Wise Words from Unlikely Sources: The Muppets Take Manhattan

24 Apr

Highlight #1: “Peoples is peoples.”

Highlight #2: Kermit’s facial expression.

On the Peculiarities of Time: Reflections of a Year

21 Apr

June and Rich in 1968

People ask me if it feels like a year since my Dad’s been gone. I don’t know how long a year is supposed to seem anymore.

Papa, Dad, and Mom

How is it possible that it feels like an eternity since April 27 and simultaneously feels as vivid and real as yesterday? I think when the heart is grappling with grief, those pesky universal rules of time and space do not apply. There are still days where, for a millisecond, I reach for my phone to call my Dad, or where I hear a joke and for a brief moment remind myself to tell him that one later. This morning I woke up and thought to myself, “Is he really gone?” It’s a cruel trick that the mind plays on us. But when somebody that you’ve known and loved for your entire existence is no longer part of this physical world, it’s a bizarre thing to comprehend.

At the Bronx Zoo

Does it feel like a year? A year is all at once a long stretch of time and yet no time at all.

So much has happened in a year. I worked my first full-time job and got my first apartment not paid for by the University. I adopted my little Bailey. I created the Remembering Rich team for the Lustgarten Foundation’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk and, with the help and support of loved ones, raised $8700 to find a cure. I began to acknowledge the bittersweet transience of life and determined which values and goals are of the highest importance to me.

March 2010

Among the highest right now are to move home with family, to heal together, to help each other. To fully immerse myself into a career where I feel I am making a significant impact on individuals and an imprint on the world; more specifically, to become an elementary and special education teacher. To examine my relationships with people and strengthen those that vitalize and inspire me and discontinue those that weaken and exhaust me.

(Hopefully by now you’ve realized this post is not going to be about Saved by the Bell.)

At Jones Beach

I experienced a lot of firsts this year, beginning with my first birthday without my Dad. Four days after he passed away, I was supposed to be celebrating another year in my life. That was a strange day, to say the least.

May 2009

And yet, it was still a beautiful day. It was on a Saturday, and nobody comes for Shiva on Saturday since it’s Shabbat. So I got to be surrounded by the people I love most – and the people who love me most – and be myself without a trace of self-consciousness. We reminisced, and we laughed, and we cried. And it felt like he was still there. We experienced our first holidays without my Dad here. Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, New Years, and most recently, Passover. And we could still feel him here. I guess spending 20-something years with someone will do that. I hope it always feels that way.

Franklin Park Zoo, May 2009

Next Wednesday will be the last first on this journey: the one-year anniversary of his death. And this is where one year feels like no time has passed at all. The details of that day are so clear in my head, and I don’t think that will ever change. I will forever remember how we were all around his bed when he lifted his arms to the three of us in his final moment of lucidity.

Boston Pops, May 2009

How he dedicated his last ounce of strength to reaching out to hug us. How he was unable to speak, and how no words were needed to express the everlasting and boundless love that does not perish when a person does. How I lay next to him and we shared my earphones and listened to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, the song we picked out for our dance at my wedding. I know he heard it. How we were there telling him how proud we were of him—of his bravery and his courage—and how much we loved him, as he took his last breath and transcended to an unknown world where none of us could follow.

It’s been quite a year.


“Life is eternal, and love is immortal,
and death is only a horizon;
and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”

“To be awake is to be alive.”

11 Apr

My six years in Boston is coming to a close…for now. With the end in sight, I’m realizing that there are still a few things in this city I have not yet done, and I don’t want to make the same mistakes that I did while studying abroad in London. Like that one time I worked next door to Westminster Abbey for two months and never entered Westminster Abbey. (What a freakin’ idiot.) Now, there is a sense of urgency to accomplish the following before I return to the island from whence I came:

1. Ride the swan boats and giggle like the four-year-old children who will be sitting next to me.

2. Go to Walden Pond with a copy of Walden in tow; I’ll probably be the first person ever to do that.

3. Kayak on the Charles a.k.a. the Jarls.

4. See the Blue Man Group and think of Dr. Tobias Fünke the entire time.

"I just blue myself."

5. Eat in Chinatown.

6. Take Sunset Cantina with me.

7. And the North End.

8. Visit the magical land of Rockport one more time.

9. Go to one more Sox game before I have to decide where my baseball loyalty lies. (It does not, and never will, lie with the Yankees.)

10. Have a sunset picnic in my favorite spot in Boston: the dock on the Esplanade.

11. Find Ben Affleck filming another Boston-based movie.

12. Buy a quality Boston snow globe to add to my stellar snow-global collection.

13a. Cry uncontrollably in a rocking position in the middle of Newbury Street where the beautiful foreigners will smoke cigarettes and judge me.

13b. Cry uncontrollably in a rocking position in the middle of Faneuil Hall whilst being incorporated into a street performance.

Stay tuned for photographic evidence of these adventures as I cross them off my list. And then stay tuned for my proposed list of Long Island-based outings. There will be just as much stuff to do on LI as there is in Boston, right? RIGHT? (Please see #13 and #14.)

A Terrible Revelation: Saved by the Gel

22 Mar

As I followed my usual morning routine of getting ready for work while watching the ever-corny Saved by the Bell, Jessie’s unwarranted verbal attacks on Slater reminded me of something I had recently watched. But what? What other television show highlights a dysfunctional relationship where fighting is the foundation and name-calling masquerades as a display of affection? Ah, yes. That modern-day classic: the Jersey Shore.

Then, I had an epiphany. A total OMGWTF?! moment. The Jersey Shore is just a guido-modified version of Saved by the Bell. Allow me to demonstrate the parallels between Seaside and Bayside:

Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, a.k.a. The Sweetest Bitch You’ll Ever Meet, is Jessie Spano. Let’s be honest, if Jessie had a nickname, it would be the same as Sammi’s. Both take crazy pills, one on-screen, one off-screen. Both are in incredibly unhealthy and sometimes abusive relationships with juiceheads. And both are wildly irrational. C’mon Jessie, using Cut Day to protest styrofoam? Which reminds me, Graham and Arvin are one and the same: relationship- and life-ruiners.

Ronnie Magro-Ortiz, a.k.a. Ronnie, is A.C. Slater. Both are gorillas, both are in relationships that neither will ever understand, both have scary dads who make appearances on the shows. And try as they might, both have dorky names. Ronald and Albert Clifford? [Insert clever line about McDonald’s and British people.]

Paul DelVecchio, a.k.a. DJ Pauly D, is Zack, or should I say, DJ Mark-Pauly G. (MPG, you can thank me later.) Both are comical protagonists and fresh-to-death playboys of their respective shows, and believe it or not, both have superpowers. For instance, Zack can stop time and freeze people into one position, and Pauly can stop gravity and freeze his hair into one position. Zack has been saved by the bell, and Pauly has been saved by the grenade whistle. Boom! Got ‘em!

Jenni, a.k.a. JWOWW, is Kelly. Like Kelly, JWOWW is the most attractive, most popular, and coolest female on the show. And Tom is the total equivalent of Johnny Dakota. Dirtbags.

Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a. Snooki/Shnooks/Snickers, is Lisa. Like Lisa, Snooki thinks she looks stylish, spends carelessly ($300 for THOSE sunglasses?!), drinks too much alcohol and has to face the consequences, and is the high school cheerleader that nobody paid attention to. Lisa’s last name is Turtle, Snooki loves her Crocadilly. There are also physical similarities, you know, with their skin color. DISCLAIMER: I am not racist.

Mike Sorrentino, a.k.a. The Situation, is Jeff, with one glaring difference: Jeff is good looking. Both are WAY too old to be smushing with their younger girls, and both are major sleazeballs. Karma is just an updated version of The Attic.  Also, I’m sure if Jeff did a Comedy Central Roast, he would be booed off-stage, too. Yikes.

Vinny Guadagnino, a.k.a. Vinny, is Screech. Kind of awkward, endearing, and… that’s all I’ve got. There were just no characters left. Unless I’m forgetting that Vinny also built a robot named Kevin?

Angelina Pivarnick, a.k.a. Jolie (what?), is Tori. Both are aggressive outcasts, and neither really had a place being on their shows. Thankfully, they only had brief stints in their overall series before packing their garbage bags and heading home. In Season 1 of The Jersey Shore, Angelina’s explanation for not showing up to work? “Honestly, like, I’m sick. When you’re sick, like, honestly, like.” And Tori’s explanation for not showing up to class on the day of her big presentation with Zack?  She “overslept.” Good one, guys.

Gratuitous Rod Belding Photo

Danny, the store owner, has the looks of Rod Belding and the managerial skills of Mr. Richard Belding. The guy gets no respect but has to try to put the gang into place anyway. Sad. (Aside: Mr. Belding is the most inept principal I’ve ever seen. He’s also wildly inappropriate. Why is he hanging out in Zack’s bedroom eating pizza with three teen dudes talking about girl problems?)

We also have our fair share of juicehead gorillas (Ox, Moose, and Brandon Tartikoff), grenades (Wendy and Margo), landmines (Violet and Louise), hyenas (Rhonda and that oily duck, Becky), and DTF bids (Stacey, Ginger, and Robin). And who doesn’t love a good sangwich and glass of Ron Ron Juice at the Max?


Life’s Little Pleasures: #2

9 Mar

Stepping on a really crunchy leaf.


Life’s Little Pleasures: #1

9 Mar

Completing a “very hard” Sudoku puzzle.

Favorite commercials ever.

8 Mar

It’s rare that I laugh audibly while watching the tube, but these Panda Cheese commercials have got me LOLing: