The newest Urbanite is out and "What You're Writing" this month is "Hard Lesson." Other upcoming deadlines:
Fresh Start Nov 9, 2009 Jan 2010
I've about had it with reality TV shows and the losers that have inundated the media as of late. I mean, are these producers scraping the bottom of the barrel with their auditions? Finding the biggest hot mess in the crowd and calling it a day? I don't get it!
There are a plethora of untalented reality stars out there, but the one that takes the cake—Jon Gosselin. He grosses me out, and that's putting it nicely. I don't think that there is anybody less deserving of fame and fortune than loserface Jon. He should be at home raising the eight kids that need him instead of whoring himself around NYC, Las Vegas, and my beautiful home state of PA.
While I, myself, am guilty of watching many reality shows out there, I can't help but think that this growing trend is taking away from the talented people that deserve to be recognized. Where is the next Julia Roberts or Johnny Depp? Are potentially talented starlets being jeopardized because market demand now calls for reality instead of sitcom? Sure there are those crazy Hollywood types (Lohan, Hilton, etc.), but imagine a world where Tila Tequila and Jon Gosselin are making movies, starring in lead roles, and walking the red carpet? I guess we're not too far from that happening when people like Dipshit-Father-of-the-Year is already being asked to host Vegas parties, model ugly t-shirts, and be followed by the paparazzi. And people like Kate (his soon-to-be ex wife)? She is also now appearing on talk shows, and get this, my favorite—writing books! And why? Because she is now a celebrity, what a joke. How should that make a grad student who loves writing and is actually getting their Master’s in the subject supposed to feel? Like she doesn’t deserve it, that’s how. Should I go get knocked up with multiples now to make it big as a writer?
I was never really bothered by any of this until Jon Gosselin came along. Bottom line—I think “celebrity” has taken a turn for the worse. I am starting to miss shows like Friends more and more, and hope that this reality phase that everyone is fixated on fizzles out.
On most main streets in any given historic town, you are guaranteed to stumble upon consignment, or second-hand shop.
If you’re an antique enthusiast or a museum curator, you have probably referred to the yellow pages or googled “antique” shops with the sole intention of traveling to one to seek out good deals for your house collection or exhibit.
If you are more like myself, you wander, with no intentions, into a small nook and cranny of your local historic Main Street. The woman who works in the store is eager to have you as a customer and asks, 'Have you ever been here before?'
You reply an honest ‘no, never.’
Then she takes the opportunity to inform you that you’ve walked into a shop in which every single item has been salvaged from a dilapidated building or wreckage site. Suddenly what was once a room of old junk or trash from the ruins becomes a pharoah’s tomb of recovered artifacts. The store exists because some one made the decision to rescue items from complete destruction.
You are suddenly reminded of Wall-E’s little abode in the Disney Pixar film as you browse the smorgasborg of items from late 19th century all the way to the 1980s or 1990s. You will probably not find a late 1984 Macintosh computer here. You will not find a mobile phone from 1992. However, a detached payphone from the late 20th century rests comfortably in the corner, with two or three spiral corded phones sitting on a nearby table.
A pile of seemingly useless doorknobs sit on a small oak table. Not far away sits an arrangement of Great Depression Era glassware, clear green teacups, similar in weight to a plastic tea cup in a child’s play set. An old cigar machine stands in the center perpendicular to a bench with a row of old Nancy Drew novels with old fringes that tell you, ‘I am tattered, therefore I am antique.” On a polished pale brown mantelpiece sits a collection of some one’s old pill bottles with various labels (not the old Civil War era Ipecac bottles, mind you, just your average run of the mill bottles with the sheer orange tint).
In the recession era, I would imagine that the majority of people would not rank antique buying high on their budget, but something of value still remains, something left to be discovered rests, on the main streets of historic Ellicott City, Chestnut Hill, Manayunk, and beyond. The antique shop becomes a safe haven or shelter for some small tea cup that begs not to disappear beneath the ruins. Even old 1995 payphones seem worthy of being saved, even though they’re not completely extinct.
How old does something have to be to be considered an antique? Does the term antique refer to appearance or age? Who had to own those orange pill bottles in order to increase their value?
Whatever the purpose or value, antique stores, offer you the passerby or tourist the opportunity to become Indiana Jones for a brief fifteen minutes or a longer three hours depending on your attention span and find that salvaged item, that item some one chose to take from the ruins, to preserve.
It was once when I read a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a camel blind of the right eye had traveled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right—now do you understand serendipity?
This is the first documented use of the term. It is this discovery by accident that is life’s tendency, for do we ever really find what we set out to?
* * *
Three is the magic number...
The words from a Rhetoric professor popped into my head recently, and I was reminded of what my friend and I refer to as “The Curious Event of the Three.”
It was on the third of October of last year that I went to the P.O., and while waiting in line, this little girl of about seven walks up and stands next to me, facing me. She wasn't particularly cute, just plain-looking. She says quietly, with a startlingly southern accent, "somebody stole... my... quarter," stretching out the final three words for emphasis. She didn't say it to me, so much as in my general direction, and glanced at me to see if I picked up on it. "Oh no," I responded, "That’s terrible." This must have been the reaction she wanted, so she said, "you got a quarter?"
This brought me back to earlier in the day, when at work, someone asked if I had a quarter they could borrow. I rummaged through my bag to see if I did, but I couldn't find any change at all. So, turning to the little girl, I responded, "I'm sorry, I don't." Realizing I was of no use to her, she ran back over to ogle the candy machines. Another little girl, this one cuter and younger, presumably the first girl's sister, walks right up to me, smiling, and says "you got a quarter?" "Nope, sorry," I said, and with that, she laughed and walked away. At that point her sister walks back over to what I assumed to be their Grandmother, in front of me in line, and repeats her line, "somebody stole... my... quarter."
I finished up my business at the P.O. and walked outside, thinking to call my friend Jane, since that whole scenario was just so... dream-like. As I drove away, my phone rang; it was Jane. She was coming over to eat Cincinnati Chili with me in a bit.
About an hour later, Jane shows up, and we take our bowls of spaghetti noodles and spoon some of the chili over top. I show her that in accordance with Cincinnati style, you then put your toppings on: kidney beans, cheddar, and raw onions.
We sit down to eat, and Jane gets up from the table for a soda. On her way back, she kicks a bowl of cat food, which spills everywhere. "Dammit! Something's going on," she said. "Earlier, there was a bowl of water sitting on the counter in my kitchen, and of course, I knocked it over. 'Figures,' I said to myself." She proceeded, "I was outside, a little after that, cleaning my car, and I knocked over a whole bucket of soapy water. 'Figures.' And now this... 'figures'."
At that point, I realized something strange was going on that day. "Maybe Mercury's in retrograde," I said, laughing. We finished up our chili, and then went to clean up the spilled cat food. Jane grabs the bowl and I peer into it – three puffs of cat food are still in it. "You’re not going to believe this," I said, and Jane peered into the bowl hesitantly, only to have her suspicions confirmed. "Oh no…"
We sat around for a while, went to the grocery, took a walk, and watched some TV. Jane made some tea, and I brought her a mug. "This looks like the Serendipity 3 Web site," she said, referring to the NYC restaurant, Serendipity, which we went to a few months prior. "That's funny, that's where I got it from" I responded. Jane finished her tea and said, "I'm going home now." I looked at the clock: 10:33.
Jane goes home to find her house full of wafting garlic and her Mom's Korean friends. She texted me to tell me so. I texted her back, and, closing my cell phone, noted the date: October 3rd. The time? 11:03.
Three people asked me for a quarter yesterday.
Stole…my…quarter (three words)
Jane knocked over three containers, too.
Three pieces of cat food left in the bowl.
Three toppings on the Cincinnati Chili.
Serendipity 3 mug.
I went to bed, because, frankly, I was having a hard time maintaining my sanity. I turned off the light. Looked at the clock: 11:33.