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Turn it on

May 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

I’ve been getting these little video nuggets of golf wisdom and the Square to Square method from Doug Tewell: 8 Golf Myths.

He sends them to my email.

Today I received Myth 5: Turning the Club Head

“Do you turn it off?” the subject line reads.

And in the body of the email:

“If you’ve been turning the club off in your follow-through, then this video is for you.”

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Surely Mr. Tewell wasn’t intending to inspire deep reflection about my life and my head based on this phrase or the position of my club head. But he did.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

In golf, as in life, sometimes you don’t even realize that it’s off. That you’ve turned it off.

Yes, consider how it turned off in the first place. But don’t dwell on it.

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Focus and turn it back on.

All of it. Maximum power. Full-bore.

Not later.

Not soon.

Now.

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Miracle on Broadway

February 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

This story took place today around noon, within the geographic radius of W25th and W21st streets, Broadway and 5th Avenue, around the Flatiron building in Manhattan.

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It happened like this.

I decide to leave the office, the Flatiron Building. It’s around lunchtime. I have to go to Citibank three blocks away and to pick up something to eat.

Before I leave the office, I do the obligatory winter dance.

I change into my snow boots, layer on my pink fleece vest, wrap my green scarf around my neck to partially cover my mouth, and then finish with my bright neon green windproof, hooded pullover. I grab my cellphone and put it in my jacket pocket, which I zip close. I grab my wallet, which is more like a clutch purse. It’s made of wool, striped cream and white, and about five inches long, three inches high. It’s too large to fit in my jacket pocket, too thin to hold my phone, which is a Samsung Note 3.

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After pulling the hood over my head and putting my gray mittens on, the kind that turns into fingerless gloves, I tuck the clutch under my armpit, which has become routine when I don’t want to carry my backpack or handbag.

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I’m properly dressed when I’m outside, feeling perfectly warm and comfortable despite the wind and frigid cold.

I walk on Fifth Ave to my bank. There are two tellers occupied, and one man ahead of me in line. There is enough of a wait that when it’s my turn at the teller, he thanks me for my patience and apologizes for the delay.

I’m at the teller to get a certified check for my rent. After a few minutes, I have my check, fold it in half, tuck it into the purse and head out. Before leaving the bank I stop at the ATM and withdraw $60.

I walk back, pass the Flatiron. I’m on Broadway on my way to the corner deli where I often pick out a mix of things from their hot buffet when I can’t decide what I want to eat.

It’s busy as usual, lots of people in line waiting for whatever they ordered and others at the cashier ready to pay.

I fill my container with different styles of chicken and some vegetables, grab a bottle of Poland Spring Dark Cherry Sparkling Water and an orange, and walk to the cashier. She places everything into a white plastic bag. The total is a little over $9. I pull out $20 from my purse, pay, get change, and as I often do, walk back to the buffet and grab a few packets of hot sauce and throw them in the bag before I leave.

I walk back to my office building, swipe my ID card, which hangs from one of my belt loops, and then wait for the elevator.

I don’t have to wait long before one of the elevators arrives. I walk into the elevator with about three or four others–no one I know personally.

My office is on the 16th floor. Around the 4th floor, I free my fingers from the mittens, unzip my jacket, then unzip the fleece vest, put my hand in the jacket pocket, feel my phone, and decide not to pull it out. I look down at the plastic bag and then it slowly dawns on me that I’m missing my purse.

I recheck the plastic bag, pat myself down, check the pockets of my pants.

I hit one of the floors to leave, mumbling to everyone that I left my purse at the deli. I hope, I say. One woman consoles me and says, Oh yes, I’m sure it’s there.

I don’t bother to zip up my jacket, take a quick survey of the ground around the foyer, ask security if he picked up a stripes purse, No, he answers and I walk briskly to the deli, looking down at the dirty snow covering the sidewalk along the way.

Just in case.

When I get to the deli and ask if they have my striped purse, they say, No. There’s nothing here.

I believe them. I’ve been going to this deli for years. And if I’d left it, they’d have noticed and held onto it until I realized and returned for it.

I retrace my steps and head back to my building. I recheck the plastic bag. Check trash cans along the way.

I walk back to my office, tell everyone that I’ve lost my wallet. I get on the phone, cancel my bank card and realize that I need to get a new cashiers check. When I ask the customer service person on the line to also cancel the cashiers check, she puts me on hold for a few minutes before returning and telling me that I have to go back to the bank and only a manager can help me.

I haven’t taken my layers off yet, tell the marketing assistant I’m going back to the bank and hopefully I won’t be long.

When I get to the bank, I explain that I lost my wallet and the cashiers check that I had just gotten 20 minutes earlier. The teller remembers me, has a mixed expression of sympathy, surprise, and amusement on his face.

I’ll be back, he says. I’ll help you.

After a few minutes, he returns.

We can’t cancel the check, he says. And because it’s an official bank check, you’ll need to file a claim. Once you file a claim, the process of evaluation takes 90 days.

That’s unacceptable, I say. There must be something or someone who can and will override this process.

He asks me to take a seat and leaves again for a few minutes. While I wait, I google DMV and replacement drivers license. Before I find out the process involved, the teller returns.

Follow me, he says, and leads me into the branch manager’s office. She explains that she’s able to cancel the check, but that I’ll have to wait 24 hours in case the check has already been cashed.

I fill out the paperwork, the branch manager brings in a woman to notarize the forms. Before I leave she hands me a temporary ATM card.

I walk back to my office, turn my computer on, my coworkers want to know what happened and they repeat how genuinely sorry they are.

Then one of the marketing associates walks over to me and then mid sentence says, Hey. You have a message. Your phone’s blinking.

She and I look at each other and say in unison, No. No way. No.

Put it on speaker phone, she says. I want to hear.

I say out loud, to myself more than to anyone listening, No it’s probably just some random work related request. Michelle probably asking me about some schedule.

When I punch my phone’s password in, a woman with a heavy Queens accent fills my office.

Miss Estrada, I’m calling from Bellmar Realty. A gentleman left your purse with us. It’s at the security desk. We’re at 936 Broadway.

I kid you not, the associate starts tearing up and can’t stop saying, Oh my God. Oh my God. Karma, Marie. You have good karma.

As I’m googling 936 Broadway, I say to her, Wow, humanity. I can’t believe it.

As soon as I have the location, I bolt. While waiting for the elevator I run into one of the marketing managers and tell her what just happened.

Her voice gets high-pitched and she says how wonderful that is and how happy she is for me. Awww, she keeps repeating, the way one would while looking at an adorable fluffy kitten playing.

I find Bellmar. It’s literally one minute away, a building I’ve never noticed but walk past every time I walk to the deli.

I tell the woman at the security desk that I received a call and ask her if she has my gray and white striped purse. She smiles, opens a drawer, and hands it to me.

I don’t bother checking its contents. For whatever reason, I know nothing is missing.

When I walk into my office, the associate is all grins.

I still can’t believe it, she says.

I put the purse down on my desk, peel all the layers off, change into my office appropriate shoes, sit down and finally open the purse.

And I was right. The bank check, my drivers license, cash, pink polka dot pen, receipts… everything. I got back everything I thought I lost forever.

I pick up the phone, call the bank and tell them my purse was found. Fortunately they aren’t efficient and haven’t completed the claim process.

We’ll shred the paperwork, the branch manager says. You’re lucky. Your purse was found by one of the honest ones out there. That’s rare.

Yes. Yes. Thank you rare stranger, whoever you are. You’ve renewed my belief in humanity with your actions today. With the choice you made.

Thank you. Thank you. I’m forever grateful to you.

Blue Skies

February 8, 2015 — Leave a comment

It’s been one of those lazy wintry Saturdays for me–hoping no one calls, rationalizing staying in and delaying anything that involves going outside because of the gray skies and crummy weather.

I actually love the winter in New York, the fresh crisp air and pretty snowfall. But sometimes I just don’t want to leave the warmth of my space and bother with putting on endless layers just to step outside if I don’t really have to.

But during on the fence moments like these, I usually end up feeling glad that I said Yes and Go instead of No, Stay.

It’s also during these times that my mind inadvertently starts playing games with me.

Today was no different.

If the Sky stays gray, Stay. If it turns blue, you’ll go outside.

Deal?

Deal, I say.

Promise me?

I promise, I say.

Around 10am, I looked out my window. The Sun seemed to be having a mini battle against the gray Sky.

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I had just eaten a satisfying no-hassle breakfast of ramen and kimchee and was perfectly content.

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So what comes next shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Don’t win. Don’t win. I begged the Sun. Don’t turn blue, Sky. Don’t do it. Don’t succumb…

Well.

Just short of noon, the Sun was proudly blazing against the most perfect hue of blue. And a bird, all alone, soared, making broad loops, simply having a ball.

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I honored the deal, kept the promise I made to myself, and well… the day only got better.

Willie Nelson, take it away: Blue Skies.

Assess and Purge

February 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

I can’t shake the desire to throw out, give away, and say my fond farewells to things. Objects.

People often do this during Spring. Spring cleaning.

But I do it every month. Assess my surroundings, move things around, look at wear and tear.

Admittedly I have an emotional attachment to certain items that serve as reminders of experiences. I keep pretty things that I simply like looking at.

But even these things sometimes get chopped. Or at least put safely away outside of my view.

The people in my personal life are currently all safe. I’ve carefully assessed and determined at least for now that they’re all worthy of my time and attention.

Seems like a cold selfish approach. Maybe. But it helps me see things more clearly. What I want. What’s right for me. If you’re not a source of inspiration or admiration, you’re excess weight.
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Fortunately, my true loved ones and I have a mutual understanding. There will be punctuated moments of noncommunication before that reach out. Barring emergencies, it’s how we operate.

I was about to state an exception. My weekly call to my parents every Sunday who live thousands of miles away.

But then I realized, whether it’s a function of routine or simply respect for them, I actually want to call them. Check in. Make sure they’re doing okay, that, as my stepfather always macabrely answers when I ask how he’s doing, they’re still vertical.

With my parents, true friends, and loved ones, the understanding is the same.

The time we spend together is special. We’re not doing so out of duty or simply maintenance. It’s not work. It’s pleasure. Fun. We choose to expend the effort.

They have a place and function in my life and I make room for them. Make the time. It’s effort. Not work.

There’s a difference.

Daily rant. Sorry.

February 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

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I catch myself and others around me using Sorry as filler. As an interruption. A question. An entrance.

And when the word needs to be used as it was intended, it requires a qualification.

I’m really sorry is a common one.

I consciously stop myself now from verbalizing or writing Sorry for minor things. Being late. Bumping into someone on the subway.

I’ve found that other words or an explanation go further.

Excuse me.
Pardon me.
I didn’t hear you. Repeat what you just said please.
The train was delayed. I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.

Maybe I’m making a mountain of a molehill. But it bothers me that we’re saying Sorry when we’re really not. Or if we haven’t done anything wrong.

The New York Times, in an article, Do you apologize too much? explored this same issue. Read the article.

And, what the hell, do this little experiment tomorrow. See how many times you catch yourself saying Sorry or hear others using it.

Mountain? Molehill? Did you mean it? Did they mean it?

I’m forecasting lots of Nos.

To Tsu or Not to Tsu

January 31, 2015 — Leave a comment

I’ve been experimenting with this relatively new, free to join, but invite only social sharing, profit sharing platform for about a month now.

Like anything new I attempt, I’ve been obsessive.

The thing is, if I’m willing to accept something new into my life, whatever that may be, small or grand, I must be willing to put time and effort into it.

If not. Then why bother?

Of course after giving it a shot, doing what I can to see how it works in my life, if it turns out not being worthy of my time and effort, if I’m not loving it, I’ve no problem walking away, closing the door, and moving on.
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I’m not there yet with this new platform. I’m still getting a hang of it, trying to understand how it works. How to play the game.

I started three weeks ago. I’ve amassed nearly 600 “friends” and 220 “followers.” I’ve devoted I’m guessing 10 hours to posting and earned $1.

Before this, I’ve never analyzed or tracked my personal social sharing behavior, the amount of time I’ve spent posting my own content and engaging with others’.

I know for sure that since I started this new thing that I’ve posted so much more than I have before. Trying to catch up with the others who tease me with their 35K followers and post their analytics chart to show the enviable dollar amount.

So it’s hard to say, from the standpoint of monetization, whether it’s worth it or not for me to continue. If I already post anyhow, I may as well get paid for it, is my current stance.

But there’s a healthy load of skepticism in this venture.

I haven’t set a goal or timeframe yet. Sure, the ultimate goal would be to set myself up to a point where the system starts working for me. Where reward far exceeds effort and time.

I suppose this is the ideal ratio and scenario in every project, experience, situation.

It’s still early. I don’t know when and if that ratio will happen here–certainly not now and the way things are looking, anytime soon.

I’ll remind myself now of something I’ve read before that’s always stayed with me–from Seth Godin.

“‘Doing the best I can’ is actually not the same as ‘doing everything I can.’ When we tell people we’re doing the best we can, we’re actually saying, ‘I’m doing the best I’m comfortable doing.’ As you’ve probably discovered, great work makes us uncomfortable.”

I’ve not done everything I can… so onward!

If you’re curious about this profit sharing social networking platform, here’s your invite to join: http://tsu.co/marieeestrada

Cloaked

January 25, 2015 — 2 Comments

The way my apartment is designed, there’s an entire wall of windows that faces east and overlooks Bushwick. I keep those windows curtainless since the light and view is what I love most about the space.

This open design also means that to a certain degree my apartment is visible to the buildings and high rises across the way. They’re far enough away though that the threat of Peeping Toms doesn’t register and change what I do and the way I navigate around the space.

This morning, as with every morning, the sunrise and chirping starlings were my wake-up call. The starlings like to sit on my sill and socialize.

They were particularly chatty this morning and so when I woke up, I wanted to see how many of them there were. I slowly and carefully walked toward the window, keeping my body hunched low to get a closer look. But as soon as I got within two feet of them, they flew off.

But it got me thinking about invisibility and whether the birds would know and sense I was there even if I were invisible to their particularly keen eyes.

They’re back again now that I’m sitting on the couch a safe distance away, sipping my coffee, mapping out my day and the coming week, ignoring them.

The thought of being invisible seeps back into my thoughts and I wonder, What would I do if I were invisible today? Completely invisible to all external senses. No living creature can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel me. And it only lasts for 24 hours. These are the parameters and conditions my mind set.
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I suppose I’d do multiple checks to confirm that I hadn’t gone bat crazy and was actually invisible. First thing would be to knock on my neighbor’s door, say Hi and confirm with their response.

My clothes, would they be invisible, too? Let’s agree they would be. Though it would really be something else to wander the city naked without feeling the temperature. Especially now during the cold winter.

Would I call someone? No. I’d keep it a secret.

Now what?

Hollywood. What would Hollywood do?

Rob a bank? A jewelry store? No. Too complicated. Sneak in to a Citibank, steal passwords into the system, get into my account and add zeros. Maybe. But someone would be fired because of it and I think the guilt would get to me. Or the bank would figure out that there was a computer error anyhow.

I’d probably not be hungry since I’d be too wound up at first. But I’d probably walk into a restaurant and steal bites from entrees just as they were being served. Because I could. I’m sure I’d do little things like that at first since I’d likely still not believe I was invisible.

Now what?

I’ve only got a day.

Goodness I’m bad at this.

I’m not particularly interested in knowing my loved ones’ or acquaintances’ secrets. They’re secrets. Personal.

But I would go to see them and interact with them as evidence. I’d bring my phone and charger and snap pictures of them going about their business, not a clue I was present.

I might visit unrestricted places. Take more pictures. Jot down what people say and what they’re doing so I could publish an article or write a book about what happened when I was invisible for a day.

I might go to the airport and sneak on a personal jet. But everywhere I want to go would waste my precious minutes. And how would I get back?

I could fly to the White House and see what Obama does. Washington, DC isn’t too far from NYC. But he’s abroad right now I think. I could still take pictures of things the public doesn’t have access to. More for the book.

The question was posed by YAHOO recently and most responses fell into the categories of heroism, theft, revenge and retribution against personal and political injustice, pranks. Here are some examples:

Weasel McSweasel:
Take upskirt shots of all the sexy ladies I find.

Ara:
I would probably sneak in the headmaster’s office and see the question papers of every subject (we have to cram for our papers). Then I’ll break in a bank heist and well steal..ahem ‘borrow’ some million dollars and then go on planning my trips to my most favorite places of the freaking world! Oh goodie what fun will it be!:)

Audrey:
Wear a bed sheet and go into public to scare people, when they think it’s a prank and try to pull the sheet off, they’ll sh*t their pants xD

Analyst:
Spook the NSA. HA HA let’s see them get a taste of their own medicine!

Anonymous:
Just once I would like to go shopping and be barefoot. That’s what I would do. Let my hair, make up and dressing up to shop I would wear my old worn out jeans and just have fun.

Hannah:
Well…I already am invisible.. no one notices me… nothing would change *sigh*

Marigold:
If I ever became invisible for a day, I would be kinda like a guardian angel; saving people who end up in accidents like: car accidents, fires, floods, kidnappings, robberies, suicide attempts… etc. I would just go about doing good for that day and protecting people… and animals. That would be one day of miracles and less people and animals getting hurt.

GeoGhoul:
I would clean out every Swarovski store I could get to in a day……and add countless pieces to my collection!!! Mwauh-Hahahahahahahahaha

Millymollymandy
I would rob a bank! No joke. I’d use my power of invisibility to it’s very best potential, and to me, that would be to rob a bank and take as much money as I could carry. Then I’d get a gun and shoot David Cameron 🙂

Answer49
Go to walgreens target and walmart and just get tons of stuff. then run naked for the rest of the day 😛

The answers went similarly and endlessly on like that.

Needless to say but I will anyhow, my fellow humankind was no help. Good for a quick chuckle, sure. But overall uninspiring. And with the exception of Millymollymandy who unabashedly and stupidly announced she would shoot a world leader, the answers were expected and benign. Granted the forum is yahoo. But still.

I was hoping for more and instead got bored. So I searched more about invisibility.

Did you know that for 24.99 a month you can hire this company to act as your invisible boyfriend or girlfriend? They send text messages and call you. Here’s the article. Hire Invisible Boyfriend.

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Well that kept me amused for all of five minutes.

So I searched some more.

CHA ching! Jackpot. I discovered that there’s an actual 3-D cloaking device in existence, The Rochester Cloak, and along the way learned some cool facts about invisibility and how it works. Watch the video:
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I’ve spent an enjoyable morning on invisibility. Now it’s time to show myself to the world.

But before I sign off…how would you use this or any cloaking device? What would YOU do if you were invisible for a day?