Thursday, December 30, 2004

I feel guilty saying that my Christmas was a good one when I know that at this very moment there are so many people suffering from Sunday's tsunami. Recent thoughts of what I will purchase with the gift certificates I received for Christmas, and how I will celebrate New Year's Eve tomorrow night, leave me feeling ashamed. How can I concern myself with such trivial things when every news program I see on tv, and nearly every website I visit is plastered with images of mass graves lined with bodies of those who drown, and footage of a grief stricken parent grasping her baby's lifeless hand for the last time. I can't shake those images from my head, nor do I want to because I don't want this tragedy to become another "life goes on," "glad it didn't happen to me," "nothing I can do about it anyway" events. I want to keep those images circulating through my brain so I do not forget, so I do not shrug the matter off as something beyond my control.

Assuming that any little part I could do to help would not be significant enough to make a difference is not something I want either, and it's not something I want for the rest of the world's population. People, myself included, need to realize that even donating $5 to The Red Cross, or Unicef, or donating a tiny bit of food or clothing to a locally organized rescue mission IS enough to make a difference. If even a quarter of the world's population donated $5 or $10 or an article of clothing, imagine how much aid that would bring to those directly affected by the tsunami!

Many of us watched in horror as the lives of just under 3,000 people were lost on September 11, 2001. People from all around the world kept the United States in their hearts and thoughts. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers, and donations of money, food, and even blood seemed to come out of the woodwork that September morning. American citizens came together and helped one another. They sacrificed, they cared, they were concerned. I am sad to see that so many Americans have seemed to shrug off this past Sunday's events. Of course there are many bloggers posting entries, much like this one, expressing their sadness over the situation, and I have had several face to face conversations about it, but I don't hear coworkers discussing the thousands of children who are now orphans, I don't hear people in the grocery store speaking in hushed voices, with tears in their eyes, about the small fishing villages completely wiped out by the wave. Many of the same people who were distraught over the lives lost on 9-11 are now giving little more than a look of pity and a sad head shake to the stories of the tsunami victims. Maybe that's because Americans were more physically connected to the terrorist attacks here in this country, but the tsunami affected non-English speaking countries on the other side of the world. It is easy to shrug off something that isn't on your front door step, but that is the problem, that is why victims in Indonesia and other areas won't get the aid they need to rebuild their countries. People (again, myself included) have to start caring more and doing more about things that aren't on their front door step.

I hate to sound all preachy, and act as though Americans are all greedy, uncaring and unaware, but maybe we all need a little push now and then. I will admit that after September 11th I had every intent to donate blood or money, but the feeling of "what is my tiny little contribution really going to do anyway" overruled my intentions and I did nothing to help. I have thought about joining groups online, or local groups, sending packages to soldiers in Iraq, but as of yet, I have not done so. I'm a person who procrastinates so much and I can easily talk myself out of doing things that require more effort than usual, so I am amazed with myself that I have spent so long typing an entry insisting that people need to DO SOMETHING when I have been guilt of doing nothing for so long. Perhaps I wrote this entry as a way to force myself to help out. After all, I can't write this big long lecture on how we need to help others and how every little bit helps and then not donate some of my money, so I will. I will donate money. I don't have tons of extra money. I live paycheck to paycheck like so many of you do but I'm going to at least donate $5 today. And maybe next week I will donate $10, and hopefully in the future I will have even more to donate. Yes, I'm probably still going to purchase alcohol to celebrate tomorrow night and I am still going to use my gift certificates to buy new clothes for myself, and I am not going to abandon on frivolous spending on my part, but I am going to do something. $5 will help someone, donating nothing will not help anyone. So, skip the Starbucks coffee tomorrow morning. Buy the 98 cent Suave shampoo this week rather than the $12 Paul Mitchell salon-quality stuff. Thinking of taking your family out to a restaurant for dinner tonight? Grab a cheap pizza instead. Do something, even just one thing to change your spending habits today or at some point this week and use that $5 or $20 you just saved and donate it to The Red Cross or Unicef or some other charity. Though you won't be able to hear them, someone out there will be thanking you for it.

So if you have actually read all of this and been inspired enough to donate a few dollars then you have my undying respect and gratitude (especially for putting up with my preachy-ness!) and here are some good place to donate or do some more research:

unicef

American Red Cross

Network for Good

United Way




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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tomorrow I'm heading east! My mom, my sister and I are spending Christmas at my aunt's house which is about 20-30 miles northwest of Boston. I hear we are celebrating the holiday with The Fam on Xmas Eve rather than Christmas day. I don't know exactly what we are going to do the day of the 25th now, because we aren't heading back to NY until Sunday. I thought about driving into Boston for a while just for something to pass the time, but I keep forgetting that nearly everything is closed on Christmas day. Maybe we will drive to the ocean and run around in the (cold) sand for a while.

I can't wait! I love road trips. I also can't wait to get some Chinese food when we get there. It's a tradition we have, usually the day we arrive at my Aunt's we order a bunch of take-out. The Chinese food out there is just so much better than what we have here in Upstate NY. Mmm. Can't wait.

Speaking of road trips to Massachusetts, that reminds me of a very crazy Christmas Eve I once experienced. I can't remember exactly which year it was, I'm guessing it was 1995 because I was probably around 15 years old when this happened. My mom, my sister and I were driving along the Mass Pike, somewhere around Sturbridge, when suddenly my mom's piece of crap car just died, in the middle lane of the highway! Luckily there was a break in traffic in the right lane so she was able to just roll over into the breakdown lane. Of course Janelle and I started to panic and flip out. After sitting there with the flashers on and the hood up for a little while, a big white Cadillac pulls over behind us. I think we were all a little bit afraid to see who got out of the car. It was a thin, average height man, probably in his late 30s or early 40s. He looked like a biker, or part of The Mob. He had tattoos and a leather jacket and I think maybe he even had leather pants on. His name was Al.

My mom and Al were looking under the hood of the car, trying to figure out what was wrong while my sister and I sat in the car, wondering if this man was going to kill our mother. By this time the sun was nearly setting and it was getting cold sitting in the car with no heat. After a while Al flagged down a state trooper, who wasn't very helpful other than to radio for a tow truck to come get us before he zoomed off. Al didn't want to leave us alone waiting for the tow truck so he offered for us to come sit in his car where we could at least have heat. Janelle and I were either too scared or too shy to sit in his car so we said we would wait in my mom's car. Finally, after probably an hour or so a tow truck came. The tow truck already had people in it's cab though so it was a good thing that Al waited. At this point, Janelle and I had no choice other choice but to climb into Al's big beast of a car, which had plush maroon interior(swanky!), and follow the tow truck to the garage. From there my mom called my aunt's house to tell her why we hadn't arrived yet because we were now hours behind schedule, and they were trying to figure out who could come pick us up when Al offered to drive us the rest of the way to my aunt's. I can't believe my mom accepted his offer as it seems a little risky to ride with a complete stranger, especially with children, but anyway I guess she thought he seemed safe and accepted the offer.

Al was on his way to Cape Cod to see his family for the holiday, so he was going way out of his way to bring us up near the New Hampshire border but he didn't seem to mind. Turns out he wasn't an ax murdered after all because we arrived at my aunt's house in one piece. I remember they were trying to shove money at him to at least cover the extra gas he used but he kept refusing it. What a nice guy! He spent a couple of hours on the side of the road with strangers and went so far out of his way too, and all of that on Christmas Eve! Oh, and I remember when we put our bags in the trunk of his car I was expecting to see a body wrapped up in a garbage bag or something, but instead there were two pink bean bag chairs, which he said were gifts for his daughters!

Ahh... doesn't that just warm the cockles of your heart?
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Saturday, December 11, 2004

So, remember the annoying neighbors I have mentioned before? I like to refer to them as "The Ghetto Fam." Anyway, here is just another reason why they drive me insane...

You know those gigantic inflatable Christmas ornaments? The ones that you see in front of every other house in your neighborhood? Yeah, well The Ghetto Fam has a menagerie of them on their front lawn. There are four of them out there, one of which should actually count as three because it appears to be an attached family of 3 snowmen. In addition to the snowmen there is an inflatable Grinch, a Santa, and a Mickey Mouse Santa. I think they just might be trying to create their own inflatable ghetto Nativity scene! They also have a very realistic (from a distance anyway) "life size" Santa standing on their porch, which creeps me out every time I see it, along with about 1000 different types of lights and other illuminated ornaments. The newest addition to the Ghetto Fam Spectacular of Lights is the little army of plastic gingerbread men and candy canes which stand at attention in a row along the edge of their lawn. Did I mention all of this is squished onto a lawn that is maybe 10'x20'? That's a lot of decoration for one small space.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being a total Scrooge here. I like Christmas decorations but there is a big difference between cute/pretty decorations and tacky decoration overload. I wouldn't think it was so strange that they have all of these decorations on their lawn if they had small children, but their youngest is an 8 year old boy and he swears more than a drunken sailor, so I can't imagine he gets all excited about Mickey Mouse Santa and little gingerbread men. You know what I mean?

So, I didn't even mention the worst part of it all... the noise. I don't know what it is, if it's one of the decorations, or if it's a stereo they have set up outside but for the past few weeks I have woken up on Saturday and Sunday mornings to the sounds of Christmas music and a voice reading Christmas stories. It's some sort of prerecorded annoying crap that plays non-stop. This isn't motion sensor activated, it's an on & off switch thing because sometimes they let it play for HOURS. Frigging hours and hours of Christmas singing and stories. Noooooo! The first couple of days they had it the volume was turned up so loud that you could clearly hear every word from inside of our house. I'm guessing another neighbor complained though because now when the offending device is switched into action, the volume is much quieter, though still loud enough that I can hear it muffled in my bedroom which is on the opposite side of the house from their yard. The Ghetto Fam is really making me hate Christmas.



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Monday, December 06, 2004

Looks like winter has finally arrived in the Capital Region. *sigh* I shouldn't complain. We are lucky to have made it all the way until December before we had any actual snow. I seem to recall trick-or-treating a couple of times in the snow when I was a kid, so I'm actually surprised we hadn't had any heavy snowfall this season up until today. I'm not looking forward to the soaking wet pant legs and shoes I will have after walking out to my car and cleaning it off at the end of the work day. Grumble, grumble.

Speaking of grumbling, I was feeling all bad for myself for a minute when I found out, after the fact, that Cat Power did a show at Mass MoCA on Saturday. I thought that would have been a great show to see, but apparently I was wrong. According to this article in the Times Union, I should consider myself lucky that I didn't know about the concert until today! I'm thankful that I didn't waste the money and time driving all the way out to North Adams for that. Ack! Perfomance artists with attitudes like hers just make me twitch. What a sniveling, miserable little twit she is for acting so disrespectful to an audience, and a paying one no less. Sure everyone has bad days but judging by that review, her behavior was way out of line.

Well, I still enjoy her voice so I probably won't boycott her music, but I definitely have lost respect for that woman. And as pointed out in the Times Union article, "Almost 700 fans watched a Cat Power meltdown -- with many die-hards swooning nonetheless." I suppose that's why so many musicians and actors act that way - they figure they can throw public temper tantrums and because they are attractive, charming and/or talented, all will be forgiven and forgotten, and in many cases it's true. That has me wondering just how many other musicians are equally as childish and ungrateful of their fans and the venues which support them. I think I would rather just live in complete denial, assuming that all of my favorite musicians are shiny, happy wonderful people.

Alright, well I have yapped long enough for one day and it's almost time to go home. A post about my horrid neighbors is coming soon, I swear!!!
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