Once again, almost two months have passed and I've completely forgotten that I even have a blog. Mea culpa. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said, "summer has set in with its usual severity."
So far, Summer 2011 has been going great. After a few rough summers, I feel like I've got my sea legs back and am ready to embrace what has always been my most cherished season. For me, summer is not just a season but rather a state of mind. Bring it on, yo.
As I type this, I’m sitting outside the Doctor’s beach house, where he and I are taking turns throwing the kids into the pool and listening to them squeal hysterically with delight. The picnic table is piled abundantly high with bottles of Rose, pitchers of homemade lemonade, lobster salad, farmhouse guacamole, and fresh vegetables from the garden. The faint smells of coconut suntan lotion and flowers permeate the air.
Have I mentioned how much I love summer?
TIPS ON BEING A GREAT HOUSEGUEST
The Peanut and I have always been lucky when it comes to the generosity of our friends; and while it’s always nice to be invited for a single weekend, here are a few of our personal tips for ensuring multiple future invitations.
(1) BRING GIFTS….I always like to give towels monogrammed with my initials. That way, the hosts will never forget me and I feel like part of their home. Win, win!
(2) BE USEFUL AND EMPATHETIC….Do the things that your hosts really want to do but are prevented from doing by decorum. Buy that bottle of Jagermeister. Slip the kids some Benadryl. Take a dump late at night in the neighbor’s pool.
(3) MAKE THE WEEKEND MEMORABLE...Draw an outline of the Virgin Mary in a container of hummus and alert the local media. Your hosts will love telling this story for years. Trust me.
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to downsize the scale and scope of my lifestyle.
Moving into a smaller apartment and shedding myself of so many material possessions was unexpectedly cathartic. I realized that very few objects I owned held any emotional value for me. Somewhere along the line, I’d crossed over and reached a point where the things I owned ended up owning me.
Like so many others before me, I had become a slave to the Ikea nesting instinct. It’s a vicious cycle. One moment, you’re spending $250 on some bathroom candles. Next you’re blowing $8,000 on a dining table. Pretty soon, dropping $100k on a car doesn’t sound so unreasonable. Unless one makes a conscious decision to end the cycle, where and when does it end?
I have no wish to be poor but, at the same time, I have no desire to be rich. Whereas over the course of my life, I’ve been both, I’ve come to realize that neither status has ever played much of a role in my overall life’s satisfaction or general happiness.
So aside from the basic ability to support myself and my daughter in Manhattan, I’m starting to think that when it comes to my financial ambitions, I desire only enough money to be able to travel several times each year, to never have to think about purchasing books or clothes, and most importantly, to be able to buy sushi dinners for my friends wherever and whenever I please.
Hey, I know it’s not Walden Pond but I think it’s a step down the right path.
RANDOM TEXT MESSAGES FROM MY FRIENDS, Vol. 6
The following text missives from my eclectic group of friends are all about to get purged so, as usual, I thought I'd jot them down here for posterity:
“Every time I hear Debbie and her Australian accent, I want to go eat at Outback.”
“Baby just exploded diarrhea all over me. Dog is licking it up. Think I'm going to vomit. Go ahead and start dinner without me. I’m gonna be awhile.”
“Let’s just say that the last guy to cook for me twice in one day was probably Colonel Sanders.”
“The worst side-effect of gender equality is the couples baby shower.”
“How many calories are burned eating a lobster roll? I’m asking for the lobster.”
“In honor of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, I’m sexually harassing my wife right now and spraying the kids with shaving cream.”
“Who do you think would win in a fight? Cher or Lady Gaga?”
“Just for the record, I wasn’t staring at her ass. I was staring WITH her ass.”
“You’re my favorite minority friend but if I ever meet a black man who drives an old Cadillac, you’re fired.”
“My favorite is when there are no boobs and then all of sudden, boobs!”
SING THE SONG SOUNDS LIKE HE READS IT
When life’s myriad complexities start weighing heavily on me, one of my favorite means of decompression is to grab a stool at a mellow neighborhood bar or restaurant armed solely with a good jukebox, a good cocktail and a good book.
I always empathize with my female friends who tell me that they’d love to do this as well but can’t because apparently there’s something about being female and alone in a bar that makes everyone assume that she’s desperate for conversation, so people like to interrupt her (“Hey, whatcha reading?”) and if she doesn’t smile and answer politely, they think to themselves “bitch!”
As a man walking into a bar alone with a book, I’d like to think that people find me dashing and intellectual but I’ll settle for nerdy and weird. Either way, I never get bothered.
But being an over-thinking literary geek, I’ve invented a personal game for myself where I try to match up the right bar with the right meal, drink, soundtrack, and author.
Local Irish bar, bacon cheeseburger, shot of whiskey, Bruce Springsteen, Raymond Carver.
Outdoor café, grilled cheese sandwich, glass of rose, Bradenburg concertos, Shakespeare.
Sushi restaurant, salmon skin avocado hand roll, sake, Arcade Fire, Haruki Murakami.
I’m the only nerd who does this, aren’t I?
Seriously, go ahead and give it a try.
PHILOSOPHER JIM CAREY
I was randomly surfing the internet late at night during a recent bout of insomnia and somehow found myself reading a recap of an old CNN interview between Larry King and his guest Jim Carrey.
I had never really known anything about Jim Carrey before except that he is, of course, Jim Carrey. As it turns out, he seems like a very pensive and thoughtful guy. As he related stories of growing up poor, living in his car, battling depression and suffering hardship, he says:
“I just got to the point where I realized the only way to look at life is to believe that everything that ever happens to you, is the best thing that’s ever happened to you.”
Maybe it was the insomnia. Maybe it was reading about all the sadness in his life. All I know is that I was surprised that a Jim Carey quote could have such a profound effect on me. My own personal philosophy leans toward the belief that when life throws roadblocks in your way, you’ve got to remove the negativity and create a mindset that allows you to proactively enact change. Jim Carey’s philosophy seems like a sturdier and more succinct version of my own. I think it’s a useful tool for looking at life.
I know. Jim Carrey, right? Who would have ever thought it?
Next beers on me, Ace Ventura.
SING THE SONG SOUNDS LIKE SHE SINGS IT
My daughter amazes the shit out of me.
In her first six years on this planet, she’s witnessed her grandfather painfully succumb to cancer. She’s seen her parents split up and divorce. She’s attended three different schools in three years. She’s had major eye surgery. And she’s moved out of the only home she’d ever known.
Yet, she’s turned into a really cool, smart, funny, sensitive, caring and polite kid.
So, as a special treat, I got us a pair of third-row tickets to the Glee concert. It was her first “big girl” concert and the two of us could not have been more excited.
There are a million words I could write about seeing the world through your daughter’s eyes. Or the pure joy that comes from seeing her so happy. Or the sense of wonderment at seeing one's child grow before your very eyes.
But if a picture says a thousand words...
Hope your summer is filled with lots of fun, sun, love and lobsters. Cheers!