Not Just A Laughing Matter

Dang…this movie is funny!

After the debate tonight, I did something I never do. I flipped through channels, found a movie, and watched it. The movie was Bridesmaids. The first time I saw it, I saw it in the theater with my friend Heather. We laughed until we got to that point of no return when everything you hear is funny. We would get ourselves under control and then laugh again when someone else in the theater started laughing. In fact, I remember that I laughed so loud that I snorted, and then I laughed because I snorted. (I am nothing if not dignified.) When the film came out on DVD, I bought it. I forced my husband to watch it. Tonight, I knew it would be the perfect debate relief. It was. I once again laughed until I wanted to cry.

As the credits were rolling tonight, though, I thought about the story line between the police officer and the main character, Annie. I like him, not just because he’s got that darling Irish accent, but because he knows she’s batshit crazy and he likes her anyway. He seems to sense she’s going through a rough patch and rather than judging her for her irrational behavior he hangs around long enough to see her through it. I think that’s beautiful.

We don’t do that often enough for each other these days…give each other the benefit of the doubt. We don’t accept apologies willingly enough. We don’t overlook faults quickly enough. We hold onto grudges and keep our guard up so we won’t get hurt. It’s too bad, really, the amount of misunderstandings that occur because we’re so concerned with things being equitable and neat. I know I am so guilty of this. I should try harder to be like Officer Rhodes, to see past the imperfections of others (and myself) and just be nicer.

Not all things in life that are a laughing matter are without a lesson.

The Rules of Wine Club

Smiley. Must have been drinking  already.

Back in midwinter when I was annoyed about being cold and presumably sipping (all right, slugging) a glass of wine, I came up with the idea to start a small wine club. I talked with three other couples we know to determine if they might be amenable to hosting one wine dinner a year at their home. They all thought it would be worth a shot. So, our club was born. We have one basic understanding: we know nothing about wine other than we like to drink it. To expand our wine repertoire, we plan to sample some new wines each time and try to learn a little bit about them, even if that’s only that we don’t like them. Each dinner is up to the hosts and they have sole input into the food and drink for the evening. To keep things equitable among our members, I came up with The Rules of Wine Club, which run along the lines of The Rules of Fight Club from the Fight Club movie.

Our Wine Club Rules:

1) You do not talk about what happens at wine club.

2) You DO NOT talk about what happens at wine club.

3) If someone says stop or goes limp, they are cut off.

4) Only 8 people to a dinner.

5) Only one glass at a time. Empty yours and it will be refilled.

6) Try to keep your clothes on, at least for the dinner portion of the night.

7) Club will go on as long as it needs to until all the wine is gone.

8) When it’s all said and done, the mission of wine club is simply to be in the moment…with friends…and wine.

After all, it’s the time we spend with others that is important. The things we do at our jobs don’t matter. The kind of house we live in or the type of car we drive is unimportant. It’s our connection with friends and family that makes life worth getting out of bed for. And, I’m not just saying this because I’ve had…let’s go with…several glasses of wine and now I’m all “I love you, man” or anything like that. Sitting there tonight with our friends, laughing, teasing each other, and sharing stories, I felt truly connected to something outside myself and my own little world. In a social climate where we’re increasingly isolated and living within our electronic communications, it’s crucial to share a meal with peers occasionally, to converse face-to-face, and to pass some time personally interconnected with others like they did in the olden days before we had cell phones and Wifi. It’s far too easy to check out in this world we live in. Try to remember to check back in once in a while. That way, when you’re looking back on the film of your life, it will be a reel worth looking at.


All of Me…Sort Of

The dog-faced of my many personas

Today hubby and I went on our first “long” training ride of the 2012 bike season. Our friend and fellow Guido’s Goon teammate Bill (we ride together in the MS150) convinced us that riding 40+ miles on this unseasonably pleasant and uncharacteristically not windy day would be a good idea. Although I wasn’t thrilled with the suggested itinerary because 1) I didn’t really feel like riding at all, much less 40 miles, and 2) I hadn’t made it over 19 miles since I started riding on the bike trainer a month ago, I caved because even though I hated to admit it I knew I could handle it.

As we rode along, Bill was talking to me about my blog, which he actually reads. He mentioned that he’s learned a lot about me by reading what I write. I thought about this for a few seconds. Then I made the most ludicrous statement I’ve made in a while.

“Truth is that I consider myself to be a very private person.”

Now, Bill was riding in front of me at that point so I couldn’t see his facial expression after I said that, but I imagine he was fairly amused by my comment. Because…seriously? Who publishes a blog because they’re intensely private? I write about my life, my family, my struggles, my neuroses, and my fears, and I put it on the Internet. I must be certifiable to think I’m private or reserved at all.

For the rest of the ride, I tried to discern what part of me is private if I’m publishing my life on the Internet. If I look at it solely from that angle, I’m not private in any way. So, how is it possible that I still believe I am? Here’s how: I write for myself. Every entry I publish is simply an attempt to figure out what is going on in my busy mind, a way to find some measure of peace. I never write about things I consider to be truly personal and private. There are numerous things in my life I would never discuss on my blog. I write about the human condition or about topics that amuse me. Finally, I suppose I feel private because I forget that people might actually read what I write. I don’t publish to be read. I publish to put a period on my work, to finish what I start, to put it out there and move on.

I know it seems crazy to imagine that I maintain some level of privacy in my life when I toss it onto the Internet but, honestly, I don’t know if it’s possible to know me by reading the sum total of what I spew on a blog either. Perhaps that’s why I still feel protected, safe, and private. My blogs are all me, but they are not all of me.


Big Fat Butt

Me and my sisters

I am the oldest of three sisters. I am nearly two years older than Kathy and nearly 5 years older than Julie. Growing up, we were very close because we had no choice. We shared one bathroom with an unlocking door. We each had our own bedroom, but they were within 8 feet of each other. I like to think we were fairly typical sisters. We shared reluctantly, played together often, fought occasionally.

It seems as if Julie and Kathy were always the closest pair of the three of us. When I turned 13, I distinctly remember finding them in Kathy’s room playing Barbies. I asked if I could join them. They told me I was a teenager now and therefore too old to play Barbies. And, that’s when things changed. I moved out at 18, our parents divorced, my sisters grew closer still. I got married at 27 while my sisters stayed single and hung out together. They’ve had more mutual experiences and spent much more time together. They simply have more in common. Even though I’m not on the inside of their bond, I like to think that we’re all close. Despite occasional hiccups and disagreements, we’ve remained good friends.

Currently, due to some extenuating circumstances, Julie is living with Kathy in her townhouse. Tonight Kathy called to talk to the boys. When she was done talking to them, I got on the phone with her. For a while she put me on speakerphone so I could talk to the both of them. Then, she took me off speakerphone and let me talk to Julie. I talked to Julie for a while and then realized slowly that I was talking to Kathy again. I thought it was a bit odd, but at the same time I know that through our lives we’ve often passed the phone back and forth and shared conversations when one of us has needed to take another call or let the dog out or whatever. Kathy and I talked a bit more and I realized now I was talking to Julie again. I paused. I heard some giggles. It sunk in. Oh holy hell.

“Seriously? Are you kidding me?” I was annoyed.

They were cracking up on the other end of the line. So pleased to have pulled one over on their older sister. Nothing funnier than an inside joke.

“Are you 12?” I sputtered in my frustration.

They continued laughing.

“I knew you two living together would cause me trouble somehow. I’m hanging up on you now.” And I did.

Funny how even 30 years later I am still on the outside of their game. I’d like to be angry about it or hurt, but I’m not. Truth is that I did (deep down) think it was a little funny. And, I’m clever enough to know that their little inside joke would be nothing if I wasn’t the big fat butt of it. It’s nice to be included.

Don’t Touch My Cupcake

Someone wants to lose some fingers!

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” ~M. F. K. Fisher

I have an issue. I hate sharing food. Hate it. And, now that I truly reflect on it, “hate” might not be a strong enough word for the feeling that stirs deep inside me when someone eyes something I’m quite happily, peacefully nibbling on. I guess I’m sort of like my dog that way. If I walk into the room where she is eating, she will glare suspiciously at me out of the corner of her eye as if to say “Don’t even think about it, lady.” I have no interest in ingesting her dog food, but she’s not taking any chances. I get it. She and I are simpatico that way.

I blame this deep-seated food selfishness on my mother. I suppose because so little of what she had while we were growing up was hers and hers alone she coveted her food. My sisters and I were not allowed to touch a morsel on her plate. I distinctly remember being in restaurants with her where we would ask for a bit of her meal only to be told, “If you wanted this, you should have ordered it.” Touché. We learned quickly that what was on our plates was solely ours and that no one had a right to it unless we offered it first. Actually, I’ve simply considered it good etiquette not to ask for a bite of another person’s meal. If they want to share, they will offer. And I never want to share so I never offer. End of story.

I only bring this up now because 16 years ago I married into a family of food sharers, and I have struggled with this little complication ever since. The other night we were out to dinner with my in-laws, and the food sharing conversation began. Phrases like, “Oh….that looks good!” and “Wow. How is that?” dotted our table. As soon as the comments began flying, I bristled. In their defense, my extended family loves to eat and they are generous food sharers. They are foodies with extensive palates and insatiable curiosity about foods and flavors. And, while I understand their desire to trade food with others to sample new things, like my dog at her stainless steel dish I cower defensively over my plate when the food talk starts. If you wanted this, you should have ordered it.

The other day hubby and I were home together but making separate lunches. I had acquiesced to release the leftovers I truly wanted so that he might have them. In exchange, I had grilled what I considered to be a second-rate alternative, a ham and swiss cheese sandwich. He gave it an admiring once over. I snapped at him.

“You had your lunch. Back off.”

He wisely determined it was my low-blood sugar condition talking (the one that makes me meaner than a bear after hibernation when I’m hungry), and skulked away.

It’s not that I’m anti-sharing. I will happily share most of my things without a second thought. But if you want to keep all ten of your digits in tact, you’d best keep them away from my food. I haven’t bitten anyone for stealing food off my plate yet but, like my docile and seemingly sweet border collie, I wouldn’t rule it out.