Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Should I Do?

Several times this year I have mentioned finding old friends on Facebook, and how there is one particular friend, Casey, to whom I was especially close in high school and college, that I can't find.  She was such an interesting person back then, so smart and funny.  She was tall, with slender legs and arms, and my short little self was so envious of her effortless elegance.  She rooted for underdogs, liked to cook, was too shy to speak to any guy she thought was cute, and despised her curly hair (she wanted to have a sheet of silky hair, like a Veela, but her hair defied her).

To recap:  we kept in touch after I moved from Virginia to Florida for the first few years, then our long-distance phone calls and hand-written letters became farther and farther apart.  Communicating was so much harder in the dark days before the internet!  I haven't heard from her in more than 15 years, at this point.

I've asked other friends, and the same thing happened with them.  Casey moved away from our small town, and lost touch with all our old friends.  When people found me on Facebook, they'd message me asking about Casey, assuming I'd be most likely to still be in touch. 

Then I found, just by random searching on Facebook, Casey's sister Donna.  They were close to the same age, and we'd all been friends.  Thrilled, I friended her and sent her a message.  She accepted my friend request silently.  I messaged her again, and heard nothing.  I sent her an email to the address she listed, and heard more nothing.  I sent friend suggestions to people from high school we'd known.  Nothing came of that, none of them are friends with Donna - in fact, despite a fairly large number of our classmates on Facebook, I am the only one from back in the day that Donna is friends with. 

The one day out of the blue she posted a comment on one of my photos, saying she had some old photos she would post soon.  I was encouraged, and posted several old photos of her and Casey and I, tagged her to be sure she'd see them, and posted this on her wall:   Just uploaded some pics from college, several of you and several of Casey. Send me a message or an email, I'd like to catch up! :)

That was on April 11.  Since then, there's been no activity at all.  No response, no wall posts or status updates or anything.

So. I did a Google search for Donna's name and the city I see she now lives in, and found a phone number. I'm practically a stalker.

What should I do now?  Should I call her?  Should I take the Facebook silence as a big hint, and go away?  At this point I feel that the news about Casey might well be bad, and that bothers me tremendously.  Knowing what happened, even if it's bad news, would at least bring an end to my wondering.  But is that selfish, expecting Donna to relive whatever emotion is tied to thinking and talking about her sister?

Also, she didn't give me her phone number.  Would it be invasive to call her?  I found it because it is listed in the public phone directory, though, so anyone with access to a phone book can find it. 

Not ever finding out what happened to my old friend would be so sad.  And there is at least a TINY chance that Donna would be glad to hear from me. Maybe she just couldn't get the hang of Facebook so she stopped using it.  Maybe Casey is fine, and Donna would give me her phone number, and we'd renew our friendship, and everyone would be happy.

I could use some guidance, as I am completely conflicted about what to do.  Should I call Donna and ask about Casey, or should I let it go?  Please leave a comment and give me a little advice.  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No, Seriously, I Really Am Thankful

  • The internet.  I love reconnecting with old friends and staying connected with new friends on Facebook, I love the ease and convenience of this blog and the friends I've made though it.  I love watching tv shows on Hulu and movies on Netflix and videos of kittens on YouTube.  I love wasting time playing stupid games, and shopping for things I'll never buy, and doing research, and reading comics, and, obviously, looking at photos of naked people.
  • My pumpkin pie recipe.  I found it years ago in a magazine ad for a graham cracker pie crust.  Not being any kind of a cook, I had no idea at the time that it was atypical, but apparently making a pumpkin pie using only a can of pumpkin, a can of sweetened condensed milk, some spices and a graham cracker crust is kind of different.  It is extremely easy and yummy, though, and it's what I'll be taking to two different family households tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving (both of which specifically requested "my" pumpkin pie).
  • Florida, which is so nice and sunny and toasty warm (even this week, it is still in the low 80's), and I'm only an hour or two away from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.  I love the humidity, I love the heat, I love the flat landscape that feels wide open, I love the plam trees, I love the little lizards running around everywhere and occasionally wiggling their tiny way into the space between our screens and our windows, then getting trapped and dying there. Okay, I do not love the tiny lizard carcass that has made one of our windows into its own personal graveyard.  Possibly I should take it out...  Ew, though.
  • The library, without which I would not be able to read, well, basically any of the books that I go through. I only buy books when I really want to keep a book to read over and over (or reference repeatedly), and I still spend more money than I should.  I am additionally thankful for their delivery system, so I can just go on their website and request a book and have it brought right to my front door.  Sa-weet!
  • My mother, who is one of the sweetest and kindest people I've ever known.  I talk to her every day at 8pm, after Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are over, she calls me "honey" and every single night she's careful to ask me how Greg is doing.  She watches out for the other people in her retirement home, shares her daily newspaper with the man across the hall, and calls all our relatives on their birthdays.  She loves me and inspires me, and I love her right back.
  • My sweetie-pants, who tells me he loves me every day, cuddles with me in the middle of the night if I have a nightmare, occasionally sends me sweet texts during my work day telling me how pretty I am or how much he's looking forward to seeing me after work, and not only supports me in my creative endeavors but is genuinely excited and enthusiastic (he even read my novel as I was writing it).  He makes my day to day life very comfortable and happy.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Am Thankful, Dammit!

Since I've been working in my current department, holidays are always a challenge.  There are only five of us (well, five and a half, really) to cover all of our operating hours: 8am-9pm Monday through Friday, and 9am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. We need to have a minimum of three people working each day during the week, and one each weekend day.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas a lot of us want to be off, and though our boss is extremely sympathetic and does her best to make everyone happy, it still pretty much sucks.  Two people (two and a half, really) will be off this week, so we will be short handed, to some degree, every day.  I will be working long busy days Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll be off on Thursday, then back to work for more long busy days on Friday and Saturday.

I'd just like to spend some time complaining about that.

Here's the thing, though.  I will be able to take off almost a week at Christmas, and Greg and I will be able to go visit Mom in her retirement home in north Georgia.  So, I can't complain, really.  It's a trade-off.

I'd still like to complain, though.  Every time I see people updating their Facebook status to celebrate their "short week" and their "long weekend" it irks me.

But, oddly enough, being irked is not the appropriate mindset for this week.  I am trying to focus on how nice it'll be when I can see Mom next month, and be thankful instead.

Pumpkin pie will probably help, too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Hate Everybody

Does that sound negative?  Gosh, I hope not.  As a little girl growing up in the south, the very most important thing was to be A Sweet Girl.  For all of my almost 45 years I have been unable to exorcise the directive from my brain, so I do still find myself unconsciously striving to be A Sweet Girl, even now.
I just get so impatient and frustrated with people who misuse language.  Words are so important, and mean so much to me.  I take it personally and get offended when people misuse/mispronounce words.
And the worst part is, when a word is consistently misused/mispronounced for enough years, the official definition/pronunciation will change.  This is terrible!  Don't give me that stuff about language evolving, that is devolving!
As a shy and introverted but bookwormy and occasionally snotty teen, I learned the word "forte", which meant an area at which one excels, and was pronounced "fort".  It didn't look like "fort", though, it looked like "for-tay", which is how everyone pronounced it.  Now that is an official accepted pronunciation.  Fail!
Also the word "apropos".  It used to mean relating to, but everyone thought it was just a fancy way to say appropriate, so now that is an actual accepted definition. 
What does this mean?  The English language is being altered to accomodate people who are too stupid or ignorant to look up the correct usage of the very words that are coming out of their mouths.  Our entire society is collapsing! 
I am making a prediction:  the next thing to be changed because of virtually universal misusage will be acronym.  Everyone, seriously, everyone thinks that an acronym is just letters that stand for words, ie, WTF, LOL, etc.  That is not right.  An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters in a phrase, like SCUBA, or WASP.  WTF and such are actually initialisms. 
No one knows this, right?  This misunderstanding is basically unanimous.  Look around on the internet and you'll find several helpful sites to figure out what frequently-used "acronyms" stand for, and none at all for initialisms.  So, you know what that means.  The only question is how long it will take.
I'm going to go even further on my next prediction: at some point in our terrible demise as humans, in our slow mindless plodding towards a world where the lowest common denominator rules not only occasionally but exclusively, where the beauty, nay, the very meaning of language itself is not valued one bit -- "a whole nother" will be acceptable.
Yes, yes.  It's already happening, it's already moved from conversational usage to actual print media.  Why people can't say "another whole" I honestly do not understand.  Why do people want to say, in essence, "a whole another"? 
Because people are stupid and wrong and I hate everybody.
Uh oh, my Sweet Girl mask is slipping again.
One last note:  The day "simular" becomes okay will be the day that I will kill myself.  FYI.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Inadvertent Bully

Lately, a lot of people have been talking about bullying, in particular about the gay high school/college kids who have committed suicide.  I, being an indescribably passionate fan of the intelligent, hilarious, fearless and occasionally slightly vulgar Dan Savage, was excited by his It Gets Better project from the day he first announced it on his podcast (called Savage Love, his super awesome weekly love/sex advice podcast, check it out).  It started out as a channel on YouTube, he and his spotlight-shy boyfriend recorded the first video aimed at young people in crisis with the message that It Gets Better.  He invited anyone to contribute their own videos, with the goal of communicating to gay kids that, regardless of how oppressive things get if surrounded by narrow-minded jerks during school, as adults they can choose their own friends, their own partners, and have a happy successful life.

The It Gets Better project took off quickly, with thousands of people posting videos, including celebrities and politicians (even President Obama).  Some are sweet, some are kind of cute, and some poignant - like the one from Tim Gunn, who shared that he attempted suicide when he was bullied as a teenager.

A lot of people on tv have been talking about bullying, as well.  I saw Madonna on Ellen's show, discussing the problem.  It is obviously a good thing when people talk about how to make things better for suffering young people, and how to prevent suicides.  However, listening to them go around and around with vague platitudes about raising awareness and stopping bullying, I couldn't help but feel like they were missing the point.

Now, I am not a parent, I am not a teenager; but I used to be a teenager, I saw bullying, and I try to be a thoughtful and empathetic human being.  Something Dan Savage said recently on a podcast rang true to me, and I feel like it's at least part of the point people are missing, so I wanted to share it.

A caller accused Dan of being negative about Christians, of assuming Christians are, in some way or another, behind the bullying.  With his typical brilliant bluntness, Dan said that a parent who speaks about homosexuality in any way other than with respect and acceptance is contributing.  (I am recalling this to the best of my ability, I'm certainly not quoting here.)  He said that when a child hears their parents talk about how gay people shouldn't adopt, shouldn't get married, shouldn't have the exact same rights that everyone else has, they get the message that there is something wrong with gay people.  Any parent who says that God teaches that homosexuality is wrong is telling their children that gay people are wrong.

It's hard to be a teenager. Virtually everyone is bullied or is a bully, to some degree, during school years.  I think judging people, looking for weaknesses, and stereotyping is an inevitable part of figuring out who you are, and finding your place in society.  I know I was a total dumbass a lot of the time, and even though I was too quiet and shy to be much of a bully to anyone, I do remember thinking less of people because of absolutely insignificant differences.

So what happens when kids, struggling with issues and insecurities of their own, hear their parents say that gay people shouldn't have equal rights?  In at least some cases, they go to school and target the gay kids.

Sure, there are probably some parents who are actual raging homophobes who actively encourage their kids to go be violent and cruel to classmates, but honestly, that has to be a small minority, right?  Probably the vast majority are parents who think of themselves as fair, open-minded people, who are fine with gay people in theory, but not in actual fact.

And to be completely honest, I am most irritated by the people attempting to hide in the middle of the gray area, not willing to take a firm stance either way.  People who believe that God literally spoke out against gay people in the Bible, who believe that gays are doomed to hell (and therefore, it would follow, evil) are, in my opinion, sadly hateful; but at least they are sincere in their belief.  The people who really piss me off are those who say they have no agenda against gays but consistently vote against equal rights.  The people who say they are not homophobic, they even know a gay person or two; but they don't think gay people should marry or adopt.  The people who say they are fine with gay people doing whatever they want, but behind closed doors. And I bet it's those people who are indirectly and inadvertently encouraging their children to bully gay teens.

Whether or not it was deliberate on the part of the parents doesn't matter at all to a tormented gay teen who is considering suicide.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Am Sick And Can't Think Of A Title

You know what's NOT a Halloween tradition?  Me getting the flu.

At least I hope it's not, we'll see what happens next year, I guess.

I did watch The Exorcist with my husband, and I have to admit, I had forgotten what a truly brilliant movie it is.  Which, of course, is why it's so terrifying.  It's haunting, days later snippets would pop back up in my head at random times.

I had forgotten the poignant, heartbreaking moments with elderly people, which is a sore point on my heart.  Just a little moment like when Father Karras' mother strokes his face, so clearly happy to see him, breaks my heart a bit.  And then when he has to leave her in the terrifying nursing home, it's weepingly tragic.

Anyway, despite the movie haunting me, I was able to sleep.  For a couple of nights, until I got sick.

I'm still sick, actually.  I'm sitting here right now, staring at the screen, trying to think of something to write, then my mind wanders away and I start to blink reeeeeally sloooowly.

Back to bed.  But no nightmares, just lotiony tissues.  No demons, just Mucinex and Nyquil.