Friday, March 27, 2009

What would you do for a donut?

It was a Saturday night and I made a brief mention of having donuts Sunday morning, the following day. Usually Sunday's are for my "world-famous-po-dunk-no-two-are-the-same" pancakes, but after a date with Huell Howser which took us to Stan's Donuts in Westwood, I had a hankering for the fried little nugget. Donuts to me are what smack is to a junkie. Offer it up at any time, whether I am fit or not and I will eat it. My self discipline is non-existent when I sense a donut at work, at home, or wherever I may be.

So the plan was set for a quick morning trip to the local donut shop.

Sunday morning, and I look up donut shops on my rectangle of glass (iPhone). The typical Winchell's and Dunkin Donuts pop up, but I wanted something original, something "mom-and-pop." A shop that had flavor and character and was "manned" by a sleepy old guy or perky Asian woman who barely speaks English. I wanted authentic, not uniforms and definitely not a chain.

So I found it. It was a donut shop and bakery about 2.6 miles from our house. Turn right, veer right, stay left, u-turn here and presto you're there in about 5 minutes' times. Simple enough if you drive, but the 2.6 miles became a walk, an outing for the family. Baby in stroller? Check. Luke, Cole, you ready? Yep. Mama, you have everything? I think so. Good. We're off on foot and we tear up the first 1.5 miles and make the right. Suddenly the landscape changed. Gone were the beautiful old Craftsman's and in to view came chewed-up sidewalks, trash, bars on windows, and graffiti. We were certainly out of our element, but this is what we do. We venture to places we may not be comfortable with and I bitch about why we are doing this and my lame wife says "It's all about the adventure!" I say "But there's graffiti on the damn sidewalk! Who tags the sidewalk?" It's my usual barking and while I was continuing to wonder where we were, the boys were loving the beat up old cars and random bits of trash and because Luke was on his bike, he was loving the undulation of the sidewalks. Cole, on the other hand, is a junk collector and would marvel at broken, abandoned things or hubcaps or whatever.

The 2.6 miles by foot, with 2 boys, and a munchkin in a stroller is, in reality, a 2-hour walk.

Eventually we made our way to this supposed bakery-donut shop and I was a bit surprised at what we found. It did have the token middle-aged Asian woman and the random filthy guy downing a cup of Joe, but the posters for the sex pills and various Mexican bands playing around town took the prize. All over the windows these posters were plastered, but in the end I didn't care. I was the junkie with a singular focus of a real soft, delicate sprinkled donut.

The boys ordered their favorites and my wife got her apple fritter and then we set off back to home. At some point we had to stop to sample the delicate fruit (donut) and did so in front of the local library. Here was a family of 5 chowing on donuts in the wrong part of town, but we didn't care. We continued on to home taking in the local character that included a sweet 1970's station wagon and a bike shop that had more bars than a jail.

Eventually we made it back and while the adventure, as my wife calls it, was to a part of town we would never normally go to, it was just that... an adventure. This is what we do, and this is what I did for a donut. As they say "the journey is the destination."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I am beginning to hate Facebook and Twitter...

Don't get me wrong I think the idea behind social networking is brilliant and for the most part it seems to be used in a decent way. Companies can exploit it to show their wares, while others can promote their widget or band or expertise or whatever and on and on...

At the same time it's become a place for lonely people and narcissists (in my opinion) to tell everyone what they are doing at that very moment: "Just went to Starbucks", or "Drinking wine in Santa Barbara, any takers?". These are the things that really bug the shit out of me. I have been guilty of the same thing (in my own mind) and though most of the time it's deliberate for the sake of mocking the whole situation, at times I do want people to know that "My baby girl just barfed all over my new shirt." And the cynic in me wonders why everything that everyone posts is always so positive. I never ever see anyone post: "This was the most fucked-up day in my life, I feel like slashing my wrists!"

What is it about this "networking" that has gripped most every person between the ages of 12-120? The very word networking is being abused in a sense. It's a word, really, that should be used to connect yourself to others and vice-versa, but now it has just turned into conversation, indirect at best. It's conversation with typed letters, IM's, chatting, and all that. So why am I involved with it? Why do I Twitter and have a Facebook page and blog here. Who the "F" knows. I have yet to truly figure it out. That's what this stuff does to you. It draws you in, or you are drawn in by people who say "It's awesome!", or "Social networking is it man." Is it peer pressure? I have yet to gather any information that has truly enhanced my life or work life. None of these social networks has yet to give me information that is indeed mind-blowing. Perhaps it's because many of the Twitter postings are mostly just forwarded messages, and Facebook is just enhanced or updated pictures of family, etc. Initially, Twitter was interesting to me but my interest has depleted because of the mostly mindless babble and banter between people. In fact, I have now eliminated many of the people I was following because I couldn't handle the random "Just took a nap", or "So and so just won the race," which is followed immediately by someone else forwarding the same message of who just won the race. The duplication and nothingness was driving me crazy, and what's weird is that I opted to "follow" these people. Now I don't. They may not know who they are, but I do and it feels great to "eliminate" them. "I have 3,500 followers!" Snore.

Facebook too was something someone referred me too. I made quick "friends" based on other peoples friend list, and my initial focus was to use it for work. Chat with cyclists and create web content for our ailing website. At some point I began accumulating friends from the past: from high school, former places of employment, elementary school! Connecting with people from the past was exciting and interesting. Seeing what they were up to, where they worked, who they are now. What the high school athlete now a fat retard? Was the hot chick now some crazy religious freak? Was the seemingly normal girl, now crazy and on meds? All this intrigued me and for a while I was loving it until I truly saw the dark side of a few people and replayed the drama on the "walls" of Facebook. "Hey, what ever happened to 'so-and-so'?" "She went nuts, over the deep-end... We're no longer friends." Plenty of divorce and religious conversions, and everything you can think of. As well, there's plenty of good things like an elementary school friend who is still artsy and funky and lives a stones-throw from me, or a friend who now lives in Italy that I will connect with in May.

I can honestly tell you that social networking for me is a classic case of a love-hate relationship. Either way it has drawn me in and I can't get out! Someone help me.