As I continue the clean out of my old room, in my parents’ house, I am unearthing some of the coolest reminders of my high school years… one of them a drawing I did in an “in-school detention” that I got for throwing an orange at Patty Ratchford’s face (note to students: teachers don’t appreciate the coolness of food throwing as much as you do).
I had never been in that much trouble prior to that day, and I never had been suspended. I had often imagined getting a day off from school for a small rule bending incident, but an in-school detention was a pure form of torture that had you: having to go to school, but isolated from the entire population for a whole day, YUK!
I was banished to a small room adjacent to the principal’s office in the front of the building, and not far from the office that I had to report to the day I got caught tossing the orange. I was ordered to sit in the one desk (only one could fit in this broom closet sized room) where it was easily pushing 95 degrees. I was given a series of school assignments to complete and was told someone would be in to get me for lunch and a break… eventually. IT SUCKED. But from all badness come a good result to some degree, and this yielded my best artwork ever.
Let’s face it, when all you have is time to think you can be pretty creative, I fact down right miraculous as the picture here will illustrate. Maybe I’m bragging up this artistic wonder work a little too much but look at the dedication, the attention to detail, the near lifelike movement in the shading and… I’m losing you here aren’t I?
The lessons I learned during that penance were more than what the teacher that sent me to a well-earned punishment thought he was going to instill, like:
1. I don’t like confinement at all (for a whole day or even less),
2. I work a lot faster than most (so the assignments I was given to do were done about ninety minutes into a 6 hour day),
3. I get bored very easily (that’s kind of what put me there in the first place),
4. Apparently I’m an artist,
and 5. I do some of my best work in “lock down”… see illustration.
I never really took the time to ask myself if I were “living right”, but as of late it has been a looming storm cloud that I can’t help but pay closer attention to.
The questions that go with living right are the killers: Do you drink too much? Should you lose some weight? Are you taking full advantage of the time you have? Basically: are you really enjoying your life? Good question... and I now ask you to be honest, and answer it too.
In a recent newspaper article, the facts seem to say, we’re not: (Scranton Times-Tribune 3-21-13) We're overweight. We don't exercise enough. We smoke and drink in excess. Those factors help to explain why Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming and Susquehanna counties all rank in the bottom of a new report on the healthiest - and the least healthy - counties in Pennsylvania. Health-care providers interviewed categorized Northeast Pennsylvania as a "hard-living region." "Yes, we do work hard, but we also drink hard, smoke hard and we don't exercise well, It is something that culturally has been an issue here for years.”
I for one, am scared to hear this, and frankly was shocked and awed by the findings. Sure it’s funny to talk about how “nuts” we are, about how we drink hard, about how we live like “wildcats” and spend our nights partying like there’s no tomorrow… but there is a tomorrow coming, and I’d like to see it. I’d also like to be healthy when the world spins around the next several hundred times… and I also feel like I owe it to the people I share it with, not mention to myself.
We are better than this NEPA, even if the choices of our forefathers may not have been so logical.
So, take a moment to decide where you want to be in the next ten years…
if its jail, rehab or a cemetary, we’re moving in the right direction…
but if it’s happy, sober and healthy, it may be time to take a long look in the mirror…
the future of us may lie in what you see there.
In an effort to make the world a better place to live, every so often I feel inclined to rant about the way that things should be (but usually aren’t)… today I will try to make convenience stores a little MORE convenient. Here are a small and brief set of Etiquette Rules we should all be following. Please read and pass along as a public service to the other residents of Earth.
#1.) Know How to Use the Credit Card Machine. You SHOULD be able to do it without messing it up twice and taking five minutes.
#2.) Don't Scratch Off Your Lottery Tickets Right Next to the Register. The worst is when someone buys a ticket then scratches it off while they're still standing in line.
#3.) Don't Trash the Soda Fountain Area. If you spill something at HOME, you clean it up, do the same here.
#4.) Don't Take Forever in the Bathroom. If you're using the bathroom at a convenience store . . . it's probably for something SERIOUS. But remember, that's probably the case for MOST people who need to use it. So don't just sit in there playing games on your cell phone. Do what you need to do, and be done with it.
And finally, my special favorite convenient store peeve:
#5.) If It's a Gas Station, Don't Park at the Pump. This one's obvious, but a lot of people don't think about it. After you fill up at a gas station when it's busy, move your car to a parking space before you go inside, so someone ELSE can fill up.
Why is this even a question we have to discuss? How insanely self-centered are you if you do this? Do you park at the 30 foot point of your 60 foot driveway? NO, because no one could use the space and it would be inconvenient for them, and you!
So please be courteous to those of us that breath the same convenient store air that you do… it always smells sweeter that way.
Ahhh, the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade, some love it, some despise it, but it is undeniably a huge celebration in NEPA! Some would call it an Irish holiday, some call it an excuse for an annual drinking binge, and others say it’s a NEPA tradition… I call it a day to really be proud of being a person who lives in northeast Pennsylvania. Honestly.
For the record: I am not Irish, I am not a “Friendly Son Of St. Patrick”, and I no longer live in the Electric City of Scranton (I had an apartment In Tripp Park in my post college years)… but I do really look forward to the parade day that happens on the Saturday prior to the official St Pat’s day, as much as most of the folks that live there, because of the metamorphosis that takes place in the city as a result of it happening.
Yes, there are quiet bars that transform into frat house basements loaded with beer soaked floors and wall to wall people that barely know if the sun is out or not, yes there is way too many people in a town that cannot handle another fifty-plus-thousand- people in it, yes there are unruly drunken fights (but not many, considering) … but I see The Electric City made better for parade day, always.
Why, you may ask… because people are nicer. Yes, I see a better NEPA on parade day. Look closely and you’ll see it too! I see a ton of people who are perfect strangers shaking hands, raising toasts (to nothing really at all), high fiving just because, hugging strangers, and trying very hard to enjoy a happy feeling of “community” as opposed to the depressed, dark and dismal chaos we live with for the other 364 days of our NEPA lives.
OK, maybe they (and I) have a little “liquid encouragement”, but whatever the excuse, you can’t deny the positive outcome of a great day of coming together for a common cause, even if (like me) you have nothing in common with the theme of it all what so ever!
I have never left a St. Pats parade day in Scranton without having met a new friend, usually completely by accident, NEVER, and I hope that this year is the same. So, Erin Go Bragh… whatever that means, and enjoys the place you live more than you will most of the rest of the remaining year ahead… Parade day is a happy day to be proud of, where we will be a unified group of happy loony’s, and we will (very strangely) stand as one.