Friday, July 30, 2010

Older, Wiser, and Looking Ridiculous

As part of my week-long birthday celebration, today I will again consider an aspect of aging. Namely, at what age do we start to choose function over fashion? Now, I can already see my sister collapsing in a fit of laughter at the mere mention of fashion from moi. She's thinking,
"Haven't you always chosen function over fashion??"
Touche, I reply. I'm not exactly en vogue. Though all the french words I've managed to work into this blog post should count for something.

One lovely aspect of aging is the confidence that comes with it. The chutzpa to throw caution to the wind, to speak your mind, to take no crap, to wear sensible shoes! Ah sensible shoes. At what age do we start to think these are acceptable?
And how about those plastic sunglasses that practically wrap around to cover the eyes in the back of your head? If I ever become so sensitive to light that I need these on a daily basis, someone please lock me indoors for my own safety (by the way, these are the same glasses my dentist makes me wear to avoid flying pieces of oral shrapnel):

And then there's the saran wrap head cover. When an umbrella is just too much, there's always this beauty:

While I'm sure each of these fashion nightmares serves some kind of medical or practical purpose, I'm just praying that I never reach the point where I find it acceptable to wear them in public. Along these lines, here's hoping I never:
  • Get accused of being a "Sunday driver"
  • Become afraid of being out after dark
  • Shrink to the point where I can't see over my steering wheel
  • Think it's acceptable to not wear my teeth (naturally, I'd prefer to not have removable teeth, period)
  • Call young people "whippersnapper"
  • Stop bathing

Now, feel free to share your own "I hope I never" elderly stereotypes and fashion faux pas so we can all have a good laugh at the people we will some day become!

Disclaimer: Having said all this, let it be known that some of my favorite people in the whole wide world have been 80+ and I mean no offense. Of course, if you're among my elderly readers, you probably can't read this small print, and my apology is for naught.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Open-Minded and Accepting?

A friend recently applauded the honesty of my blog, how I say what I really feel and think regardless of whether or not it's going to be popular. That was just the encouragement I needed to get into trouble with this post. While my comments are often stupidly honest, they are not often controversial. I'm breaking new ground today. And here's the source:

This ad in last week's Entertainment Weekly caught my attention. And it's still on my mind. In fact, I've asked most of my friends for their opinions about it because I'm not particularly pleased with my reaction.

See, here's the thing: I don't in any way have a "problem" with homosexuality. I have gay friends and gay family members. I'm completely in favor of equal rights for gay couples. Heck, I even argued in favor of gay marriage in my Dale Carnegie course 20 years ago, and I asked our church leaders if the congregation was "welcome and affirming" when we were considering joining the church. Rob and I actually had the distinction of being the only heterosexual couple in a restaurant in Greenwich Village during Gay Pride week about 15 years ago (which probably explains the lousy service and strange looks we received). And yet, my reaction to this ad was/is that it's icky.

And do you know why I find it icky? Because these apparently loving and committed gentlemen are lying on a bed, in their boxers, in an ad for KY. Immediately the connection takes me places that I don't want to go. If they were America's Top Couple for Sealy Mattresses, or Hanes underwear, I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

I've tried to decide how I would react if America's Top KY Couple were a man and woman in their 70s, or two women, or a "typical" married couple in their 40s. I think the old folks lying in bed in their skivvies would be a bit of a turn off, a clear case of TMI. The women? Would it depend how they  looked? The classic married couple wouldn't have phased me in the least.

So I'm concerned. Does my reaction to this ad mean I'm not as open-minded and accepting as I thought? Or is the ad inappropriate?

If you've ever considered commenting on a blog post, please comment on this one. I really want everyone's opinion. And I trust that all my Freakin' Angel readers will keep it respectful. Thanks.

After you leave your comment, continue scrolling down until that security code thing appears which you have to type in. I've been hearing from folks that they've tried to comment and it doesn't show up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Friendship Continuum

There's nothing like another birthday to make you think about your age. In general, I'm not particularly concerned about growing older. Sure, my hearing and eyesight are going, there are a dozen new gray hairs every day, and I've got more fat deposits than I'd like to admit, but overall I'm in good health and most folks don't think I look 41. (Go ahead, tell me you thought I was older than that.).

What has me thinking about my age today is my friendships. I spent Saturday night at an impromptu dinner/get-together with good friends who all happen to have children around the same age. We did a lot of eating, drinking, and laughing, reminiscing about everything from first concerts (Rush, Jackson Five, Donny & Marie) to knife accidents (lost fingertips, slices to the bone, linoleum damage). These friends, who are all within about five years of one another, can identify with the stage of life I'm in. We're all stuck here in roughly the same situation: double-digit years of marriage, maintaining careers, raising kids, running to soccer games, karate lessons, and school events; and occasionally slipping away as adults for well-deserved date nights and get-togethers. You need these friends to commiserate with, celebrate with, and escape with when necessary.

But then there are your younger friends.

In a very rare occurrence, I had another invitation out on Saturday night. A group of friends from my martial arts class were getting together after a tournament in Atlantic City and they invited me to join them. And, they're younger than me, by about ten years. More important than the age difference however, is that they're all in a much different place in their lives. Many are just starting out in jobs or careers, none has children, and none is married. Clearly we're in way different places.

My dad and Eric with Dad's buck
Steve and my dad with their catch
For many years, my dad has had friends who are much younger than him (my age, in fact). These acquaintances began as a result of common interests, in his case hunting, shooting archery, or fishing and boating, but quickly grew into true friendships that I know mean a great deal to him. I can't say I ever gave much thought to the age differential between my dad and these guys, but as I'm getting older, I can see why they mean so much to him. Having friends who are younger than you means you've still got it. You're still cool. You're still someone worth hanging out with. In other words, you're not old yet.

The downside of having younger friends is that they're tougher to compete with keep up with. Whether it's drinking, breaking wood, or trekking through the forest on a hunting expedition, the young 'uns have an edge. That can be tough on competitive folks like me and my dad.

Alas, my age beat out my desire to be part of the cool kid party Saturday night. I succumbed to sleep instead of making it to the bar to join my martial arts classmates and friends. It stinks getting old.

What doesn't stink, however, is having friends of all ages, from different walks of life, in different stages of their journey. As I celebrate my birthday, what I'm most looking forward to in the second half of my life is the friendships that I'm already blessed with and those that I have yet to make. Thanks for being a friend to this Freakin' Angel!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Checking the Scene at the Airport

Having traveled last week, I'd like to report that I love airports. I used to love them more, before all the extra security measures. But still, there's something fun about them. They're kinda like amusement parks in that I'm willing to pay stupid prices for mediocre food and they're excellent spots for people-watching. I took note of the following species while people-watching during my recent travels:
  • The teen girl with the raccoon eyes. I thought that heavy black eye makeup was out of style now? And it didn't match at all with her outfit. 
  • The overwhelmed parents toting toddlers and infants. Arms full with car seats and strollers, you just know they're silently praying that the kid doesn't cry or kick the seat in front of them during the flight. And you, of course, are silently praying they aren't on your flight at all.
  • The confused and clueless. Often the elderly who haven't flown in years. I can imagine the post 9-11 setup would be pretty daunting.
  • The "no rest for the weary" business travelers with laptops fired up and ready. You can even pay for internet access on the flights now. Can't catch a break, can they?
  • School teams in their matching travel gear, probably enjoying the travel experience as much as they'll enjoy the thrill of the game.
  • Youth groups on their mission trips. For the record, I think these kids are awesome. 
  • Soldiers in uniform. I wonder if they're coming or going and where they've been. Once saw a troop roundly applauded upon arriving at an airport. Very, very cool.
  • The young couple so obviously in love. Are they newlyweds off to the honeymoon, destined for 50 years of happiness? Or is it the couple's first trip together, destined for a breakup on the flight home?
I love airports because a flight almost always symbolizes something new.  A new challenge or adventure. A new start. An opportunity for renewal. Mostly though, I am moved by the scene at the airport when loved ones are greeted by friends or family, or sadly, when they are forced to say a tearful goodbye.

Twenty years ago next month, my then-boyfriend Rob drove with me to Oxford, OH where I was starting grad school at Miami University. After a couple days, I had to take him to the airport for his flight home. Talk about tearful goodbyes. I sobbed to let him go. But I'll never forget the gate attendant looking at us and comforting me by predicting that Rob and I would be seeing each other again. And thankfully, he was right.

Any airport stories to share with Freakin' Angel readers? Anything you particularly love, or hate, about the airport?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Whose Child is This??

I find my daughter Abby to be a fascinating and peculiar creature. This child is completely different from me when I was nine years old, and actually doesn't resemble the present me much either. Yes, we look a bit a like, and we're both helpless control freaks, but that's pretty much where the similarities end.

Our differences run the gamut:
Abby pitching for her softball team
  • Abby is an athlete. And a pretty damn good one at that. She may not be the most physically gifted player on a team, but she might be the smartest. Gymnastics, soccer, softball, anything she tries she excels in. I, on the other hand, took remedial gym class in elementary school to work on my hand-eye coordination. Playing sports was the furthest thing from my mind.
  • Abby is excellent in math. She's got this ridiculously quick and strategic mind that sees patterns and sequences and formulas and all that good stuff that makes you stand out in that subject. She was the only girl from her school to go to the "24" championships for her grade. I, on the other hand, needed tutoring in geometry and never went past Algebra 2. My math S.A.T. scores were mediocre at best. I still hate math.
  • Abby is artistic. Let's just say, I'm not, in the least. Abby likes to ask me to draw stuff just so she can feel superior.
  • Abby is in awe of cheerleaders and the Phillies ball girls. Let's keep it simple and say that I am not and never have been in awe of cheerleaders or ball girls.On the plus side, I should note that Abby has never cared for Disney princesses. She's a realist, after all.
  • Abby cares how she looks. It's possible that this is a carry-over effect from thinking cheerleaders are super cool. Abby refuses to wear anything that she didn't pick out herself. She insists on growing her hair long. She's hip and trendy. I, on the other hand, have a picture of myself at her age with short brown hair and buck teeth, wearing a purple dress with red pants underneath, holding my dad's shotgun at the trap shooting range. This is an image best left to the imagination and thus there is no photo evidence in this post.
  • Abby has an interest in all things domestic. This just strikes me as antiquated and odd and out of sync with her strengths. She actually enjoys cleaning, loves cooking, and thinks sewing is fun. Today, she and a friend sewed outfits for her American Girl dolls and then put on a fashion show. I, on the other hand, cannot sew a button, dislike cooking, and would prefer not to clean though I find I'm forced to do it on practically a daily basis because of the &^!%$!# dog.
  • Abby is sassy and confident. She tends to take the lead in her friendships (a nice way of saying she can be a bit bossy for my taste), takes no crap from her brother, and is confident in everything she does, whether she's competing in a math tournament, acting in the church musical, or pitching in a softball game. As a kid I was neither sassy nor confident. I used self-deprecating humor to get me through the day, and my little sister ran the show at home, frequently resulting in me running to my mom for safety. Thankfully, I'm finding sass and confidence coming with age.

    I imagine that someday, probably sooner than later, a number of Abby's presently pleasing qualities will become a source of contention for us. I foresee a teenage battle of the wills on a variety of fronts, from fashion and friends to sass and smarts. At that time, when I start bitching to you all about this unruly daughter of mine, you're going to need to direct me to this post so I can remember how, at one time, I thought my daughter was something pretty amazing and special.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    A Hug from a Stranger and a Lesson in Gratitude

    In my last post I shared an unfortunately memorable moment from the Anaheim portion of our vacation. I'm sorry for leaving you like that. Today, I'm pleased to say that I have a happy experience to tell you about.

    During our stay in Rancho Mirage (a.k.a. the desert) we hit Soak City, a Knotts Berry Farm water park. Nothing to write home about as far as water parks go, but any place to stay wet is welcome when it's 114 degrees. Yes, seriously, it was 114. A cold snap followed the next day, however. It was only 113.

    One of the slides at the park required a three-person raft and ahead of me in line was a young girl, probably between the ages of 10-13. She was alone and managed to drag that massive raft up the hill in the heat, only to find out when she reached the launch point that she couldn't ride alone. Since it was only Rob and me on our raft, we offered her an invitation to join us which she gladly accepted. She laughed and squealed the whole way down and when we finished she thanked us for letting her ride with us. Then, she hugged me. Wow. Who knew a hug from a stranger could be a highlight from my vacation?

    It occurred to me later that the reason that that hug meant so much is because it demonstrated not only the sweetness of a young girl, but gratitude and appreciation on her part. And sadly, gratitude and appreciation is generally in short supply for us parents. I realized that during our whole vacation my children never said "thank you" once despite being treated to non-stop fun.

    The good news is that my kids know how to be good guests and say please and thank you when they're with others, but what a treat it would be if they showed their appreciation to their mom and dad. I suppose what's really sad is that I've grown accustomed to not being thanked. And they've grown accustomed to expecting a good time, a thoughtful gesture, or a treat, without regard to the sacrifice being made.

    I think teaching our children to be thankful and grateful is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting. Any advice from Freakin' Angel readers out there?

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Vacation Memory-Making Moments

    I've determined that, for me, a true vacation is only possible when lounging poolside or beach side at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Preferably sans kids.

    Today is our first full day in Rancho Mirage, California. For those not familiar with Rancho Mirage, it's in the desert. As in the 107-114 degrees desert. Yes, it's a dry heat. It's what I imagine it would feel like to hang out in the clothes dryer vent at home. Don't ask what we were thinking when we booked this part of the vacation. Chalk it up to time share desperation.

    If you read my last post, you know that on the first day of this vacation I attempted some positive thinking. Well, that only lasted 24 hours. And the pot who called the kettle black in the first place (a.k.a. my son Ian) has been a harbinger of misery for much of our time on the left coast. He whined about the view from his seat at the All-Star game, wished his sister dead, and complained about his hurting/stinging/burning eyes, stomach, feet, and mouth. Oh, and the heat, of course.

    Here are some additional highlights from the first part of our vacation:
    • Verbal sparring with the rental car company which kept promising and not delivering a car to replace mine which was handicapped with a spare. They actually had the nerve to suggest we take it to the tire shop to get the tire replaced. When Rob finally beat them into submission and we arrived for our replacement car, we learned that we were responsible for the cost of a new tire since we hadn't opted in for their extra insurance protection. Outstanding. Budget gets an "F" for customer service.
    • Brunch was fun. Met lots of team mascots. 
    • At Fan Fest, Ian, Abby, and I took turns in the pitching and bunting cages. The kids did great. I however, will be keeping my non-pitching, non-bunting day job.
    • At the pre-game party, the band Train performed. Stood about 50 feet away from them and they were outstanding. Performed "Hey Soul Sister" and "Drops of Jupiter." Highly recommend seeing them live!
    • We spent one afternoon in Huntington Beach where we lounged on a dog beach. Let me just say it's difficult to sleep on a dog beach when you never know which sloppy wet creature is going to come over to visit. Abby found a pile of seaweed that she pretended was her purse (??), until an inconsiderate pup decided to urinate on it. Twice.
    • Home Run Derby was a hoot. Excellent seats in center field meant home run hits were falling all around us. ESPN cameras were on us regularly. Anyone see us?
    • All-Star Game was pretty dull till late in the game when were able to cheer on the first-in-a-very- long-time National League win. I'm pretty sure it was our attendance that sealed the victory. We're powerful that way.
    • Spent a day at Knotts Berry Farm, an amusement park similar in personality to Hersheypark. Abby was willing to ride everything she saw. Mom was game for half of what Abby was up for. Dad was up for 1/4 of the rides. Ian had a stomach ache and stinging in his mouth (???). He was scared of everything except his own shadow, but then rallied and overcame his fear on the Pony Express ride. This was also the day in which he also wished Abby dead and cried about the heat (and this was pre-desert). Then there was the officer-related shooting in the parking lot.
    • Phineas and Ferb. Whenever the television was on, this is what we were watching. This is one funny show. I highly recommend it when you're in the mood for a kids cartoon.
    Despite all these memorable moments, the one I would like to forget but can't, took place at the pre-game party where I overheard two old acquaintances, probably in their late 60s, early 70s, catching up:
    "How are the kids?"
    "Our youngest died recently." [insert look of shock; condolences]
    "What happened?"
    "He was sick. He had depression." [insert visible lump in throat, swallow]. "He killed himself."
    At that I moved away, moved to tears. As someone who has battled depression most of her life, I was struck by the horror of what is left behind when someone takes his or her own life. In my darkest moments, when "disappearing" seemed preferable to living in pain, I never imagined what it would mean for my parents to have to tell others what had happened to me, or rather, what I had done.

    I know this is a lousy way to end a post. I'm sure you'd prefer to hear about Ian's and Abby's latest slug fest, or the officer-involved shooting at the amusement park, but since this was the moment of my so-called vacation that most affected me, I'm going to leave it at this. And pray for healing for that family and for all those who struggle with this devastating illness.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    The Power of Positive Thinking? An Experiment

    A few years ago a number of books were written by authors attempting to do slightly nutty things, like saying yes to everything (Yes Man), and living biblically to the letter of the law (The Year of Living Biblically). Because my son accuses me of negativity (talk about the pot calling the kettle black), I decided to try, for one whole day, to see the positive side of every negative that came my way. I figured a travel day to California, alone with my two children, should provide plenty of opportunity for downer material with which to work. And I wasn't wrong. So here it is, Kim's experiment with "The Power of Positive Thinking:"
    • Waking up at 3:30 a.m. to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight
    • Woo hoo, a vacation!
      And another day to be thankful for being alive.
    • Mistakenly packed brand new bottle of sunscreen in carry on bag. Lost brand new bottle of sunscreen in security.
    • Someone in security may be one sunburn away
      from skin cancer. My sunscreen could make the difference
      between life and death.
    • Didn't replace cap securely on my take-out cup of tea. Spilled tea down front of self. 
    • Had been chilly in airport terminal. Hot tea warmed me up. 
    • On first leg of flight could not sit with my children. 
    • On first leg of flight did not have to sit with my children!
    • On second leg of flight sat with Abby who wouldn't let me sleep.
    • I'm so blessed to have a healthy,
      happy child who enjoys my company.
    • Planned to spend afternoon in Newport Beach. Spent half hour searching for a parking space. Only had enough quarters for one hour and 40 minutes in the meter once we found one. 
    • Since we had no sunscreen, extra time spent driving
      and limited time available for parking meant
      that we wouldn't be over exposed to potential sun damage.
    • Lunch at little cafe on the beach was completely horrible.
    • Ate less for lunch than I normally would, allowing me to fit
      more comfortably in my swimsuit at the pool later.
    • Hustling back to car to avoid parking ticket, nearly run down by skate rat. 
    • Skate rat said an enthusiastic "Thanks!"
      when we jumped out of his way. What a nice boy!
    • On way to hotel parking lot drove over jagged piece of concrete which punctured my rental car tire.
    • Lucky to make it to parking lot where
      I could safely sit and await roadside assistance.
    • Sent my children, by themselves, to find our hotel room and hang out and wait for me so they didn't have to sit in the car.
    • Hotel employee graciously accompanied them to room,
      showed them how the tv worked, and advised them
      to stay off the balcony. 
    • Had to wait 30 minutes at the height of my first glorious afternoon in sunny CA for roadside assistance to come and change my tire.
    • Once again, lucky to be out of the sun since
      I had no sunscreen. And roadside helper guy
      was super nice and cheered me up. 
    •  Food at restaurant for dinner was mediocre at best.
    • Had 25 oz. Blue Moon. Who cares about dinner?
    • Rob had client dinner at 8:30 p.m. Came in at 1:00 a.m. 
    • He's alive!
    • Rob's excessive snoring indicates he enjoyed good food and drink. 
    • I did not smother him with a pillow,
      proving that I am not, in fact, capable of murder.
    • Slept on floor on the other side of the room to escape Rob's snoring.
    • Woke up today. Another day to be thankful for being alive!
    Well, that was fun. 24-hours of positive thoughts. Now I hope breakfast is good today because I didn't have a decent meal all day yesterday. And the &*!%$ sun better come out because I used all my rewards points to fly out here for this vacation. And we better see some MLB players in this hotel after all the ways they're inconveniencing us with the security around here. And I can't believe Ryan Howard isn't participating in the home run derby tonight! And the damn kids are fighting already and it's only 8:30 in the morning. Some one better get me a Blue Moon stat. And make sure that lid is tight on my hot tea....

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Of Broken Shells and Beauty

    Abby took a trip to the beach without me. She went for the day with our summer Freakin' Angel/babysitter Nicole and they joined Freakin' Angel Cathy and her three girls. Ian declined the invitation to join this posse of women at the beach, but I expect in a few years, if the females are appropriately aged, he'll be happy to lead the way to the shore. But in typical Kim fashion, I'm digressing. This post is actually about seashells.

    Abby came home with a few shells and I was delighted to see that they were not perfect. Her collection included several less than exciting dirty colored clam shells, some broken pieces of larger shells, and pieces of those shiny thin black shells with holes in them.

    Have you ever noticed that the littlest kids pick up nearly every seashell they find? It doesn't matter in the slightest whether it's a mere fragment, broken in half, covered in barnacles, discolored, or jagged. They love them all. And what do we do as adults? We find for our child the perfect shells. The ones that are whole. Or brilliant white. Or smooth as glass. We encourage them to leave behind those that we would describe as damaged or broken, or simply "not worth keeping."

    And that's why I was happy to see Abby's slightly drab menagerie. Because it means that at her ripe old age of nine she hasn't been completely jaded by our adult standards of beauty. She saw these shells as worth bringing home to share with me.

    I hope Abby will always be able to see the beauty in the less than perfect things around her, particularly in herself and other people. As a society we're so quick to dismiss, disregard, and distance ourselves from those whom we don't find attractive in some way. Whether it's disability, age, weight, race, or some other arbitrary standard that television, movies, and magazines present us with, most of us quickly turn away from whatever and whomever we've deemed unattractive or unacceptable.

    This summer, if you make it to the beach, pick up and take home a broken seashell. Keep it somewhere where you can look at it every day. Perhaps that shell will encourage you to share a smile, say hello, or simply notice someone that you would have overlooked before. And perhaps you will find beauty in places you've never imagined.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    The Rush and Thrill of that New Relationship

    Nothing compares to the rush of a new relationship. Whether you're single or happily married, I would contend that we all crave the thrill of meeting someone new. Someone who has the potential of becoming an important part of our life.

    Alas, because church and society frown upon romantic relationships for us married folks, we find ourselves irrevocably drawn to the possibilities of a new friendship. Don't believe me? This is actual dialogue exchanged in a recent email with a friend who had met someone special:

    She: Guess what! I made a new friend! She has a son in daycare with Wally*. We had a play date this past weekend.
    Me: Cool! I'm so happy for you. What did you do?
    She: We hung out at the pool and then we had lunch back at my house. It was great. We really hit it off. Wally and Jimmy* played so nicely together. We talked about getting together again at her house.
    Me: Has Joe* met her yet? Have you met her husband?
    She: Not yet.
    Me: Ooh, that's always key. Nothing worse than making a new friend but disliking her husband. Or having your husband dislike her husband. Or vice versa. These relationships are so much nicer when you can do things as a couple.
    She: I completely agree. Now how long do you think I need to wait to call her about getting together again?

    *Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

    Ah yes. You young single people may find this amusing, but trust me, once you hit 35 and you've got a couple of kids, and especially if you're living in a relatively new community, making a new friend is a big deal. If we're being honest, we all long for the days when we were five-years-old and we could walk up to a complete stranger on the beach or at the playground and say, "Hi! Wanna be friends?" Now, however, there's a delicate dance involving:
    • Spouses  -- annoying? overbearing? showy? disgusting? perverted? too handsome? 
    • Kids -- annoying? bratty? clingy? whiny? weepy? too smart/smarter than your kid?
    • Politics -- too conservative? too liberal? Fascist? Communist? Socialist? School board member?
    • Religion -- Bible thumper? End of the world alarmist? Atheist? Buddhist? Islam extremist? Devil worshiper? Church pastor?
    • Eating & drinking habits -- Vegan? Vegetarian? Pescatarian? Adventurous eater? Fast food aficionado? Compulsive dieter? Teetotaler? Bud drinker?
    • Interests -- opera? monster truck races? visiting historic battlefields? shooting tin cans? bowling?
    Whew! Makes you dizzy just thinking about it. But still, it's worth the effort of making a match for the thrill of having someone new in your life. The intro to your spouse. The first girls' night out. First dinner out as a couple. First weekend getaway with the families. First holiday spent together. Good stuff.

    Me, I've been blessed to make a couple new friends in the past year or so, and it really is all it's cracked up to be. If you're looking for ways to make new friends, I recommend the following:
    • Steal Meet friends of friends. Much of the evaluation process is already taken care of for you.
    • Befriend a teacher who really adores your child. It's a great source of bonding (love ya, Susan!).
    • Hang out with your child's friends' parents. You've got a built-in connection, and it's always good to get to know them in case, God forbid, they're feeding your child vegetables, or teaching them how to shoot a gun. 
    • Invite the new employee at work to join you for lunch. No one did this for my sister when she started with a new company this year, and I think that's just mean. I have met several good friends in the workplace.
    • Bring cookies to a new neighbor. If she's skinny, this will help fatten her up and make you feel better about yourself. If she's not, you can bond over the need to lose a few pounds.
    So, dear friends, two questions for your response today:
    1. What do you find most thrilling about a new relationship?
    2. Where/how do you recommend making new friends?
    As always, thanks for sharing (and if your comment doesn't show up after my post, it's Blogger's fault. There's something screwy going on.).

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    This post brought to you by a few of the deadly sins

    There once was a time when I'd keep my innermost thoughts, dreams, concerns, and fears confined to my journal. Or at least I only shared them with my parents, my therapist, my boss, my coworkers, a few friends, and the lady in the supermarket. Now, however, I just lay them out here so all of cyberspace can share in my neuroses. (Sigh.) Well, anyway, I've got another confession to make, and here it is: Sometimes I don't like being around other people. Heck, sometimes I don't even like being around myself. But that's a subject for another time.

    You may be wondering what brought this on. Well, it's BBQ season. I generally love BBQs. Particularly when I'm not hosting, I don't have to cook, and there's beer available. But tonight I'm supposed to go to a BBQ with Rob's poker buddies and their wives. And here's the thing -- I don't really know any of the poker wives. I'm sure I'll recognize some of them and even be vaguely familiar with who they are in the social stratosphere of Wallingford, PA, but I don't know any of them well. And I don't like being around people when I don't know at least one person really well. I find myself clinging to my husband, and I absolutely despise that level of dependency. 

    This is embarrassing to admit, but when I'm around people I don't know well, I still worry about the stupid stuff that isn't supposed to matter at all, like:
    • Am I wearing the right clothes?
    • How much nicer is their house than mine?
    • Is my alma mater and career impressive enough? 
    • Will they find me witty or just weird?
    Rob doesn't have to worry about these things. As we know from my post back in April ("He's always a woman to me"), he's got the clothes. There could be a dead body in the house and he wouldn't notice. He's got a stellar alma mater, and he works for the Phillies which gives him instant popularity. No one ever considers him witty or weird, they just wonder how they can get game tickets out of him. (I regularly remind him that if he ever leaves the Phillies, his popularity is going to take a nose dive.)

    I try to be rational, really I do. On one hand, I know I'm incredibly lucky to live in a nice community (we bought when the real estate prices were low), but on the other hand I hate feeling the need to keep up. It seems everywhere I look there's another BMW, another nine-year-old girl wearing real Uggs, another family vacationing in the tropics, another mom with clothes way hipper and more expensive than I've ever owned, and another high school grad off to the very best college money can buy. My son spent the holiday weekend with a friend's family on a 47' sail boat in the Chesapeake, for crying out loud, and our friends Em and Dave are in Dave's hometown of Newport, RI. Clearly we're spending time with folks from the other side of the tracks. 

    Okay, now that I've put this all out there I feel better. Pathetic for admitting it, but better nonetheless. Cause putting it out there has forced me to think about your reaction. The one where you say, with all due respect, "Oh, woe is me. Shut the hell up. Let's count our blessings, shall we?"
    • You live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. You've got air conditioning and heat, beds, working appliances, and a newly remodeled bathroom. 
    • You've never gone hungry.
    • You're happily married (the majority of the time).
    • You've got two great kids (most of the time).
    • Your children go to one of the best public schools in the state.
    • You've got good great friends. The kind you can call at 3:00 a.m. if you need to talk.
    • You're healthy. Your husband is healthy. Your kids are healthy. 
    • You've still got both your parents, and better yet, you like both your parents.
    • You're employed in a job you love. Your husband is employed in a job he usually loves (though he'd love it more if the Phils would start winning again).
    Alright. It's official. I now feel worse. How can I whine about what others have when I already have more than I can ever deserve? I should be ashamed of myself.

    This bipolar post has been brought to you by the Deadly Sins of Greed, Envy, and Pride. If not but for the grace of God I should be burning in hell right now.

    I leave you with the immortal words of Train from their song "Calling All Angels":

    In a world where all we want is only what we want until it’s ours.