hypothetical question

Shame on the Train

After hearing a man brag about how easy it was to cheat on his wife multiple times, Stephanie Stayer had enough, and snapped a picture of him, then posted it on her Facebook page. His picture has now been reposted 275,000 times! It brings up an interesting question. Who is this benefiting?

On Steph’s facebook page she wrote, “If this is your husband, I have endured a 2 hour train ride from Philadelphia listening to this loser and his friends brag about their multiple affairs and how their wives are too stupid to catch on. Oh please repost …”

Well I love the idea that this guy is getting what he deserves, I can’t help but feel sorry for his wife. Not only does she have a horrible husband, but she has to discover this through a facebook post. It’s bad enough to find out you’ve been cheated on, but even worse to have all of your friends and family find out first. I just hope they don’t have kids.

I’ve overheard lots of guys talking about their affairs on the subway. It seems to be a thing; as if the pressure of keeping a secret at home drives them to share it with as many strangers as possible. I’ve never once thought of taking a picture of that person. Yes, I’ve dreamed about “accidentally” spilling my coffee on them, but nothing as drastic as publicly shaming them. (Yes, I realize I’m being a hypocrite by continuing the public shaming of the train guy by posting his picture.)

What would you do?

Blood and Nutshells


When reading about character development in See Jane Write, I got a great piece of writing advice that also poses an interesting question for everyone. “Think of a childhood story that would summarize each of your characters. What is their nutshell?” You don’t need to include the story in your book, you just need to know it to understand the character.

My nutshell story is from when I was eight years old and  I was waiting around the playground after school. I was watching other kids jumping off the swing set and I really wanted to try it. A fifth grader stood in front of my swing and told me I shouldn’t do it because I might get hurt. That made me want to do it more. Next thing I knew, I was pumping my legs as hard as I could. I swung so high I thought I would go around the pole in circles. I let go, knowing that I was going to jump higher and further than any other kid. And I did. Except I landed on a fence face first.

I stood up and looked around, but no one was watching. There was shooting pain coming from the right side of my face and when I closed my left eye everything was blurry and gray. I put my sleeve against my face and saw that it was covered in blood. Since no one was looking at me, I figured I would just stand there until the blood stopped and I didn’t feel so dizzy, and then I would go to my after-school art class. I was afraid that if I told someone, I would get into trouble and miss my the class.

When the blood soaked all the way down to my elbow, a playground attendant noticed and took me to the nurses office. My mom, who happened to be in the school for a parent teacher conference, gave me the present that was intended for my brother’s teacher (a mug that said World’s Best Teacher that was filled with hard candy). I ate every one of those candies as we drove to the hospital and the doctor examined me. I got 10 stitches on my cheek and the doctor told me I was damn lucky I didn’t lose my eye. If it was one millimeter higher, the cheekbone fragment would have pierced my eyeball.

This was me in a nutshell for a very long time (although I must admit I don’t feel like this sums me up anymore because I had a life-changing experience with The Living Course in my early 20s, but that’s a different blog post). If I were a character in a story, here’s what this story says about me:

  1. I was a loner
  2. I was defiant
  3. I wanted to fit in
  4. I was uncoordinated
  5. I was afraid of getting in to trouble
  6. I was willing to accept some pain to avoid punishment
  7. I was lucky

What is your nutshell story, and what do you think it says about you?

I’ll leave you with some comic relief: this is still one of my favorite cheesy jokes of all time.

My dinner party with 5 famous people: #5 Joan Rivers


Last but not least, I would round out my celebrity dinner party with Joan Rivers. She might seem like an odd choice, after all, she’s known for her catty fashion criticism and overdone plastic surgery, but she still amazes me. I didn’t really appreciated Ms. Rivers until I watched the documentary, A Piece of Work. That woman works her butt off. Comedians have tough lives. It’s not easy being on the road for most of the year, getting heckled, cancelled, or made to feel irrelevant. Yes, all this is hard, but it was specially hard for a young woman in the 60s who was expected to be at home with the kids. A young woman who was told she’d never have a career because she wasn’t pretty.

In this documentary she bares it all. Her husband’s suicide, her regrets about betraying Johnny Carson, and her never ending feeling that she’s not good enough. She puts herself out there. She is so vulnerable but at the same time you realize nothing could get to her. She is absolutely fearless.

Joan Rivers and me doing a segment on The View, before we grab some lunch.

Joan Rivers and me at a booth. I’m obviously trying to get the waitress’ attention.

You watch her jump on a plane and do gigs in five different cities in 3 days. I couldn’t do that at 28. I don’t know how she can do that at 78. The whole time you watch this documentary you see a person struggling with mortality. It’s like she thinks if she does one more show she won’t be forgotten. But it works… how many other female comedians have been a household name for almost 50 years?

I love Joan because she’s sassy, and I know if she’s the first person to arrive, and I’m wearing something ugly, she’ll have the balls to tell me to change. I love her because she’s a fighter. Because she will not go softly into the night. I love her because she’s shocking and reminds us to lighten up.

I would serve her Vodka on the rocks and a wine chaser. Maybe she’ll nibble on some appetizers but I don’t see her as a big foodie. I’d sit her between Dan Savage and Sir Issac Newton. Dan and her would be hilarious, and she would have a field day making jokes about Newton’s weird behavior.

 

My dinner party with 5 famous people: #4 Dan Savage

I’ve decided to take a cue from the classic college application question: If you could have dinner with five famous people (alive or dead) who would they be and why? It’s a good question because it shows what you value in a person, and what you hope to gain from the interaction. So without further ado, here’s the fourth person I would invite: Dan Savage.

Dan Savage and me at a diner

Dan Savage and me at a diner

There are many reasons why I love Dan Savage. He is the host of the hilarious sex column and podcast, Savage Love, the creator of the catty “Santorum” campaign, and, most significantly, the impetus for the inspiring It Gets Better campaign.

It Gets Better started when Dan was so upset about the recent rate of suicides in the young LGBT community that he posted a youtube video with his partner, Terry Miller, in an effort to reach out to youth and let them know that it won’t always be this hard. They shared horrifying stories of abuse in high school (from kids and adults) and then some really beautiful stories about being a loving couple and feeling accepted. The people who love them chose to accept them, and the people who didn’t accept them faded away.

Their basic message is that they can understand how abuse and isolation can make someone want to commit suicide, but then that person will miss out on the best parts of their lives if they give up. Don’t let the bigots and bullies win. Since this initial video, there have been over 50,000 videos added. Lots of them were done by celebrities, politicians, and authors. If a 14 year old boy in Spokane, Nebraska was feeling depressed because he is gay and getting bullied for it, imagine jumping on the internet and joining such a loving, supportive community. So, thank you, Dan Savage!

I love that Dan Savage is so straight forward and so foul-mouthed. The basic message of all of his work is to keep an open-mind and accept every part of the people you love.

I would seat Dan next to Oprah since they both spread a message of love and acceptance. I’d serve him some fish and chips and beer.

My dinner party with 5 famous people: #3 Sir Isaac Newton

I first learned about how crazy Sir Isaac Newton was from Bill Bryson’s amazing book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and I’ve loved him ever since. (On a side note, my boy Bill was soooo close to making the guest list, but he can also be hyper-critical in his books, and I don’t want that vibe at my party. Sorry, Bill.) Besides for the fact that Newton helped us to understand force and motion, he also had an insatiable curiosity that led him to do such crazy things as stick a needle in his eye. My third dinner guest would have to be Sir Isaac Newton:

Me and Newton waiting for a seat at the trendiest new restaurant in NYC

Me and Newton waiting for a seat at the trendiest new restaurant in NYC

The night would start like this,

“Wow, Sir Isaac Newton, what an honor! May I call you Isaac?”

“I prefer Newt. Hey what’s that?” he asks, pointing to my microwave.

OK, after the initial enjoyment of explaining all the recent technology to a genius wears off, the real fun would begin. Newton was a crazy MoFo. When he didn’t think math was comprehensive enough he invented calculus! Who does that? But since he thought it would be too boring a subject (that’s my interpretation), he kept it a secret for 27 years. He learned Hebrew because he thought he could decipher clues as to the second coming of Christ. He was obsessed with figuring out how to turn base metals into precious metals. I just imagine him staring at his fork during dinner, willing it to turn to gold. It would give Louie CK a lot of great material.

Here’s a passage from A Short History of Nearly Everything:

“Newton was a decidedly off figure – brilliant beyond measure, but solitary, joyless, prickly to the point of paranoia, famously distracted (upon swinging his feet out of bed in the morning he would reportedly sometimes sit for hours, immobilized by the sudden rush of thoughts to his head), and capable of the most riveting strangeness… Once he inserted a bodkin- a long needle of the sort used for sewing leather – into his eye socket and rubbed it around “betwixt my eye and the bone as near to [the] backside of my eye as I could” just to see what would happen. What happened, miraculously, was nothing – at least nothing lasting. On another occasion, he stared at the Sun for as long as he could bear, to determine what effect it would have upon his vision. Again he escaped lasting damage, though he had to spend some days in a darkened room before his eyes forgave him.”

I’ve watched many things fall without having a single intelligent thought. Newton observes an apple falling and suddenly our whole world makes a lot more sense. We understand why things move or don’t move because of him and his three laws. He gave us the reflective microscope and the color and light theory. The least I could do is invite him over for dinner. I would serve him Turducken, baked apple and wine, and as I said before, he’ll sit next to Louie CK.

 

My dinner party with 5 famous people: #2 Louie C.K.

As I wrote in my last post, I’ve decided to take a cue from the classic college application question: If you could have dinner with five famous people (alive or dead) who would they be and why? It’s a good question because it shows what you value in a person, and what you hope to gain from the interaction. So without further ado, here’s the second person I would invite: Louie CK.

Louie and and me at a diner

Louie and and me at a diner

I was pretty late to discovering the comic genius that is Louie CK. I kept hearing his name mentioned, and sometimes when someone would say “you know, like on Louie,” I would smile and nod, having no idea what they were talking about. Netflix had been suggesting his show for months, and finally one day I plugged my computer into the t.v. and sat down to watch the show. By the next day (embarrassing to admit) I was done with season one and ready for more.

The magic of Louie CK is that although he can be disgusting, he’s so earnest and full of heart. He puts all of his insecurities, fears, and desires on the screen and you can’t help but relate. Sometimes he just looks like a lost puppy and I want to wrap him up and take him home with me, but then he’ll talk about how much he masturbates and I change my mind. I like a man who keeps me on my toes 🙂

I would serve Louie CK pizza, french fries, a fried appetizer sampler, some milkshakes and some beer. I don’t think I could sit him next to Oprah, so you’ll just have to wait for the future posts to see who he will sit next to! I’ll leave you with my favorite clip from the show:

 

Where’s the advantage?

If you’ve ever asked your parents for a little help with rent, or if you’ve ever given your child some money for the rent, you know that receiving help does not make you a bad person. We all need help to get by sometimes. But what happens if you don’t have a support network to help you?

The other day I was riding the subway and a couple came on with their child. They started to make an announcement about how they were homeless and needed help. I must admit that I’ve become quite callous towards homeless people on the subway, but there was something about them that caught my attention.

They said that they were living in an apartment with help from the Advantage program, but since the State was no longer funding that program they would soon have to go back to the homeless shelter. And since shelters don’t allow mixed genders, their family would be split up.

I looked at the woman as her husband announced this and she was crying and holding her toddler’s hand tightly. She was ashamed, but it was also clear that she was scared she was going to lose her family and her sense of normalcy. Before they spoke they looked like any other young family, but any day now they were going to slip through the cracks, and I can’t imagine how you would ever get back up.

The Advantage program helps pay the rent for individuals or families in order to take them out of the homeless shelters and work towards self-sufficiency. Adults under this program need to work a minium of 20 hours a week, and participate in career development  courses or continuing education. It lasts up to 2 years and in the first year the individual must pay at least 30% of the rent, and in the second year 40%. While I was in college my parents paid 100% of my rent, but most people aren’t that lucky. This program provides a head start for people who never received one.

There’s no easy solution for the homeless problem in NYC, and there are a lot of flaws with the Advantage program, but it was a good start. Witnessing the family on the subway going through the fear of returning to a shelter was just another reminder of how much we neglect the people who need help the most. What is going to happen to their child? Imagine the two possible outcomes for a child growing up in a home with his family, or growing up in different shelters and never seeing his father at night. There are currently 15,000 families in the advantage program. What is going to happen to all of them?

Everyone wants their taxes to be lower, but no one seems to see the price we pay for that.

Which Card Game Would You Be?

This past weekend I was playing a board game with my friends. During a round of ImagineIFF, we all had to determine which card game I would be – if I were a card game. Most people settled on Go Fish, but the one person who voted for Hearts cried out, “But you’re the HeSo!” It was nice to hear.

Which card game would you be, and why?

Poker

Go Fish

War

Hearts

Euchre