All Blogs Must Pass

Image result for blog
To every post (churn, churn, churn)
There is a season (churn, churn, churn)
And a time to every bloggy purpose, under heaven
A time to be write, a time to cry
A time to edit,  a time to die, words, die!
A time to be wracked with self-doubt, a time to heal
A time to alienate your entire family so you can waste precious time to write a post no one will ever read

Hey gang! There is still a gang out there, right? Hellllllllllloooooooooooo?

This year was my blog’s seventh anniversary. I was a spirited 39-year-old when I started She’s a Maineiac and now I’m still 39 so shut the hell up.

It’s been seven frigging years and I still, STILL! feel compelled to post crap at least once a month, much to my own chagrin. I feel like my blog has pretty much died a long slow death.  Or maybe it’s just in a coma and waiting for someone to wake it up so it will have amnesia and start over again with a new personality.  I like that idea! Hey, it worked for Sandra Bullock!
Image result for sandra bullock while you were sleeping
C’mon, Darla! Wake the f*** up! Also, you look like shit.
Let’s take a groovy-graphy trip down my so-called bloggy life’s past to see how things evolved over time….

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As we all know, everything has a purpose and a season under heaven.  I think it was George Harrison who once said, all things must pass. Or maybe it was Dr. Oz talking about constipation. We all know that life is an endless cycle of life, death, rebirth, and more life and more death and you get the picture.

The cool thing about a cycle is it can start fresh again, it can be reborn! Like my snazzy graph below illustrates….

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So, it appears I’m back to writing for only me again. Yikes. My blog readers have pretty much vanished. Blogs are dead. Disco is dead. Elvis is alive and well in an underground bunker in Albuquerque. This is good and bad. Lately, it seems I have forgotten how to write. I have that thing you get when you….what’s that called again?

But I do love to write for myself. Sure, I’ve started to rehash ideas and tend to do the same post over and over again and maybe I won’t ever get the level of readership I once had years ago. And maybe the grammar police will always be lurking around every dangling particle. And yes, I have no clue what that even means. I don’t care! I’m too old to care anymore! This is my place! I get to do whatever the heck I want here, gosh darnit! If you don’t like my blog, good riddance!

 

But you’ll stick around, right?

If you’re still here, tell me in the comments below about your blogging career. Did you make oodles of money and gain boundless fame? Or just a bigger ass like me?

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It’s the End of the World as I Know It (And I Feel Slightly Uneasy)

As some of you are well aware, there are certain undeniable signs the End Times are near:

  • Oceans turn blood red.
  • Locusts! It’s raining locusts!
  • Leggings are a thing now.
  • Leggings! It’s raining leggings!

But recently I’ve witnessed another sign that it’s time to make peace with my maker.

My mom is on Facebook.

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Just to give you some perspective — she has never used a computer, doesn’t know what the Internet is, and once had a lengthy conversation with a robocaller about her bowel issues.

It all started when my extremely misguided brother bought her a Kindle for Christmas. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he installed the Facebook app and set up her account. Then — here’s what sent chills down my spine — SHE SENT ME A FRIEND REQUEST.

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Darla? ARE YOU THERE, DARLA?! I KNOW YOU’RE THERE! Hurry up! I could die waiting for you to friend me! Do you want me to die friendless, Darla?

My 83-year-old mother. The one who talks my ear off nonstop about gluten and loves Garth Brooks but thinks his wife’s chest is “too chesty and probably full of gluten”.

Now she can see all my stuff on Facebook. (gasp) She might even notice I have a blog. And that I’ve shamelessly used her as blog fodder for a few cheap laughs. Like this post. (ahem)

OH GOOD GOD! It’s like when the two worlds of George collided on Seinfeld. I need to keep things separate, people! Separate! Jeezum crow!

My husband tried to calm me down. “She won’t go on Facebook, trust me. She doesn’t even know how to turn on the Kindle yet!”

That night the phone rang. It was my mom. She wanted me to come over right away and help her “get on that page with all the people on it.”

Later, as I sat in her kitchen looking down at her Kindle, the smell of rice cakes burning in the toaster wafting through the 85-degree air, things got tense right away.

“Oh god! This Facebook is too much for my brain! I just don’t get it! And they keep changing the pictures on me! First there was a dog wearing a tie and now there’s a stupid video on how to make cereal! And they keep showing me a friend of a friend I don’t give a rat’s ass about! I mean, who in the hell IS THIS?! I wish I could get rid of them but I don’t know how!”

Then my mom entered the room.

“Did ya get me on that face thing yet?” she asked, biting into a blackened rice cake.

So this is how it all ends. With my mom leaving messages on my wall for everyone to see.

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slide1The next day I was sitting in my car waiting for my son when it happened. A Facebook notification. My mom had “liked” a photo I put up on my wall years ago. Great — not only is my mom “liking” all my personal stuff — she’s a stalker.

Time to erase my entire blog after this post.

Little Post of Horrors

 

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Happy Halloween, kiddos!

It is I, Count Darlacula! [thunder claps] I’m here to share with you an old post I wrote ages ago about things from the past that truly scared the crap out of me. Namely, rotary phones and spaghettiOs.  What could be more horrifying? The above photo? You got me there. In my defense, it was taken before my first morning cup o’ joe. Joe being our next door neighbor and the cup meaning it was filled with his blood and not actual coffee and whatever, you get the idea.

Well, I’ve got to run off to enjoy some more of that delightfully waxy candy corn. I sure hope by next Halloween it finds its way out of my colon.

Meanwhile, ENJOY! (or not)

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The Spooky Tales of My Youth

It’s Halloween again! Gather ’round the fire, kids! Time for some deliciously dark and scary stories!

[cue creepy organ music]

Once upon a dreary time, I was your age and living through the ghastly 1970s and 80s. [lightning flashes] Times were hard during this digital-free era. My daily life was a constant battle between the forces of good and evil.  So many things went bump in the night. How I survived without today’s technology is a mystery.

When I was 12, if I wanted to call up a friend, I had to wait for my stupid brother to get off the phone. That’s right. We had only one line.

[cue Law and Order music–dunn, dunn!]

Countless hours were spent seething with anger and glaring at the phone cord trailing underneath the closed closet door where my older brother whispered sweet nothings (emphasis on the nothings) into his girlfriend-of-the-month’s ears.

But if the planets aligned just right, I could actually get on the phone for a few minutes and enjoy a private conversation–until my father installed a second phone on the same line in the kitchen. [dunn  dunn!]

Then I’d endure hearing the telltale click of one of my brothers picking up the phone on the other line, and their creepy breathing as they listened to my heated private conversation about how I liked Bobby, but Bobby liked Suzy.

The terror of realizing my brother might have heard something super secret would paralyze me with fear. Did he hear what I said? Is he going to blab it to the cool kids at the lunch table tomorrow? Will Bobby know I like him?!  The phone’s ominous click would seep into my dreams. Click! CLICK! CLICK! Oh, the horror!

When the phone wasn’t free, I’d hole myself up in my bedroom in the attic and blast my music.  Yes, we used to have to listen to our music out loud, with no iPod or earbuds. [dunn, dunn!]

I was the proud owner of a giant boxy beast of a stereo, a versatile, top-of-the-line technological marvel for the 80s. Why, I could either slap a record on the turntable up top or slide in one of my famous mixed cassette tapes of the Beatles/Def Leppard into the deck on the bottom.

Yes kids, back then we didn’t have iPods where you could casually flip through thousands of tunes using your magic fingertips. Instead, I had to sift through a dusty old stack of albums then listen to my favorite song skip on the needle.

Hearing John Lennon sing, “Imagine there’s no–Imagine there’s no–” over and over again was horrifying, my blood would run cold. Imagine there’s no what?! I’d cry. No what, John?! Will I ever know what he’s trying to imagine?

Today, I miss listening to music and forcing everyone else within a 10 mile radius to listen to it too.  Sometimes for fun, we’d crank up the volume so loud, the neighbors down the road would call the cops. You can’t pay for that entertainment, people!

If all the scratches on my records made me sad, I’d head out to rent a movie with my parents. It was a dark and stormy night, when I had to get into my Dad’s wood-paneled station wagon and  actually have him drive me to the video rental store. [dunn dunn!]

Yes, before Netflix, before DVDs on Blu-Ray, there was a time when we had to physically go to a place where people stood around like zombies, milling around displays filled with these things called VHS tapes.

Inevitably, you’d arrive all excited to rent the latest hottest flick that finally came out on video after being released five years earlier (“Hot damn! I’m gonna go rent ET tonight!”) only to find that the 55 copies of ET were already taken.

Still you’d desperately try to bring an empty box up to the counter, only to encounter a smug clerk sneering at you,  “If there’s nothing behind the box, there ain’t no movie. Now do you want to buy these 20 dollar Twizzlers or what, pal?”

So I’d slunk on back to my house, “ET”-less, stomach growling and attempt to whip up some food.  Did I zap some frozen meal in my microwave? Please! Only one friend of mine had one of those new-fangled contraptions. It was bigger than the entire kitchen counter and made such a loud buzzing noise we thought for sure we were getting cancer while watching her spaghettiOs splatter.

Are the SpaghettiOs done yet? I’m not sure, but I think my forehead’s melting.

All we had was my grandmother’s old stove that, if we were lucky, used to short-circuit and mildly electrocute us. [dunn, dunn!]

But only if you held a metal spoon just so and turned the loose stove’s dial at the same time. It was quite the science experiment. My brothers discovered this zapping action by accident one afternoon while making spaghetti-o’s and that was all it took. More cheap entertainment. “Hey! Check this out!” one of them would yell, stabbing the metal spoon down into the pan, feeling the tiny yet delicious jolt over and over again until they saw stars. Explains a lot.

Which brings me to regulating body temperature.  Back in my day, we didn’t have air conditioners or those cutting edge fans that oscillate. What did we do when the temperature hit 110 with 150% humidity? We’d sweat. [dunn dunn!]

That’s right. Sweat a lot. My bedroom was upstairs in the attic and it sometimes got so hot up there in the summer, my John Lennon record would melt into a sad Imagine puddle. So I’d whine and moan and cry to my parents. “It’s too hot! I can’t sleep!” And my father would put his hand on my head and say, “Tough cookies, kid”. What a wise man he was for giving me an extra dose of the tough love of the 1970s.

So kids, as you drift off to sleep tonight, watching the latest flick on your iPad, texting away on your smart phone and eating your Hot Pockets in your perfectly temp-controlled bedroom, think of me and the horrors I faced not so long ago.

Nighty night, kiddies!

Oh, and Happy Halloween! (Mua ha haaa!)

I am a smartphone addict and the world is going to hell.

 

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Nomophobia — the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

A drastic change happened in my life this past year. I ditched my trusty old flip phone from the dinosaur age — the one I never texted on and barely used to even make phone calls — for a damn smartphone.

What the hell was I thinking?

Now I’m addicted to this soul-sucking piece of plastic and it feels sad. First sign I had a problem? If a few hours went by without checking it, my hands would sweat, my heart would pound and nothing would ease the subtle yet unnerving feeling I was missing out on something, anything (ohmygodsomethingishappeningIjustknowit!) unless I checked my phone.

The problem is, once you get that fix, you want another hit over and over again just to maintain.

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Before I went to bed at night?  Gotta check Facebook.

First thing after I had my morning coffee? Gotta check my email. And Twitter. Instagram. WordPress.

On my lunch break? Phone.

After the boss walks back into her office? Phone.

On my cigarette break? Phone. (Yes, I smoke the phone.)

While I’m on the phone? Phone.

It’s true, I’m cheating on my phone with another phone and sometimes I use them both at the same time and I don’t even care!

Now my life is a big, fat texting, emailing, messaging, instagraming, tweeting, facebooking hot mess of insanity.

I’m caught between desperately craving this fake pseudo-social interaction bullshit of likes and comments and tweets and twits, and realizing it’s all empty and useless for the most part.

Yes, it is.  Empty. Waste of precious time.

But Darla! you say, It keeps us connected! It’s social! C’monIt brings people together! The internet isn’t all bad! Some of it’s good!

No, it is not. We are all pathetic.

Fine, I’m pathetic. Because I’ve fallen for this crap. I remember when it all started too.

One day last semester I was sitting on a bench outside of class with other students, all of them looking down at their evil little phones. I was waiting for class to start so I did the natural thing we used to do in the olden days: I waited.

After a few minutes of pleasantly sitting there doing nothing, a 21-year-old classmate of mine asked “Darla? What’s wrong?”

“Huh?” I snapped out of my daydream.

“What’s wrong? You’re like…just staring off into space….” she laughed.

Oh my fucking god.

The other night my husband and I were sitting on the living room couch in the dark and both of us were hunched over, looking down at our respective tiny glowing rectangles. After a half hour of silence, we realized the TV wasn’t even on.

The TV wasn’t on! Has the world gone mad?

Last year, we used to pride ourselves on the fact we never texted. Now we’ve actually texted each other while in the same house before. Sure it was about dinner and I was very tired and didn’t want to get up to walk over to the next room to talk with my husband, but still.

We’ve fallen hard and fast for this addiction, and guess what folks, it’s real and it is sucking the life out of all of us.

Social communication has been reduced to bite-sized morsels of superficial bullshit we gobble up and spit out over and over again like monkeys pressing a button for food. Release the treat! Give it to me again! It’s never enough! Buzz! Buzz! BUZZZZ!!!

What have we lost? Eye contact. Long, meaningful conversations. The sense of touch. The ability to connect with another soul without a stupid machine wedged inbetween every interaction.

This summer I worked at a doctor’s office. My favorite parts of the day were the little moments I truly connected with a patient who is sick or dying or just lonely. Sometimes I’d rest my hand on their shoulder or help them up or give them a pat on the back and a smile. I looked into their eyes and I asked them how they were today and I actually wanted to know the answer.

The thing that surprised me most was the response. All people — young, old, women, men — their faces would suddenly soften, like a wall was slowly crumbling. Sometimes they’d start crying or telling me stories from the past or relating their dreams and fears to me. It was like a dam busted open wide. Because I actually took the time to talk to them face to face. Imagine.

And it made me think how little we actually communicate with each other today. Genuine communication about the stuff that goes on deep down inside of all of us. How much we all desperately need to know we’re not alone floating around out there, caught in some vapid interwebular net of flavor-of-the-month popularity.

But all things in moderation, right? So I’m starting to put the stupid phone down. I actually have to tell myself not to check it. I have to resist the urge all day.  I’ll admit, it reminds me of when I quit drinking coffee, it’s that much of an addiction to me.

Last week I went a few days without my phone. (I still texted my husband once though so I did cheat a little).

But I found I didn’t miss it, that hollow feeling of craving something I know is ultimately bad for the soul.

Fine, my soul, not yours. It’s just me. I’m sure you’re not addicted, right? First step is admitting you have a problem. Just resist the urge to tweet about it. Like I’m about to do with this post.

Sigh.

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Are you addicted to your phone? How many times a day do you check it? Be honest. If you’re not addicted, let me know any tips for quitting, like say, putting the phone on a table and smashing it to smithereens with a hammer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to My Smartphone

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Dear Smartphone,

Before I met you, I used to waste time doing foolish things like thinking, staring off into space, and making eye contact with other human beings.

Now that you’re finally here, your sleek plastic body nestled in the palm of my hand, I realize how empty my world used to be.

You’ve got it all baby. I love everything about you: your warm glow, the magical way you respond to the slightest of my touch, your ability to send jolts of pleasure down my spine when you buzz in my pocket, serenading me with the soothing ringtone of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back.

Soon we became inseparable.

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No longer was I forced to mindlessly enjoy life as it happens in real time. Finally, the other kids and their smartphones quit making fun of me for just sitting there, drooling, all alone with my thoughts. I mean, for god’s sake! Who does that?

Lunch break? Play Candy Crush Saga! Waiting for the kids at the bus stop? Hey, baby! Why not check your Facebook news feed! Driving the car down the freeway? Catch up on season 3 of Louis on Netflix! Shhh…just drive with your knees, it’s all right…

You seduced me, Smartphone. I’ve got it bad for you. Real bad.

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But lately you’ve been sending me mixed signals.

You rang the other day and I didn’t know what to do! Do I swipe with my finger? To the left or right? Do I press down and hold until you buzz for three seconds, then swipe in a counterclockwise motion?  I’m left to wonder, what does this all mean? Where is our relationship going long-term?

I knew things between us were hitting the skids when I realized something startling about you. A deep dark secret about your true identity.

Don’t lie to me, Smartphone. Just don’t. It’s too painful.

How could I have been so blind? How did I not see the real you? Why didn’t you tell me about your past earlier?

Admit it! Admit it to me, you lying smug bastard!

You’re a phone! That’s it! A goddamned phone!

That’s designed to make phone calls!

To other people.

Y’know…so they can talk to each other…

Remember that, Smartphone? Heh? Remember communication?! The exchange of ideas? Isn’t that the point of all this heartache?

Pfft. You don’t care anymore, do you? When I needed you desperately, you let me down.

Today I had to call my son at home on you and I was lost. How do I make a fricking phone call?! I tried asking you for help, but you led me down a path strewn with meaningless apps and icons. I knew I was too old for someone so young and vibrant as you. What was I thinking?

And more important — how in the hell do I talk on you? Do I put you to my ear? My mouth? Please, tell me! Why must you torture me so with such ambivalence?How dare you make something so easy so complicated! Haven’t I done enough for you?

I bought you everything! Even that sweet sequined sleeve you always admired! I gave you funky ringtones! I devoted my entire world to you! And for what?

You have ripped my heart out, Smartphone. I can’t take this anymore. I’m going back to him. Yes, my old flip phone. He knows how to treat me right.

I’m sorry. But it’s over.

***[buzz-buzz]***

“…I like big butts and I cannot lie! You other brothers can’t deny!”

Oh, Smartphone! You remembered! An email! I have an email! And a facebook notification!

Aw! How could I ever stay mad at you? You sly devil.

I love you.

Forever and ever.

Just tell me how to turn you off.

How I Became the World’s Greatest Gamer

Hold onto your Pac-Man hats, kids.  I have a confession to make.

I am a gamer.

And a damned good one.

It all started back in 1979 when I was nine years old. My dad walked into our living room and yelled, “Check this out, guys!”

With a flourish he clicked on our wood-paneled TV. Then the heavens opened, the angels sung and my life changed forevermore.

All due to this remarkable piece of technology:

Pong-CONSOLE

I was hopelessly mesmerized the moment the fuzzy pixelated shapes materialized before my eyes.

What in the world is this? Is this for real? Have we all gone mad? Has all that Mello Yello mixed with Pop Rocks finally fried our brains? It was hard to wrap our heads around what we were witnessing.

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My brothers and I continued to stare, our mouths agape as the ball sloooowly blipped back and forth across the screen from paddle to paddle.

Sure, graphics back then were nothing more than crudely formed rectangles, but we were in control of them! Me! A girl who wore thick tortoise-shell glasses and rainbow Mork suspenders, who had previously spent her days sticking multi-colored pegs into a magic light board!

Yeah, you know what, Dad? This really sucks.
Yeah, you know what, Dad? This really sucks.

Suddenly, we had the power to move objects on a TV screen. Our little minds were officially blown.

And my video game addiction began.

Shortly after Pong, Combat came along. Hallelujah! Thank the glorious Atari gods above!

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This is when my gaming strategy skills really started to take hold. Now I had a little tank that fired and crept slow-as-death across the screen. Why, I could even hide behind barriers!  Sadly, this was my main tactic. My brothers were relentless, always cornering me, then spraying me with a steady barrage of ammunition, effectively blowing my spinning tank around the screen like a sad discarded piece of garbage.

Yet those brutal early gaming days taught me resolve, to never give up in my quest to achieve those impossible goals.

Like crossing the damn road without becoming a frog pancake.

Frogger_-_1983_-_Parker_Brothers

untitled (3)Frogger was the game where everything gelled. My skills grew by leaps and bounds. A fire burned in my belly, my focus sharpened. As God is my witness, I will save Frogger! My eyes would twitch as I gripped the Atari joystick, ignoring the gnawing ache in my thumb from pressing the little red button over and over again. Ignoring all forms of human contact. Ignoring food, water or toilet. My ultimate goal in life?  To be the best gamer that ever lived. Or at least better than my butthead brothers.

My tween years flew by in a blur of pixelated images:

…there I was, swinging on a vine across precarious pits filled with snapping crocodiles!

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…transporting a stunningly ugly but oddly sweet creature back home!

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…gobbling up ghosts while sporting a lovely pink bow!

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Then the love of my life finally entered the picture and captured my heart.

He was short, dark, handsome and unplugged toilets in his spare time.

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It was the summer of 1990 and I was back home from college. I knew I had to work overtime at L.L. Bean’s folding turtlenecks to pay the big bucks it would cost to get my trigger-happy hands on the holy grail of gaming:

the Super Nintendo.

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And every single penny was worth it. Worth the 15 hours a day I sat there and played Super Mario Bros. until my eyes bled. I was so good at that game, my brother and his friends would often begrudgingly ask me to help them get through the more difficult levels. 

“Oh!” I’d say smugly. “You’re telling me Mario has to run, double jump, twirl, spin, flip, morph into a raccoon, THEN dive onto Bowser’s head three times in rapid succession, all while avoiding shooting laser beams and fiery pits of death? Hand me the controller. Watch and learn, my friends. Watch. And. Learn.”

Dear Bowzer, my name is Mario. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Dear Bowser, my name is Mario. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

I could defeat any game with one hand and both eyes closed.

Gee, that’s terrific, Darla, you snicker. So you’re good at doing something really stupid and completely meaningless? Did you ever even see the sun once during your childhood? You must be so proud.

Well, first off, I do know the sun somewhat resembles a circle, and I’m guessing it’s similar to the gold coins Mario likes to collect.

Secondly, I am very proud, thank you. This weekend I plan on playing Mario Kart 7 on my son’s Wii, making sure he eats my wake so I can gloat in his face the rest of the week. Of course, this will be after I help my husband get through the harder levels in the new Tomb Raider. Yes, there will be much gloating all-around.

And they said my gaming skills would never amount to anything.

****

What was your favorite video game as a kid?  I will bet you I’ve played it and scored a million points.

If you’ve never played a video game, what other useless skills do you possess?

The Spooky Tales of My Youth

It’s Halloween again! Gather ’round the fire, kids! Time for some deliciously dark and scary stories!

(cue creepy organ music)

Once upon a dreary time, I was your age and living through the ghastly 1970s and 80s. (lightning flashes) Times were hard during this digital-free era; my daily life was a constant battle between the forces of good and evil.  So many things went bump in the night. How I survived without today’s technology is a mystery.

When I was 12, if I wanted to call up a friend, I had to wait for my stupid brother to get off the phone. That’s right. We had only one line.

(cue Law and Order music–dunn, dunn!)

Countless hours were spent seething with anger and glaring at the phone cord trailing underneath the closed closet door where my older brother whispered sweet nothings (emphasis on the nothings) into his girlfriend-of-the-month’s ears.

But if the planets aligned just right, I could actually get on the phone for a few minutes and enjoy a private conversation–until my father installed a second phone on the same line in the kitchen. (dunn  dunn!)

Then I’d endure hearing the telltale click of one of my brothers picking up the phone on the other line, quietly breathing and listening to my heated private conversation about how I liked Bobby, but Bobby liked Suzy.

The terror of realizing my brother might have heard something super secret would paralyze me with fear. Did he hear what I said? Is he going to blab it to the cool kids at the lunch table tomorrow? Will Bobby know I like him?!  The phone’s ominous click would seep into my dreams. Click! CLICK! CLICK! Oh, the horror!

When the phone wasn’t free, I’d hole myself up in my bedroom in the attic and blast my music.  Yes, we used to have to listen to our music out loud, with no iPod or earbuds. (dunn, dunn!)

I was the proud owner of a giant boxy beast of a stereo. It was versatile, top-of-the-line technology for the 80s. I could either slap a record on the turntable up top or slide in one of my famous mixed cassette tapes of the Beatles/Def Leppard into the deck on the bottom.

See, back then we didn’t have iPods where you could casually flip through thousands of tunes using your magic fingertips. Instead, I had to sift through a dusty old stack of albums, then listen to my favorite song skip on the needle.

Hearing John Lennon sing, “Imagine there’s no–Imagine there’s no–” over and over again was horrifying, my blood would run cold. Imagine there’s no what?! I’d cry. No what, John?! Will I ever know what he’s trying to imagine?

Today, I miss listening to music and forcing everyone else within a 10 mile radius to listen to it too.  Sometimes for fun, we’d crank up the volume so loud, the neighbors down the road would call the cops. You can’t pay for that entertainment, people.

If all the scratches on my records made me sad, I’d head out to rent a movie with my parents. It was a dark and stormy night, when I had to get into my Dad’s wood-panelled station wagon and  actually have him drive me to the video rental store. (dunn dunn!)

Yes, before netflix, before DVDs on Blu-Ray, there was a time when we had to physically go to a place where people stood around like zombies, milling around displays filled with these things called VHS tapes.

Inevitably, you’d arrive all excited to rent the latest hottest flick that finally came out on video after being released five years earlier (“Hot damn! I’m gonna go rent ET tonight!”) only to find that the 55 copies of ET were already taken.

Still you’d desperately try to bring an empty box up to the counter, only to encounter a smug clerk sneering at you,  “if there’s nothing behind the box, there ain’t no movie. Now do you want to buy these 20 dollar Twizzlers or what, pal?”

Are the Spaghettio’s done yet? No, but my skull feels like it’s melting.

So I’d slunk on back to my house, “ET”-less, stomach growling and attempt to whip up some food.  Did I zap some frozen meal in my microwave? Please! Only one friend of mine had one of those new-fangled contraptions. It was bigger than the entire kitchen counter and made such a loud buzzing noise we thought for sure we were getting cancer while watching her spaghettio’s splatter.

All we had was my grandmother’s old stove that, if we were lucky, used to short-curcuit and mildly electrocute us. (dunn, dunn!)

But only if you held a metal spoon just so and turned the loose stove’s dial at the same time. It was quite the science experiment. My brothers discovered this zapping action by accident one afternoon while making spaghettio’s and that was all it took. More cheap entertainment. “Hey! Check this out!” one of them would yell, stabbing the metal spoon down into the pan, feeling the tiny yet delicious jolt over and over again until they saw stars. Explains a lot.

Which brings me to regulating body temperature.  Back in my day, we didn’t have air conditioners or those cutting edge fans that oscillate. What did we do when the temperature hit 110 with 150% humidity? We’d sweat. (dunn dunn!)

That’s right. Sweat a lot. My bedroom was upstairs in the attic and it sometimes got so hot up there in the summer, my John Lennon record would melt into a sad Imagine puddle. So I’d whine and moan and cry to my parents. “It’s too hot! I can’t sleep!” And my father would put his hand on my head and say, “Tough cookies, kid”. What a wise man he was for giving me an extra dose of the tough love of the 1970s.

So kids, as you drift off to sleep tonight, watching the latest flick on your iPad, texting away on your smart phone and eating your Hot Pockets in your perfectly temp-controlled bedroom, think of me and the horrors I faced not so long ago. Nighty night, kiddies!

Oh, and Happy Halloween! (Mua ha haaa!)