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The jig is up. I’ve been found. My cover is blown. Not by the FBI, CIA, or NSA. Those guys nabbed me a long time ago, but that’s another story for another time. Thanks to the power of Facebook I’ve been discovered by the secret society of the OLMC. (My grammar school classmates from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Class of 19XX.) Yep, all those people who knew me before I became this well-preserved collection of vast experience and purveyor of wisdom. It’s hard to believe that I once was a geeky, shy bundle of pre-pubescence and now, well, look at me! I’ve traded the oval glasses for contact lenses. I can drive a car. And speaking two languages is now considered a good thing. I so evolved from my days in Catholic school where I fondly remember my old 1st grade teacher Sister Carol Anne Mary Helen Catherine Eileen Teresa … wait. Where was I? Oh…

All this reconnecting got me to reminiscing about those formative years, when the nuns carried thick rulers just as corporal punishment was ever so slowly being phased out. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Internet. They were simply the “good ol’ days” when life was just a little simpler.

It was a time when there were no pocket-sized devices that carried every piece of literature, newspaper, and cinematic masterpieces all stored in 1.33 ounces of metal and plastic. We were pre-adolescent pack mules lugging over a dozen text books that weighed about 20 pounds each and we walked five blocks which seemed like five miles to school and back.

It was a time when 4G meant writing G G G G in script on the blackboard until you looped your loops in accordance to the established guidelines of Parochial school penmanship.

It was a time when if we were even remotely inclined to spread juicy gossip with our BFFs, there was no texting that arrived to the intended person in milliseconds. We had to, first, memorize a series of seven alpha-numeric characters, then wait until we got home, and dial. And if we got a busy signal we had to wait a little while and do it all over again and again until we got through. And if no one was home the phone just rang and rang and rang and rang and we had to sit around and wonder for hours where everybody was. By the time we finally connected, we forgot what we wanted to say. Problem solved. No gossiping.

It was a time when there were only a few superheroes and their powers merely consisted of being faster than a speeding bullet, discharging gimungus sticky substances from their wrists or wearing a mask and a tool belt that carried cool little gizmos that did neat stuff.  Our family car was a beat up used (er, I mean pre-owned) Chevy, which served as transportation for us and our aunts and uncles, and their children, and the neighbor across the hall and her children (sometimes all at the same time). It never transformed into a really big scary robot from outer space on a mission to save humanity from global destruction.

It was a time when the term playing didn’t mean sitting in front of a high-def flat screen as our CGI-generated avatars, who are way hotter than we could ever dream of being, jump out of airplanes and swim across crocodile-infested waters while we, in the real world, simply exercise our eye-thumb coordination and sip on a slurpee. Playing meant getting scrapes and bruises on our knees and elbows and occasionally having to be rushed to the Metropolitan Hospital emergency room to get stitches because we ate greasy potato chips just before trying out a tricky Olga Korbut routine on a playground apparatus way before rubber padding was invented. (It was an unfortunate monkey bar incident. She was my hero. I don’t want to talk about it.)

It was a time when changing the channel meant you actually had to stand up … and walk across a room … and turn a dial to one of only 4 or 5 channels. AND if you wanted to see a crisp picture someone had to manipulate two metal wires, one of which may, or may not have a small piece of aluminum foil wrapped at the tip. And sometimes that person (usually me) had to stay perfectly still in an uncomfortable posture while holding aforementioned metal wires, to prevent loss of signal lest my father missed his favorite ball player about to pitch a no-hitter.

It was a time when creating a playlist consisted of placing a tiny pin needle on just the right groove in a vinyl album and then hitting the “play” and the red “record” button at the same time on a dusty tape deck while praying for a limited amount of hisses and scratches. It was also a time when if you couldn’t spend your allowance money on the latest Donny Osmond single, you simply taped the song directly from the radio.  (Yes, I was a fan of the Osmonds. I don’t want to talk about it.)

Yep. Those were the, uh, good ol’ days, alright. Sure as hell miss ‘em alright.

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If you are a news hound like me, you get most of your up-to-the-millisecond news from social media. While on line at a department store, waiting for the light to change, or getting a pedicure, I will frequently glance at my SmartPhone’s numerous apps just to make sure I’m not missing any breaking news.

For in-depth coverage and some semblance of accuracy and eloquence, I’ll buy the New York Times after the fact. If I want to know how my friends and colleagues are reacting to news whether it’s some pop culture scandal, a major current event, or a business merger, I turn to Facebook and LinkedIn. But if I want to know what is going on right now, this minute, this very second, I consult my “tweet peeps”. This way I get to know how the rest of the world is reacting to local, regional, or global happenings and what they are having for breakfast as well. I am, like the rest of the world, wowed by minutiae and the occasional train wreck that passes as news. Some tweets are quite clever. For instance, when a spunky serpent allegedly escaped from our local zoo an enterprising tweeter created the @BronxZooCobra  Twitter account, tweeting about the snake’s adventures while on the lam. I confess, not only did I follow the Twitter postings, I added it to my phone’s SMS so I could be alerted each time “she” tweeted about where she was slithering about at the moment. And I have been known to “RT” or “retweet” some of the postings as if it made me just as clever by association.

That this propensity to micro-blog every experience with the hopes to capture that moment is so popular these days, it’s hard to believe that Twitter is only five years old and only reached its tipping point barely two or three years ago way before “doh” once attributed to Homer Simpson was replaced with “duh” now attributed to Charlie, aka “winning” Sheen. Let’s face it, there is nothing like the haughtiness of informing some stranger that you are in the loop about what is happening right now as opposed to discussing with your dinner date what has already happened one hour ago. Take Sohaib Athar, the Pakistani IT Consultant who was the first to tweet about the Bin Laden raid. He became an instant celebrity just for tweeting about the noise from the helicopters thoroughly pissing him off.  Boom. Instant celebrity.

The whole thing got me to wondering what it would have been like if Twitter existed during previous major news-making events. Would Isrealite420 have tweeted “OMG it’s a tsunami! BACKWARDS!!!” upon witnessing Moses parting the Red Sea? Here are a few assumptions I made on how moments in history might have been captured in 140 characters or less if Twitter existed throughout the centuries.

To Mom: Remember

I watch your eyes twinkle
with a fading memory
of how it was once
how life used to be

Your days are unbalanced
your hours a jumble
they merge into confusion
you struggle and stumble

Rage, Mami. Rage!
Do not go into the unforgiving abyss
Take up that battle
with tightly-clenched fists!

Alas, you plummet
into the darkness
your efforts in vain
and I must embrace
we’ll never be the same

And with this indignation
I search for indication
that in the merciful chasm
that allows a recollection or two

You remember how you once loved me…

And that I’ll always love you.

Written for Blasina Talavera, the only mother I knew.
Rest in Peace.

After much deliberation, I have decided to decline the invitation to serve as a bridesmaid in the Royal Wedding. Sure, it’s a chance of a lifetime to participate in what will be known as the event of the year, not to mention the rare opportunity to be seen wearing a chartreuse  poofy evening gown on the BBC. But HRH and the Princess-in-waiting chose to exchange vows on the very day that I will be celebrating the first anniversary of my milestone birthday. I know, I know. If they do this right, they will each have but only this one wedding, whereas if I do this right, theoretically I should have more birthdays. But from now on that day will forever be known as the day when something special happened and it will have nothing to do with me. It’s already the talk of the town. Every print, broadcast and digital news outlet can’t stop reporting on every single detail and, quite frankly, I’m bored by it.   

Sure, I offer my congratulations to the happy couple along with a $50 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel, however, I refuse to travel to the other side of the pond just to dance the Electric Slide with Sir Elton amid world leaders and the Paparazzi on my birthday. Instead I shall celebrate AMERICAN-style: in the comfort of my own apartment, laying on my couch in my jammies while scoffing down a box of Ho Hos and watching reruns of “The Closer” on Cable TV. So there!

Dear Winter,

This may be difficult for you to hear, but it’s over. Sure, we’ve had some good times. Like the snow-covered branches glistening in the morning sunlight; and the wafting aroma of hot cocoa and cinnamon at the end of a long cold day.

Good Winter

But let’s face it. Recently, our time together has been, well, stormy! With each blizzard you’ve unleashed, we have drifted further and further apart and I just don’t love you anymore.

Look, it’s not you. It’s me. I just need more warmth in a relationship and you can’t help it, you’re just too cold. Don’t get me wrong, underneath that icy exterior you’re a great season and I know you’ll find someone who can love you. Someone who is more mukluk, and less open-toe, slingback. Someone who is more wool beanie, instead of straw Fedora. Someone who is flannel and fleece, not so silk and satin.

Bad Winter

I’m sorry Winter. My sweet, sweet Winter. It’s just not working between us anymore. Maybe we can still be friends. Who knows? In another 9 or 10 months, we can try again. But for now, I need to see other seasons. It’s time for you to move on.

Farewell Winter. Until we meet again. Farewell.

Our holiday gift guide was such a hit with our readers that we decided to engage in a little research to bring you new ideas for what to give your special shnookums on Valentine’s Day.

Ladies, want to give something special to that hunk of a guy you married or want to marry, or are simply stalking? Well, nothing says “c’mon baby, just tear up that Restraining Order” like an MIT graduate-designed flying automobile, which converts from a street-legal vehicle to a Light Sport aircraft in 30 seconds. That’s right, for just $350,000 he’ll be able to fly over (literally) to your place at any given moment no matter how bad the traffic is. Runway not included.

Already attached? Okay then, why not get even closer with Fundies, the underwear for two? The website informs us that this classic item remains popular though the packaging hasn’t changed in 20 years. As long as the underwear has, I say. Nonetheless, for a mere $9.99 you and your Fundies Friend can be closer than you could have ever imagined. Friend not included.

Guys, forget the Teddy Bear. That is so old school high school. What your little love muffin really wants is Henry, the Talking Gnome. He is all set for the season with a red coat, gold booties and neck tie. But that’s not all, hold Henry’s toe and record your voice whispering sweet nothings. Then have her press his wittle tiny belly and Henry will deliver your wittle message in an awwwwwww-inspiring cute wittle gnome-voice.  For only $14.95, Henry is the perfect gift for that love of your life. Baby talk not included.

Did your sweetheart give you the big heave ho (oh, get your mind out of the gutter) just before Valentine’s Day? Well, what you need is the Breakup Recovery Kit. For only $12.99 this kit offers maximum relief from that soul-crushing, revenge-inspiring, self-pitying heartache. Includes 1 Remedy Booklet; 5 Affirmation Cards; 5 Healing Bandages; 1 Heart Charm; 1 Declarative Bracelet; and Recovery Certificate, all designed to soothe sorrow and restore self-worth. Quart of Haagen-Dazs chocolate chocolate chip ice cream and oversized serving spoon not included.

Not married, engaged, dating, co-habitating, hooking up, or playing the field? Well, when was the last time you told your own butt just how much you care? Literally! For less than 6 bucks a roll, you can reaffirm your own vow of everlasting fidelity and bring love to your lavatory with this heart-filled decorative bathroom tissue.

So, there you go folks—fun-filled ideas for that special day of love. This Valentine’s Day may Cupid’s arrow be aimed and sharp.

Happy February

Happy February!  It is National “National Awareness Month” Awareness Month, the national awareness month where we celebrate all the other national awareness months and pay tribute to things we should be aware of … nationally.
      So, let’s first begin with National White Male Oppression Awareness Month, which, if it were official, should be January according to a 1995 blogger named Matt Bennett. Why January? Because “we can force everyone to watch our parade and speeches in cold weather,” states Mr. Bennett. Then, of course comes February which is Black History Month, where we laud the many contributions African-Americans have made to this country to, among more nobler reasons, piss off the guys celebrating last month’s awareness month. March is Women’s History Month, so we can be proud of all we’ve managed to accomplish including, but not limited to, the emasculation of the January honorees.
       April is National Poetry Month as well as National Mathematics Awareness Month, because heaven and earth imbues contradictions and also because “zero, two, four, six, eight / being even is just great. One, three, five, seven, nine / being odd is just fine.” May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, where we acknowledge the achievements in this country by Asians and Pacific islanders and, coincidentally, June is National Accordion Awareness Month where China, according to www.ladyofspain.com, is the largest manufacturer and exporter of accordions in the world.
      In North America we celebrate Lakes Awareness Month in July, when we are encouraged to practice lake pollution prevention while engaging in family barbecues that would not include deadbeat dads in August, because that’s Child Support Awareness Month
      Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated within two months – September and October because, well, that’s just how we roll and November is Recycling Awareness Month, not sure why. Ironically December is not only, Seasonal Depression Awareness Month, but it is also National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. There you go. Mark your calendars.