just seems like a different lifestyle to me.

For the next couple weeks, I’m only saying hi to people if they initiate the conversation with me. I’m no longer going out of my way to be pleasant. Why do I even do it? To satisfy some need to please everyone I think. I’m not really a first impression type of guy when it comes to being friends with people. I’m more of an acquired taste, like a raw oyster. Some people try it over and over again and eventually it grows on them or they try it once and vomit and it puts a bad taste in their mouth for the rest of their living days. I’m not going to try to be nice anymore, you get what you get people and you don’t get upset. 



Las Vegas Tragedy: Can We Keep Going?

Last night, a tragedy occurred. An act of cowardice on unsuspecting people attending a country festival. The somber feel, the cold brisk morning, reminds me of the morning of 9/11 and waiting to hear that my father was going to come home. You try to go out and enjoy your life but it just seems as though no place is safe. Why is it that people want to terrorize us, destroy our sanity, and create angst among us? I don’t think we will ever have the answer.

This morning, I was listening to the radio and someone said that festivals are still a safe place. He also said that we cannot stop enjoying entertainment because of these tragedies. I think that this man was right and wrong. Nowhere will ever be safe but that doesn’t mean we should stop going.

Festivals are not a safe place. Malls are not a safe place. Hospitals are not a safe place. We are no longer safe in our own home. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. The world we created; a world of fear, anxiety, disdain, and outright hatred. Yet for some reason, we haven’t given up.

There’s something in humans that allows us to push forward despite the worst happening. We all have experienced terrible things, and my thoughts go out to every family affected by this awful event. We all still keep going. No matter how deep the pain, no matter how horrible the storm, no matter how terrified we are, we walk out of our houses each day and try again. We try to enjoy our day, our week, our life, even if it is Monday again. We go to work teach our children that the sun will always come up and we help our elderly know that they will never be left alone to suffer by themselves. Whether you know it or not, we work each day to make this world a better place. Despite living in a world where people want to instill fear, we walk out of our front doors every day and show courage. Anxious because of every tragedy that could occur, we keep telling ourselves, not today. Living in a world filled with hatred, we find a way to show love and respect for people close to us. We band together to donate blood and food, make sure that people we know are okay, or be there for a friend or someone who needs us.

We cannot let tragedy stop us from living. We have to keep enjoying every aspect of our life. Enjoy that you might be sitting in traffic on your way home today. Say good morning to the person who doesn’t hold the door to Starbucks for you. Love your family and friends and talk to them every day. Don’t tell yourself, “I’ll just talk to them in the morning.” Death is imminent. So, live today because there is no guarantee. There is no life insurance that will give you a few extra seconds to say goodbye. Don’t let fear drive your life. Your love for what you do on each every day should drive your life. Your ability to criticize and change the world should drive you on each and every day. Once you stop going, trying, and putting on a brave face, they win. These lunatics, can’t break us. People are not unfixable. People are not weak. We all will keep going no matter what life throws at us. We are Boston Strong, we are Long Island Strong, we are Vegas Strong, we are America strong, we are strong as humans who come together to weather the storm. That’s why we will keep going to festivals, sports games, work, restaurants, hospitals, and everywhere we have been going for our entire lives.

My thoughts go out to anyone affected by this tragedy, some more than others. This is something we are all affected by and should all be affected by. Live in the wake of death. Everyday can be better or worse than the next, but we get to decide how we are going to keep living. They don’t decide. We decide. Because we are humans. Looking in the face of thousands and thousands of years or torture, terrorism, and war, we wake up every day and sometimes we just smile. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry. But we can never allow someone to decide how we are going to feel. I said before, that we will never know why people want to terrorize us, but I realize that I can’t control that no matter what I do. I can control how I will continue to live, don’t live in fear, live in spite of fear. When you get home today, show some love and create some happiness, because that is the most courageous thing you can do living in a world where terror is waiting at every turn. There is something good about every day, whether it be someone making you laugh, the sun shining down, or a kiss from someone you love. A wackjob with a gun can think he’s taking that away from us, but fuck him, and keep going because we’re here for a good time, not a long time.

This Crazy Little Thing We Call Life

The other day I got a bill in the mail from the organization I get my certifications from for work. I wasn’t expecting to get a bill because I was told to pay $286. I had already paid this sum. They charged me another $225. They made me pay $511 just to get a piece of paper that says I’m a speech pathologist. For a second, I rethought if I even wanted to be a speech pathologist anymore for that price.

I get on the phone with the organization to find out what’s going on, long story short, the lady explained to me why it was $511, I responded with “jesus fucking christ, that’s a lot of fucking money.” She had hung up before I could even say another word.

I called back to pay the fee the next day, because I really had no choice. Not enough of you people read my blog, so until I become as rich as Stephen King or as famous as Ernest Hemmingway, I’ll be a speech pathologist. I was on the phone with the girl for over 30 minutes to pay the stupid bill. She made me hang up and call the bank because she told me my debit card wasn’t working. After talking to the bank now, they tell me that my card is not having a problem. I made her give me her direct number so I could call her back with the obvious news that it was her fault. Fuck her. She was so cheery on the phone, like a cartoon fucking bunny rabbit. Ten minutes later its figured out. Problem solved.

I feel like I’m constantly jumping through hoops just to survive. College was where it all started. Just a bunch of hoops to jump through. Can you sit through History of Jazz for enough classes to pass? Can you memorize enough art pieces to get a decent grade in Art of the Western World. Will you show up at office hours to really kiss some ass, so one day someone will write you a letter of recommendation? It’s all a big joke. People will tell you its networking but its not. If anything, you have a better chance at making a friend with a professor than a mentor. I had a couple really nice professors, don’t get me wrong. But i’ve also had some who could not care less that you were struggling, even when you came to office hours.

I had one professor who I really liked. I thought he was a great guy, but apparently the rest of the staff didn’t because he got pushed out like Nixon in the Watergate Scandal.

What hoops you are willing to jump through, define what you will be able to accomplish in your life. It’s not as simple as work hard and you’ll get what you want. Sometimes you really have to do some shitty things, like sit through writing poetry, where my fellow millenials attempted to create deep and meaningful poems. I always got told that my poems didn’t have any meaning. What the fuck do you want man? I show up and I write the poems, do you need me to cry for you too, you sick fuck.

After college, people might decide to go right to work and others might decide, “let’s do some more school.” Well, if you decide the more school route, guess what you have to do again. You have to fill out tedious applications for hours, get letters of recommendation, order you transcripts, order your test scores, and go to interviews at schools far, far away. I didn’t have to worry about interviewing all that much because I only heard back from one school out of the thirteen I applied to over the course of two years. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars wasted. Well I guess not totally wasted, because I did end up going to grad school. Jump through every single one of those hoops to get into the only college where my application was free. Its a cruel world people, get used to it.

Now what I do is I just jump through each hoop, one at a fucking time. It makes each ring of fire a little less painful. Each interaction a little more tolerable and each experience a story of its own.

Hiking Etiquette

I’m going to go right ahead and say I’m a pretty active guy. As I write this, it’s about 5:30 in the morning and I’m getting ready to head to the gym. I just finished walking the dog about 3 miles. I even eat somewhat healthy…somewhat. I enjoy the occasional giant glass of wine and I’m a sucker for French Fries. Not so much a dessert guy though, although for a solid two years my friends called me “Fat Vinny.” But we’re not here to talk about my diet, or the irreversible psychological damage my friends have done to me over the years.  We’re here to talk about the new craze of hiking.

I say new because I don’t think most people were into hiking before they found out they can Instagram a selfie from the top of the mountain (guilty). Most of the hiking I have done since I’ve moved to Las Vegas has been alone. I thought it was a cool solo thing to do.

This should be rule one of hiking etiquette. Never go hiking alone. You don’t want to end up like a fucked up Liam Neeson movie. You’re not going to be able to walk on a broken leg or fight off an Arctic Wolf. You will unfortunately meet your demise rather quickly. At least least any of us Americans. A year ago in Japan, 7 year old, Yamata Tanooka, was left in bear infested woods by his parents as punishment. He survived 6 whole days until someone found him by accident. His father was quoted saying, “I really didn’t think it would come to that. I went to far.” Oh, you fucking think you went too far? I don’t know how you survived Yamata, but next time you’re at the zoo, push Daddy-o into the bear infested bear pit, see if he lasts 6 days.

So, don’t go hiking alone. You’re not as savvy as that 7 year old. A few months ago, I went hiking with a friend and I fell off about a 6 foot lip while we were coming down. It was definitely a lot scarier for me than it was for my friend. He was laughing his ass off while I was laying there moaning in pain. Overall, I was fine but if I would’ve fell off the actual drop, I’d have been shit out of luck. 

Also, I don’t care if you don’t know where you’re going, but at least know where you came from. Asking the next guy you see on the path which direction you should go is not going to be the move. One, he probably doesn’t know where he’s going either. Two, when people ask me for directions I just like to point and say, “yep, just head that way.” Just follow the trail signs and remember where you parked and you should be ok. Like I said, “should be.”

One part of the etiquette I’m not really too sure about is when you start walking the same path as another group. I’m not about to do a 3 mile hike with three weirdos who continuously talk about how they don’t normally hike and they continuously ask about the hikes you’ve been on. Shut the fuck up and enjoy the nature or whatever. We just decided to walk much faster than these people until they were no longer near us. As much as I love listening to people, I’m completely antisocial. I want little snippets of these people’s lives not a 2 hour hikes worth. 

I want to be real honest here, I fucking hate hiking. I don’t mind it once I’m at the top of that bitch. But hiking here is like hiking up a big dirt hill for hours. Nothing changes. A couple cacti here and there. No running water whatsoever, and when you get to the top guess what you see. You see the one thing you were trying to get away from to begin with. The fucking Las Vegas Strip. People always say enjoy the journey and I believe that, just not when it comes to hiking. When it comes to hiking I’m strictly a destination type of guy. 

The Impossible Task of Making Friends

When is the last time you have made a friend? Was it because you were perfect soulmate bffs? Or was it because you just spend x amount of time with each other? Did you start talking because you have the most similar interests? Or do you just have a similar complaints throughout the day as they do? What the fuck is a friend if not a person you jointly complain with?

If you ‘re now saying to yourself, “no, I make friends all the time by getting to know people and their interests,” I’d have to say you’re a better person than me. I haven’t made a new friend in about 9 months. Going to school, you make friends easily. The purpose of college is to network. If you can jump through all the hoops while you’re “networking”, then you get this stupid piece of paper at the end that says you’re smart. Don’t let it fool you, you’re not. You can even go back for two more years and get a master’s degree to be even smarter. Once again, that doesn’t make you any smarter either. The one thing you probably did gain, is a few solid friends, whom you may not even be friends with any longer after you left.

Now, let’s get to the real problem. How to make friends as an adult. Is that even a possible thing? I live with my girlfriend now, so it’s not like I can just go find new roommates to make friends with. So, what do we do to make new friends?

Well the first thing we did was tried to become regulars at a bar. If you read this blog before then you know this. If not, go back and read it, I don’t have time to re-explain. We decided after slowly becoming regulars at this bar that we actually fucking hated it. The bar was filled with smoke and the worst people in the world. The last time we went, we sat next to some fat shmuck who was drinking Budweiser and sang the entirety of Jolene by Zac Brown Band. As he was about 1/4 of the way into the song, I asked Marisa if she wants to go somewhere else, and I got the usual indecisive girlfriend answer (no offense Bae). Now about half way through the song, I ask again and get the same response. 3/4 of the way through, I finally decide I have had it and say, “chug that beer, this is no longer “our” bar, we have to leave So, clearly, regulars at the bar is not an option.

Then we thought we’d try BumbleBFF. We thought let’s try something really fucking stupid. If you’re wondering if that worked. Don’t wonder, don’t try it. Fuck the internet when it comes to making friends. For all you people that met on Tinder, let me know how that’s going. 

Finally, we thought let’s go out and meet friends the old-fashioned way, we’ll go to a bar. Well, we did just that. First bar, there was no one around. We scouted out a few couples and came up with their interesting back stories. All in all, they weren’t for us. The next bar, well, we obviously made no friends, otherwise why would I be writing this bullshit. But we did see this one drunk psychopath. This jerk off was surrounded by 3 Vegas juiceheads and one of her girlfriends. She had her eyebrows drew in just perfectly, which if I may add, is such a weird practice these days. I wonder if men are going to start doing the same thing for their chest hair to look as sexy as I do. What she did not have drawn in perfectly was her eyelashes. Nope, those babies were hanging right off her eyes like hair hanging off the wall in the shower. She kept trying to like stick them back on too. When my contact is falling out I take the fucking thing out. I don’t stand there playing with my eye for 30 minutes laughing like I just finished my 3rd pumpkin spice latte.

So, what do I think about making friends? I think it’s close to impossible for someone like me. I think people think I’m an asshole before they even meet me. Unfortunately, they’re right. But they don’t have to know that before they even meet me. Some people just act so uncomfortable around me. Maybe one day we’ll meet another couple friends here in Vegas who will drink with us, hike with us, or just make generally poor decisions with us. Maybe they’ll even carve a motherfucking pumpkin with us this month.

Sports with Friends: I Thought She Knew Something About College Football

Written by: Nicole

The transition from summer to fall is symbolic to many people for many reasons: the start of a new school year; the time of year you promise yourself you’ll stop meeting your friends for rooftop happy hour on a Wednesday only to wake up at 4am hovering over your sink repeatedly chugging glasses of water; the time of year you give up on the Mets (if you haven’t already); the time of year you see four thousand Instagram posts of pumpkin spice lattes with the caption “lol I’m so #basic”; etc., etc., etc

Since 2009, fall has meant something else to me. Fall means college football season. I’ve gone to two big football schools over the past nine football seasons and attend/watch pretty much every game, but I somehow don’t know shit about college football. People constantly think I know things about college football being that I’ve been immersed in it for so long, but I’m honestly just here for the beer, food, and the excuse to drink at 9am on a Saturday at age 26. So yeah, here I am doing a blog on sports (kind of).

Growing up, my family wasn’t really a football family. My dad grew up in Europe and we’re all extremely short—except for my sister who should just admit she’s adopted at this point—so we were soccer people, and unfortunately Mets fans. In 2009, I graduated high school and went to the University of Miami along with an extremely geographically diverse student population the rest of Long Island. That’s when I became to LOVE college football season. 18-years-old, living in Miami, tailgating and rooting for a team that was not only good, but was fun to watch. I ended up living in Miami for six years, where I had Canes season tickets every year and attended every game against FSU, both home and away.

In 2015, I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yeah, I moved from the “Sunshine State” to the “State with the Largest Municipal Bankruptcy Filing in the U.S.,” otherwise known as the “State with no Sun.” Besides there being a lack of sun, an uncomfortable amount of white people, and an absence of decent food, Ann Arbor isn’t bad—especially in the fall when the entire state of Michigan congregates in the Big House, because what the fuck else is there to do here

Tailgating here is awesome, but wildly different than Miami. For starters, in Miami we took an hour bus ride to an NFL stadium which constituted part of the whole tailgating thing. Thinking back, it was often when a lot of the damage was done—just walking onto the bus with bright eyes, experiencing an hour of mayhem driving up i-95, and hopping off the emergency exit on the side of Florida Turnpike looking like Ms. Frizzle forced you to funnel 3 Natty Lights while riding the goddamn Magic School Bus. Then, we’d find an opening in the fence of parking lot and make our way to the tailgate where there would be a bunch of shit going on, which almost always included an entitled kid from the northeast “DJing,” otherwise known as “plugging an iPod into speakers.” We’d eventually head into the nearly-empty stadium (Ever been to a sporting event in Florida? Shit’s bleak), which didn’t really bother us because this wasn’t an NCAA stadium. This was a NFL stadium, which meant…more beer – imperative to a marathon. After enough was enough, we’d take the bus back to Coral Gables, where it dropped us off directly across the street from a TGIFriday’s. I cannot begin to imagine how many mozzarella sticks I ate post-football game between 2009-2014 and I’d prefer not to think about it

Back to Michigan. I should probably note that the most glaring difference between tailgating in Miami and tailgating here is my age. I’m 26 now and I literally look like a narc roaming through college students’ tailgates. Anyway, I woke up on the day of my first Michigan game SO excited and ready to go at 8am. I asked my friend where the tailgate was and she said, “So-and-so’s house.” Confused by this, I answered “Oh, not the pregame, the tailgate—like how far is the stadium?” This is when I found out that Michigan tailgates take place on the front lawns of the houses—this was going to be an issue. I was snooty and most of my law school friends went to nerd schools for undergrad so they didn’t have big football programs, and I just figured this was another weird thing about Michigan (there are A LOT). Happy to admit I was wrong. First off, Ann Arbor is wildly strict about open container laws, so they’re not really big on the whole “walk and drink to the stadium” thing. As most of you know, Florida is a lawless state, so I wasn’t used to this. Second, the stadium is a college football stadium, aka no drinking on stadium grounds. I still find this interesting because it just encourages underage kids to binge prior to the game, and also encourages 26-year-old adults to binge prior to the game and then complain about developing a headache in the third quarter. Oh, “drink some water,” you say? If you think I’m going to pay $5 for a bottle of water, you are out of your fucking mind. I’ll stick to complaining. Regardless, this encouragement provides for an interesting tailgate

Anyway, we get to the tailgate and I obviously know close to no one, as it was only my second week in Ann Arbor. It was at this point that I decided some hard alcohol would be a good idea, a quick shot-ski could bring out some of my social skills. I proceeded to drink some beers and felt like I was actually becoming friends with some people. My new friends told me about the strict open container laws and that we had to do all of our drinking at the tailgate before leaving, as in we had to compensate for lost time we would have otherwise had at the stadium. After playing 47 drinking games, we stumbled to the stadium. Shit is UNREAL. Literally feels like you’re swimming in a sea of Michigan fans, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life (DEFINITELY not at Miami). I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember a lot of that first game besides my bewilderment of the sheer number of people in one place, so that’s really it about “the game.”

My friends and I were walking home from the game, walking that fine line of “am I blacked out, or…?” when I felt an alarming need to pee. I realized I had not peed all day—it was probably 3pm at this point and you’d be surprised how many light beers I can fit into this little body over the course of a day. I was too awkward to tell my new friends, so I told them that I had to stop somewhere on my way home. I obviously didn’t have to stop anywhere, I hardly knew where I was and I didn’t know how cool a restaurant would be with a drunk, noncustomer barging into the bathroom. Once I got away from them, I sprinted home. No joke—sprinted through the packed streets of Ann Arbor. I thought I wasn’t going to make it several times (pretty sure I was gripping my crotch the entire way), but I made it to the law quad. I was so proud of myself, I made it, I made it!

And then I peed my pants. I was wearing jeans. I couldn’t stop, so I literally just sat down. Right in the middle of the law quad, on concrete, leaving a massive puddle. I looked around and miraculously no one was around. I must have beaten the crowd while I was sprinting, so in hindsight I’m grateful for pulling that weird move. I scurried home and proceeded to shower in my jeans. I didn’t tell any of those “new” friends until six months later

So yeah, it’s been a wild ride. Transitioning from Miami to Michigan tailgates was weird, yet awesome. Even though this is my final season of a nine-year tailgating streak, I hope I’m still mistaken for someone who knows about college football, and I definitely hope that I am lucky enough to experience a tailgate so fun that I pee my pants.

Written by: Nicole

This is how they Repay you

The other morning I was out for a walk before work. I do the same path every day. I walk behind my apartment complex and it leads to a little shopping center that I pass. This specific morning it was early, about 5 am. I see that a truck had been broken into. There was glass everywhere. The doors were open. Shit was everywhere. As I was walking, I debated what I should do. I mean, the robbery already happened, should I even bother calling the police? I don’t know what the protocol is on that. I didn’t want to call 911 because I felt like they’d think I was an idiot. It obviously wasn’t an emergency. I really didn’t want to call anyone at all. It’s not my fucking business what happens in this shopping center, so what do I give a shit. 
I ended up deciding to call the police department itself, instead of the emergency number. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I call up and after a lot of button clicking and redirecting, I finally get to speak with a human being. I tell her my name and say, “hey, I’m just out walking the dog and I saw a car had been broken into and basically destroyed on the corner of etc etc. So, she says, “hmm, hold on one second.” She comes back and says that’s right outside of the area we care for so you should call the other police department. I said, “I already tried that department, they’re not open until 8.” She then tells me, “ok, well then you can call back at 8 and report it.” I ask her, “if it was in my complex would you come see?” She responds, “well, yes that’s part of Henderson police jurisdiction.” So you mean when I literally step 25 ft out of the conplex you can’t come help? Super comforting. 

What the fuck is wrong with this woman. Does she actually think I’m going to just again, waste my time to make this phone call again? It’s not even my fucking car. You try to the do the right thing and this is what happens. So, I said, “look lady, I’m not calling anyone else, do whatever you want with this information, but I’ve done my part as a concerned citizen.” I don’t give a shit enough to call again. I barely cared enough to call the first time. I mean the two cities that I live between might as well be one. It baffled me that she couldn’t do anything at all. She would rather me wait for three hours.

I guess its just a car theft so it’s not that big of a deal. I just wonder what I would’ve done if it was actually my car. I obviously wouldn’t have waited until 8. I would’ve called 911 and said, “we have an emergency, the woman over at Henderson dispatch is a fucking moron. What are we going to do about that?”

People really are doing the opposite of what Robert Frost said. No one is taking the path less traveled. People are taking the path of least resistance and for this lady, it was the ‘do nothing’ path.