Living in New York is different than living anywhere else in the U.S.  I don’t mean on a cultural level, of course there is that, but in an everyday sense.  Everyone living stacked on top of each other and an extensive public transit system makes owning a car pointless, most of the time.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  You save money on car payments and insurance (though, like everything else, it’s probably made up for in the cost of rent), you don’t have to worry about sobering up for the drive home from the bar, and you have a smug sense of self-satisfaction for being “eco-friendly.”  But sometimes, it really sucks.  You can’t jump in to your car and cruise over to a Wall-Mart or Target to pick a few things up.  You have to plan out what you want to buy, go to the different stores, and carry all that back to your apartment—and, if you’re like me (living in a walkup), up four flights of stairs.

So whenever they can, New Yorkers try to make things easier on themselves.  The city’s Chinese restaurants and pizza places employ an army of deliverymen that bring takeout to your door; any business that sells merchandise that can’t be easily carried out offer a complimentary delivery service; and one of the most popular grocery stores in the city is just a Web site.  If you’ve never heard of Fresh Direct, the concept is simple: order your groceries through their site and they bring them to your apartment. Yesterday, my roommate off handedly mentioned that it was how he would get his groceries from now on.  I had used the service years ago, but don’t anymore.  “What’s a good amount to tip the delivery guy?” He asked me.  “Do you think $5 is enough?”  I paused for moment to consider the question.  “Actually, I don’t think I think I ever tipped them,” I said. My roommate was shocked.  “Dude,” he said, “you have to tip.”

For the rest of the day, all I could think about was the act of tipping.  I kept replaying Steve Buscemi’s rant in Reservoir Dogs about throwing in a gratuity for your dinner.  In the film, Buscemi’s character, “Mr. Pink,” regales a table of career criminals just after breakfast on the morning of a heist on the inequality of tipping guidelines.  He points out that it’s good manners to tip a waitress, yet no one gives anything to someone working the register at McDonald’s. “I don’t tip because society says I have to,” he explains. “All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I’ll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it’s for the birds. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just doing their job.”

Okay, I don’t know what it’s like to be Fresh Direct driver.  Maybe it sucks.  Maybe they pay next to nothing and you need tips to get by.  But in all honesty: the job doesn’t seem all that different from Fed-Ex or UPS and we don’t tip them.  Is it because they’re delivering food?   What if you’re a diabetic and UPS guy brings you a package with your insulin that keeps you alive in it, do you tip him then?

A friend once told me that you tip to ensure good service for NEXT TIME.  And I get that for certain situations—try tipping a dollar or too more the next time you order from your favorite pizza place and you soon get a reputation among the delivery guys and they’ll get your order to you way quicker….and probably won’t spit in your food. But it still bugs me that there is this odd dichotomy about tipping, like slipping your barber five buck but leaving the dental hygienist hanging.  The only remedy I can think of is to not tip anyone (people will think you’re a cheapskate) or tip everyone (they’ll think you’re an obnoxious big shot).  In closing: tipping is weird.

[Pic via]

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I’m a mess. Seriously, I’m all over the place and ragged around the edges.  My apartment looks like a tornado went through it.  I’m behind on a million projects (both personal and professional) and have a laundry list of deadlines I’ve simply blown past without even the slightest attempt at getting something in for them.  Hell, I can’t even keep up with updating this blog or working out regularly (two things I should have mastered and do without much thought by now).  But the Pièce de résistance of my deteriorated state is that for the past week and a half, I’ve been sleeping on dirty sheets while a set of clean bedding lay folded on the bed with me.  Why?  I just couldn’t get around to changing them.

guyHow did this happen?  What could have led to this downward spiral?  It’s actually pretty simple.  I’ve been really busy.  It seems strange to make this argument: but for a little over a month now—I’ve been running around with stuff to do and places to go.  From weddings to a somewhat working vacation, I’ve been traveling up and down the East Coast.  And the chaos of the past few weeks has thrown my routine completely off and I just let things slip into disarray.  This is nothing new and I’ve gone through this song and dance a million times before: my life gets hectic and crazy, I end up neglecting certain aspects, things get messy, and then I work to get my shit together, get organized, set up a routine, fight to stick to it, things get back together, and then the whole process begins again.  I feel like I go through this cycle every few months and I’m beginning to suspect that I like it.

I’m just realizing that it’s easier to pick up the pieces than to keep everything from falling apart.  There’s direction and energy that comes on this wave of excitement to fix everything.  Whereas when things are organized and you’re following a laid out routine, it’s kind of dull and aggravating to stick to.  The thing is—it’s continuing to follow though on that monotonous routine and keeping your shit together that gets you to your overall goals.  It always the actual work, not gearing up and setting to do it.  So I’ve got a new goal:  I’ve got to stick to the boring grind that I set up and not let it slip away.  Maybe this time it’ll work.

[Pic via about.com]

I’m exhausted.  I went and saw a midnight showing of Harry Potter last night, because I’m a huge nerd.  The highlight of the evening was when the grown man (in costume) two seats down from me wept at the end and had to be comforted by his girlfriend (who was dressed in a slutty Harry Potter costume). Anyway, I don’t feel wordy today.  So here’s another photolog post.  Deal with it.

Stairs

I like it when my graffiti tells me to read more…as an annual reminder.

Jingle BenzI feel like whoever decorated this Mercedes Benz station wagon in a Christmas theme did so for a demolition derby.  I’m not sure if they suspected at the time that they’d be driving it around town, in July.

PickAxe

When you think about it, a guy taking a pickaxe on the subway isn’t that odd.  Especially when you imagine  all the insane things people have carried on the train in New York.  Still, it throws you for a loop when you see one on your morning commute.

bike

I’m often puzzled by the amount of broken bicycles left chained up around the city.  Even if it was run over and knotted together with another bike, like so, I think I would still untangle/unlock my bicycle and take it home,  not just walk away.  But that’s me.

ruinsA building in my neighborhood randomly collapsed one day.

And finally:

obamaI’m tempted to buy a stack and send them to random southern addresses.

200310679-002It’s late.  It’s late at night and I’m writing this post.  I could have done this hours ago.  Hell, maybe even days ago.  But this isn’t another rant about my problem with procrastination or lack of ideas to write about (God knows I beat those two horses to death!).  See: there’s nothing better than staying up late writing.   Chabon calls it “the midnight disease,” and its one of the greatest feelings in the world.  Ever scored a game-winning touchdown? Or saved a child’s life?  And his/her supermodel mom thanked you…sexually?  Yeah, those are great.  I mean what I’m talking about makes you rundown and question your sanity over debating word choices when you need to leave for work in four hours.  It isn’t that the writing is any better than from a normal time, I just love the idea that while everyone else in the entire world is sleeping, I’m creating something.  I know.  I’m a weirdo.

I was the king of all nighters.  Just ask any of my college roommates—I even drove one to the brink of insanity by disrupting his sleep so much (Don’t worry, he was from Poland—they don’t count.).  I don’t think I ever started working on a term paper before 11PM. And for my graduate school thesis?  I was up till 2AM every night, except when I slept all day on Sunday.  I would even stay up late writing my own stuff just for me.  I could stay up the entire night without any sleep and make it into work the next day.  Of course, I’d be groggy, but that’s why there’s coffee.  Glorious, glorious, coffee.  The thing is: I always remember being able to do this.  Even as a little kid, I would stay up late reading or drawing my own comic strips until my dad came in and yelled at me to go sleep.  And then I would pretend to go to sleep so he’d leave me alone and I could get back to work.  I think it’s why my parents won’t let me move back in with them.

But that’s all over now.  Now, if I don’t get at least six hours of sleep, I’m a zombie.  And coffee, my sweet nectar of the caffeinated peppy Gods?  Well, you know how a drug addict’s body builds a tolerance to their narcotic over time and they have to increase the dosage to keep attaining the same high and then they end up just taking massive quantities to feel normal? My bladder can’t take it.

In the end, maybe it’s a sign that I’m no longer a kid anymore.  That I need to tackle my writing in a more mature, orderly manner, and not just with a childish manic excitement.  Still makes me feel old though.  Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to get some sleep.

bush_confusedIt’s Monday. I’m tired and regretting not calling in sick. I also want to get a post up before noon, but I’m having trouble thinking up what I what I want to write about. So I’m staring at a blank screen while my brain sputters and skids—searching for something, anything, to pontificate on. I could cop out and just write up a list of something funny, like “Things I don’t care about” then copy and paste the current trending topics on twitter with a smarmy sentence or two for each entry [editor’s note: lists are super easy to write because they don’t require the hardest thing to work out on paper, transition of thoughts]. Or maybe I could just dump some embedded videos in here and leave it at that. The thing is: I didn’t start this blog to write those types of posts. I started this because I wanted to challenge myself into not just writing regularly, but with depth and aimed at some semblance of quality.

It’s not that I don’t have any ideas. I’ve got a whole Word .doc of things I want to write about. From something in a current events type of vein, like a rant that’s been building up inside of me about how stupid newspapers are for wanting to charge for online content, or something personal, like how I am physically unable to piss if someone is at the urinal right next to me. I can write up another review for my most recent completion off the Summer Reading List or do another Profile in Awesomeness. Or go in a new direction, like exploring the recently discovered pleasure of watching classic 80’s cartoon shows on YouTube. It’s just that all those posts would take more time than I have to write today.

I’ve posted here before about my problems with procrastination and I feel like maybe I should have prepared something to write ahead of time, but I’ve been crazy busy lately and have a lot more to do today for my day job (and other stuff). Basically, I just want to quickly crank something out that I don’t need to do a lot of research or thought to put together, but is still a memorable post.

Maybe I should write about how I’m trying to come up with something to write about?

[Pic via ScienceFaster.com]

procrastinationI’m a big procrastinator. Don’t believe me? This post was supposed to be done hours ago and I’m only getting to it now. I’m also lazy. So lazy that on more than one occasion I’ve sprayed myself with Febreze instead of taking a shower or at least change into a fresh T-shirt (I’m not proud of it).

Most people don’t recognize the difference between procrastination and laziness. One can procrastinate without being lazy (doing everything else instead of the really important work you’re blowing off) and you can be lazy while never procrastinating (you always make your deadline, the scant few that you have). I’m cursed with both and the two seem to work well together. I’d totally get to work on this project which I’ve been putting off for a couple weeks, but I’d rather just lay on my couch and watch that episode of House I’ve already seen a couple times (It’s Lupus, you fools!).

To be fair, it’s not like I just freeze up and never get anything down. There’s usually a manic filled all-nighter to get something in on time, and I always swear that it’s the last time. It’s one of the most horrible feelings—to be up against a deadline that you wanted to make and very easily could have, but it just never happened. You feel hollowed out by self-hate. The only thing that is holding me from accomplishing my goals is…me. God, the number of times that I’ve wished for a time machine to go back in and scream at myself to get off my lazy ass. And maybe watch the Roswell UFO crash, cause if you have a time machine you might as well do something cool—but I’m getting off topic.

I’ve tried numerous times to conquer my dueling faults over the years. Date books and personal organizers with just the first few pages filled up, constantly updated to-do lists that end up with “redo to-do list” at the top (before I chuck them), and I own more than a couple self-help books on organizing and self-motivation. It actually takes a lot of effort to be this lazy and procrastinate this much. I wonder how I ever got anything done at all.

Where does it come from? This urge to shirk our responsibilities to a later date. Procrastination seems to be a fairly modern condition. The notion that our ancestors suffered from it is doubtful. If cavemen kept putting off finding shelter or hunting and gathering for food then they would have died off and we wouldn’t exist. It’s also hard to imagine early pioneers and settlers deciding the chores around the homestead could wait till tomorrow. It could be because they had nothing better to do, no constant diversions. It’s not like there was anything equivalent to cable TV or Failblog.org in the caves. There’s so much instant entertainment out there, it’s all too tempting. Or maybe it’s because we as a society have crossed the point of no return for comfort. There are no more dire consequences in everyday contemporary America—so what if the term paper doesn’t get turned in on time, it’s not like you’ll starve. Meanwhile back on the prairie, if Pa Ingalls didn’t get that well finished than his family wouldn’t have any fresh water to drink (that’s a Little House on the Prairie reference, in case you didn’t catch it).

Or maybe it’s just that I spend all my time making excuses. That it doesn’t matter if there’s too many distractions or not severe enough consequences. What matters is just biting the bullet and getting your shit done. Maybe that’s what separates people who accomplish their goals and people who don’t, the willingness to do what needs to be done in a timely manner. Yeah, maybe that’s it. I’ll think about it…tomorrow.