Oh, the Songs that Played!

Here's something nice to share with your friends when you get together for dinner: talk about the songs that you liked. And no, you can't pretend to not like that one song by that one boy-band; and no, you can't pretend that you did not actually like the Spice Girls.


Own up to actually liking a few songs that are no longer in your playlist (or are buried deep in the recesses of your operating system, where no one can find them and thereby blackmail you). Be honest about the bands that you wanted to follow around and stalk. Don't hold back: hey, these are your friends! What's the worst that could happen?

Well, actually, there really IS blackmail, but who cares?

You can start your conversation along any of the following lines:

1) Which of the Spice Girls did you really like? What Spice Girls song did you dance to in your room or sing to in the bathroom? (Guys, you are NOT exempt from this question!)

2) Pick: New Kids on the Block, N*SYNC, Boyz 2Men, Backstreet Boys, 5ive, Westlife - pick any boy band. Now, OWN UP. What song did you really like? Come on now, don't be shy!

3) Which rock band did you want to be a groupie for?

4) What was the first concert that you ever went to?

5) What was the first CD or tape that you ever bought for yourself?

You can think up thousands of questions along these lines, but the point is to be honest and to be brave about your inner - ehem - groupie. Or Boy Band Fan. Or Girl Group Fan.

And then you all can start singing choruses. Sing it with me now! "Ice ice baby...dum dum dum du du dum dum...all right stop, collaborate and listen..."

You know you want to.


Even Textbooks Can Bring Back Memories

...yes, not necessarily good ones, but still....

Here's something to write about in your journal. Remember those days you spent in the classroom poring over your textbook and trying to stay awake? Remember those long nights at the dorm where you had to balance work, study, parties, grades, family, and friends? Remember those heavy textbooks you had to buy with your lunch money (make that lunch money enough to buy you lunch for three weeks)? Remember those darn textbooks?

Now, it's time to make a textbook open your mind.

You have two options: You either have a textbook lying around the house, or you dont.

1) If you have a textbook lying around the house, get the first one that you can find. Now, write about it. No, you are not writing a summary of the textbook or a textbook review. You are writing about how that textbook made you feel back then, and how it makes you feel now.

Did you feel at a loss to explain stoichiometry way back when? How do you feel now, years and years later, when you either don't need it, or aren't at a loss to explain it any longer? Did you feel that you couldn't memorize history dates no matter how hard you tried? How do you feel now, years and years later, when you either can call up those same dates, or find that you don't need every detail of history to see you through your day?

2) If you don't have a textbook lying around the house, then try to recall what textbooks you once used. The first textbook that comes to mind should be the most memorable one, so use it. Now, remember how it made you feel. Ask yourself these questions:

a) What did I really love about that textbook? Would I recommend it to people studying the subject it tackled?

b) What did I really not like about that textbook? What would I tell people if they asked me about it?

You can write an essay, a poem, or even a story. But keep it to a minimum of two pages. You want to save the pages of your journal for more entries.


Unblock with Lego Blocks!

No, Lego did not pay me to make this post.

When I was young, I had the usual Barbies and dolls with pretty dresses, the make believe pots and pans and stoves, and the fairy-tale books that told me about the lives of princesses pre-reality. Nobody told me that there were no real Barbies unless a plastic surgeon managed to stretch a girl six feet tall and give her enough boobs to break her back. Nobody told me that cooking was more than pushing a piece of meat from one end of the skillet to the other. And nobody told me that fairy-tales came true only in the movies.

Cynicism aside, I still believe that one of my favorite toys can bring me back to that time of childhood when I had fun playing and pretending. Lego was one of my absolute favorites.

I could spend entire afternoons designing my dream house, and then peopling it with men (I didn't have any Lego women). I even stayed up way past my bedtime to build impossibly high blue, red, and yellow buildings with glassless windows that had green shutters on them. I defied the laws of physics by balancing window frames on make-believe verandas for lack of an arbor. I followed directions on making a gasoline station out of a few blocks, and ended up making a drive-through restaurant complete with a giant chicken (which came from my play-cooking set, and which, if actually drawn to scale, could feed legions of Lego men armies for days).

Now, it's your turn.

If you've never played with Lego blocks, it's never too late. You can buy them from your nearest toy store. Start with basic blocks, or kits; you might want to steer clear of the special editions first until you've gotten used to the basic red, blue, and yellow ones. This way, you can be creative without a leaflet of directions telling you that the dinosaur head should go on the long block, or the turrets should go atop the tower lest it go smashing into the battlements.

If you've played with Lego blocks before, and if you still have them, then lucky you! Take the box out! If you're lucky enough, take the boxes out! Start building! You don't have to make a mansion or a sophisticated airport. You can simply make a cube, a little house, a cottage, a make-believe airplane, a submarine (with glassless windows and green shutters, no less!). From your humble beginnings, you can go on to make subdivisions, government offices, school houses, and a university. Talk about graduation!

You don't have to spend hours and hours designing your Lego buildings, and neither do you have to spend thousands of bucks to get the best Lego builders' kits. All you need is to work with a little, start small, and let your imagination go. Don't think that anyone is grading you or paying you to make the next big Lego miracle.

Just sit down with your Lego blocks.

Don't think too much.

After all, this is what this exercise is for: letting your brain rest.

More tips for getting the most out of your Lego experience:

1) Have a Lego day at the office! Suggest a team building lunch, where teams build their perfect office using just Lego blocks.

2) Have a Lego afternoon with your kids, or with your kid brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, or cousins. Don't compete with the kids - just unwind.

3) Have a Lego block set instead of a little sand box on your desk at the office.

Studies show that people who play with Lego blocks tend to be more creative. Just kidding.

Whether there really are any studies on Lego blocks shouldn't matter to you. All you need is to build, and even have a few Lego men to talk to when the stress gets too tough.

When they start talking back, however...