Monthly Archives: January 2012

Things I’ve revealed to my neighbors without realizing it (or intending to)

I may have learned various things about my neighbors by listening through the walls, staring out the windows at them out and about in the complex or just simply running into them (literally) in the hallway. But if I’ve been logging interesting tidbits about them, there’s no doubt they have, perhaps unconsciously or without wanting to, learned certain things about me the same way. Which makes me wonder what I’ve been up to around the apartment when I forget I’m not the only one in the building. Here’s what I’ve compiled:

I talk to myself a lot, usually in a British accent. Lots of people talk to themselves- although most people keep it to an internal conversation- but I’ve somehow managed to take it a step further and have customized it to become my own signature weirdness. But anyone who thinks it’s weird is just jealous of my impeccable British accent. Or is actually British.

I love to sing. I’m always singing in the house, as well as the hallways. With the acoustics in the stairwells, it wouldn’t surprise me if others can hear me.

I’m (somewhat) fashionable. I can sometimes be heard clomping around the hallways and parking lot in heels and boots. True, there are plenty of days I’d gladly choose flats or flip-flops over the high maintenance of dressier shoes, but overall I do have a sense of style.

I talk to my cat in a very high-pitched voice. Anyone within a hundred-foot radius of my front door would know this for sure; I consistently greet my cat with my signature “baby!” upon entering the house- and she’s always there waiting for me, so my door is usually still open when I screech my hello.

I also talk to my cat like she’s a person. I have friends and family over, but I’m usually home alone a lot. So to fill the void (and to give myself a break from having to listen to myself), I sometimes talk to my cat. As if she understands. And will answer. Usually she responds by continuing to snooze away or, if she’s awake, by licking her butt.

I recycle. I take my recycling out about once a week. Fortunately, there are receptacles by the dumpster, so I make a trip down there with my bins, walking through the parking lot for anyone to see.

I really like coupons. I will even dig through the newspaper recycling bin to snatch other people’s tossed goodies. Hey, if they don’t want them, why shouldn’t I have them?

I’m sure there are other things I’m oblivious to that I do when I forget others are nearby, but most of it is harmless. Let’s just hope there are no serious creepers with binoculars trying to see through the cracks in my curtains.

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Things I’ve learned about my neighbors without having met them (and why I won’t ever need to)

It’s interesting the things you can surmise about others without ever having exchanged one word with them. I’ve been in my new apartment for about four months now, and I’ve had what you can consider a real conversation with only one of my neighbors (this elderly lady Marilyn, who has this tiny, fluff-of-a-dog and always wants to chat when I’m late for something). And it’s not because I’m unfriendly or a (complete) recluse. It’s just how the world is today. But it doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve never exchanged more than a passing “hello” with my neighbors, because you can guess a lot of things about a person simply by how they act, what they wear, and what you overhear them saying. With my keen sense of awareness and others’ inability to keep privacy completely intact, here are some things I’ve learned about my neighbors without ever having met them:

Creepin' on the happenings outside my apartment isn't always considered eavesdropping if it's in a public space.

The rude lady with the annoying dog moved out. She lived right next door to me, and her loud dog would always bark at the most inconvenient times. I ran into her a few times in the hallway, and once in the laundry room, and she was not very nice. Also kind of a slob.

My downstairs neighbors are rednecks. The kind that dress head to toe in camo, sit around and drink beer all day and can be heard from the parking lot.

My new neighbor is a huge Gators fan. She has a UF door mat and I’ve seen her walking around the complex in Gators pajamas. She also has people over a lot, and I can hear them cheering through the wall to what must only be a Florida Gators game.

Whoever lives in the corner unit keeps late hours. I can see their windows from my bedroom window, and when I’m laying in bed at night (usually around 12 or 1, so it’s not like I’m going to bed super early), I can see their lights on. I can’t imagine what they’re doing up so late every night, and come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone come out of that apartment. They’re probably vampires. Or albinos.

Several of my neighbors have bad taste in furniture. But I can only guess that, because their tattered couches and beat-up mattresses are always sitting by the dumpster waiting to be hauled off to garbage heaven, they must have realized this, too, and have moved on to better things.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t trust the elevator. The prehistoric thing is dangerous, almost having literally crushed me to death when I moved in. Plus it’s the loudest thing you’ve ever heard, and as I never hear it from my living room (it’s really that loud), I can only guess my neighbors would rather take the stairs than chance a face-off with the mechanical demon.

My neighbors like things neat and tidy. The maintenance shed is right below my bedroom window (unfortunately for me, who would prefer sleeping in on the weekends instead of being woken up by the whining of a saw or banging of a hammer), and the maintenance guy is always out there fixing one thing or another. Not to mention I always run into a guy leaf-blowing the (outside) hallway- literally, I walk around the corner and there he is. Not sure if he is the same guy making noise below my bedroom window, or if he’s a completely different person, but either way, there’s always something or other going on around this place to keep things lookin’ good.

The old couple downstairs were probably hippies. Their screened-in patio is all psychedelic and colorful, and I’ve often seen (and heard) them out there nights playing guitar and singing something soulful and folksy. Kind of nice, actually.

There are several pack rats living here. I can tell because when I go for walks, I can see everyone’s patios and balconies (it’s amazing how much you can learn just from someone’s porch). It seems to be a trend to use balcony space to store unwanted furniture, knickknacks, odds and ends and just random junk. This makes my apartment complex sound kind of shabby and low-class, actually, so I take that back (it’s really a very quiet, classy place to live, and it looks like a German town, so I’m happy).

There are sure to be more things I’ll learn as the months pass in my new home, and I know there are plenty of things my neighbors are sure to have discovered about me just by living in the same building; stay tuned for part deux of my analyzation, where I turn the tables and take a good hard look at the quirks and behaviors I am notorious for, and how I must come off to my neighbors. People can often have a tougher time looking themselves in the mirror, but I tend to just laugh at myself. Stick around; should make for a good read. Until then, what are some quirky bits you’ve learned about the people living near you?

By the way, if any of you live next to a Tim Burton-type (or the real thing), please let me know, and I will relocate immediately. Thanks.

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Why I refuse to let the Costa Concordia scare me away from cruising (and why you should too)

Despite how tragic this is (not to mention how fake and photoshopped the picture looks), this isn't a good representation of how typical cruising goes down. Er, I mean how typical cruising happens (too soon for a pun).

In light of the recent tragedy in Italy, speculation is being raised about the safeness of cruising. It’s a valid concern, but society is letting a rare, albeit horrific, accident get the better of them. The cruise industry is sure to see some decline in numbers this year- or at least for the next few months- but recent events aside, cruising is not any more dangerous than it has been in the past. In fact, compared to the dangers we encounter in everyday life, cruising is safer than some activities we participate in on a daily basis.

You are more likely to die in a car crash. Automobiles are probably the most dangerous motorized vessel we could ever step foot in. Drivers on the roads these days have become more careless, and, thanks to technology, have displayed riskier behavior than in years past. Currently, texting while driving is outlawed in 27 states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia. While the remaining states are pushing to pass the law as well, having a law in effect doesn’t mean it will stop drivers from committing the act of texting while driving. In fact, more than ever, people are talking and texting while driving, with no fear of consequences. In 2010, there were over 32,000 automobile fatalities in the U.S. alone. Last year, there were less than 200 deaths on cruise ships, with less than half that number directly related to sinkings. The most notable crash of 2011, that of the Russian ship the Bulgaria, only contributed about 50 percent of the total death toll, putting death by cruising low on the scale of dangerous activities.

The odds are in your favor. Accidents happen. They are a part of life and are happening everyday all over the world. In fact, there’s probably an accident happening somewhere at this exact moment. But, with such low statistics surrounding cruise fatalities, the likelihood of your cruise ship sinking is slim to none.

Just a guess, but I don't think you'd survive that.

It’s better than flying to your vacation destination. If you’re in a “cruise crash,” you have a window of time to get yourself safely off the boat and to safety; however small or big the window may be, you still have that fighting chance. If you choose instead to fly to a destination, you face the risk of a plane crash. Planes are more likely to crash than a cruise is; flying leaves more room for error and, unlike a cruise crash, if you go down in a plane you have little to no chance of survival, especially depending on where you crash (or what you crash into).

There are probably a million other reasons to support the claim that cruising is no more dangerous now than it was last week, before the Costa Concordia went down. With the dangers we face on a daily basis, there’s no logical reason to keep yourself from enjoying life just on the off chance something bad might happen.

Besides, I have to keep reassuring myself of this, because I’m in the middle of planning a free cruise (right?! be jealous). So as long as I don’t end up with a bonehead captain- one who decides to not only go off course, but to abandon ship before everyone reaches safety- I should be in the clear.

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Filed under Accident, Advice, destruction, humanity, Opinion, Society, Transportation, Travel

What I would come back reincarnated as (and why I wouldn’t want to be human again)

Being human is so overrated. There is so much nonsense and bullshit we create for ourselves that it’s no wonder society is so fucked up (told you I wouldn’t keep that resolution).

Sure, being human has its perks, just like anything, but when you break it down, we have a lot more stress than any other creature in the animal kingdom. Animals have two worries in life: finding food and avoiding death, which may sound pretty difficult and very stressful, but if you think about it, we as humans have those exact same worries as well. Maybe we don’t have to worry about it in the same way- we don’t have to scavenge and kill our own food, nor do we have to worry about being eaten by others (unless you live next door to a cannibal)- but we have to worry about putting food on the table and staying healthy, safe and alive. But on top of that, we have to worry about a million other things, like finding (and keeping) a job, being able to pay bills, being able to take care of a family, not to mention all the added pressure we get from society about superficial things, like worrying if our clothes are in style, or if we drive the nicest car or live in a big enough house. None of that crap matters to anyone or anything but us. Humans.

Some people might not believe in reincarnation. I’m not even sure I do myself, but I want to believe it exists. It’s scary, though, to think about coming back but not having the choice about how (or who) you come back as. If every time you simply returned to Earth as another human, I’d say no way, forget it, once around is enough, thank you very much. But if you could choose every time, I think it could get kind of fun. You probably don’t even have to come back as a living thing. There are so many options and ideas I would have, but here are some of my favorites:

A dolphin. I’ve always had this love of dolphins, so I think it’d be cool to know what it’s like to be one. Plus they can do really cool flips in the air, and I’ve never been gymnastic enough for that.

A lemur. Ever seen Madagascar? Enough said.

A butterfly. Flying is so intriguing, and looks incredibly fun. Although I might be too freaked out about the whole cocoon thing.

A blanket. They are always so soft and cuddly and make people warm. Who wouldn’t want to do that for someone? I’d have to be specifically for homeless people only though. I’d be a big, fluffy blanket that covered them all and kept them warm at night.

A Scrabble tile. Preferably the letter “Z” (10 points!).

A snake. I want to be able to unhinge my jaw, maybe eat a whole turkey.

The Great Pyramids. Any one of them would be fine.

A penguin. They are so cool, and they can slide around on their bellies.

The ocean. All of it. The whole thing.

Edamame. They are so tasty, and so good for you. And they never last long, so I could die quick and come back as something else!

A lion. Majestic, like Mufasa. Without the whole trampled-to-death thing.

A bat. They are creepy, but cool.

Big Ben. I love London. It is my second home (and my true birthplace).

A leg pillow. Have you ever tried one of those things? They are A-MAZ-ING. The end.

An alien. They exist, I know they do. Have you never been to Stonehenge? Hell-o.

If you can’t choose, then I don’t want to come back at all. Instead, I will just live forever in serenity on my lake of watercolors (like in What Dreams May Come). Or Hoboken, New Jersey. Whichever is available.

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How diving failed me (and why I feel betrayed by the ocean)

I wouldn’t have thought Venice Beach was different from any other Florida beach just at first glance. It had the same white sand, the same clear, blue water, the same short, stubby palm trees, fronds swaying in the warm breeze blowing in off the sea. But I knew there was something I couldn’t see yet, something hidden below the surface waiting for my curious eyes and hands to uncover. Shark teeth. I could already imagine running my fingers over the smooth surface of one of my finds, the sharp edges worn soft and round from years spent buried below the sand and silt of the ocean floor.

Geared up and weighed down, I waddled my way across the sand to the water’s edge, my wetsuit hot and stuffy, my scuba tank heavy on my back. But once I got in the water, I bobbed around like a cork, weightless and at ease, ready for the descent. But the closer I got to the bottom, the faster the sunlight disappeared and the inky blackness descended upon me. I felt my fins brush the bottom and adjusted my weight, suspending myself inches above the ocean floor. I looked around annoyed; I couldn’t see anything. I stuck my hand out in front of my face and watched it disappear among the silt and debris floating in the water around me. This was going to be a challenge.

I crawled around on the bottom, dragging myself along by the rocks and coral scattered everywhere, my face inches from the sand. I moved aimlessly, not sure where I was or where I was going, the feeling of disorientation starting to take over. I spent almost an hour flopping around the bottom, all to no avail. I finally popped up near shore and called it quits- I hadn’t found a single tooth. I shuffled out of the water and removed my gear, setting everything down on the beach in defeat. My family lingered near the water’s edge, sifting through the sand as it rolled in with the waves, picking out tiny teeth left and right. I put my mask back on and stuck my face in the shallow water. They were tiny, and I had to fight the mini waves coming in and sweeping them back out to sea, but there they were; I had found them: shark teeth.

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Filed under community, divers, Entertainment, family fun, Florida, Humor, obsessions, Society