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Posts tagged ‘Facebook’

Christmas Cards and Serious Stuff

It’s that time of year again when the mail is fun. Usually it’s junk and bills and solicitations for charitable donations (possibly with cute address labels). But for a few weeks as the year ends, holiday cards (and I’m going to say holiday instead of Christmas because some friends very deliberately send me Chanukah or non-Christmas-specific cards) bring cheer & sometimes glitter. I love seeing my friends’ kids get older, love seeing the cute pictures chosen to include, and it’s lovely to know someone was thinking about you, even if only for long enough to address an envelope. 🙂

Historically I have sent my fair share of cards. I like doing my part to spread joy and sparkle, and selfishly, I find you receive more cards in return if you send them out. Although I do try not to get hung up on things like, “Oh my god, I got a card from Mary Beth, but I didn’t sent one to Mary Beth, maybe now I should send one to Mary Beth!” It’s not about taking inventory.

This year, however, I’m not sending any. I ran out of time. I suppose technically I still have time but I have resigned myself that it’s not going to happen without a lot of stress and hand cramping, and I don’t really need that.

So consider this my Christmas card to you. If you’re reading this, that pretty much guarantees that I appreciate you!

I have just written and deleted about seven different versions of a sentence trying to articulate how fortunate I am to have so many friends who mean more and more to me as every year passes. Which is funny, because this segues nicely into the other thing I wanted to talk about, and I thought it was going to be a big jumbled mess, but now maybe it won’t be.

In addition to the usual pictures of cats and lists of 23 things you should do to be a more human human and pithy stati (make no mistake, I love Facebook, in spite of what that sounds like) my news feed is filled on a regular basis with people urging you to hug your loved ones and tell them that they are, in fact, loved. A recurring theme in our world seems to be not telling the people you love how much they mean to you until it’s too late. My family is a perfect example. We all love each other very much, but we don’t actually say the words very often.  So I was thinking I would like to write blog posts to each of my parents, sharing the things that are special about my relationships with them and saying the things I want to say while I still have the opportunity. I kicked the idea around a little but didn’t actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, to be more accurate).

And then, four weeks ago today, my dad called and said, “I just Googled symptoms of heart attack and I think I might be having one.” I thought he was kidding, because that’s how he is. I thought he was going to follow it up with a crack about a political article he’d read or some other silly line. He wasn’t kidding. And in the car* on the way to the hospital, he said something that sounded like, “If I don’t get a chance to say this later” and I told him to shut up. And then I spent two hours while he was in the cath lab sitting in the waiting room** kicking myself that my last words to my dad might be “shut up”.

Thankfully, those weren’t my last words and Dad is doing amazingly well. But I definitely have to write the blog posts now. It may take me a little while, because I’m super emotional about it still and I have to be in the right frame of mind to allow myself to get all weepy, but they’re coming.

And also, this is why I’ve been too busy to blog and haven’t had time to send Christmas cards and have just been generally discombobulated. For two weeks all that existed was Dad and work and sleep.  And now I’m catching up with life. My annual staycation is next week, and I could not be more ready.

Merry Christmas, friends. Happy Holidays. Thanks for reading, thanks for being a friend, thanks for being you.

________________________________________________________

Footnotes…

* Life Lesson #1: Call 911. Call 911. Call 911. Do not drive to the hospital yourself. It was a bonehead move and fortunately everything worked out ok for us, but it was a HUGE MISTAKE. If you ever find yourself in this situation, please learn from my mistake. An ambulance clears traffic. An ambulance can run red lights. An ambulance driver is not emotionally invested and his/her hands probably aren’t shaking while driving. An ambulance comes with a spare person to provide medical care in transit. CALL 911.

** Life Lesson #1 2: Have someone come sit with you. It’s not selfish or silly or an imposition. Have someone come sit with you. Call me; I will come sit with you. It’s nice to have company even if you don’t want to talk. And also, if none of your people come, the chaplain won’t leave and that is awkward and weird. I know this because I was stupid and didn’t have anyone come, but fortunately my uncle knew better and he came (and brought my grandma) and so did my friend Kristin. K also fed my dad’s dog and took my house keys and went home and fed my dog and brought my keys back to the hospital. She’s a rock star. And also, I need to give more people spare keys to my house.

(Life lesson #3….learn to count. Sheesh.)

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We need to talk.

Ok. I have calmed down. I am not going to post the hotheaded rant I wrote earlier in the week. I will say this nicely. Ish.  But after the Facebook thread I was in a day or so ago where many of us shared the same issue, I decided some of you really need to hear this. And if you read this and wonder if I’m talking about you, I am. And eighty-two other people.  And your kid’s school.

Your family is celebrating a milestone of sorts and that is swell and I am happy for you (well…ok, now I’m just being polite) and I will even look at some of your pictures on Facebook. Knock yourself out with the pictures and the happiness.

However.

Your child did not just graduate from kindergarten. Or fifth grade. Or pre-school. Or eighth grade.

As a noun, a graduate is a person holding an academic degree or diploma.
As a verb, to graduate means to receive a degree or diploma on completing a course of study.

Did your kid get a diploma? Then he didn’t graduate, sorry Charlie.

At what point did we decide that merely advancing to the next year in school merits this kind of pomp? Is it just me, or does it take away from the truly special occasions when we make every little thing into a Life Event?

And lest you think you’re powerless against the system, Klondike just sent me the following message about his son:

‘’Btw, you’d be proud of A. He decided 8th grade ‘graduation’ is stupid so he didn’t bring home any of the literature and thus none of us attended.’’

Atta boy.  😀

Frazz is on board too, and you know how much I adore him.

frazz graduation

Things that annoy the crap out of me

  • People who slow down wayyyyyy too much for speed bumps. (As in, almost to a standstill.)
  • The french fries at Steak n’ Shake
  • Nicki Minaj
  • Raspberry seeds. Also, when I get obsessed trying to dislodge a raspberry seed, and I keep trying even when it’s long gone.
  • When I forget that my bra has a teeny, tiny hole in it that allows the underwire to stab me.
  • Anytime someone on a reality TV show references his/her “journey”. Unless it’s The Amazing Race, where they are, in fact, “traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time,” as in the actual definition of the word. Not when they are idiots going on fake dates or quasi-famous people learning to dance.
  • When I don’t throw away the bra with the teeny, tiny hole in it, putting it away to wear again someday.
  • People who treat Facebook like Twitter
  • Twitter
  • When autocorrect changes an ACTUAL WORD to another, no more superior, actual word. (Examples: gave/have, toes/ties, dog/dig)
  • That the laces on that one pair of cute black shoes won’t stay tied. It’s actually just the right shoe. WHY won’t it stay tied??
  • People who talk excessively about gluten.
  • People who are late for yoga on a regular basis.
  • My stupid flipper-shaped size 10.5 feet.
  • The fact that women’s shoes run in half sizes until you get to size 10, at which point they only come in whole sizes.
  • Nicki Minaj. I know. I already said that. But seriously.
  • That some passwords have to be no more than 8 characters long and some have to be at least 13 and some have to have special characters and some canNOT have special characters. How on earth are we supposed to remember which is which is which?
  • When people don’t turn on the turn signal until they’re already turning. It’s so I know you’re going to turn, not that you already are turning – I have eyes.
  • People who invade my space bubble.
  • People who say “wah lah” when they mean “voila”.
  • Couples who share a Facebook profile. Or an email address. Um, hi. Codependent much? THEY’RE FREE. Get your own, you lazy bastard. You’re married, not conjoined.

This list is by no means exhaustive. I’m confident I’ll think of five more things as soon as I hit “publish”. 😀   And I promise I’m not really a cranky bitch; I just needed to share.  (Plus, Nicki Minaj is dreadful and like nails on a chalkboard.)  What’s’ on YOUR list?

Paleo Schmaleo

Me
11:13am
I will shove processed carbs down the throat of the next person who says “paleo” around me.

Her
11:13am
omg. dude. that made me laugh so hard i almost peed.

 

Ok, seriously. Can we please give it a rest with the over-sharing of food choices, dietary restrictions, fad diets, gastro-intestinal issues, food allergies, all of it?

I support healthy living, even though I don’t always act upon it myself. I am all for learning about food and nutrition and taking an active role in your own well being. I am sorry you are allergic to nuts or are lactose intolerant or have celiac disease. I am glad you have discovered that eliminating carbs from your diet does whatever you wanted it to do. I support your choice to be a vegetarian. But sweet fancy Moses, do we have to listen to you talk about it all the fucking time?

(And by “talk” I mean Facebook, but also the real world.)

Let’s keep whether or not it’s boring out of it. I find it so obnoxious when people go on and on about whatever life-altering change they’ve made in a manner that suggests we should all make the same change immediately. We are all different, and what’s good for you might not be good for me. We all have different needs and different bodies and different tastes. And quite frankly, one person raving about how she is now eating nothing but dirt and we should all immediately start eating nothing but dirt starts to feel a little bit like someone suggesting her church is the one we should all join.  Please stop proselytizing your food. I am begging you.

Because also, it gets kind of boring after a while.

 

And ps, my dad hasn’t eaten meat in something like 35 years, and many in  my family have some kind of health-driven dietary restrictions, so I know it’s possible to not talk about it all the time, because we don’t.

The Handwritten Mission

Last week my friend H stopped by to surprise me with a “just because” present.

I’m a big fan of “just because” presents, both giving and receiving. (Duh, who doesn’t like presents?) Just a little something to brighten the day. And what did she have for me? Muppet note cards. (I. Love. That the world knows I love Muppets. Because I do. Because they are awesome.)

She said, “I don’t know if you would use these, but I saw them, and they were cute, and I know you like the Muppets.”

Cool.

And then I thought about putting them in my antique secretary with the many other note cards and lovely stationeries I have accumulated there, and what a waste that was.

And then I thought about how much I love getting a handwritten note in the mail. Don’t you? Mail these days is boring. Bills and junk mail, with the occasional charitable solicitation. Birthdays and the holiday season are so much fun because the mail might come with colorful envelopes and sparkly cards with messages from friends and family. It’s lovely. Maybe you get lucky every once in a while and receive a thank you note or some other off-season communication from a friend.

It’s definitely a sign of the times. In college my best friend and I sent long, chatty letters back and forth between Bloomington and Ann Arbor. I kept a supply of funny cards on hand to mail to out of town friends for when I wanted to catch up. Now we are super connected with Facebook, and texting and email are faster and cheaper and more efficient than mail. So doesn’t it make you feel a little special when someone goes to the trouble to write a note, to rustle up a stamp, to actually be able to produce your address?

And the thing is, it doesn’t actually take that much time and effort. I know this because after H left, I took my new Muppets cards to my desk, sat down, and used one to write her a thank you note. It took all of five minutes to write, address, stamp, seal, and pop into the mailbox. I thought to myself, “I should do this more often.”

This would require overcoming my graphophobia. Holy shit. That is a real thing. Did you know that? I did not. (As previously mentioned many times, the internet is effing amazing.) Once again I’m feeling a wee bit of remorse for what sounds like I’m making light of something that might actually be a serious affliction for someone. Although as I’m perusing some of these sites, I do probably fall somewhere into this. My handwriting is atrocious. And I am extremely self-conscious about this. Unreasonably so. If I were to write you a note, I would freak the fuck out about my sloppy penmanship. I would be mortified by my inability to write in anything resembling a straight line, and how I can’t actually write in cursive, and instead do this weird hybrid that is mostly printing, and also, as a southpaw, am afflicted by smears and blots. It would look like a first-grader wrote the note. A first-grader with bad penmanship and really good spelling.

However. I recognize that everything I just said, while true, is also ridiculous. And that you might be willing to overlook my first-gradeness and simply appreciate the wonder that is the unexpected piece of mail that merely wants to say hi and make you smile. Which is a very wordy way of saying that I am embarking on a mission.

I am going to write more handwritten notes.

I am going to do it on a regular basis. Like, say, once a week. That will be my goal. It’s not going to be hard & fast – I don’t want to miss a week and beat myself up about it and let it derail me and declare it a failure resulting in abandoning the mission. I want it to be an enjoyable project, not a task. Writing to your friends should be fun.

This will allow me to use all the fun note cards and stationeries I already own, and then get more. A fringe benefit is shopping? Suh-weet. I am a sucker for pretty papers and fun cards.

Tangent: While we’re talking about stationery, can we please take a moment to discuss the correct spelling? For the last 10 or 15 years I’ve been on a quest to get the entire world to learn this. “Stationary” means immobile or having a fixed position, like a stationary bike at the gym. “Stationery” is writing paper. And here is a silly mnemonic trick: stationery with an “e” goes in an envelope.

Ok, let’s sum up:

  • I have horrendous handwriting, and this causes me anxiety.
  • However, my desire to make you smile supercedes that.
  • Hence, I am going to send you surprise notes.

And if you want a note, make sure I have your address – if you leave it here, or send it to me because of this post, I promise I will write to you. I don’t know when, I don’t know why, but that note will come. And I’ll give y’all updates from time to time by way of a loose sort of accountability, so that I stick with it.

Facebook & Politics

Lately a lot of people have been bitching and moaning about all the political posts on Facebook.

“No one’s ever going to change anyone’s opinion by posting something on Facebook.”

People seem put out by the sharing of articles and cartoons and videos and ideas and opinions.

Not me.

True, I have hidden and unfriended some people. Mostly people where there was never any reason for us to be friends – I don’t actually know them in real life, and they don’t contribute in any positive way to my Facebook experience (and where I’m not sure why they friended me in the first place). I’ve also had that moment of shock & dismay when a FB friend shows up in my stalker feed as having liked Mitt Romney. (This is my blog, I don’t need any pretense of neutrality here, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise anyway.)

I try not to take it personally, too – the complaining. I am a heavy FB poster, and it is a rare day that I don’t post something political or current eventsy. Some days, lots of things. My joking defense is that I haven’t amped up for the election season – I post like that all year ‘round. But I am sure people have hidden me, and that is fine (their loss).

I find that many of my Facebook friends read and share interesting things, from a broad pool of sources I could only scratch the surface of on my own. I really appreciate the things they share; it’s like having my own personal shopper for reading material.  Hopefully some of them enjoy some of the things I post in return.

Do I think people’s minds are being changed? Probably not. However, some of the conversations I’ve been in have been lively and interesting and respectful. (That last one is key.)

But here is the real reason I am not only not pissed off by political posting on Facebook, but truly grateful for it.

I have lived in Fort Wayne most of my life, other than a handful of glorious years in the Ann Arbor area. I have spent most of my 41 years in a world where I am different, suffocating under the blanket assumption that we are all the same here. We are all Christian, we are all straight, we are all Republican, we are all socially conservative. “Midwestern values.” I’m not those things. (FYI, I am straight. Not that it matters. I feel the need to include sexual orientation because like my Judaism, it isn’t visible like skin color. Does that make sense?  Because I identify with anyone who is different.)

College was so liberating. I didn’t have to think twice about voicing my opinion or finding like-minded friends. There were lots of Jewish kids – I was no longer the only voice representing an entire freaking religion. I went to Washington with a roommate for a march for reproductive freedom. Ann Arbor wasn’t just a liberal haven – it was equal opportunity. Every culture and way of life in the world had an officially sanctioned student group.

Moving back to Fort Wayne was a bit of culture shock. I had gotten away from that assumption of sameness, and I resented being lumped back in again. My then husband worked at Lincoln, and we joked that finding other Democrats was like a secret society.

It’s not even a question of discrimination or something overt. It’s just the idea what we’re all the same. We all agree. The way people assume.  If you’ve never been the one sneaking peeks around the room to see if anyone else is sneaking peeks around the room, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s exhausting just trying to make people grasp the concept that maybe the person sitting next to them doesn’t share the same belief system. And not only that, it’s a good thing.  Celebrate diversity. It’s boring when we’re all the same. Quit trying to make it so.  

Anyway, back to Facebook. Glorious Facebook with our rampant oversharing and lack of filters. You know what I found when Facebook came along? A whole bunch of people right here in northeast Indiana who are just. like. me! Who I can relate to. Who share my values. Who I can talk to about stuff that gets me fired up. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a large pool of people who get me. It’s not a secret society. It’s a community. And I love it.  

For Lettie, my love

I have a handful of people who I claim to have stalked and forced into friendship. This might generally be a slight distortion of the facts, but I really don’t think it is when it comes to my friend Lettie, who does not get a fake blog name, because how awesome is her name and what could I possibly come up with that is half as delightful? (YAY, run-on sentences!)

Lettie and I have been working closely together on a project for a number of years (story for a different day), but in the beginning we were simply Facebook acquaintances. Until I emailed her and said, “I think we should have lunch.” She probably thought I was cuckoo, seeing as we didn’t actually know each other, but even from afar I could tell she was witty, AND she’s a librarian – swoon!

Lunch was a wee bit clumsy, seeing as we’re both kind of shy. But eventually we made it through the awkward phase into true sisterhood. We were both divorced, and although she was a single mom and I have no kids, there was lots of common ground, including the agony of dating, the loneliness of not dating, a love for community, dogs, volunteerism, charming older homes, wordplay, and general mischief.  Even though we run in different circles and have very disparate lives, she occupies a special corner in my heart.

So I was delighted when lo and behold…she met someone. And holy cats, she was on cloud nine. You could tell from the word “go” that this wasn’t just some guy; it was serious. Tony. You could almost hear the little hearts floating in the air around his name when she talked about him. I was so freakin’ happy for her.

Since my divorce I’ve maybe been a tad bit cynical about love and romance and relationships. But these two crazy kids seem like they were made for each other. Ok, so I barely know him, but I know ABOUT him, and I love him because he loves her, and because he totally acted like it was normal that when I saw them in the produce section at Fresh Market, I flung my arms around him even before introducing myself. And check this out….this weekend….they got MARRIED. Woot!

Lettie, Tony, and her (their) daughters, during the wedding. Love.

The wedding was lovely and unique and very Lettie (and, I assume, very Tony). It was a picnic at Fox Island, and they asked us to bring food and share recipes and good god, their friends can cook. Um, person who made that rice (was it rice?) & black bean & feta salad, if you’re reading this, can I have the recipe please? I brought my mom’s famous oatmeal cake. It’s fucking awesome. And while I already shared the recipe with Lettie & Tony, I’m going to share it with you also, in honor of them. I have no idea where my mom got this recipe. As far as I’m concerned, it originated with her. I know some people keep their kick ass recipes secret, but the world needs oatmeal cake, and I can’t possibly make it for all y’all.  Eat it in good health.

Oatmeal Cake
This is a delicious, moist, dense cake, maybe somewhat similar in nature to a carrot cake. (I don’t actually like carrot cake, so I don’t really know. But I feel like I’ve heard that comparison before.) Also, good news, it’s made with OATMEAL (hence, the name) so you can totally justify eating it for breakfast. It’s DELICIOUS and a crowd pleaser, so don’t be put off if you’re one of those people who thinks oatmeal cake sounds weird. I promise you’ll like it, and if you don’t, may I please have your piece? And it’s totally easy. I promise that, too.

Boil 1.5 cups of water, pour it over 1 cup of quick oats, and let it stand for 20 minutes. While it’s standing quietly off to the side, you can get everything else ready. Ooh, and maybe you should preheat the oven, too: 350 degrees.

Combine and add to the oats mixture ½ cup margarine or butter (softened), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, and 2 eggs. Add 1-1/3 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. That’s it! Ta da! I told you it was easy!

Pour the batter into a greased & floured 9” x 13” pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Note: if you use a glass pan, bake at 325.)
Let the cake cool in the pan for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on wire rack. Side note, mine broke when it came out of the pan – grr. So maybe let it cool a little longer in the pan than I said above. Fortunately, the frosting functions like glue.  

When cake has cooled thoroughly, frost the crap out of it with the following. People will fight for the corner pieces.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Let one stick of margarine or butter and one 8-ounce package of cream cheese soften. (Do NOT use reduced fat or fat free cream cheese wannabes, as they won’t work – the frosting will slide off the cake. I have tried.)

Cream together the softened butter & cream cheese. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and approximately 1 box of powdered sugar, until the frosting is the right consistency. How do you know what is the right consistency? I mean, you’ve never made it. Right. Ok, thick, but still spreadable. Jesus, that sounds dirty. I’ll work on this section. How about….when the frosting tastes delicious and doesn’t slide off the spatula, it’s ready.

Gently cover the cooled cake with a liberal layer of the good stuff. If you’re so inclined, make pretty swirls on the top.

You will likely have a fair amount of extra frosting. I recommend saving it to eat later on graham crackers. Or a spoon.

I store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese. That is a partial-truth. I store it in the fridge because my mom stores it in the fridge. Presumably because of the cream cheese. It also freezes well. If you somehow have some leftover.

And now, please raise your forks to my friends.  Lettie & Tony, I wish you much love and happiness, with heaps and heaps of laughter. I love you guys!

Ready to eat!

p.s. They ate the entire cake at the reception. Success!