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Chasing The American Dream

May 31, 2008


photo courtesy of Stephanie Klein

photo courtesy of The Barnard Club of South Florida
A lot has transpired in our lives since the last time we saw each other 3½ years ago. More so in her life than mine. I changed jobs, moved from Plantation to Coconut Grove, had plenty of relationship failures, and am still writing my first book. As for my dear friend NYNY, she found the love of her life, married him, quit her day job, had twins, moved from NYC to Austin, Texas, and wrote two books. She’s currently on her Moose book tour and we caught up during her Miami stop.

I arrived a bit early hoping I could have a little one-on-one time before her book reading began. I spotted her sipping a glass of white wine and chatting with her mom. She still looks great. “Hello stranger,” I said to her. She turned to me and flashed her infectious smile. She stood and gave me a big hug. The kind of hug that you remember for a lifetime. I asked her as many questions as I could given the fact that a roomful of people wanted to do the very same. She has so much going on in her life. Raising twins is challenging enough but when you throw in a book tour, interviews, TV appearances, potential movie and TV deals, more writing projects, whew! She’s so successful and I told her so. But I didn’t necessarily mean successful as in fame and fortune. I meant that, very simply, she’s a lot happier now in her life than the last time we met. She agreed. Another hug. She asked me how I was doing, and I told her about the situation I was reviewing. She wanted details, details but the room was filling up with fans and her friends I met from the Barnard Club of South Florida. I told her the good news was that she’d get to meet her tonight, and I promised her I’d keep her posted on the details.

While I was waiting for my friends to arrive, and as Stephanie mingled, I got a chance to spend some quality time talking to her mother. She was charming and engaging. I could see Stephanie in her, or is it vise-versa? We talked about life and agreed that life was indeed a
test. She even gave me some motherly advice. I was really glad to get to know her.

My friends arrived and Stephanie got to meet of object of my affection...errr, umm…situation before beginning her book reading. She read passages from
Moose. Poignant and humorous. The audience laughed repeatedly. I sat there so proud of her, and I wondered if someday I might be lucky and talented enough to be doing the very same thing someday? Stephanie answered questions from the audience and thanked everyone for coming. The night ended when she signed her last book. Mine. She took her time, pensive in thought, Sharpie in her mouth. I didn’t read what she wrote until I got home. I told her I hoped we would keep in touch and she looked at me as if to say, “Duh!” I wished her luck and gave both her and her mom a hug. It was a truly memorable night, and I was happy my friends got to meet and greet Stephanie.

My friends and I went out afterward for more memories. Let's just say I was not the happiest of campers when I got home, but that’s a post for another time. It was a good time to read what Stephanie wrote in my Moose book. I needed a pick-me-up, and she gave it to me. I read it slowly. I could feel tears well up. Sappy but true. She wrote something personal and inspirational. Perfect because that’s exactly what kind of friend she is. Personal and inspirational.


May 26, 2008


Round 1: 12:38 p.m. I walk into the Coconut Grove Post Office. First reaction? Everything is normal. There is a huge line, there are too few employees to help, and it’s hot as hell in the building. It took me 22 minutes to get to the front of the line. I had my package all ready to mail except for the label. Why? Because there were no priority mail labels in the little self-help section and there were no pens to write on your label should there have been any. The postal employee weighed my package and gave me a label and told me to step to the side until I filled out the label. She called, “Next,” before I could even say anything. Naturally, the next person had some complicated transaction and I was forced to wait 15 minutes for a label that took me a whole 45 seconds to fill out. During those 15 minutes I’d built up enough anger to really let this lady have it. But that was the old Plantation. The new Plantation could calmly discuss his difference of opinion with said postal employee. I explained to her that I didn’t think it was fair to push me aside for a label that took me less than a minute to fill out, and that had they properly supplied the self-help area, I wouldn’t have had this problem in the first place. Let’s just say I didn’t receive a whole lot of sympathy from her. OK, now onto the actual mailing of the package. She asked me if there were any breakables, liquids, blah blah. I didn’t really think about any possible consequences so I answered honestly, “Yes.” I was mailing back Andy’s cologne bottle that he left while he was here. The postal employee apologized and said I can’t mail the cologne. No perfumes, liquids allowed unless…unless I could tell her the explosion point of the bottle. I told her I left chemistry behind in the 10th grade and I walked out. Round 1 winner: USPS

Round 2: May 7th 12:30 p.m. I walk into the Downtown USPO. Short line. Wow, my lucky day. Mom’s having trouble with the State of Vermont Department of Taxes. So I have to mail all her tax support and her tax return (being the good son I am, I do her federal and state tax return) back to her. I had her Mother’s Day card also and just figured I’d throw it into the folder and mail it all together. Priority Mail once again. 2-3 days arrival time. I never buy the extra services like delivery confirmation, signature required, or insurance. It’s a box of papers. Why bother? I called mom on Mother’s Day and she can’t figure out why I didn’t send her a card? What??? That box should have arrived Friday at the latest. I told her to let me know if it showed up the next day. Nope. So I went back to the USPO and asked them if they could trace the package. Well, since I didn’t buy any of those frivolous extras, there was no way to track the package. The postal employee thought there was still a chance it could arrive at its intended destination but if worse came to worse, it would come back to me because I had a return address on the label. Two weeks pass and there is no sign of the package anywhere. Round 2 winner: USPS

Round 3: May 21st 12:15 p.m. I walk into the same Downtown USPO, but today there are tons of people. I’m the 10th person in line and it is extremely hot in there. Unbelievably there is only one cashier. If each person takes 5 minutes, it’s gonna take me 50 minutes to get to the front. Another weird thing is that there was actually another employee in there. But she was simply telling us where to stand in line. I was really dumbfounded as more people entered and waited. 20 people in line and only one cashier. Who is the brains behind this outfit? I wouldn’t have to be in there if they hadn’t lost my package, but I had to re-mail my mom’s tax return. Well, it ‘only’ took me 45 minutes to get to the front and I think I sweated off around 5 pounds. Yes, this time I paid the extra and got delivery confirmation for my priority mail. Another lunch hour ruined by the USPS. Round 3 winner: USPS

Round 4: May 23rd 8 p.m. I get home and checked my mail and almost passed out when I saw the mangled box in my mail slot. The lost package found its way back home. It had taken a beating and had holes down both sides of the letter box. I checked the package to see if there was any clue as to why it was not delivered. There were two such clues. An Air Force One Stamp for $4.60 and a blue label that said, “Important Customer Information.” I read the blue label. And I quote in exact replicate font, “We regret that your mail was not collected or is being returned to you due to heightened security requirements. All mail that bears postage stamps and weighs more than 13 ounces MUST be taken by the customer to a retail service associate at a Post Office.” Hmm, seems to me I held up my end of the bargain. I was the customer, and I went to a retail service associate at a Post Office. But it seems the retail service associate at said Post Office slapped a stupid stamp on the package instead of metering it properly and violated her own heightened security rule. Round 4 knockout winner: USPS

Why is it that any U.S. corporation can balance their budget but our own government can’t. What’s the budget deficit these days? How many trillions of dollars? And the poor USPS, they must get their budget cut down to the bone. I think the employees who work there are actually very nice but the system they work under is clearly broken. I’m sure this is not a priority fix for the next President, but I for one, would love to see an improvement.

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May 18, 2008


I vote foe, she votes friend. What's your vote?

FRIEND: todd, i am sorry to say this to you but you are one of the least intelligent man i have ever known. now you must face this every day and get yourself in emotional drama, for what? i am glad that i am over you, way over. i can't stand your emotional reason, no logic, no nothing and based only on your mind.

When i go out with you, i often thought this guy who purchased tons of make up stuffs to send to someone who did not give him even a kiss, spent inordinate amount of money for an air head just so that she could stay for a week, wined and dined someone so that at the end she married someone else, and here someone who loves him, made love to him and be there almost every step of the way, yet he could not spare 25 bucks to get her a ring. i can never forget that. no, not that i am poor or anything but that day marked something in me that i finally understand. and that is, men love to chase and often forgot the gold already in his possession. I don't care who you will meet, you never find a second person like myself, never in a million year. i am in love with charlie -- and i am saying this to help you open your eyes and see things clearly for a chance. we will never be back to where we were -- not that you care – thanks. God that now I also don't care.

ME: Who's fucked up? Me or the woman who loves me one minute and hates me the next? The one who asks me to the beach and kisses last week but tells me she loves someone else this next week. The one who is constantly on again off again? You have made it clear enough how little you respect me or like me or whatever. I get it now so please do not email me anymore. And one more thing. I TRIED to pay for your ring but they didn't take American Express. I've been called many things but never cheap. I would have paid for it if I could have.

FRIEND: Love comes very suddenly ... and I do love you as a friend. we will always love each other as friend and still have the 'hot' for each other I think. I did not know about the american express and I am sorry but that event made me felt like shit for a very long time. I am here as your friend and I won't go any where, sorry.

ME: You said, "we will always love each other as friend and still have the 'hot' for each other I think."
How can you possibly think that after just telling me, "you are one of the least intelligent man i have ever known. i am glad that i am over you, way over. i can't stand your emotional reason, no logic, no nothing and based only on your mind." Not to mention all the crap you said about what I spent my money on. OK. I didn't buy you that ring. I already told you it was because they didn't take my credit card. So that pissed you off and you never told me about it. Think about this before I go away. Did you ever ask yourself did you ever pay a penny for anything while you were with me? I think I pretty much paid for everything. I can't love someone who continues to insult me and my intelligence or lack of intelligence as you believe. I mean it. Please do not write me again. Friendship is over.

FRIEND: we have been through alot and all friends quarrel. i often speak before i think and this is something i must work on but throwing a great friendship over words is silly. after all i stick by you regardless of whom you love or don't love. that should speak plenty what kind of friend i really am to you. any way, in my heart you are my friend regardless what you say that i am not.

May 11, 2008


I’ve been here before. More than once, in fact. So I should know better. I do know better. Our lives are filled with plenty of mistakes made. The key is learning from them, isn’t it? I realize I’m hard on myself, but one of the biggest problems I have with “me” is not learning from mistakes. That requires among other things, common sense, a sound mind, and good judgment. I feel like I possess them. But for me, they are clouded by, of all things, hope.

I’m still reviewing the situation, and I know hope has no business here. I know not because of being hit in the face with a frying pan, but by keenly observing and listening. The clues are subtle but there. It's possible I'm wrong but doubtful. So by all means, I should dismiss hope and spare myself an extremely difficult letdown. I really thought I could, but now I’m not so sure. Déjà vu.

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