Yebo - Joey and the Deltones

In a way, this song kind of represents me at my best. It is a snapshot of me at my most idealistic, dreamy, and hopeful.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My front lawn

I just had a vision... or maybe it would be more appropriately titled a flashback, to hen I was around 6 or 7 years old, and my Dad's English friend Nick Lawson had come to visit us here in the states. Dad took Nick, myself and my cousin Brian to a Planetarium somewhere and it was absolutely fascinating. When we left the planetarium, the sun was about setting, and we stopped at a large water fountain which was spurting water up and was located beneath big oak and maple trees, whose green leaves were illuminated a light yellow color as the sun filtered through them. I am no where near a planetarium right now, nor am I accompanied by my cousin, father or an Englishman named Nick.

I was just wallowing on the front lawn of my house with my dog Hobbes. The sun is reaching it's golden hour, the air is slightly warm and still, and perfect long shadows are being cast along the newly fertilized and therefore exceptionally vibrant green and comfortable lawn. You see, it was damn near perfection. For some reason it made me think about that trip to the planetarium, though the two experiences have very little in common. More importantly, I realized that I couldn't shake this overwhelming feeling of boredom. The whole day (well, actually, the past many months fall into this category as well for the most part) has gone by where seemingly nothing has happened, yet somehow it's a quarter to seven and I face the prospect of a repeat of this experience tomorrow. Part of it is that not too many folks are home on Long Island to spend the days with. We're mostly nite folk out here it seems. It seems no one wants to do much during the day, especially if it involves doing nothing. But please correct me if I'm wrong.

My dad just gave me a cucumber to eat. I'm pretty sure it's one of my most favourite foods in the world. It can be eaten plain, pickled (which means it has then become a pickle), or one of my personal favourite ways, in a cucumber salad with some shredded onions and white vinegar. Cucumbers remind me of summer in all its forms. So does picking blueberries and raspberries, eating snow peas from the vine, giant sunflowers, mesh shorts, the taste of tap water from my kitchen sink, the smell of campfires and dried pine needles, Calvin and Hobbes, climbing trees, low tide, high tide, saltwater and exhaust from boat engines, just to name a few. Point is, it's summer. If you're not happy about that fact it can only mean one of two things:

#1- You have no soul

#2- You have a job that requires you to work during these, the most precious and beautiful few months of the year. Excluding the week and a half in autumn when all the trees change colour.

In other news, I've been meeting a lot of folks online who are heading over to South Africa with me in July, and we've all been in contact with people who are currently volunteering in SA, and they have been giving us many helpful hints as far as what to bring, what to expect, what the weather is like etc. I'm sure I'll write something more detailed about all this in a future post.

For now, my overwhelming boredom has subsided because at least I got something accomplished, which is writing an entry in this blog-thing here.

Of course, this would have been infinitely better if I could have written all of this on my front lawn.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Attic Fan

It's humid outside. Humid to the point of me wanting to take off all my clothes and lay perfectly still in an armchair of my choosing... not a leather one though. Of course, most of my summers are spent with me wearing as few clothes as possible, which is nothing unusual for those who have known me for any warm part of the year. But that's not the point.

A quick note I just wanted to write down which amused me is the following:

Last nite around 4 am my mother came into my room, stood by the side of my bed and with her eyes still mostly closed she said in a very delirious tone,

"Joey.... Joey..."

"What?" I responded.

"I just wanted to let you know that I'm turning on the attic fan - I didn't want it to wake you up."

I'll let that sink in for a second.....

You may be wondering - was he dreaming this? Well, that's exactly what I was wondering. But sure enough, I confronted my mother about this encounter today, and she got a kick out of it, because she does remember it happening, and I think only after I confronted her about it, did she realize the silliness of the entire situation. Then again, it took me about that long to process it as well. We make a good team.

I recently got sponge balls from a magic shop and they are my new favourite things in the world. They are green. I should probably get some more.

My eyes are tired. It's time to hit "the sack" as they say.

Oh, actually, before I go, if anyone is reading this, have you seen the movie "Waterworld" with Kevin Costner? It was on Bravo last nite and I only saw a little of it, and I don't remember if it was really really awesome, or really really terrible. Can anyone refresh my memory?


...Means "Goodnite" if you can't say your T's.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sorry, lost my train of thought towards the end of this entry.

It's 11:30 pm, and to be perfectly frank, I'm very tired. I'm at the tipping point where if you layed me down on any horizontal surface, I would fall asleep instantly, but because I am still sitting upright, I don't want to go to bed yet. If this entry doesn't go anywhere, you now know the reason why.

The last entry I wrote in here was about babies. It mentioned that I had obtained a job taking pictures of babies in their homes, with overzealous mothers, and more often than not, a language barrier that I couldn't cross because I don't know any Spanish, and it seemed that certain mothers never bothered to learn English. So what happened was I stopped working. It had nothing to do with language barriers or overzealous moms. It had to do with the fact that I was driving anywhere from 55 to 100 miles per day, in rush hour traffic, amongst asshole Long Island/NY drivers, in the middle of beautiful Spring days, only to have to try to get 2 month old babies to stop crying for an instant to snap a picture of them at their most clueless... excluding their high school years of course.

I had to fill up my gas tank in my Explorer twice in 5 days while working this job, and when a fill up costs over $50, suddenly $400 a week doesn't seem like it's worth it. Especially not when I was technically working from 8 am till 7 pm or later because of traffic. I would LOVE it if someone could explain to me why traffic exists at all hours of the day on all major roads on Long Island whether it's rush hour in or out of the city. And I would also LOVE it if someone could explain to me why people insist on blasting their car horns when sitting in traffic, as if it does ANYTHING to help alleviate the situation. Flounder often preaches that those people believe by beeping their horns in such a fashion, a magical rainbow bridge appears and they can drive over everyone else's car and be whisked away to any location of their choosing.

The real reason I quit this job though was because I realized that I'll be leaving the country to go into the Peace Corps on July 16, and there was no way in hell I was going to spend the better part of my last spring home driving around Long Island all day, taking pictures of babies. There's wayyy too much to get done. It actually blows my mind. I shan't bore you with all the things I have to do before I leave, but you can begin to imagine some of the things that have been going thru my mind lately.

#1 - How the hell do you pack for 2 years? I haven't a clue. 2 pairs of jeans, 5 t-shirts, khakis, shirt and tie, sneakers sandals a sweater and raincoat. Seems pretty basic. I will take much more than that. I can live as a minimalist. Mentally I am capable of it, but the thing is, I never found it all that much fun to be a minimalist. There's way too many awesome things to take on an adventure abroad. Like a pocket knife and compass! Playing cards! Headlamp! Backpack and tent! Crazy hats! Sponge balls! To name a few. But I'm not worried about packing at this point.

#2 - How do you say goodbye to everyone for 2 years? Study abroad trips are great. You have your month or 4 abroad (if it's a semester abroad), you take classes, see the sites, get drunk at your favourite bar, put pictures up on facebook, title the album "Crazy times in London with some Crazy People" but really mean "It was so great to not be at my college for the past 4 weeks and get drunk in a different country and talk to the young foreigners who speak with accents and hang out with all these kids who I won't be as close with once we get back stateside" and while some will revel in all of this and some will get homesick, everyone knows they're coming back at the latest in a couple of months.

I never thought that going away for two years would bother me. An truth be told, it's not the length of time away that bothers me. It's the fact that so many relationships here have to be suspended temporarily and put on hold, and when my 2 years is up and I do get back, everyone knows that everything will be different. How could it not be? Change such as this is meant to be good and of course it's all part of growing up and getting past college. We go thru the same process in high school. By sophomore year of college, nothing in high school seems like it was ever really all that important. I've willingly taken this next step, knowing full well that this was something I would have to face, and I'm ready to face it, but it doesn't change the fact that there is a certain "this sucks" factor to it. But shite - things could be a lot worse. I might not have any arms or legs, and W might be up for a third term. Luckily these worse scenarios are not the case.

I know I only numbered 2 things that were going thru my mind, but I don't feel like numbering any more ideas, so I'm just going to keep writing till I get tired.

A lot of people have said such nice things when they heard I was joining the Peace Corps. A lot of people want to know why I decided to do it, what got me interested in it - they ask what do I think I will do when my 2 years are up, they ask this, they ask that, and I always answer them the best I can, as truthfully as I can, unless I know that they really don't care all that much. It's easy to tell when someone is genuinely interested in what you have to say, or whether they're just being polite and aren't really on the same page as you. When I come across this second group of people, I find it easier just to tell them what they want to hear, in short sound bytes and then we both move on.

I've just lost my train of thought. That's ok. I think the train left the station a long time ago. I'm tempted to delete everything I just wrote tonite, but I won't.

For posterity.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Babies... Monkeys? Raisins? Or just plain ugly?

Of course, the title of this entry is silly. Babies don't look like monkeys or raisins or are just plain ugly. Truth is you can't choose one from the list. In reality, they are a combination of all three at once. I know it sounds a little harsh to hear that said... or in this case, see that typed. But I have to hold my ground here. For those who say babies are absolutely adorable, they are right - but only so far as monkeys are adorable, giant raisins that can move are adorable, and that this thing is adorable. Whatever that thing was supposed to turn out to be in life, it doesn't matter, because it does have a certain cute-factor to it.

But back to babies.

Some of us have been around newborn babies recently. Some of us haven't seen a newborn baby in real life probably in many years. Like when our younger brothers or sisters were born. And for most of anyone who decides to read this, that's probably 16 - 20 years ago. For those of us who have seen newborn babies recently, and have seen them grow to be about 3 or 4 months old, I'm sure you can understand my point if you take a purely objective point of view towards the little rascal. Look at how the fat on their arms and legs forms rolls all up and down their appendages. It looks like the Michelin Man. But the Michelin Man is cute, right? Right. He's cute because technically he's a cartoon, brought to life just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were in their movies in the early 1990s. He's not real. If you saw a life size non-baby person with rolls like that up and down their body, you would be somewhat repulsed, no? Think carefully before you answer... The first thing that pops into my head here is not "cute".

We must be hardwired to find baby fat and monkey like appearance to be cute. Now, I briefly looked for an example of babies looking like monkeys from the plethora of images on the information super highway. I couldn't find one that adequately showed the comparison. I did see some pictures earlier today though. I just took a job doing in home photography for a photo company out here. We take pictures of kids aged 4 months to 6 years. Sometimes with the mama, sometimes without. We travel to their homes, set up everything, take the photos, and go on to the next assignment. Now, despite my notions that newborns up to about a year old share these oddly charming yet ultimately ugly characteristics, I found these giant moving raisins to have an overwhelming warming effect over my innards. They were terribly, terribly cute. And I was really happy I was able to take pictures of them at this, the most awkward looking period of their life, second to none, not even 7th grade.

But again. The monkey like quality in humans diminishes in cuteness as the monkey looking thing gets older, as I'm sure many of us have seen at some point on the web. For those of us that haven't seen examples, here's a cheap shot example, but very well illustrated nevertheless...

Truth is, I love babies up until about 3 years old when they start catching on that their cuteness still lets them get away with things they shouldn't. Then I don't like them until they are 24 and have a job. I'm just kidding. They should be closer to 30.

My baby cousin Sean just turned 1 year old in April, and it's been awesome to see him grow to this point. When he was only a few months old, I would take many pictures of him at family gatherings, or just when I went over to visit, and he reminded me of cartoon characters because of all the shapes he could contort his face into. I think he most resembled Popeye. See picture for reference.

I think I've gone on long enough about babies. Originally I was going to write about something more serious, about something I had heard on the news today that pissed me off a good bit at first, but I mulled it over in my head, and decided to instead just laugh to myself, debate myself about the issue, then forget the details I had just committed to memory to make room for something more uplifting.

Like babies.