by Fara Greenbaum
I hate touchscreen technology. Hate is a strong word, yet not strong enough to truly express how I feel. Hate may be a strong word, but it’s a short word. Loathe. Loathe has more letters but still only one syllable. Abhor. Abhor has 2 syllables and abhorrence has 3 but it sounds like an embarrassing gastrointestinal affliction. Okay, I’ve got it. I really have a bee in my bonnet about touchscreens. Who decided it was a good idea we all have to live our lives appeasing finicky little screens that only like to be touched in certain ways with a certain type of pressure from certain angles? Imagine if you had a lover like that…you’d kick them to the curb! You wouldn’t swipe them ever so gently to the curb. But lo and behold everyone’s slavishly going around caressing their darling little screens. Who do I have to fuck to get a mouse and a keyboard around here? I actually have a blackberry (they still make those? you’re asking and probably googling) with actual keys that I love dearly, and If I’d wanted to spend $200 more (and really I should have) I would've gotten one with a teeny tiny little mouse so I’d never have to touch the damn screen for the rest of my life! No EMF’s for me! I’ll be the last cancer free person left on earth! just banging away at my keys to my heart's content! Although I suppose if there’s no one left to text that would be kind of lonely.
For future generations, survival of the fittest will favor those with the skinniest fingertips. Forget about bulging biceps or heaving bosoms, skinny fingertips will be the most highly sought after physical attribute. Fingertip reduction will be plastic surgeries next big boom. Cultures that still practice arranged marriages will prize skinny fingered prospects. The skinny finger craze will definitely result in a brand new genre of fetish porn. (Skinny fingertip porn may already exist, I did not conduct a Google search to find out).
Touchscreen technology is not the only bee buzzing around in my bonnet. This hive of annoyance also includes how technology has turned people into socially awkward dorks. Last time I was in NYC a friend invited me to a night club out on the Hudson river that was an Ibiza import to hear some DJ friend of hers that was apparently all the rage. The place was fairly cavernous and there were probably 300 people there, 298 of whom were standing stock still on the dance floor holding their phones up to film the DJ. The other 2 club goers, myself and an African American gay gentleman who was definitely born before 1980, were dancing our asses off. It’s extremely eerie to be dancing amidst a sea of non-moving non-talking phone holding robots. I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that someone would prefer to spend their Saturday night out with friends filming a guy who’s also standing pretty much stock still while pushing buttons on a computer, a film they will most likely never watch and neither will anyone else for more than 5 seconds. What happened to dancing? Conversation? Laughter? Flirtation? Spontaneity? All gone apparently, drowned in a sea of stationary dorks.
If I could only liberate myself from this persistent buzzing by untying my bee filled bonnet…I’d fling it at people who constantly take pictures of themselves. I was on a water taxi from Miami Beach to Key Biscayne, sitting up front and looking forward to the sea spray when a group of about 8 male tourists from a foreign land embarked. They spent the entire trip standing in the bow, blocking the view while they took a million pictures of themselves and each other. I don’t think a million is an exaggeration. I wished I could speak their language so I could yell at them over the engine ‘You already got the picture!’ or ‘Just sit down and be in the moment’ or ‘Nobody’s going to fuck you because you’re on a boat!’ With that last outburst I was imagining they were taking all those photos for Facebook or Instagram, with the hopes that some fair maiden back home would see them on a boat, be overcome with desire and tackle them as soon as they deplaned. To me this scenario seems highly unlikely, but then I don’t know the people they know.
The moral of the story is…look up from your phones. Feel the breeze, see the stars, smile at a stranger, savor the moment! You can dick around with your phone when you’re dead.
by Fara Greenbaum 2/10/2020
If I had a time machine, I’d use it to go back in time and prevent certain sounds from ever having been invented. Number one on my sound hit list is the eeee…..eeee….eeee…. alert a truck makes when backing up, which is also the sound of a construction elevator going up and down the outside of a building, so I’d be killing 2 sounds with one trip. Leaf blowers and car alarms would be next. As to the methodology I would employ in order to prevent the invention of offending sounds, I certainly wouldn’t want to cause anyone physical harm. I would either A). prevent the thought of an offensive sound from having been formed in the mind of the inventor or B). prevent the formed thought from manifesting in physical reality. Perhaps I could pull the plug on funding for offensive sound research and development. So many possibilities! I don’t have the time machine yet and am still working out all the kinks.
That eeee….eeee….eeee…. sound is one of the primary reasons I had to leave NYC. I could hear it 24/7 inside my apartment and it was incredibly unsettling. One holiday weekend I couldn’t take it anymore and actually checked in to a hotel one block from my apartment where I knew it would be quieter. The front desk guy looked at the address on my ID and was like ‘really?’. The fact that I lived a mere block away compounded with the fact that this particular hotel was mostly frequented by gay men must’ve struck the front desk clerk as an impenetrable mystery, or at the very least a boring mystery, or, maybe he never gave it another thought. I prefer to imagine he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, plagued with how none of it made any sense. I myself have been at the mercy of several unsolvable mysteries, one being the conversation I overheard at a newsstand in NYC many years ago where a lady was saying to the man behind the counter “my second favorite metal is titanium”. I have so many unanswered questions in regard to this statement A). What was her first favorite metal? B). Who the heck has a favorite metal? C). How did they get on this topic of conversation? D). Does she just go around town regaling people with tales of her favorite metals? E). Was the man behind the counter an active participant in this conversation or just being polite? F). As a non-native English speaker did he understand what the heck she was talking about?
It’s fairly quiet where I live now, at least at night thank goodness. During the day there’s some annoying lady who lives downstairs and is always yelling at her dogs. Like a really intensely angry crazy lady yelling. I’ve never actually seen her, but I’ve definitely heard her, and have been cursing the day she was born. This lady really needs to stop yelling at these dogs, at least within earshot of me. She needs to either A). Not have dogs. B). Have dogs but not yell at them. C). Take her dogs a few blocks away from the building to yell at them. D). Go to therapy to deal with her anger issues. E). Take Ayahuasca to deal with them faster. F). Fuck off and die.
Perhaps I can combine all my noise reducing efforts. Once the time machine is up and running I could send the crazy yelling lady and her dogs back in time to visit potential inventors of offensive sounds as a kind of aversion therapy. After about 10 minutes of listening to her they will have done a complete 180 and turned to inventing ever more sophisticated types of noise cancelling technology. I will leave the yelling lady and her dogs in the past as a constant reminder that silence is golden. Once I’ve effectively rid the world of all offensive sounds I will take my time machine on a quick trip back to that newsstand to hear about the lady’s first favorite metal. Ah yes! Peace and quiet and peace of mind. Can’t wait.
Oy, vey. The coronavirus. This is a situation that is not only fucked up it’s also fucked down. The scary and potentially dire health and financial consequences of this pandemic are in no way shape or form funny. However, since I’m a person with a natural inclination for humor, I can’t stop thinking of jokes about it.
I have been in almost total isolation for a while now and it’s made me realize that, although I have long been fantasizing about getting away from people (not all people, but most people), I do crave human interaction. BCV (before coronavirus) I would come home at the end of the day feeling triumphant. ‘I’m finally alone!’ ‘Woo-hoo freedom!’ Now, without any human interaction, I don’t get so annoyed at people that they make me crave solitude. When I come home from a sporadic venture outside there’s no victory dance. It’s just the me show, starring me, me and more of me!
I’m an obsessive compulsive claustrophobic germaphobe who enjoys spending a lot of time alone so, apparently, this is my era. I am not happy about it….but….as it turns out….I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG! All of my diagnosed OCD behaviors…relentless hand washing, phone cleaning and the avoidance of touching door handles, subway poles or anything in a public restroom? BCV that behavior was considered neurotic. NOW…practical! Spending 75 percent of my time alone? BCV…unabomber-ish. NOW…prescient! Feeling claustrophobic around a lot of people? BCV…anti-social. NOW…instinctual genius! And I’ll tell you, as the self-nominated spokesperson for claustrophobic people everywhere, this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! No more leaping away from close talkers! And those people with no sense of personal space who keep stepping forward every time you take a step back? NOW…they get it! They finally get it! Claustrophobes around the world are, at this very moment, filled with a secret glee, jumping for joy and virtually high-fiving from six feet apart.
I keep thinking of this woman I used to see all the time in NYC who would never touch a door handle. She’d stand in front of a door until someone else opened it, all the while clutching her purse in a paper towel. I used to think…’well that’s a little whack-a-doodle, even for me’….but now I realize…she was a prophetess of an era to come! I’ve taken her germ avoidance methods up a notch. In the 2.0 version I’ve dispensed with the waiting and the purse and just walk around clutching a piece of balled up paper towel (recycled of course) in my hand and use that to touch everything. Watch and learn people, watch and learn. Also, for those of you who read my previous columns, you’re already up to speed on my hatred of touch screens…and guess what….I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THAT TOO! Now the whole transactional procedure takes me twice as long as I must hold the stylus that's attached to those damn machines in my balled up paper towel hand and have so far been experiencing some operational difficulties, to say the least. It is physically possible to use a touch screen through a balled up paper towel but you really have to press down hard. Extra hard. Like don’t be shy about it because there’s a bunch of people in line behind you at Trader Joe’s and we really need to get this show on the road.
Every time I come home from a walk or trip to the store I have to sanitize myself and everything in my backpack, and being the OCD germaphobe that I am, this has now become a very confusing, stressful and lengthy process during which I spend about 20-30 minutes dithering in my kitchen. In what order should I disinfect everything? Do I need to wash my hands in between touching every item? If I washed my hands with dish soap do I need to wash the outside of the bottle I just touched with my not yet disinfected hand? This sanitizing process has evolved into a real chicken and the egg situation, and is so mentally exhausting I’ve limited myself to one trip outside a day. It used to take me forever to get ready to go out, now, it’s coming home that’s the problem.
In essence, what I’m saying is, that although this is a terrible and scary time I wish was not happening!- the coronavirus has officially validated all my life choices. It’s an era I can really sink my teeth into. A moment in history where I can lean in and grab the bull by the horns….so to speak. You didn’t think I would actually put this era in my mouth did you? Or lean against it with my bare shoulder? You can be damn sure I’m not grabbing any bulls.
by Fara Greenbaum
I recently rented a car so I could drive around screaming my head off. My new normal is spending 50 percent of my time furiously enraged and 50 percent of my time meditating, breathing, dancing, biking, walking and driving around with the windows rolled up shouting profanities so I can calm the fuck down. The rental car companies have taken a huge hit and I think it would behoove them to market themselves to angry, car-less individuals who may enjoy an afternoon of yelling in an automobile. There are so many things to be angry about right now. Let me count the ways.
I am furious with this countries leaders for having complete and utter disregard for the value of all human lives. The people running the show should not be running the show. They shouldn’t even be standing outside the show selling scalped tickets, although that would be right up their alley. I am furious with the state of Florida for not paying unemployment during COVID 19. Now the governor has reopened the state and is forcing people to go back to work even though it is not safe, because hundreds of thousands of people have not received any benefits. I think that, even though all these ‘leaders’ claim they don’t believe in science, they are actually conducting an experiment to see how many of what they consider to be ‘expendable’ people will get sick and die. I am conducting my own experiment to see how long these soul-less assholes can exist without being sucked into a black hole or bursting into flames. A girl can dream, can’t she?
I have spent the last 2 months trying to collect unemployment in Florida. Their website was designed by Franz Kafka and could be used as a military torture device. Anyone would crack after just a couple hours of use. I have also spent insane amounts of time on the phone, faxing, emailing and mailing the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. I have even tried alternative methods of getting in touch with them. I sent a request for monetary reconsideration via carrier pigeon, and believe me, it’s not easy to find a pigeon in Florida. Carrier seagull would’ve been more efficient. I stuck a letter in a bottle, addressed it to P.O. Box 5250 in Tallahassee and flung it into the sea. I sent them a smoke signal of my employer's federal identification number. I hired a psychic and she submitted my social security through mental telepathy. Let me tell you…if you feel like you have too much sanity, that your mental health is just too darn good, I highly recommend applying for unemployment in the state of Florida. Their department of economic opportunity will provide you with the opportunity to lose your motherfucking mind. Trust. No more sanity for you! Good riddance! Who wants sanity? It’s so much better to be muttering to yourself in a dark room whilst killing mosquitoes with your bare hands.
I have recently been provided with a fresh opportunity to be furiously enraged. They reopened the state and 90 percent of the people I see packing the bars and restaurants are not wearing masks or keeping any social distance. If these people want to self-select out of being alive I won’t stand in their way…BUT….they’re putting all the people working in these places in danger, as well as anyone else they come into contact with after their night out on the town. Get ready for a big spike in cases! Not that you’ll hear about it since they’re not releasing accurate numbers because ‘it doesn’t look good’. I’m of the opinion death looks worse.
I’m lucky to have many self-care practices to turn to so I don’t, as they say in Massachusetts, ‘have a cow’. For those of you unfamiliar with that expression it means ‘freak out’. Why having a cow would make you freak out is beyond me but I guess it depends on the circumstance. Having a cow in my apartment would definitely freak me out, and I’m also lactose intolerant. I am fortunate to be able to turn to meditation or deep breathing to calm down. Today however I accidentally took a deep breath in an elevator. I am now getting my apartment in order because in the event of my untimely demise I don’t want people finding the 5 million receipts I’ve never gotten around to shredding. At this point the carbon copy on the receipts is so worn down they’re mostly blank, and could just as well be recycled totally intact. In fact, come to think of it, the credit card numbers on those receipts are now defunct. I can use them (instead of gloves or paper towels) to open door handles and touch buttons. I knew I’d been saving them for a reason!
Wishing everyone reading this health, peace and prosperity. Keep calm and…drive around screaming your head off.
by Fara Greenbaum
For the past few months I have been trying every conceivable (and inconceivable) way to make this era we’re living in more fun. I know my desire to have fun while a potentially deadly disease is running rampant alongside economic upheaval and grave social injustices may make me sound like a violinist on the Titanic…but I say (to quote JFK, Hillel the Elder and myriad others) ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’ I believe it is our right and our duty, as living, breathing (so far!) citizens of this earth to have as much fun as possible. Sure the world is going to hell in a sanitized handbasket but it doesn’t help to mope about it. Yes it’s important to take action to create the world you want to live in and there’s a lot of very important movements going on to get involved with…but the inspired action I’m inviting you to take is to seek out levity, silliness, humor and fun in every nook and cranny of life. This method of looking for fun is akin to having a tube of toothpaste that still has some paste inside but it’s spread all over the place and you have to squeeze and roll the tube to gather enough together to put on your brush. If you’re really determined you CAN gather and squeeze fun out of your tube of life. Here are some methods I’ve discovered to increase my daily FQ (fun quotient)
MASKS: Wearing a mask is an absolute necessity, but the act of wearing it is not, in and of itself, a fun undertaking. It’s hot and uncomfortable, can make conversation muffled and also makes it very difficult to tell if other mask wearers want to fuck, marry or kill you. BUT I’ve squeezed the mask and discovered that, as a person who constantly talks and sings to herself I can now mask up and roam the aisles of Trader Joe’s chatting to myself to my hearts’ content while simultaneously performing a very animated lip sync to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Flying under the radar as an incorrigible self-talker/lip syncer inevitably sends me into fits of giggles, which also go undetected. In fact when we finally have a vaccine (fingers crossed) and no longer need to wear masks I will have to work on adjusting my behavior so that I don’t end up hauled into a psych ward for relentlessly talking, singing and laughing to myself. If you’re seeking out other fun mask wearing activities I highly recommend making disparaging comments about the driving skills of passing motorists while looking them directly in the eye. As long as you don’t say ‘would it kill you to use your freaking turn signal!’ loud enough for them to hear they have no knowledge of your critique. Unfortunately the bad drivers don’t learn anything new but engaging in this secret commentary is very satisfying and guaranteed to make you chuckle, which circulates air in your mask, making it cooler and more comfortable. It’s a win win!
GLOVES: In order to make wearing gloves more fun I’ve bestowed upon them an overly long name. I now refer to them as ‘that which protects me from a dangerous and potentially ineradicable global virus borne out of someone somewhere eating something.’ For instance I may say ‘Oh shoot, I have to run back upstairs because I’ve forgotten that which protects me from a dangerous and potentially ineradicable global virus borne out of someone somewhere eating something.’ Sometimes I like to showcase my fashion flair by wearing just one glove, a la Michael Jackson (without the weirdness and unsavory predilections). Unlike MJ, who apparently wore his on the left hand to cover vitiligo, I wear mine on my right hand so I can cover myself against a dangerous and potentially ineradicable global virus borne out of someone somewhere eating something…aargh…vitiligo is sounding pretty good right about now.
SHOPPING: When I’m waiting in line at the supermarket 6 feet behind the person in front of me and shoppers with carts have to pass between us I like to step back and forth in a deliberately confusing manner so they don’t know whether to pass by in front of or behind me. Sometimes I even break into a little jig like an Irish step dancer, go old school with the Vienna waltz or bust out a very dramatic Flamenco solo. Once the castanets I’ve ordered on Amazon arrive I’m going to be ready to submit for the zoom version of ‘America’s Got Talent’. Oh if only they could see me lip sync!
DT DRINKING GAME: And last but not least I’ve created a drinking game based on the current POTUS most used words. Participants watch him on TV and do a shot every time he says one of his favorite words or phrases, which include ‘stupid, weak, loser, moron, dangerous, bad and out of control’. Geez! It’s almost as if he’s describing himself! This game is not only hella fun it’s also a surefire way to get blotto so quickly you obliterate the very notion that he’s president! It’s like it never even happened!
Some would say these are serious times and that is indeed true, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that the more dire the situation, the more arduously we must strive to squeeze out the fun! We’re all going to die anyway so we may as well have a good time while we’re here. If I was to get struck by lightening I’d much rather have that happen while I’m laughing my ass off then while I’m mired in a state of murky existential despair. If you tend to spend your time in some angsty, mopey morass I highly suggest you cut it out right now! It’s a waste of time! When your life is coming to an end I doubt you’ll be thinking ‘dammit I should have had less fun and spent more time worrying!’
Here’s to (safely) acting out sublime absurdities, going on madcap adventures and laughing hysterically with family, friends and strangers!