Category Archives: My Random Thoughts

The Dark Knight Rises… and So Does My Blood Pressure


Let me start by saying that in the grand scheme of things, my feelings about my experience tonight may come off petty and ridiculous considering that they occurred on the same day as the Aurora, Colorado “Dark Knight” slayings. Nothing I can talk in all my experiences can come close to what those families are feeling today… and I’m eternally thankful that I can only sympathize with those people in Colorado and do not possess the experience needed to fully empathize with their losses.  But this being the internet and I having had such an annoying experience, I will throw my frustrations out there into the ether for a (very) few of you to read.

Ok, full disclosure:  I hate going out to public places.  No, I do not have a fear of these places.  I have a deep seeded dread about having to deal with douchey, pretentious, self-centered, obnoxious, walking-dicks called people.  Ugh.  Usually, this dread is reserved for adolescents, but more and more adults are filling that role.  And oh do they do it oh-so-well.  With regards to movie theaters, my complaints are typical:  talking during the movie, texting during the movie, endless crumpling of whatever bag is being used to hold food, crying babies, seat kickers, barefooted people that feel the need to put their feet up on the chair in front of them…  you get the idea.  So, I disclose my feelings as a personal admission that I may have been looking for trouble subconsciously, or was just trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I often like to play armchair psychologist to my best case study (Dan Greco).  Anyway, as has been customary as of late, my experience today started with people texting.

So, I’m not naive.  I know we live in a world of cell phones and people love to be connected at all times.  I get it.  I’d feel lost without my cell phone when I’m out and about… or talking with people that aren’t quite keeping my attention.  But anyway, there is a not-so-fine line between keeping yourself available for emergencies and choosing to engage in active conversations.  I will get to the heart of this story.  The Dark Knight Rises has a run-time of almost three hours.  No joke, for over 2 hours I put up with this woman and her ultra-bright, I-don’t-believe-in-auto-dimming iPhone screen.  I remember when stadium seating started becoming popular.  It was great.  You didn’t have to worry about blocked views anymore.  Well, that was in a time before cell phones and texting were popular.  Now stadium seating allows you to see much too much activity below you.  This woman, who I’ll refer to simply as Annoying, was on her phone almost literally CONSTANTLY.  No joke, she wouldn’t go more that 5 or 6 minutes without texting someone.  Now, you may be thinking that i’m being a little dramatic.  Perhaps I’m embellishing a bit.  And to you I say, “F-off.  You have no idea.”  I had such a direct line of site with Annoying, that I now know her pass-code for her phone.  7878 in case you were wondering.  I don’t have a photographic memory, but when I see the same numbers repeated over and over again, I can’t help but memorize them.  Oh, did I mention we were 6 or 7 rows behind Annoying?  Yeah, I had great seats for her lack of consideration for her fellow movie-goers.  As I was saying, I dealt with this for over two hours accompanied by the random texter around the theater, but nothing that was overly obnoxious.  Up until the two hour mark, I kept my cool and hoped against all odds that Annoying would just put away her phone or, at the very least, start texting a bit more considerately; holding her phone in her lap perhaps.  Of course, this was just a pipe dream.  As is customary with me, my inner rage continued to grow as I can just not cope with the idea that people were not brought up with any kind of consideration for other around them.  (*Psychologist Dan jumps in here:  I believe this is a case of too many super-hero cartoons as a child.  Justice always prevailed and annoying characters always learned their lessons and had a good group laugh about how dumb they were acting.)  Now at this point, I went against everything that I was taught to do as a kid.  My subdued, shut-up-and-take it attitude shattered and my inner mind-Hulk took over.  But to toot my own horn, even in this rage I managed to wait for a lull in the movie (a scenic shot) to release my furry upon Annoying.  See… consideration; it’s something we should all have and practice.  My temperature-raising, skyrocketing-blood-pressure-educing inner furry was released as this command:  “Shut your phone.”  Now, I was five or six rows back so I had to say it loud enough for Annoying to hear and know it was directed at her.  That coupled with the clenching my teeth while saying it (purely instinct), my (self proclaimed) wonderfully tenor-esque voice, and the darkness of the theater all contributed to the most amazing thing:  Annoying got the message and put away her phone… for the rest of the movie!  A nice side effect, everyone else did too!  Fantastic!  Two hours of suffering paid off because I made a small change in the world.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the movie right?   Wrong… oh so so so wrong.

Enter a man who I will call from hence forth refer to as Pretentious Douchebag (I choose this name as to make this post as child friendly as I can allow).  Pretentious Douchebag was a quiet, fellow theater patron.  He looked to be in his mid 20s.  Short cropped hair that was a bit gelled and spikey.  Dark rimmed glasses sat on his face; the kind you see on all the hipsters in any major city.  Not overly slender, but lean.  He had taken the seat two seats over to my right, respecting the rule of buffer seats between men.  Truthfully, I didn’t even realize Pretentious Douchebag existed for most of the movie.  That was until I had finished my bout with Annoying.  As a reclined back to savor my victory against theater texting, I see in the corner of my eye Pretentious Douchebag leaning over towards me.  Not going to lie here folks, I was totally ready to receive accolades from my fellow theater patrons.  As such, I leaned over (smiling, I believe) ready for my “good job, dude!”  Instead, get ready for this, what I got was a man staring at me holding a napkin in his hand and saying this to me, “Do you want a tissue for your vagina?*” (*Exact words)

As you may imagine, this wasn’t quite the response I was expecting, nor hoping for.  Come to think of it, I would say this is one of the last phrases that I would probably want to hear seeing as how I don’t have a vagina and if I did, I would hope no one would see that I had a need for a tissue for said vagina.  In response, I was able to muster a “Whaaaaaa??????”  I then continued with, “Are you fucking serious?”  The next 40 minutes or so are a little hazy.  Imagine if you will, my inner rage level signified by a regular old glass thermometer to take temperatures with.  When Pretentious Douchebag entered the fray, it was as if someone had decided to find out just how hot the exhaust flame of the Space Shuttle using my teeny, tiny thermometer.  The red went up so far, so fast it busted through the top and shot across the room.  I know that after my comment, my wife started asking me, no pleading with  not to fight, though she had no idea what was going on.  I gave it a shot for a second or two.  I sat back, still aghast at what was said to me; utterly astounded.  Instinct took over and forced me to stare to my right towards Pretentious Douchebag until he looked back at me.  I asked again, “Are you fucking serious?” and then “Do you want to make something of it?” or some phrase along those lines; completely uncharacteristic of me for the record.  He responded with “Let’s talk about this after the movie.”  My response, “No… we won’t.”  I have no real idea why I chose those words.  I know I wasn’t thinking normally.  I can only hope that he took it as me saying, “No.  We won’t because I’m going to be beating the ever-loving shit out of you.”  Begin the countdown to the credits.  40 minutes to go.  Like I said before, this is a little hazy.  What I do know was that I could not give my attention to the movie like I wanted to.  I was lost.  I had no idea what the characters were saying.  All I could think of was how to beat this guy to pulp, should I hit first, should I give him an out, how am I 33 years old and about to get into a fight at the movies, and how this is why I hate going out.  I was literally shaking for 30+ minutes.  What I believe was fear and what I know was rage was swirling around me.  Not to mention I had to pee 20 minutes after we sat down in the seats and I had since shared a large soda with my wife.  Nevertheless, I was ready.  So I watched whatever I could of the rest of the movie; no longer engrossed in Batman’s battle, waiting for my own… man, I felt young, but really really really annoyed.

End credits.  Movie was over.  Time to go, in any sense of the word.  I immediately looked over to Pretentious Douchebag and he to me.  “Listen, I’m sorry about what I said.  I was being a real asshole,”  he said.  Rage subsiding a bit.  I responded, “Why?  I don’t get why you even said that?  Wasn’t she annoying? Didn’t that light bother you too?”  “I was trying to say you shouldn’t be shouting in the middle of a movie,” he claims.  “Really?  My half-second outburst bothered you more than that light in your face?” I asked completely baffled.  “Yeah, there’s always people like that.  Maybe they have kids and they’re talking to the babysitter.”  “I have a kid and she’s with the babysitter now and I didn’t take out my phone once.  She was texting for minutes at a time.  Many minutes at a time,” I responded.  “Yeah, maybe.  But again, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said that.”  “Thank you.”  And then he left.  Out of my life forever.

My Doogie Howser ending:  Maybe time and guidance is all it takes in this world.  Maybe people just need time to see that they were wrong and need to make amends (Pretentious Douchebag).  Maybe some people got lost along the way and just need to be guided back on the right path (Annoying).  Maybe there is hope.  If Pretentious Douchebag can see that he was behaving in a very disrespectful, totally uncalled for manner , perhaps there are more people out there that know right from wrong.  If Annoying was able to see that strangers were annoyed and was able keep her phone closed for an extended amount of time and realized the world didn’t end, maybe there are other people out there that will realize their actions do affect people around them and they should be more considerate.

Who am I kidding?  This is America.  We don’t do Doogie Howser endings in real life.  Here’s a real ending where I come from:  Fuck you, Annoying and fuck you, Pretentious Douchebag.  You are why I hate going outside.

Gary Carter and My Uncle George — *Updated: February 16, 2012*

Uncle George behind me umping while I do my best to be Gary Carter.

If you’re any kind of Mets, Expos, or baseball fan from the 80s it’s likely that you’ve heard about Gary Carter’s fight with brain tumors. Maybe you’ve heard about it even if you’re not any of the three types of people I just mentioned. Regardless, this news has struck me in a way I was not expecting.

Gary Carter was my hero. Like many young kids, I wanted to be a baseball player. As such, I needed an idol to emulate. Gary Carter was it for me. I made my mind up that I would be a catcher, with perhaps an occasional stint at first, just like Gary. I tried as best as I could to emulate is stance behind the plate; feet wide apart, mitt pulled in tight, free hand behind the right leg. I tried his hitting stance too, but this was too uncomfortable. He kept his elbows out too far for my liking, so I figured defensive imitation was enough. I watched him on TV and, occasionally, I got to see him live at Shea Stadium when my Uncle George would take me to see a game. These were great rimes for me. I got to watch my favorite player of all time (even today) and talk to my uncle that seemingly knew everything about the game of baseball, and whom I loved dearly. I can still remember those few times I was lucky enough to see my idol hit one out of the park and celebrate it with my uncle with high fives and hugs.

Of course, time changes everything. Gary got “old” and left the Mets and retired within a few years. I started to grow up and realize that idolizing a ballplayer didn’t make me any better as one. The times Uncle George and I got to go to the park together become few and far between for any number of reasons. In November of 2005, George lost his battle with cancer which devastated me and my family. In my mind, nothing has ever been the same. He was more than an uncle to me. He was like my second father. I know very well how lucky I was to have two great men to be role models for me (my father being the first, of course). That doesn’t make it any easier to be without him. Truthfully, it makes it harder. I have thought about him nearly every day since his passing, and the pain hasn’t gone away, though we have no choice but to endure.

When the news of Gary Carter’s tumors came out a few days ago, I was sad. Sad for my hero. Sad for the suffering of another human being. Sad for Gary’s family. But mostly, I was (am) enveloped in the sadness that I, and my family, have been enduring these past five and a half years. It came back almost renewed. It’s funny how your mind can intertwine things. Gary and George never met. They’ve never been closer than a few hundred feet from each other. But somewhere in my head, they’re closely related. They are both part of my happiest memories. They both have a place in my heart.

I am hoping that Gary can beat the odds. I hoping for him as much as I had hoped for Uncle George. I know it’s mostly selfish, but with Gary still around I still have a special link in my head with my uncle. I’ve been wishing Gary would get the Mets managerial job one day and I will continue to hope for it. Thank you for being a special part of my relationship with my uncle, even if you never knew it. Good luck, Gary!

Uncle George, I love you and miss you. Let’s Go Mets!

**Update: February 16, 2012**

At 5:15 pm today, I heard that Gary Carter had succumbed to his cancer.  Even though I knew this would likely be the outcome for Gary, I took the news with great shock and a profound sadness.

If nothing else, I am a man of logic.  I think that’s why I’m baffled by my reaction to this news.  I am utterly sad for the death of Gary, a man whom I have never met, a man whom was never closer than a few hundred feet to me, a man whom never knew I existed.  I know you’re asking “Did you cry?”  And I will plainly say, “Oh yeah.”  Of course, I can play armchair psychologist and delve into my psyche, but I’m not going to do that.  I am just going to say that I am almost as sad as if a friend of mine had died.  Illogical? Probably.  But he was my hero.  I wanted to be like him.  And the more I hear about him, I couldn’t have picked a better man to idolize.

Two of my heroes are gone and I hope they’ll be meeting each other and hanging out together soon.

Where are you, Doc?

What the hell is going on with my doctors lately? I have never had to wait for my appointments like I have during this past year. I had always accepted the fact that I would have to wait upwards of fifteen minutes or so after my appointment time to see the doctor. Now, all the doctors that I go to, be it general practitioner, dentist, or even my eye doctor, are taking more than 45 minutes just to get from waiting room to examination room. Why?

Maybe the solution is this: Stop Over Booking. If patients are being booked every fifteen minutes and you’re making them wait forty-five minutes, maybe you can try to book every half hour instead (at least).  I’m not naive.  I understand the bottom line is money and money comes from as many patients as possible, but try to be a little considerate of your clients and fellow human beings.  We all have stuff that needs to get done and we need to be able to plan events out.  Unfortunately, waiting for a doctor’s appointment is becoming longer and, more problematic, more unpredictable.  By that I mean, you never really know how long you’ll be waiting.  It could be that forty-five minutes we mentioned or it could be as bad as two entire hours waiting.  How do you plan your day around that?  How can the working class schedule a quick visit during a lunch since many doctors keep bankers hours?


Super powers… please!

This summer, I had my thyroid taken out because I had thyroid cancer.  It was a little unnerving when I first found out, but truthfully, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.  My mother and aunt had already gone through this procedure a few years ago, so I knew what it was like and what to expect through their experience.  I knew the surgery itself was no that big of a deal… at least as little as a cancer removing surgery can be anyway.

The big worry was the follow-up treatment.  With this type of surgery, they give you a dose of radioactive iodine to make sure they get all of the thyroid cells.  It is a low dose, but you’re still a bit radioactive.  This was made into a bigger worry given that my wife was, and still is, pregnant.  Radiation is bad for everyone, but it’s particularly bad for a developing fetus… hence the worries.

I am currently in my cousin’s house, three months after surgery.  I’m on day 3 of isolation after having taken the dose of radioactive iodine.  It’s a little boring, but otherwise not bad.  I have my computer, my phone, and my cousin’s Fios… and snacks.  What I don’t have is a super power.  Sadly, I’m finding out that all these comic books and movies have been lying to me about the effects of radiation.  They’ll be receiving a few angry letters from me in the near future about the false advertising.  So let this post serve as a PSA, being radioactive does NOT translate into getting any kind of super power.  My pee doesn’t even glow.  Yes, I have checked.  You would too, trust me.  Then again, it could be possible that the powers are dormant, and they will show themselves when I’m physically or emotionally stressed.  Guess I’ll have to try climbing a mountain or talking to my mom about baby showers to see if the powers come through.   😉

Family Problems

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so let my apology fall into the ether that is the internet.  I finally have some time, but I think mostly I’m posting because I need some kind of therapeutic action.  Over the past few days, I’ve had to put up with one of the most trying, awkward, no-getting-better situations I’ve ever had to deal with in my life.  Sadly, it deals with the two most important women in my life.  I won’t be going into specifics.  But here is my observation:  my mom is a little crazy.

From my perspective, this is just a giant, giant, giant misunderstanding.  Basically, my mom, the person who’s been my support for my entire life, feels slighted by the actions, or lack there  of, of my wife, the woman who has for the past eight years been nothing but caring, sweet, and just as supportive to me.  My mother is a very strong woman with very, very strong feelings.  I’ve fought many battles with her when she has perceived my actions as wrong or hurtful.  She is the type of woman who won’t accept apologies and doesn’t care what outside (non-blood) relationships get burned.  I, being as strong-willed, and a blood relative, have been able to withstand or at least deal with these “confrontations” that pop up.  This is different.  Her issue is not with me, it’s with my wife.  Uncomfortable to begin with, but more so when you factor in my wife’s traits.  Simply put, if there was one person in the world that had to be chosen to embody selflessness, humility, and a general all around let’s-all-get-along attitude, my wife would be that person.  This by no means excludes her of all wrongdoing.  She has her part in the matter, but more out of carelessness as opposed to vindictiveness.

So like I was saying, the traits of my wife almost automatically put her into a category of the submissive.  She doesn’t know, nor has she ever had to deal with, the kind of fiery personality that is my mother.  She did her best to apologize, but as stated earlier, my mother is not usually open to apologies.  So I don’t know what to do.  I can’t get through to my mom.  She brings up some very strange points to support why she is so mad.  I can’t understand it all.  I actually do get the initial feeling of being slighted.  I see it.  What I don’t see is the amount of anger and lack of understanding that follows it all.  What the hell am I supposed to do?  We have a baby coming in two months.  What is this going to do to that relationship with her granddaughter?  Will she not care as much?  I want my family to be an integral part of the life of my children, but I also don’t want them to be “second class citizens” to my family either.

I really don’t feel good about this.  My wife has some part in this.  Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be changed now.  It all rests in the heart and mind of my mother; who, to be fair, is one of the most loving people I know.  I know in this post seem could easily be seen as a monster, but trust me she’s not.  If I was to play arm chair psychologist, I might say that she is just acting out against that woman that stole her baby boy away from her.  We were always very close, and I’m afraid this will change that.  I don’t know what to do.  I want to just go to sleep and hide for a few months until my daughter gets here.  She’ll make it better.


I’m a teacher.  If I had to define myself as something, that’s what I would say.  Sure, it’s my profession but I think it goes deeper than that.  I like to pass on any type of knowledge that I’ve gained in my life to anyone that wants it… and sometimes those that don’t want it (ask my brother about that).  But I believe that a good teacher is always a student, always learning.  Maybe that’s why I like teaching; I enjoy learning just as much.

Most people don’t know it, but the classroom is a two-way street.  Sure, most traffic flows from teacher to student, but we do get something back.  Sometimes, all we get is the knowledge of some new song or other pop culture reference.  Sometimes those alone are enough; I’ve found some pretty good music and movies thanks to my kids.  On occasion, a student will introduce a new way of thinking about a problem, a way in which I wouldn’t have thought.  And then other times they just teach you about life.  When you meet so many people and form relationships with them, you are going to be able to have a glimpse into these lives.  It’s amazing what kids see and have to deal with.  Some actually go to work and are one of the main earners of their family.  Many are in charge of the younger kids and household chores when they get home; sometimes to the extent that they are the ones that go to their siblings’ Parents Night at their schools.  So many kids are thrust into adult lives, sometimes more adult than my own.  But they all try to work through it.  That’s damn impressive to say the least.  Sometimes, these situations make it harder for me to be a teacher; so that challenges me.   Other times, I just sit back and watch them deal with what they’re given and I’m amazed at what they can do.  And I’m thankful for all of it; the challenges and the inspirations.   No matter what, I’m learning to be more patient and understanding.  I’m learning how to better reach different kids.  In turn, I try to teach people I know these lessons.  If only students knew how often they are teachers.