Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morning guy

Remember how I said I was frazzled beyond repair just a few days ago?

How things can change.

Thanks to some recent upheaval at my place of employment, I, Stephen R. Sears, will be taking over the morning shift.

After years of coming in at 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. and leaving at 2 or 4 in the morning, my new shift calls for me to come in at 5 a.m. Which means I won't be able to sleep until 11 or noon anymore, nor will I get to stay up until 3 a.m. to see a seven-inning Yankees-Red Sox game.

Not to be trite, but my whole life is about to flipped upside down. Our work hours dictate how we live, when we go to bed, when we wake up, when we eat. From working at the Globe to CBS, I've grown accustomed to my late hours, my vampire existence. I'm used to missing most of the day, missing out weeknight activities and generally walking around in a no-man's land surrounded by smug 9-to-5'ers.

I won't exactly be a 9-to-5 person either, but it's the closest I'm going to be in a while.

Of course this will take some time to get used to. I won't be able to stay up and watch Monday Night Football, the Daily Show or World Series games. If I do, I will certainly pay for it the next day. My nightly co-workers, of whom I've grown fond over the past four years or so, could disappear from my life. I'll go from joking around with them every day to nearly never running into them.

But ... I will have weekends off. I will be able to watch most Patriots games in peace. I will leave work and still have hours of sunlight ahead of me. I might be able to do stuff. Going to bed at the grandfatherly time of 10 p.m. will suck at first, but the benefits are enormous.

My colleagues have been congratulating me on my new life. I can tell some of them, even my boss, were wondering why I didn't seem ecstatic. Little do they know I rarely get ecstatic over anything besides sports. When I'm not watching a game, I tend to be very stoic and guarded. People always wonder why I don't seem happy when they give me good news. I am, but my mind just immediately reverts to an assessment phase. (Also, I'm incapable of human emotion.)

I wondered: What does this mean? How am I going to handle this? How can I make sure I don't screw this up?

That's what happened on Friday when I heard the news. This will be such a monumental change, a complete 180 of the last seven or so years of my life, that I'm not jumping up and down. It has yet to sink in. I'm content and very satisfied I will be able to live like a normal human being for however long I have this shift. I know that much.

It's not permanent, but it's a great break. Time to see how the other side operates.

And time to start liking coffee.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Reason No. 324 that I'm getting old

At Cranston East my freshman year there was an assistant principal who had one big focus. No, it wasn't reading comprehension or healthy lunch food.

Her laser-like focus zeroed in on the length of girls' shorts.

I can't remember her name, except that it began with an 'A,' but I do remember this lady sending girls to change all the time. She made many stand straight up with their arms stretched downward and if their fingertips reached past their shorts or skirts they were forced to change or do whatever. Not sure what happened to the offenders. My shorts were always long enough.

I thought of this as I walked around Coral Springs today. I was in a plaza to buy the last of the Stieg Larsson books and there's a very popular Starbucks right next door along with a new YogurtLand place that was packed with people, mostly high-school aged kids.

I walked tall among these youngsters with my two-day old stubble and my 45-year old Jim James Band t-shirt, knowing I can beat up at least 25 percent of these punks. Still, I could not help but notice the shorts teenage girls wear these days.

They make the ones from my high school days look like nuns. It's kind of shocking. I'm no prude, but c'mon. They were wearing underwear.

Before you think of it, no, I wasn't walking around saying "Sweet statutory!" You would have to be blind not to see what I saw. Where are kids' morals these days? What happened to the days of Bayside High? Those girls had class ... and frizzy hair.

Another thing that made me feel real old tonight was my cell phone. I still have the one I upgraded for after my old phone kicked the bucket in New Zealand. A simple flip-phone, it does not perform cold fusion nor can it launch nuclear bombs like the iPhone 7. Unlike the iPhone 42, it can make calls. Fancy that!

So I'm sitting there texting someone and a huge bout of self-consciousness rushed at me. I should have brought out one of these and called Emily Post to report the hussies all around me.

Then I got to thinking I never even had cell phones during high school and how class would basically have been impossible if everyone had an iPhone back in 1998.

And then I threw out my back.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


This year I've been trying the no-vacation thing. I don't recommend it.

In an effort to pay down my credit card, and because I didn't have any grand plans, I have not traveled at all this year. I hate wasting vacation days here on stay-cations so I haven't taken any since early January.

My boss will throw me a day off here and there, but I haven't had a true vacation in 2010. Mostly by choice. I was able to pay off my credit cards, which was a very proud moment for me. That New Zealand trip, among other things, put me in a hole that I wanted to climb out of. Those zeros in my credit card bills lasted two weeks until my car needed nearly a thousand dollars in repairs.

It wasn't meant to be.

Now with July counting down, the toll is demanding to be paid. Work has been insane, for many reasons which I can't elaborate. Lots of people coming, lots of people going, resulting in radical change and the confusion it creates.

Why don't I just take a week off for myself? Good question. I just can't do it. Wasting valuable vacation days I could use later is an anathema to me. It robs me of the opportunity to complain, and that's not what I'm doing. In a roundabout way, I'm just letting you know what's going on in the world of Steve and why this space is looking like the Rhode Island Mall lately.

(Yeah I love that joke.)

I just feel like a zombie. You would be too if you had to watch Hideki Okajima and Manny DelCarmen everyday.

A mini-vacation does await in early October for my sister's wedding. I look forward to it. In the meantime, I have no idea what I'm gonna write about here since I'm so exhausted when I come home from work. Be warned if updates are scarce from here on out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My fair lady

Ask me who my favorite literary characters are and I'd be hard pressed to answer.

I have favorite fiction books, of course. 1984. The Great Gatsby. Jurassic Park. Disclosure. A Time to Kill. All Sears favorites.

But none contains a character whom I really like. Winston Smith? Nah. Ian Malcolm? Nope. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that you only get one book with most of these characters. You meet them, then they're gone. With TV shows, I feel like I know Jack Bauer, Omar Little, Walter White, Patty Hewes or C.J. Cregg.

After reading the Swedish thriller "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" I think I've found a keeper.

The over 600-page crime thriller is a worldwide bestseller. I'm not breaking any new ground, nor does the book for that matter. It resembles much of what you'd see in Criminal Minds or CSI:Wherever. Don't get me wrong, though. The book was fantastic. Gripping, intriguing, haunting, disturbing ... I finished it in a few weeks. With as much reading as I do at work, it usually takes me months to finish a book.

What sets the novel apart is the leading heroine, Lisbeth Salander. She lives off the page. I could practically see and hear her while I was reading it. She's a gothic punk super hacker who wears leather jackets, platform boots, close-cropped hair and several rings in her nose, ears and eyebrows. Of course, she also has a giant tattoo of a dragon on her shoulder blade. Having endured some unknown terrors as a child, she's extremely withdrawn and anti-social. She's very fierce and supremely intelligent, able to dig up even the most secretive person's darkest past and connect the dots to the most complicated schemes and conspiracies.

Mostly, it's her memorable attitude. You don't screw around with this one. Several people find that out in the book. She might look like a haggard puppy but if you attack her, she'll bite your head off. And she's far from a stereotype. Paired up with journalist Mickael Blomqvist, her tender side comes out. She's actually quite protective and just wants to know people she can trust.

The author, Stieg Larsson, found a goldmine here. This character lives off the page and leaves a big mark despite the fact she's disappears for huge chunks of time. The book and character are so indelible I just watched the 2 1/2 hour Swedish adaptation. Never did I think I'd be watching a movie in Swedish, but I don't regret it. The film was faithful (for the most part) and the actress fit Salander perfectly, as you can tell from the above photo.

I write this because "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is one of my favorite books now. If you're looking for a page-turner in the Dan Brown mold, but with interesting characters and without all the symbology, then you should give it a chance. (Be warned, however. It's very twisted and dark.)

You'll grow to love Lisbeth Salander just like I did.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On second thought ...

By virtue of purchasing Celtics-Heat tickets in 2009, I have received intermittent phone calls from the Miami Heat ticket office, usually at obscene hours like 9 or 10 a.m.

They offered me packages to Heat games and I politely turned them down.

In retrospect, perhaps I made the wrong decision.

Now I'd have to do many unsavory things just to have the privilege of standing outside the arena for Heat-Bobcats in February.

I traveled down to South Beach for drinks with a pal from work, ostensibly for some good social time but we both wanted to be down there on this night. We plopped down at a random bar at the Lincoln Mall (an outdoor strip of posh restaurants, art galleries and bars) and waited as LeBron made out with himself in the mirror on national TV.

This pal is a Heat fan, but also a LeBron hater. He was - and still is - legitimately torn about LeBron James teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on his beloved team. For years, this fan has loathed LeBron for what he claimed was James' supreme, preening selfishness. I shrugged him off, thinking he was just bitter because LBJ is more talented than Wade.

(But the past few weeks have proved him right.)

Random beautiful people in designer clothes stopped at TVs all across South Beach as LeBron's head appeared on every single screen I could see. It was like Big Brother. He was EVERYWHERE. Then he said he plans to "take his talents to South Beach" and the fans cheered.

No, they didn't erupt. They didn't act like a massive glob of people in a major European city watching the World Cup. People clapped, yelled, and high-fived for a few minutes then went on their way. They had some priceless art to buy and some homeless people to laugh at.

That said, there was a general excitement in the air and as the announcement rang out through all the speakers, only my LeBron-hating Heat fan and myself stood stoically. If this town can do one thing, it's jump on a bandwagon.

Nine trillion words have been written on LeBron and we're due for a few trillion more in the next few days. I can't say anything that someone else hasn't already come up with. I'm just glad this whole fiasco is finally over. In a few days, perhaps I can go more than 10 or 12 hours without hearing the words "LeBron" and "James."

And after that, perhaps a whole day sans LeBron James.

By that time, unfortunately, I'll still be kicking myself for not buying those tickets when I had the chance. Despise this super Justice League amalgamation in Miami all you want, it would still be great to see in person.

And I let a cheap ticket to witness it all live get away.