Saturday, November 29, 2008

Like A Light Switch

I've been told that I can be like a light switch with my emotions.

If that's true than I'm a light switch you can never turn off.

Why is it so much easier to get angry, horny, sad or disappointed than it is to get un-angry, horny, sad or disappointed?

Skim boarding today - first opportunity when the temp and weather have been agreeable. The beach was amazing. A perfect, clean aqua with brilliant blue skies above. The wind was a bit wicked, but it is November, after all. When I took my first skim along the shore, I couldn't help but think, "Maybe this is what my sister needs." Sunshine, exercise, exhilaration. Things that make you remember how alive you are.

I was on top of the world, keeping my balance, having a great time. Then, I caught the board wrong. Slammed into the wet sand (which is much like slamming onto concrete) with my leg twisted awkwardly underneath me.

Tim instantly came running over.

"Baby, you OK?"

"No. Fuck. Go away!"

Of course, he did go away.

I was embarrassed. Angry. Like an injured animal I just wanted to be left alone to lick my wounds, slink back to the beach with my board drawing a trail of shame in the sand behind me.

I wrapped myself in my towel and inspected the bruise already forming across my shin and my knee, the sand rash that had tiny blood droplets forming on my ass.

Just like that, like a light switch, my exhilaration had been turned off. And that pissed me off more than anything.

So I continued to sulk.

Tim came to sit beside me, to check on me, and we made nice. I couldn't tell him that I was mostly mad at myself, but a little bit mad at him.

Right before I had fallen he had wandered my way to give me some advice on how to catch the best surf.

He was always doing that. Giving me tips. Suggestions. Challenges.

In theory, I liked it. He was only trying to help me get better.

Part of me resented it. I was doing just fine on my own, thank you very much. Now I have to take your suggestion, try and impress you, and inevitably fall on my ass.

My fault. I shouldn't be so concerned with impressing my husband, trying to be as good as him, and definitely not trying to outdo him.

I have such a horribly competitive nature, and it kicks me in the ass almost every time.

So I sat in the sand and watched Tim. I watched him catch some good water, and I watched him fall on his ass, too. It didn't phase him. He got right back up. Not like his stubborn, immature wife, still sitting in the sand. Over the pain, but not over the bad mood.

I finally talked myself into getting back up. I did it mostly so I wouldn't have to hear taunts about being a quitter on the ride home.

Toting my board back down to the water I halfheartedly tried again.

And I had fun. The feeling of exhilaration was back.

It's too bad that I couldn't let the embarrassment, disappointment, anger and pain wash over me, and be gone as quickly as they came. It's too bad that my motivation to banish those feelings was so that I wouldn't get teased, which would make my mood even worse.

But I did banish the nasty feelings instead of wallowing in them. I turned them off.

And I did get back up.

I think that's progress.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weird Fact Wednesday: Functional Family

It is Wednesday. And the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, at that.

I have been slacking at work all day. (Once again may I say that I hope no one in a position of power at my job reads this blog.)

I have also been a tad paranoid that my parents are alone in my apartment. I'm not worried that they are going to find anything illegal or embarrassing, it's more that I'm worried they are going to let my cats escape, or forget to take their shoes off when they walk on my carpet. Yeah, I know, OCD in overdrive.

But here's the Weird Fact for this Wednesday: I have a pretty functional family. Wait, I retract that. My family on the whole, including my siblings, is totally not functional. The other three offspring of my parents are absolutely whacked out and the definition of dysfunctional. But me and my parents? Functional. I had a perfect childhood.

You may be wondering why this is part of Weird Fact Wednesday, but seriously, ponder for a moment. I have a good relationship with my parents, and have always had a good relationship with my parents.

I never did anything wrong. Well, I never did anything grievously wrong. (My father may beg to differ when he thinks about the tuition money he is out because I dropped out of college 2/3 of the way into the semester. But even then he didn't yell.)

I was never grounded. I never hated them, or threatened to run away. They treated me like an individual from the time I was little, always giving me a rational answer for everything, never saying "because I said so." They never yelled. They rarely told me no. I was terrified to defy them, not because I feared punishment, but because I feared disappointing them.

I'm not sure how many people can say that about their parents, so that is my weird fact.

Of course, all of this may change after I cook Thanksgiving dinner and we spend the next 4 days under one roof.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Secret Slob

So here's the thing - I'm a bit of a neat freak. I get it from my mother.

I can remember waking up to the sound of the vacuum on Saturday mornings, the coffee table being dusted with my blanket, and putting a half-empty glass down, walking away, and coming back to no glass because it had already been washed, dried and put away.

My mother was serious about her cleanliness. Dust was the enemy, to be annihilated at any cost. Clutter was sacrilege. Beds were to be made every morning, drawers neat, closets organized. Everything had its place.

I inherited most of this.

I say most because I like things to be clean. I have glass-topped tables that I Windex every day. There is never a dirty dish to be found in my kitchen. I am borderline obsessive about the carpet - it's been steam cleaned twice in the 18 months that we've lived here. Tim gets the look of a guilty 4 year old if he spills something on the carpet, and the cats have been trained to yak on the tile. Towels and clothes on the bathroom or bedroom floors? No sirree. Open shower curtain? You might as well stab me in the eye with a fork. Tim's most used phrase is "Baby, where did you put my..." because while everything has its place, I often change my mind about what that place should be.

Here's where the most comes in:

I don't make my bed every day. It's an argument from childhood that I still see the merit in as an adult: Why bother, when I am just going to get back in it in a few hours? I do make the bed occasionally - every Saturday when I change the sheets, and whenever we have company so the bedroom looks presentable.

My drawers? Closets? Kitchen cabinets? Beneath bathroom sinks? Under the bed?

Pig sty's, each and every one.

If I can get rid of a mess by pushing it under the bed, shoving it in a drawer, or hiding it in a cabinet, by gum that's what I'm doing.

So, I am outwardly neat.

Or a secret slob, whichever definition tickles your fancy.

Here's the problem.

Mom - outwardly and inwardly neat mom - is going to be here tomorrow.

Now, my mother has seen my apartment, as well as several other apartments I have lived in. She has even gone so far as to be impressed with my cleanliness.

BUT - Mom has never been in any of my apartments unsupervised, because my parents have never stayed with me before. In the past, they have stayed in a hotel. (To make a long story short, before Tim and I got married we were living in sin. My parents are Catholic. If they slept in my apartment they would be condemning themselves to hell by association. Or something like that.)

I fear that my secret slovenliness is about to be discovered.


I figure I came by the nosy know-it-all-ness genetically.

P.S. I dedicate the blog post to my Aunt Sharon, who all but demanded that I post something before 11PM tonight. I had planned to write about how I think I am allergic to mushrooms (it's fun being a vegetarian) but this seemed more appropriate, since my parents are sleeping in her house tonight. I love you, Aunt Sharon! Thanks for being 1 of at least (and probably only) 4 people who read my blog every day - you keep me writing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

At least, in my South Florida apartment, it is.

I dragged Tim out Christmas Decor shopping today. (Necessity. Does not count in my therapist-induced deprivation. Also, I bought the eyeliner. So there.)

Target, Ho!

This is the first Christmas Tim and I will spend together as husband and wife, and also the first opportunity I've had to have my own tree. In the past, I have always gone home to mom and dad's, wherever I was. Since meeting Tim, we have split the holiday between my family and his. It never made much sense to put up a tree when we wouldn't even be home for Christmas.

This year, we decided to stay put. We are spending out first married Christmas home, just the two of us. So I get to have a tree!

Let me get the shocking and appalling part over with first:

I bought a fake tree.

To those who know me well, this is close to sacrilege.

The first year that I moved out of the house, my mother talked about getting a fake tree. Easier, she said. No pine needles, no watering, no trekking into the woods and chopping one down.

I pitched a fit. Christmas centered around having an real pine tree in the house - the smell, the sap, the authenticity!

My mother caved (her sentimental Christmas loving heart never would have settled for a plastic tree anyway) and the Akins' household was saved from ever seeing an impostor Christmas tree. (It has seen its fair share of scrawny, Charlie Brown trees since I left, but at least they have been real.)

Now that I am the one faced with watering a tree, sap, shed pine needles all over the carpet, and the prospect of my cats climbing, and getting stuck in, a real tree, I opted for an inflammable, 7.5 foot (fake) Jackson pine.

Amazingly enough, Scrooge McDuck (a.k.a. my husband) did not freak out too much when, in addition to the tree, I ran through the aisles of Target tossing extra items into the cart: ornaments, a star for the top, lights, garland, tinsel, stockings (one each for Tim, myself, Hades, Azrael, Styx and Hydra), glitter glue, wrapping paper, scotch tape, Christmas cards, and an advent calendar for the pets, and evergreen scented candles so I can pretend the tree is real. Tim drew the line at the movable, lighted reindeer for the patio.

Now I can't wait to decorate!

Without the woes of guesstimating how long a tree will live and look pretty, I can join the masses of starting Christmas way too early, and erect my tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

When Friday Is Just Another Week Day

Last night I got home from work around 6:20PM. This is actually pretty late for me, especially on a Friday. Friday used to be the day to leave work early, simply because it was Friday and, being human, you were entitled to lengthen your weekend.

I did attempt to leave early yesterday. Tim and I both had a plan to play hooky and meet at the beach for some afternoon skimboarding. It has been uncharacteristically chilly in South Florida lately, and yesterday was the first day it was supposed to climb above 70 in the afternoon. By 11:30 I knew there was no chance I was getting to leave work early. That's when I received Tim's message:

Grey Squirrel to White Monkey, mission is a 'Go.' I repeat, mission is a 'Go.' 2:00. Call to confirm, White Monkey. Grey Squirrel, out."

I had to call back with the following message:

"White Monkey to Grey Squirrel, mission aborted. I repeat, mission aborted. Sorry, Grey Squirrel. White Monkey, out."

I was then stuck in a meeting from 1:30-3:30, and preparing a report from 3:30-5:30. Ah, sweet responsibility.

Anyway, not really the point. The point is that I got home, Tim and I went out for our usual Friday Night Dinner, came home, I talked to Lizzie for a while, wrote a Blog post, watched some TV and went to bed.

As I was falling asleep, I had this thought: (Language warning)

Fuck, I'm fucking old.

Yeah, you know you're old when Friday becomes just another week day.

Friday's used to mean late nights, lots of alcohol, ridiculous bar tabs, karaoke, laughter, cabs home and passing out. Saturday's would then mean sleeping till noon, battling a hangover and preparing to do it all over again.

No more, my friends!

Now Friday means looking forward to casual day at work, looking forward to dinner out with my husband and going to bed at a reasonable hour after maybe one drink. Saturday now means getting up at a reasonable hour, cleaning the house, going grocery shopping and going to the beach.

I'll admit, probably the better option. But still...

Fuck, I'm fucking old.

Friday, November 21, 2008


According to my therapist (yes, Mom, I have a therapist. No, it has nothing to do with you, because I'm pretty sure the anxiety ridden OCD came from Dad.) I am supposed to experience the feeling of deprivation. This is, in large part, due to the shopping addiction, coupled with the fact that I almost always get my way and have a need to be the center of attention.

I take full responsibility for the shopping addiction. Neither of my parents, as far as I have ever seen, really enjoys shopping. I know my parents enjoy new stuff (because who doesn't really?) but they are able to exercise an inhuman restraint when it comes to purchasing said new stuff.

Need an example? My mother's washing machine was held together by rope until it finally and irrevocably died.

So, unless I am adopted (which I'm pretty sure they would have told me by now) the shopping addiction is all me. (Unless I really do equate love with stuff, which I am highly skeptical of.)

Always getting my way? Totally my parents' fault. I can count on one hand the times my father told me no. And for the times he did say no, my mother said yes. I prefer to think that I was smart enough to keep my requests within reason, never giving my parents a real reason to say no, as opposed to the less pleasant idea that I was spoiled rotten. There's probably a happy medium.

However, I would like to say that I place this blame in the most grateful and loving way possible. In case my parents are reading this, I don't want them to think I am in any way complaining. I had a perfect childhood and adolescence, perfect parents, and I wouldn't trade any of that for controlling stock in Target.

Also, I take full responsibility for allowing my expectation to always get my way to carry over into adulthood.

Apparently I have already ended several relationships because I wasn't the center of attention, and didn't always get my way.


Again, not sure how much I believe the psychobabble, but I believe there are reasons behind the things that I do, and I believe that I have the power to change my actions if I can understand those reasons.

Also, I don't want to end up living in a cardboard box, so if agreeing not to buy the new David Cook album on iTunes the day it came out can get me farther away from the cardboard box, I'm all for it.

But I find myself wondering, how much deprivation am I supposed to experience? My eyeliner ran out this morning. Am I supposed to deprive myself of eyeliner? Are my eyes supposed to go naked for the sake of my mental health?

I think not.

Plus, I didn't get my way about where Tim and I went out to dinner tonight, so combined with the lack of David Cook, that's double deprivation.

Not only do I deserve a new eyeliner, but a new purse to match.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weird Fact Wednesday: Teeth On Cotton

Some people can't stand the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Doesn't really bother me.

What gets me? Teeth on cotton.

So when Tim really wants to get to me, he'll lean over and bite his own shirt sleeve.

I'm not sure why this bothers me so much. Possibly its a tooth sensitivity thing - I don't know. All I know is that if I see someone biting cotton (when they gag people in movies, biting one end of a tourniquet as they tie it around their own arm,) I shudder. If my own teeth happen to come into contact with cotton, shivers are sent through my whole body, and I get the sensation that I have been chewing on aluminum foil.

What, you've never chewed on aluminum foil? Got old school fillings? Try it - it's fun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weird Fact Wednesday: Office Supplies

It's really no secret that I have a slight shopping addiction. And it's not really the action of shopping that I am addicted to (as much fun as that is) it's the result of having new stuff.

I don't care who you are, you like new stuff. Admit it. New stuff is great.

My shopping addiction can be clearly broken down into sub-categories of addiction:

Office supplies

What, the third one is weird?

Says you.

There is something intoxicating about a new notebook.

And the quest for the perfect notebook is never ending. So much so that I have roughly 20 partially filled notebooks scattered around my apartment. There are so many things that need to be factored: Paper size, paper weight, line rule, line color, cover appeal, portability. The list goes on.

Then, once you have found the perfect notebook (for the next week, at least) the quest for the perfect writing instrument begins. Pen or pencil? Gel roller or ballpoint? Fine or ultra-fine point? The mind boggles.

Every time Tim and I go out to dinner, and I sign the credit card slip, I examine the pen.

"This pen is awesome!" I exclaim.

"It's the paper," Tim repeatedly reminds me.

I need an entire notebook made out of restaurant receipt paper. The smoothness of writing is second to none. It eliminates the need for the perfect pen because ALL pens become the perfect pen on this paper.

And don't even get me started on the accessories. Post-It Notes, paper clips, binder clips, highlighters, thumbtacks, magnets, dry-erase boards, planners, desk organizers, mini staplers, hole punches, dividers, signature flags! (And when the hell will I ever use a signature flag? Doesn't matter - I have hundreds of them in varying colors.)

Luckily I have married an artist, so when I deem a notebook unusable due to its inadequate line rule, Tim uses it for doodling scrap, and it doesn't go to waste.

Same with all the rejected pens, pencils, and markers.

It's going to be a challenge to find something to do with all those signature flags, though.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What Exactly Do You Do All Day?

I can remember growing up, and having people ask, "What does your father do for a living?" and I would fumble around for an answer.

"He's an electronics test engineer...he makes sure that everything inside the computers...he handles the...he works with computers all day."

I'd be willing to bet my family and friends now have similar conversations about me.

"What does your wife/daughter/sister/best friend do for a living?"

"Something to do with real estate...and web design...projects...she yells at people all day."

Here's the long answer: Project Manager for a real estate marketing and data compilation company.

And now I'm going to brag a little bit. Here's a press release that explains what I have spent the last five months of my life bleeding, sweating, and stressing over - NEXT is my baby. Go me.

eNeighborhoods Launches Redesigned Real Estate Marketing System

eNeighborhoods, the leading compiler of neighborhood information and marketing systems for real estate professionals, and a division of Dominion Enterprises, has announced the release of eNeighborhoods PowerSuite NEXT (Neighborhood Expert Tools).

Boca Raton, FL (PRWEB) November 7, 2008 -- eNeighborhoods, the leading compiler of neighborhood information and marketing systems for real estate professionals, and a division of Dominion Enterprises, has announced the release of eNeighborhoods PowerSuite NEXT (Neighborhood Expert Tools), the latest version of its award-winning software.

A full-featured marketing system, eNeighborhoods PowerSuite NEXT boasts a redesigned agent desktop, powerful Google™ Maps technology, and updated charts and graphs. The system helps real estate professionals connect with clients by making the most of every meeting and delivering the knowledge that clients need to make better buying and selling decisions.

"Home buyers today have a large inventory of homes from which to choose. They are looking for neighborhoods to fit their lifestyles, not just a property," said eNeighborhoods Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mark Mathis. "Finding the right location is more important than ever, and agents who can deliver targeted, personalized neighborhood knowledge can help their clients make better buying and selling decisions."

"Online and email marketing are important, but most valuable for agents is the one-on-one time they have with clients," Mathis continued. "NEXT helps agents make the most of every meeting by enabling them to provide personalized presentations with the information their clients want. Delivering professional reports with housing trends, school information, and neighborhood demographics helps agents build lasting and profitable relationships."

eNeighborhoods PowerSuite NEXT edition features new enhancements that benefit both buyer and seller agents. New features include full access from any web browser, redesigned Neighborhood Reports with enhanced data, updated Buyer Tours for today's tough market, an industry-leading CMA, agent website and more. The marketing system is designed to help agents create more contacts, leads, sales and referrals.

For a limited time, eNeighborhoods is offering a free trial of eNeighborhoods PowerSuite NEXT. For more information, visit

eNeighborhoods will exhibit at the NAR 2008 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, November 7-10, with Dominion Enterprises real estate businesses Advanced Access, AgentAdvantage,, and Number1Expert in booth #2841.

About eNeighborhoods, LLC
Since 1997, eNeighborhoods, the nation's premier compiler of home and neighborhood information, has been providing real estate professionals with a comprehensive set of tools to attract and retain home buyers and sellers with the most up-to-date, localized information about property, neighborhoods and schools. In 2002, eNeighborhoods achieved the REALTOR Benefits® status with endorsement from The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The company also has strategic alliances with major real estate franchisers: Realogy, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, GMAC, Prudential, Keller Williams, EXIT Realty and RE/MAX, as well as many of the major independent brokerages. eNeighborhoods is the proud founding sponsor of NAR's Good Neighbor Award which educates, encourages and rewards outstanding community service by real estate professionals throughout the country. For more information on eNeighborhoods, visit

About Dominion Enterprises
Dominion Enterprises, a division of Landmark Media Enterprises, LLC, is a leading marketing services company serving the automotive, real estate, apartment, recruitment and marine markets. The company operates a variety of businesses that offer Internet marketing, Web site design and hosting, lead generation, CRM, and data capture and distribution services. The company has more than 40 market-leading Web sites reaching more than 16.7 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 450 magazines with a weekly circulation of 4.3 million. Headquartered in Norfolk, Va., the company has 5,400 employees nationwide and annualized revenue of more than $946 million. For more information, visit

I would stop being such a bitch if you would stop being so stupid.

I adopted a philosophy in junior high, and I firmly believe it to be relevant in the adult world:

Boys are stupid, and girls are mean, but girls are mean because
boys are stupid.

It's true.

That was just the preface. In case you are wondering what my latest pet peeves have been (and I know it has been keeping you up at night) here's the current list:

1. Salesmen. I hesitate to just say salesmen and not salespeople, but the men tend to be more annoying, sleazy and underhanded than the women, which is the thing that really bothers me.

Salesmen have always pissed me off: accosting you when you least expect it; shoving pamphlets, brochures, leaflets in your face; having no shame, dignity or self-respect; lying. However, I have reached a new level of detest, single-handedly accomplished by the narcissistic, overzealous, obnoxious self-righteous salesmen at my place of employment.

2. Drivers who do not adhere to the appropriate sides of the road. It's pretty hard, and pretty stupid, to drive on the wrong side of the road when there are bright yellow lines or concrete medians marking the delineation. My new pet peeve is people who drive on the wrong side when there are no clear markers - like the lack of yellow paint gives them the right to drive in the effing middle. Parking lots and parking garages still have sides people, and one of these days I am going to let someone hit me because it will totally be their fault and it will satisfy my warped sense of justice.

3. Lack of reading comprehension, a.k.a. skimming. Here's the thing: If I take the time to write and email containing specific details or instructions, take the time to read it. And if you are going to skim it, make sure you know what skimming means: Mentally omitting the "filler" words such as "and" "the" "to" "for" etc., and gleaning the most important words. Not reading real quick and assuming you got the gist, and then doing things wrong because you're too lazy to read.

4. Small talk with strangers. This one will never go away. Just because we are in the same elevator does not mean I care what your kids (or dogs) dressed up as for Halloween!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Overcoming Addictions

Just to brag a little, here's a list of addictions I have managed to overcome:

- Cigarettes

- Starbucks, a.k.a. crack for caffeine junkies. Yes, I did it again - put myself through Starbucks detox. I didn't mention it this time, because I didn't want to be a public failure for a second time. But it has been 6 weeks, no Starbucks. I feel clean. (And I attend SA meetings bi-weekly.)

- Cheeseburgers, and subsequently all meat. I'm not sure it was an addiction, per se, but I have decided to see how walking the healthy path of a vegetarian works for me. In case my parents are reading, and start panicking about Thanksgiving, don't worry, I am still cooking a turkey for the carnivores.

And, just in case my head was getting a little bit too big, here are the addictions that still weaken me, and that I am not sure I am ready to give up:

-iTunes. Oh, buy just one thing on iTunes. I dare you. Especially if you enable the "Genius" feature.

- Gummy Bears. Especially the red ones. I shun the yellow ones, and as much as Tim attempts to claim that they all taste the same, he shares my addiction, and the Gummy Bear designated tupperware always ends up with all yellow bears at the end. We eat them only to put them out of their misery and to make room for the fresh bag.

- Sleep. I am beginning to think that I may have some rare sleeping disease or disorder, because I sleep a lot. Well, a lot according to my husband and the rest of the Florida freaks who only seem to need 5-6 hours of sleep per night. I need 8. Minimum. Is there something so wrong with that?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sweet Sanctuary

Last week I wrote a post complaining about my lack of time to write - "Reality continues to get in the way of my life."

I figured something out, and it is actually pretty ironic since my best friend's mother is a retired librarian, and my mother is a retired library clerk: The library is a great place to get stuff done.

My biggest problem, as noted in the original post, is that I am too easily distracted by other things that I find equally important to writing. I would commit to sitting and writing, I would write for 20 minutes or so, and then the distractions would enter my consciousness. Read for a few minutes to clear my head, chat with Tim, play with the cats, see what's happening on The Bridge, call Liz, surf the net.

The library removes all of those distractions in a way that I don't feel guilty about ignoring them.

I find myself a desk, set up my laptop and my iPod (the only interference I allow, because it is soothing) and I WRITE. After the 20 minute mark, when I start to fidget, I have nowhere to go. So I fidget, bit my nails, sigh a few times, look around, become self-conscious that people are looking at me, and go back to writing. The hours between writing bouts has been shortened to minutes. It's pretty cool.

I do have Internet access - if I feel like braving the public pool of computers, and sitting next to someone questionable who is more than likely going to watch whatever I choose to do on the Internet. Therefore, I have disciplined myself to wait until I get home to surf.

Oh, sweet sanctuary of the Southwest County Regional West Boca Raton Public Library (mouthful - and it does not compare to the reverence and calming environment of the BPL, which I miss terribly.) My mother and Susan Martin should be so proud.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh Strange Subconscious

What is it, I wonder, that makes us all of a sudden think of people and places that have been removed from our lives for a long, long time?

Last night, I had a dream involving the following people and places:
  • Jessie Vanderslice - high school friend whom I have not heard from in over 8 years
  • Boston - where I haven't lived for over 8 years and haven't visited in over a year
  • Billy, Pat, and Danny Taylor - family friends whom I haven't seen in well over 8 years

The dream also involved a frantic dash to the airport, a great deal of rain, ill-fitting pants, Starbucks (which kept changing locations so that I could not find it and give in to my peppermint white mocha craving), a very nice Mercedes, a luxurious department store, the Green and Red lines of the Boston "T" system, and Disney World disguised as a Swiss mountain village.

It's really better if you don't ask.