Don’t Stop

Today’s reflection question is a tough one.

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

I’m stretching a little, but my youngest first cousin on my mom’s side got married this year.  It was the first marriage in the family in many years.  His wedding affected us by pulling us together for a joyful experience, creating a bonding moment.

My members of my mom’s family actually sees each other pretty frequently, at least compared to a lot of families whose members live in different towns and states.  As my sister and I were growing up, my mom and her six sisters all lived within 40 miles of my grandparents.  Every Sunday was spent at my grandparents’ house, and most of my aunts and their children came each Sunday.  When my grandfather passed away, he asked my mom to help ensure that “the family” still got together frequently, and my mom and my step-dad have opened their home on a regular basis to us.

Thus, the wedding wasn’t the first time in a long time that we all had seen each other — we just got together at Easter.  But it was the first time in a long time that we celebrated each other, celebrated our family, and celebrated how much we love each other.  (Also, a celebration of cupcakes and Journey songs.)

The Box — Day 3

Another day, another question in my 10 days of self-evaluation and reflection, aka faux Rosh Hashanah.  The first two questions invoked some strong emotions as I answered the questions.  But, I suppose it wouldn’t lead to true reflection if the questions were soft ball questions.  Asking things like, “Where do you like to eat lunch?” doesn’t really make you think….or maybe it does if you have strong feelings about lunch, lunch foods, lunch habits, and / or lunch places.  I don’t, so the questions that the website 10Q sends are more in line with my expectations.

Question:  Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?


It took me awhile to think of an answer for this question because my first inclination was to try to think of milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, etc. that took place this past year.  I couldn’t think of any that I would consider a major milestone.  But it was the 5th anniversary of my father’s death this year, and I relive that milestone each year.

My father’s death marked a major shift in the lives of my family, especially my father’s side of the family.  And while there has been healing, there will never be full recovery.

When I moved into my new house, I also moved a box of files that I brought home with me from Mexico, where my father had been living when he unexpectedly passed away.  Since the time of his death, this box has been sitting in closets, or workshops, or man caves.  Since we closed his estate last year, I had started to finally go through the box and decide what could be shredded and what needed to be saved.  After I moved, it was a project that I took on one weekend.

I only wish that my dad’s box looked so well. A trip from Mexico meant that it was very beat up.

I had looked through this box of files many, many times after my dad first died in an effort to find answers about his health and about his finances.  I knew that the box was a duke’s mixture of items — all the information on the house that he was in the process of buying when he died to a list of the #1 songs on the Billboard chart in 1965.  A single file folder could be a lot of nothing, or it could be full of valuable information.

I hadn’t gone through that box in a couple of years until this year.  And the simple act of cleaning out the box and sorting through his files had a deep impact on me.  I laughed out loud at some of the items that I found, like his application to his 50th high school reunion that took place a couple of months after he died.  On his application, he was asked to answer the question “What have you been doing the last 50 years?”  His response “Living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Yep.  And he answered the question “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” by saying “Being the best at living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Double yep.

I also felt incredibly sad as I found record of some of the times that he struggled, trying to make ends meet, and sometimes finding it hard to do.

Revisiting this box and its items, without the overwhelming grief that accompanied my first forays into its confines immediately after his death, allowed me to feel like I had spent the weekend communing in some small way with my dad.  That is a major happening, whichever way you look at it.

Hipster dude.

So, I was listening to NPR the other morning when they did a quick segment on how there is a growing business of beard transplants.  Yes, beard transplants.  The act of taking hair from somewhere else from the body and relocating it to the face is increasing.  Here is a picture of it:

All I could think:  it is one thing to take hair from another part of your body and put it on top of your head.  A completely different thing to take hair not meant for your face and put it near your mouth.

And then all I could think about was this Saturday Night Live skit:

Bosley Hair Transplant  (click)Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 8.11.58 PM

And I say, “Ewww.”  Being a hipster just isn’t worth it.

Two thousand zero zero party over whoops out of time

Another holiday season is coming to an end.  I’ve been listening to NPR in the car, and there have been several “Best of 2013”, “Most Interesting of 2013”, “Most Polarizing of 2013”, etc. lists going around.  I’m ambivalent about all those lists.  I hardly ever agree with the choices because I see events through a different lens than the authors of the lists, but I enjoy the reminders of the events that have taken place in just 365 short days.  It’s surprising how much can happen in just a year.

But what’s been on my mind lately hasn’t been recent memories–it has been more distant memories, specifically those of my teenage years.  Two things have prompted teenage reminiscing:  my mom just got her first smart phone and my uncle found a copy of an old VHS tape of my dance recital from 1986.

I am excited that my mom got a smart phone.  Now we can text, we can Facetime, she can try all these new apps.  The phone paid for itself when she got to see my nieces and nephew on Facetime all the way across the country on Christmas Eve.  Awesome.

And as my mom was asking me all these questions about her smart phone (as she was talking to me from her “land line”, as we call her home phone), I started to think about not having a home phone anymore.  Matt and I don’t have a home phone, we each have mobile phones.  You want to reach me, you call me.  Want Matt, call his number.  When I was growing up, however, you called a person’s house and you got whomever answered the phone.  It was a crap shoot.  And for a long time during my growing up years, an answering machine was nonexistent.  No one home?  Call back later, chump.

How do teenage girls do it these days?  For me, the home phone was the key to maintaining hope. My mom wouldn’t let me or my sister call boys — “if they like you, they will call you.  Ladies don’t call boys.” — so we had to rely on the boys to make the first telephonic move.

I didn’t have a lot (count any) boyfriends in my teen years, but had lots of crushes and wanted desperately for my crushes to call me on the phone.  Thank goodness I grew up before smart phones because I totally relied on the “he must have called while I was gone” excuse.  The “he has a sister that is always on the phone so he can’t use it to call me” rationale.  The ever-popular “he’s not at home to call me” logic.

I was the teenage princess of denial, but I had the perfect tool to feed my delusion with the home phone, sans caller ID and voice mail, stuck to the wall somewhere in the house, totally not mobile.

I feel sorry for teenagers these days.  There’s no way to create an illusion of “I missed his call” anymore.  There are no more “missed calls” — the number and time and date of every call that came in is captured until deleted.  There’s no way to call his house and hang up when he answers and not get busted anymore (I don’t think, but I don’t know all the rules).  Everyone’s number and name (and sometimes their picture) pops up when they call you. 

The only thing that you can’t hide is the fact that when they don’t call, you know that they don’t call.  So sad.  I’m sorry, all you teenagers.  Technology’s not looking so great now, huh?

Then there was THE dance recital.  My uncle found the VHS tape and I sent it off for conversion to DVD.  Loved watching us dance to what we thought at the time was the greatest dance ever choreographed.  A little sad to have another delusion exposed.

For your enjoyment, here’s a loop of me (in the middle), shaking it like I was 16.  Hard to believe that I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends, right?


When it’s time to write my biography

I was listening to Marketplace News on my local public radio on the way home tonight, and I heard an interview with Nick Bilton about his new book, Hatching Twitter:  A True Store of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 6.58.17 PM

It was an interesting interview and it made me want to read the book.  Apparently, the creation and building of Twitter had been nothing less than chaotic (I mean, check out the subtitle).

The interviewer asked Bilton if he got full cooperation from the principal characters while writing the book, and Bilton made a comment that really got my attention.  He said that he went back and reviewed the four Twitter founders’ Facebook status updates, their Tweets, their posts to Flickr and to YouTube, and in many instances these didn’t match their memories.  He used their social media posts to help verify, clarify and, I would assume, prompt recall of events.

Ok, so I may late coming to this realization, but we are daily contributing to our biographies via social media.   With pictures.  And videos.  And often snarky one-liners.

Ignore that I am stupid and late to this game.  But I don’t think that my contributions to social media have been good enough to use in my biography (to any future biography writers out there).  I have always been cognizant of the “rules” of social media, the rules according to me.

  • Rule 1.  Assume that everything that you post could end up being seen by anyone in the world
  • Rule 2.  Assume that you can’t make everyone happy, but you shouldn’t try to piss everyone off
  • Rule 3.  Follow the advice of your mother–don’t talk politics or religion in someone else’s house
  • Rule 4.  Your mother has already seen you nude as a child, and she doesn’t want to see you that way as an adult (refer back to Rule 1)
  • Rule 5.  If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.  (I don’t always follow this rule.)

When you follow these rules, your social media contributions are pretty bland.  And I’m pretty private, as well.

I think that I’m going to have to SPICE UP MY TWEETING!  Bam.  It’s on.  Cause I want it to be a good story.

(Should also have a good story….but that’s beside the point on social media, right?  It’s just about telling a good story, right?)

This should have a title, but I can’t think of one.

Matt and I visited the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va, this past week.  It is a fancy-schmancy place.  We, however, had a Groupon — we’re not fancy-schmancy, just fancy wannabes.

This is what you see when you drive over the hill into the resort:

Pretty cool.

Matt checked us in.  When he came back to the car, he informed me, “I saw Hoit and Toit in the lobby.”

The Homestead was a very nice place to stay.  The history is amazing.  The resort was built around natural hot mineral springs that many Presidents and other notables have used for the last 300 years.  This was one of the reasons we wanted to go.  Until Fancy Wannabe #2 (me) realized 90 miles from home that she forgot her bathing suit.  The f-bomb was used extensively.

Hoit and Toit lowered their noses long enough to not bump into us in the halls.  Actually, I think a lot of people there were fellow Groupon-ers.  We did see one older couple in the joint that either had money or had a lot of debt.  I only assume that because the woman had much, much, mucho dollars invested in plastic surgery on her face.  As we passed them in the lobby, Matt and I both noticed how her skin was so tight that her eyes were barely open.

Matt:  Cristy, what was that?

me:  That was a lot of botox and plastic surgery.

Matt:  Well, it’s messed up, right?  A bad job?

me:  No, she meant to look like that.  In some circles, that looks good.

Matt:  Those circles are crazy.

I saw this cartoon on Pinterest last night and it made me laugh out loud because it reminded me of what we saw.

On another note, I stumbled across this YouTube video and I love it.  This little girl has got the right idea.  Play with others, but make it your own.  And wear tap shoes.  Always wear tap shoes.

Billy Joel, thanks, dude

I know that there have been dozens (or more) of articles and blogs about how music can evoke memories.  You know, the song that takes you back to the year you got your driver’s license, or back to your senior prom, or the song that was playing when you broke up with a serious girl or boyfriend?  For years I couldn’t listen to Bryan Adam’s Everything I Do (I Do For You) without getting sad.  I am not sure why it had such a powerful effect on me — I assume it had to do with the rough patches my ex-boyfriend and I were going through at the time Robin Hood was released.  Now I can listen to it with no problem.

Joan Jett singing Crimson and Clover takes me to the amusement park at the Pavilion at Myrtle Beach and a ride there, where the song was blasting and I felt as good as I have felt.

Then sometimes a song captures the feelings that you are having right now, rather than bringing back emotions.

That’s what happened to me today.

The best way to describe how I’ve been feeling lately is like time is passing and I’m missing something.  I think there are several things driving this feeling:

  • I’m having a mid-life plight.  Not a crisis — a plight.  Let’s get that straight.  But I am pondering how I have spent the last 20+ years and if I want to spend the next 20 doing the same thing.
  • My sister and I closed our dad’s estate last week.  I wasn’t expecting it to make me as sad as it did.  And it also made me think about what a person leaves behind when they pass.  The material things are not important — it’s the stories and the memories by which my sister and I feel most blessed.

So, today, when my iPhone music shuffled to Piano Man by Billy Joel, two things happened.  First, a Billy Joel song took me right back to my adolescent and teenage years.  He was one of my favorite singers when I was growing up.  Second, the lyrics of the song hit me in the gut:

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin

He says, “Son can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet
And I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”

Oh, Billy, you say the best.   Time is passing, and sometimes the memory is just out of reach.  But I can take comfort in the fact that the memory is sad and sweet and it was mine.  And I’ll have sweet, sad (and happy) memories from this stage of my life, too.

Now, I just have to find the music that will bring me back to now.

Hey, Matt — let’s buy those tickets to shoot zombies with the paintball guns.  And let’s play some rockin’ music while we do it.

25 years is making me sick

I wrote the majority of this blog post yesterday.


Today is my 25th high school reunion. And I am terrified.

Circumstances have prevented me from attending any previous reunions, so this will be the first time that I have seen a lot of the people with whom I graduated.

And 25 years is a long time.

A lot years. A lot of changes. Both physically and emotionally.

This morning, what I am feeling is that I have come home again. And it is scary.

When I think about why I am feeling this way, I guess that I am not really that surprised. The people with whom I graduated were some of the most important people in my life from the ages of 5 to 18. Those years helped form the person that I am today, though they aren’t fully responsible for the person that I am today.

During those years, I wanted to fit in, be liked, have friends, be “one of the gang”….all those John Hughes’ 80’s movies clichés (those were the movies of my generation — Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). I struggled with all those big-screen emotions, all those insecurities, in my small-town life.

I have discovered that when my 43-year-old self is put back into the midst of my 18-year-old self dynamic, my 18-year-old self insecurities are revived.

It’s like going into a house of horrors — I think it’s going to be fun, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the shit scared out of me.

If I weren’t experiencing this, I would find this extremely interesting. Really, I find it interesting regardless. Do we ever outgrow our adolescent angst? Do those demons, the ones that were most prevalent through those most precious formative years, ever completely let go of our psyche? I am a much different person than the one I was 25 years ago, as I would assume all my classmates are, as well. The ways that I have changed, whether good or bad, have made me more comfortable with who I am than I was even last year. But….throw people who haven’t seen me in 25 years into the equation and BOOM! Terror. I think that I may be having one of those “too much in my head” moments.

So, Thomas Wolfe — you can go home again. And my trip is filling me with anxiety.



I had a lot of fun yesterday and it was really great to see so many people who I hadn’t seen in so many years.

And the greatest thing — I learned that many of us are in the same place in our lives. Questions about careers, family responsibilities, growing older, children, etc. We are all struggling with and celebrating many of the same life events and milestones. And with maturity, with the ability to look beyond myself, I can finally see how we all connect. And how we always did. But as that young, immature 18-year old, barely able to see beyond my own self and own needs, it was harder to see the connection that was there all long.

Perspective is a marvelous thing.

In memory

I am incredibly sad tonight.

Around 11 AM, I found out via Facebook that one of the firefighters killed in the Yarnell, AZ, fire was someone with whom I went to school from elementary through high school.  While I was in college, he was in a serious relationship for several years with one of my first cousins, so I would see him at holidays and other family events with her.

But my memories of Eric are not from those later years, but always from high school.  I remember a cute boy, a really good athlete, soft-spoken and somewhat socially awkward.

And I am saddened by his death.

I am also saddened by the tremendous wave of nostalgia that has engulfed me as all the memories of high school have flooded back as a result.

For me, this was the time in my life of true innocence.  I had yet to encounter anyone with an ulterior motive; good things seemed to happen to good people; I didn’t really know any “bad” people.  I was blessed beyond all measure.

Life was:  football games, homework, talking on the phone (a land line), passing notes (no texting), spending the summers at the lake, the smell of sweat in the school gym, cruising town on the weekends, going on dates, gossiping about who was dating who, trying to find enough money to go to McDonald’s after school, cheerleading practice, T-P’ing someone’s house….

That innocence, that fun, that lack of responsibility — it makes me sad to think about how I didn’t appreciate those wonderful days when I was there.

Everyone always says that “if they knew then, what they knew now….”   If I knew then, what I know now, I would breathe in even more precious minutes than I did.  Knowing now what I know now, there’s nothing stopping me from doing that.

And if I knew then, what I know now, I would take extra minutes to ask Eric (and Tammy, and Chuck, and Scott, and Kim and all the others that we have lost so young), “Hey!  Want to hang out?”

“Real” Barbie

Growing up, my favorite toys were my Barbie dolls.  I had about 5 or 6 different dolls, including one Ken doll.  My favorite of my dolls were my Superstar Barbie and my Ballerina Barbie.

Superstar Barbie and her awesome boa

I loved making up stories for my Barbies and dressing her up for dates and for going to work.  She had exciting jobs, like being an actress or a famous singer.

I got in trouble once when playing with my Barbies when my mom found me with naked Ken on top of naked Barbie in bed.  When asked where I had found this game to play, my reply was that I saw it on Days of Our Lives at my babysitter’s house that day.  I was maybe 4 or 5.  I think that I had my Barbies taken away for a few days and told that Ken and Barbie should never be unclothed at the same time and Ken should never be on top of Barbie.  The beginnings of my neurosis.

I always thought that I would have a daughter with whom I could play with Barbies when I grew up.  But I never had children.  And my nieces aren’t all that interested in Barbies.  My youngest has some Disney fairy dolls, but fairy dolls aren’t Barbies.  So my dream of still playing with Barbies has turned into naught.

But every now and then when I am at Wal-Mart, I check out the Barbie aisle, just to see what’s the latest with Barbie and her pals.  And over the years, I have seen some changes.  Barbies with different skin colors, Barbies with different hair colors and Barbie play sets where Barbie is a doctor or a vet or even an astronaut.

Yesterday, however, I strolled through the Barbie aisle and saw this:

GLAM Laundry

GLAM Laundry

Really, Barbie?  Glam Laundry?  That’s what you’re offering up to little girls these days?  Look how glamorous laundry is?  Sexist, lately, Barbie?

So, I’ve been thinking about this.  Why, why, Mattel, would you take a seemingly step backwards with Barbie?  You gave her a breast reduction so that little girls didn’t think that Triple Ds naturally went with 16″ waists.  Great move!  You started to give her real careers.  Way to go!  Now, you put her back into household chores.  Shame, shame, shame.

I started to think that maybe Mattel did this because little girls wanted to emulate their mothers and mothers probably do the majority of laundry.

So, Mattel, if you want to show little girls what it’s like to be a woman/mother in the “real” world, here’s some Barbies to create:

1. Sitting In Uncomfortable Chair Through Another Karate / Dance Class Barbie — Barbie comes with a plastic chair and shifts in her chair every 5 minutes trying to get comfortable.

2. Driving Through a Drive-Through On the Way to Another Practice / Soccer Game Barbie — Barbie comes with a car full of kids, pulled up to a drive through, digging in her purse and passing bags of food out

3.  Barbie on a Laptop After Everyone Has Gone to Bed Barbie — Barbie is in her pajamas on the sofa while everyone else is asleep, finishing up her work

4.  Barbie Being Judged By Other Mothers Barbie — Barbie sits by herself at an event while other Barbies sit together whispering about her, probably because she didn’t hand punch or stamp a birthday card or something else like that

5.  Feeling Guilty Barbie — Barbie carries a hundred pound bag of guilt on her back because she feels like she isn’t “doing it all”

6.  Buying a Present for the 35th Birthday Party in the Last 3 Months Barbie — Barbie is shopping again for a birthday present for one of her kid’s friend’s birthday party

7.  Asking “What would you like for dinner?” Barbie — Barbie asks her family what they would like for dinner, to which they all reply “I don’t care” or “whatever”

This list is not exhaustive, but it should give you a good starting point.  Much better than “Glam Laundry”

Your #1 Fan,