Friday, January 29, 2010

Puerto Was a While Ago

I've been back for 2 weeks, and haven't posted anything. You know how it starts... first you take a few notes, then you try to organize how are you are going to say what you want to say. Then you start over. Then your mom mentions how you haven't posted in a while. It's not writers block, because I'm not a writer. It's more just habit. I used to write 2-3x a week, it was habit. Then life happened. . . Now it just takes a bit more effort to get started, I'm a bit more critical on what I write, and I actually have points to make and stories to tell (instead of just worldly observations).

Anyway, here's a lil essay on my 30th bday trip to Puerto Rico.


Ben: Arrived Jan 8, Departed - Jan 18

Why did I upgrade to 1st class? A) I knew I'd be hungover, B) I saved the $50, over-weight fee on my luggage so it wasn't so bad C) There's nothing better than first class when your parents are in coach D) It's my freaking bday, I'm 30, and it's my money E) All of the above. Was this a stress free vacation? Nope! Was this a good vacation? Yes! Did I have a ton of fun w/my friends? Absolutely!

Mom & Dad: Arrived - Jan 8, Departed - Jan 16

They had, by a wide margin, the best vacation out of anyone. They went to the beach, they went to the pool, they went to the hot tub, they went gambling, they went hiking, they went to the rain forest, they went to the largest space radio satellite thingy, and they ate a good restaurants. Anyone could have done that stuff, but this is why they had the best time.

Something Fun They did: Their whole trip - They got to feel 30 years younger, hanging out with a bunch of 20 somethings (and a few 30 somethings).

Elana & Ariel: Arrived - Jan 8, Departed - Jan 15

Something Fun Ariel Did: He knows how to vacation. Donuts, Cake and Cap'n Crunch for breakfast. That's my kinda vacation. He also read Harry Potter 7 in 2 days.

Something Fun Elana Did: While this was a "trip" for some, this was definitely a vacation for Elana, having left her kids behind to freeze in MD or NY.

Daniella & Steiny: Arrived - Jan 8, Departed - Jan 11

Something Fun Daniella Did: Daniella hit the slide at the Marriott.

Something Fun Steiny Did: Steiny, gambled, drank, and blew up pool toys.

Rob & Katie: Arrived - Jan 9 (1am), Departed - Jan 10

Something Fun Rob Did: They showed up. Surprise! Not only did they surprise me by coming for a quick weekend getaway, but Rob surprised Katie too!

Something Fun Katie Did: She & Rob also went on a Segway tour of Old San Juan... inspiring our own desire to take a tour.

Carrie: Arrived - Jan 10, Departed - Jan 13

Something Fun Carrie Did: Carrie napped. I swear every time I saw her she was napping. At the pool, on the back porch, in the car after the rain forest. napppppping!

My DJ: Arrived - Jan 11, Departed - Jan 18

Something Fun My DJ Did: Let see... She swam in a freezing waterfall, she lost her shoe in a flash flood, she washed her legs in a bar's bathroom, she learned how to gamble, she dominated roulette, she got a tan in one morning's worth of sun.

Mike: Arrived - Jan 11, Departed - Jan 17 (3am)

Something Fun He Did: When we got caught in the flash flood, Mike took off on his own, showing up at the house 3 hours later. Apparently he made it to the bar where they invented Pina Coladas. We didin't believe him, but 3 days later he took us there again. I'm pretty sure Mike also funded at least 2 people's gambling habits.

JT(T): Arrived Jan 13, Departed Jan 18

Something Fun JT(T) Did: While most of us were watching the Jets game, and everyone was drinking, only one person actively participated in Truth or Dare, JT(T). The hurricane had lotsa fun wrapping him in a mummy costume, though Sharyn wouldn't allow him to melt an ice cube on her in a closet.

Adi & Jaimie: Arrived Jan 14 (1am), Departed Jan 18

Something Fun A&J Did: It was raining for the 3rd straight day, and they weren't gonna take it anymore. They made some phone calls and rented a cheap car for a day. What do you do when its raining? You head to the rain forest!

Sandals & Kim: Arrived: Jan 14 (2am), Departed Jan 19 (3am)

Something Fun S&K did: They rented a car too, but decided to go on a kayaking trip through a bioluminescent bay. Apparently, the microbes in the lake light up at night time when startled, making the lake glow as you glide across it.

Amy: Arrived - Jan 14, Departed - Jan 17

Something Fun Amy Did: She spent 2 hours (w/me, The Hurricane & My DJ), in the Marriott hot tub during a rainstorm. Then we watched someone being rescued from the ocean (ok, not really fun but interesting).

Steph & Laura: Arrived - Jan 14, Departed - Jan 18

Something Fun They Did: They hung out with my parents alot. What fun! (just kidding). Actually, they met some surfers and talked to them on the phone for almost the whole trip, finally realizing that a surfing tour of the south coast just wasn't gonna happen.

Sharyn: Arrived - Jan 14, Departed - Jan 18

Something Fun Sharyn Did: Sharyn picked a fight with a few me, she loves doing that... it's how she has fun.

The Hurricane: Arrived - Jan 15 (2am), Departed - Jan 18 (3am)

Something Fun The Hurricane Did: When is she not doing something fun? (oh yea, she delayed her flight by a day because of WORK). She danced the night away in the middle of a 50 person circle at the San Sebastian Festival.

Rob: Arrived - Jan 15, Departed - Jan 18

Something Fun Rob Did: Rob showed up! He missed 7 of 8 of our volleyball matches last year, but somehow, he didn't miss his flight. I didn't think he was coming until he actually showed up.

Robbie & Evan: Arrived - Jan 16 (1am), Departed - Jan 19

Something Fun Robbie Did: Besides joining The Hurricane for a dance at San Seb, Robbie organized Saturday night dinner. Cheap and really good. I'm pretty sure he made the rain go away.

Something Fun Evan Did: Evan won a drinking contest with the DJ, he & Robbie got me a hat that says "I like SWAT (Sexy Woman Any Time)"

For a little taste of San Seb '10, here's a video:

The House:

Here's the review I posted online after our stay "I just spent 10 days in Marble Villa with a total of 25 of my closest family and friends. Marble Villa has 4 beautiful apartments that can hold between 2 and 6 people each. We rented all 4 apartments for the week and had family and friends coming in and out during our time there. We maxed out at 16 people for 4 of the days, and had no problem sleeping everyone comfortably. The house is well kept, the kitchen is huge, as is the fridge, and there is plenty of dining space. The common area had its own central air system while each bedroom had its own air conditioners. Additionally, the house and rooms were cleaned daily. The pool area is very nice and well kept, with a little waterfall in the pool. The garden behind the pool is very large, and has plenty of chairs as well. As for location, the house is right off the highway, and thus easily accessible from the airport. Being that we had people coming in and out, 9 of the 10 days someone was landing or taking off, and all the cabs found the house relatively easily. The house is a 5 minute walk from the beach, 2 hotel/casinos (Marriott/La Concha) and about 10 really nice restaurants on Ashford. While the pool was nice, we usually walked the 5 minutes to the beach, where chairs were purchased for only $3 for the day! Getting to old San Juan was a breeze, as we either called a cab or walked the 4 minutes to the hotels where a cab would take us for $3-$4 per person. Taxi's seemed easily available even though it was a holiday weekend. Additionally, if you want to rent a car, you can do so at the airport, or at the 2 places to rent in town. If you're looking for a rainforest excursion, or other excursion, and would rather a tour, just walk to the nearest hotel. "

ChaCha (262262):

You can text ChaCha anything, and for free, someone will try to answer it. They send an advertisement text along as well, so that's how they make money. By the end of this trip, I recieved a text from ChaCha stating that I'd used up my rights to the service, and would need to wait to use it again. Not that we were obsessed, but whenever we needed anything we'd ChaCha - "Send me some trivia" or "Why do Subway restaurants smell?". And we always got answers "What division of the military had only 5 members at the beginning of WWI (Air force)" - "They stink! Quiznos is better. Would you like the address of the nearest Quiznos?" I can't wait to chacha again.

Harry Potter unMagic:

On January 1, Ariel asked if I could bring Harry Potter 7 (HP7) to Puerto Rico.

On January 2, I search my apt, and my DJ searched hers for it. It was in Westchester, so if need be, he'd get it on Monday when she arrived.

On January 6, I asked friends who would be at my party on the 7th, if they had a copy. If they did, then they could bring it to the party (including Randi, who didn't have one) so that I could bring it to PR on the 8th.

On January 7th, Randi & Catrina purchased a copy of HP7, and gave it to me to bring to PR. Now I own 2 copies.

On January 8th, I left that copy of HP7 behind b/c I was too hungover to remember to pack it.

On January 10th, my DJ brought Ariel the other copy of HP7, from Westchester.

On January 12th, Ariel finished it.

On January 19th, my DJ and I had an arguement b/c she wanted me to keep both, and she'd buy another for herself.

I feel like a Harper's Magazine:

13 - Different places Happy Birthday was sung to me over and 18 day span.

3 - Times I wished for this version of Happy Birthday to be the last.

3 - Times that wish didn't come through - Though I suppose this is kinda like wishing for less wishes, and thus, illegal.

4 - Cakes that were made/purchased for my birthday.

25 - People who came on the trip, including myself.

2 - People who canceled their trips 2 days before hand, within 15 minutes of eachother.

0 - Days in which no one in our group was at the airport.

3 - Average inches of rainfall for San Juan in January.

8 - Inches of rainfaill from Wednesday through Saturday.

15 - Inches of water we had to walk through in Old San Juan.

2 - People who's sandals fell off and started drifting away.

40 - Age I'll be the next time I celebrate my own birthday.

25 - Twenty something aged girls on my flight home, likely heading back to college the next day.

Half - Twenty something girls on my flight that were wearing leggings.

7 - Dirty/Awkward/Snickering looks due to my wearing a t-shirt stating "leggings are not pants."

Non Trip Related:

0 - Average number of strangers that talk to me on the Subway, monthly. (sneezing related incidents excluded)

22 - Average number of strangers that talk to my DJ on the Subway, monthly. (every business day)

I Think I think I thought:

I think that visors don't work well with long hair. It just sticks straight up, or down.

I think its amazing there was a Robbie, Rob, and Rob (John) on the trip. Amazing.

I think I have a fear of giving money to someone, and that person telling me they aren't homeless.

I think I forgot Sunglasses, Cue Tips, and HP7. Good thing my DJ came later w/those things!

I think I brought 3 books with me, and read 50 pages in total.

I think, when we were walking around in groups of 10+ people (sometimes 15), it felt a bit like freshman year of college.

I think I found a shirt in my suitcase that I hadn't seen since Israel, the last time I used it.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

10 Year Evaluation

Dear 30 Year Old Ben:

What are you doing? Quit screwing up all of my plans?!?!


20 Year Old Ben

What would my 20 year old self think of the 30 year old me? This is the letter he would write me: (Actually, he wouldn't write anything. 20 year old Ben hated writing).

Dear Ben:
You are so different than I thought you were gonna be. What happened? Let me categorize and explain all the things that have happened to you.

Did you seriously start a blog? I didn’t even know you liked writing? In fact, we used to joke all the time how you got B’s in remedial English class in high school. Remember, freshman year at RU, after we got an A in Expository Writing (supposedly the hardest class at Rutgers because the teacher was friends with your sister), we went back to our HS teacher who’d told us how hard it was, and showed her. Yea, that’s how much we hated writing. We hated it so much that we never took a second writing class in the next 3.5 years of school. We hated it so much because we got B’s in our history classes even though we liked them so much more than our finance classes. And now you write 2x a week (at least you did till the end of the summer).

Dude, you were supposed to be MARRIED by now?! WTF. Your older sister is going to get engaged about a year and yet 9 years after that, you’re still “single?” You better be dating cute girls. Damn, and wow. I take all that back. You’re girlfriend is mad hot, much hotter than any girl I, at 20, could ever think about attaining. Do you remember how celibate we were b/c of our high standards? I guess you finally caught up to those standards. Perhaps the fact that you’re fat is helping a little. Is she smart? Who cares, I def don’t care about that at 20!

Holy crap Ben, you got fat! When you were my age, you were 6’2, 155 lbs. Now you’re 6’3, 210 lbs (yes, I don’t get it either, but you’re an inch taller from 20 – 30). You used to have a slim fast WITH breakfast and lunch in order to gain weight. Don’t you remember the deals you made with yourself? You said you’d start eating healthy when you started to have a stomach. Um, have you looked in the mirror? Stop eating so much. We used to go to the gym all the time, volleyball practice 8 days a week and hitting weights once a week. We used to look like THIS and THIS? What happened to that? Have a salad and hit the gym you fat fuck.

And while we’re talking about your looks, why don’t we discuss this whole wardrobe you’ve got going on. When did you start caring about your clothes and buying jeans for over $30? When did you start getting your suits and shirts tailored to your awkward sizes? Why is this ok? You don’t want people to like you for what you look like, so why dress well? You’re just opening up yourself to people judging you! You’re apartment is absurd. You’re spending way more on that place for “show.” You don’t need that glam, you don’t need something so showy. Do you remember your college apt? Do you remember your first apartment in Hoboken? You were happy in those 300 sq ft run down places. Why do you need all that? Good, you don’t. Good.

Remember our plan? You were gonna work for 8 years until you were 30, then start a career you actually like. We even had a budget. You make 150K a year and then you’d spend $1,000 on rent, $1,000 on everything else every month and save $75K a year! After 8 years, compounded at 9%, you’d have $1.0M, and would retire into teaching. Remember that? What about that PHD in financial engineering we’d discussed? What about staring your own company? Obviously you can’t do that in finance, but you can in almost any other field.

How did you put on 60 lbs, yet get better at volleyball. Is that really possible? Your overall game is so much better though you are obviously slower and can’t jump nearly as high. I’m glad your ball skills have improved enough that you can actually play the back row, or set for your team if need be.

Are you seriously only dating Jewish girls? When did you start going to all these Jewish events? When did you start getting involved with all these Jewish charities? I’m absolutely amazed at how much you care about Judaism, Israel, and being Jewish now that you’re 30. However, I’m glad your thoughts on G-d, the afterlife, and religion in general have not changed much. Yet I’m amazed that being “Jewish” is somehow much more important to you. Your connection our collective Jewish history is stronger, your connection to Israel is much stronger, and your connection to other similar Jews is much stronger. In college, we hardly ever hung out with Jewish people or did anything Jewish. Though your sophomore year roommate was Jewish, none of your 7 junior year college roommates were Jewish, nor were most of your best college friends.

KICK ASS BEN. You found people that actually like you for you. All you had to do was be a jerk and think more highly of yourself, and people started thinking more highly of you. Just don’t let it go to your head. It probably has a lot to do with how much your looks have improved. Don’t forget, those will disappear in another 10 years, or if you keep getting fatter, idiot. But seriously, your friends are kinda awesome… like really awesome… like so much more awesome then most of the people you hung out with at 20 (and don’t even get me started w/the kids from high school).

You are very lucky that it’s become easy to stay close to good friends vs 10 years ago! Email is probably the #1 reason, with text messaging and social networks a close second/third. You’re now good friends with people in San Fran, LA, Arizona, Chicago, South Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Denver, DC, Boston, UK, Estonia, Norway, France, and Barcelona. Most of them know what you’ve been doing, and you know what they’ve been doing. Amazing.

Porn & Sexuality:
You still like girls. In fact, you still like girls too much. I guess this means there haven't been many changes, which is a relief (b/c not everyone was sure you'd make it). However, perhaps you shouldn’t still be using the same websites you were 10 years ago. AND the online dating thing you did a few years ago…what were you thinking?

I'm pretty proud of the person you've become...but its time to grow up, realize some of your goals, and do what you enjoy. 30 year old Ben, you've still got plenty of work to do, and I fear for 40 year old Ben.