A Fake Holiday, Balloons In Cars, and Rotary Phones

Today is my favorite holiday of the whole year! I remember when I was a kid, we’d all gather around the computer, and my dad would go on the internet and buy Christmas gifts. We’d search for hours online for just the right color for a new sweater for Grandma, or just the right books for Uncle Billy. We looked forward to Cyber Monday all year. Sometimes we’d get free shipping, or a big discount, but we always had a great time. Cocoa, popcorn, Christmas music playing on the iPod in the background. Ahhh…the beautiful memories of my childhood. :) *laughs at own cleverness*

Can you imagine that this will be the story our kids tell their kids? I cannot even dream up what will come after this, but there will be something for our grandkids to tell their kids…something totally different.

What I really remember is going to see my mom at work and having to put on a parka in July because the computer room (yeah…a whole room) was about 30 below 0 all the time. I remember when Atari came out. I remember when it was still a big deal to get your ears pierced…and anything else was verboten. (My mom’s mom used to use that word all the time…I love it!) I remember ice cream shops in pharmacies and grocery stores. I remember being able to play in my front yard without armed guards to keep me from getting attacked, shot, or kidnapped. I remember when there were two kinds of coffee: regular and decaf. I remember Sanka and Brim.

It’s so amazing to me that in less than 37 years, so much has changed. So much has happened. Is it better? Yes. Is it worse? Yes.

Our cars are safer*, but it’s not safe to walk on the sidewalks anymore. We can choose from 31+ flavors of ice cream, but now instead of a smile, you get a crabby teen who thinks they’re not getting paid enough. ($7.25 is a lot more than the $2.10 you would have gotten in 1975) Minimum wage was $4.25 when I graduated high school. My first job was $5.50/hour and I thought I could buy the moon. The cost of living back then was so much lower. Gas was cheaper…around $1.15 per gallon. Food was cheaper. Homes were less expensive.

I don’t want to go backwards…I love my Mac and my iPhone just as much as the next person. Probably more. I love the looks I get when I say that phones used to have a rotary dial and cords that attached to the wall. Then I love having to go Google “rotary dial” because they don’t know what that means.

I tried for years to keep an address book, and I have to admit, I finally gave it up. It was actually hard to keep it up. Paper calendars are hard, too. Along with the ease and convenience of today’s technology, comes a responsibility.

You must practice keeping in touch. You must try to talk to people face-to-face each day. You cannot live your whole life texting, and calling, and emailing. Human contact is necessary. It keeps us sane. It helps us practice our manners and social graces. It reminds us that we’re not alone.

So I challenge you: Don’t text your neighbor. Go over. Say hello. Don’t email your co-worker. Walk over to their desk and ask about their day. Don’t conference call people in the same city/town…get together. Drink one of 74 kinds of coffee, and sit around a table together. One of my challenges for the coming year is to be more social. Not less “tech-y”…more social.

I am totally crazy about having everything I need for an entire day in the form of an iPhone, but I’ll go totally crazy if I rely on that for my sole communication. It’s beyond convenient that whatever I type into my phone “magically” appears on my computer via iCloud…and vice versa, but I still need people. We all still need people.

It kind-of makes me sad that there’s an entire “holiday” based around purposely not seeing anyone face-to-face. Yes, it’s easy, and there are great deals, and it’s just one day, but it’s also a scary trend that is happening more and more. We can work from home, order groceries to be delivered to our home, and shop online from home. I love my home…but it’s important to leave it and go have human contact. I’m not condemning anyone. I’m just stating my opinion. Which is totally right regardless of what you think.

I will freely admit that I have used Skype with Jessup while we were both home. Different floors, so it’s totally ok. Stairs are hard.

This is what was on my mind today. I think I’m going to head out and see if I can find someone to talk to. That is all.

*This is questionable. We’re all supposed to be protected by balloons instead of steel. We’re driving cars you cannot even hear. And don’t even get me started on the Smart car. Smart…Pffffffft! Only if by “smart” you mean “will be squished like a bug”.


Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

You know how you’re really good friends with someone, and you want to be around them all the time? You want to go places with them, introduce them to all your other friends, and hang out with them.
Well, food was that friend for me for a long time. It was always there. Popcorn during a movie, a midnight snack when I couldn’t sleep, or a quick trip through the drive-thru on my way home. When I was happy, it was right there enjoying the moment with me. When I was sad, it offered a comfort that I thought I needed.
Both of my parents taught me about food.
My Dad taught me that food was a reward. Junk food was a treat. When I was growing up, I was rewarded with ice cream when I got good grades. It worked. I worked hard to get them. I remember lots of trips to Dairy Queen and later Baskin Robbins as I was growing up. Food was a reward for me when I was good and did as I was supposed to do.
My Mom taught me that food was not to be shared. The more the food cost the more of a hold you should have on it. When there is very little food, it should be hoarded. Hidden. Kept to yourself. She would get mad when I would share my lunch with a friend. She would get mad when my dad would make breads and homemade goodies to give as gifts at Christmas. She was always afraid that there wouldn’t be enough for us.
Sometimes food was a rarity in my house while I was growing up. When we had plenty, we ate all the time. When we had little, we ate when we could. We ate what we could. Sometimes it was even food from the food bank. My mom would always say, “Beggars can’t be choosers”, and I knew, from early in life, that we were poor (most of the time) and that I’d better eat all that was placed in front of me. I remember skipping meals when I was a kid. I remember eating the same thing a lot. I remember a lot of pasta and breads and very little meat. I remember eating weird combinations of things or having bizarre amounts of food in our house. I remember that our church had a donation room with freezers and refrigerators. My dad worked in our church, and at the end of each month our pastor would let my dad clean out whatever was left. This meant #10 cans of food. This meant 5 lb. blocks of bleu cheese. I don’t remember fresh fruit or veggies. Always canned. Fruit cocktail was my idea of fruit. Veg-All was my moms’ idea of vegetables. There were reasons we didn’t have fresh fruit around, but I won’t get into that here. Mostly it was a cost issue. Fresh cost more than canned.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like food. We still talk occasionally and text from time to time, but we aren’t best friends anymore. I miss food when it’s late at night and the house is quiet. It’s a fight to try to stay in bed (especially when I’m not sleeping) rather than get up and munch on something. It’s a fight not to pull into the drive-thru and get a burrito or burger rather than have something at home. I’m not perfect. I still call food and ask it to come over and play from time to time, but I’m feeling better each time I don’t call. Each time I realize it’s not hunger, and walk away. Or stay away.
My dad died before he was 60.
My mom died before she was 70.
Both were unhealthy. Both had a love affair (whether in public or private) with food. Both taught me lessons about food. Some were intentional. Some were not. Both died unhealthy. I want to change that. I want to be healthy. I don’t know how much time I have on this earth, but I want to be capable of taking care of myself and able to do what I want to do…what I feel called to do. Whatever that may be.
I want to set an example of smart, healthy eating for my kids. I’m really late. But a little is better than none at all.
Food is not a reward. Food is a necessity. The right foods are required by your body to live.
As long as the good outweighs the bad, I feel like I’m doing ok.

A Post A Day

I don’t write enough.

I’m going to try to write a post a day until the end of the year.

It might be funny. It might be stupid. It will likely be silliness.

It’s important for me to try. It’s important for me to write.

I made what could be called a “New Year’s Resolution” on Thanksgiving. I know it’s a weird time to make such a thing, but when the mood strikes…

So I vow…to try…to write every day until the end of the year.

After that, we’ll see if I still have anything to say.

P.S. I already have a couple things to get me started… See you tomorrow :)

Brain Dump Friday

I have thought all day that today is Saturday. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it was Friday. (Thanksgiving week always throws me out of whack!) You should be putting together by now that I don’t participate in Black Friday. Also: When I put those two words together on my phone, it automatically capitalizes them. It does the same thing when I tell people that I live in a white house. It capitalizes White House. I would like to think that my phone would be smart enough to know that I don’t live in the White House. I appreciate the thought that it thinks I’m that important, but seriously… Egg nog is too thick. I like milk nog. It’s not as thick, and it seems less rich. In non-Vicki terms, that means no tummy ache. My middle ring finger size has gone down a whole size. I think all my fingers have. That’s a weird thing to be happy about, but I’m thrilled. Except for the fact that I have these really cool rings, purchased to fit certain fingers, and now they are big. What a happy dilemma. I’m totally ok with this. I caught another glimpse of my collar bone this week. (Not the actual bone, just the line of it. It’s still happily resting under my skin.) The last time I saw it, someone made a remark, so I though I should be more clear. The Walking Dead is kind of freaking me out. Jessup and I are watching it together…preparing for the zombie apocalypse, and it is giving me the heeby-geebies. Thanksgiving was great! I hope you are all thankful for the gifts and people you’ve been blessed with. This morning I had to swallow my pride…that, my friend, is a bitter pill that does not go down easily. It’s always a blessing to remember that you’re not as awesome and important as you think you are. …at least for me it is. That is all.

Surviving the trips to Des Moines

Today is Jessup’s appointment with his pulmonologist. I always get so nervous for these appointments. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m really scared each time we do this. So, four times per year, I’m scared. Well, more than that, but these four times are scheduled events.

Someday I will write all the terrible details of these visits, and the sadness and fear that has entered my life due to them. For now, I will admit that these appointments typically go well. Surprisingly well. I have no reason to believe that this one will be different, but still I sit here, scared.

One of these days, the news will be bad. It won’t be an easy appointment. It will be sad. It will be filled with tears. It will be the beginning, no, the continuation, of something that began many years ago. April 11, 2007 to be exact. That was one of the worst days of my life. There was a diagnosis. We were told there is no cure. No medicine that we can give him. As many miracles as there are for so many people, there is none yet for us. No pill to take. No shot to give. There are unproven preventative measures, but nothing more.

So we continue on with the preventative measures his doctor feels are best, and we hope. Pray. Cross our fingers. Do a juju dance. Whatever works. Whatever makes us feel better.

Today Jessup drove. From home to the mall, which is where I sit, typing this. I’m not nervous with him driving, but I have a hard time not telling him to do things my way. He is very safe. He has his own way of doing everything, but he’s very cautious. He must learn to navigate the city, and the middle of the day on a Tuesday is better than any other time I could think of. Soon enough, he will be doing this on his own. Soon enough, he will be hearing the bad news without us. Soon enough, it will just be a phone call with the news that his lungs are badly scarred and possibly failing. Soon enough there could be a lot of scary possibilities.

For now we visit the doctor every quarter year, and hope for the best.

Brain Dump Friday

I am at Starbucks again…stealing internet and drinking coffee…like a boss. My son would like that typed that “like a boss” part. I am stuck in a corner. This place is so full. I’d try to find somewhere else to go, but this is my last day working in Ames, and I don’t have much time. Besides, my gift card is for Starbucks. Peppermint Mocha. Yummy! I am stuck in a corner, and there are people all around me, which means that I’m going to have to fight my way out of here in about 45 minutes. I’m feeling quite claustrophobic. I did not know that would had an “au” in it. Awesome! Thanks Apple for making me look smart. I actually think I did know about the “au”, but I wouldn’t have spelled it that way. There’s an old man sitting a few tables away and he keeps looking at me and winking. I think it’s just the way he does things. I don’t think he’s intentionally winking at me. I keep thinking it’s December. I don’t know why I’m a month ahead. Maybe I just want this horrible, stupid year over with. That’s probably it. The Old Man is talking about how he’d never move to California. He said he likes the winters here, and he doesn’t want to live near crazy, out-of-control people. I have news for him. The weather there is amazing…I’d take that over what’s coming any day. Also, there are people like that everywhere. Maybe his neighbors say that about him. He’s wearing a Vikings hoodie, so I can only imagine that they do. He also just bashed the Chargers. If he wants to avoid crazy, then he better shut up! There’s a man in here who has such stiff, straight posture that I don’t think he bends at all. I wonder how he drives. I’d like to see his car. He just left, but I can’t see it. I got up. He drives a Jeep. I love Jeeps. I have officially not lived in California for 15 years, now. Weird. I think that’s long enough to make me an official “Midwesterner”. I dreamt last night about making Thanksgiving Dinner. I love Thanksgiving Dinner. I think it’s my favorite dinner of the year. Maybe even more than all-you-can-eat-shrimp at Red Lobster. I missed that this year. It would have undone a lot of my progress, though. That would have been bad. Old Man just stood up. Wow. A Vikings hoodie and skinny jeans. I think I can hear trendy kids all over the world weeping. I have a lot to do, and only 50 minutes of internet for the day. Plus, I think these BDF’s have been getting too long. That is all.

Brain Dump Friday

I really don’t know what to say. I get to learn how to make a pie (the “perfect apple pie”) on Saturday. The funny thing is…I don’t much care for pie, and I don’t like apples. But Barry is very, very excited about me learning how to do this. I don’t even know where my rolling pin is. I had one. In all of our moves over the years, I fear it has gotten lost or been given away because I never thought I’d need it. Hmmm…maybe there are some things you should just keep. I’ve become one of those people who doesn’t snack. I have worked really hard to not mindlessly eat. Today, however, I’m on a time crunch, and I’ve been nibbling on caramel puff corn for an hour or so. This is not good. The caramel puff corn is very good, but the habit is not good. The habit is clearly not as broken as I thought it was. I’m still thinking about pie. I have a brand new Pampered Chef Stoneware Pie Plate for learning how to make a pie. And our new Pastry Blender. I finally get to use them tomorrow. I’m irritated that the Post Office won’t be open Monday. I have to mail something today (the time crunch) and if I don’t do it today, it won’t be delivered in time. I’m debating on whether or not to just wait. I may just mail out the few that I have, and wait on the rest. I am literally in the middle of four different things right now, and I stopped them all to write this. And I can’t think of anything to say. QUESTION: Is it “all of the sudden” or “all of a sudden”? I have not always wondered this. I saw it one way, and I think it’s the other way, but I’m not sure. Well, I’m sure I’m right in my own head, but I’m not sure that I’m right publicly. With that in mind, I’m not going to tell you which I think it is, I’m just going to throw that question out there. I always think it’s funny when people use words that aren’t words to talk. I wonder if it makes them feel smarter, seem more important, or if they actually think that’s a word. It’s a struggle for me not to giggle when they do it in front of me, so I’m thrilled when they do it on the internet…that way I can laugh and it’s not mean. It’s not mean. It’s not. Shut up. How much do people talk about work? I’m wondering if I do it an abnormal amount. I feel like I’m always saying something about it, and I’m not trying to, it’s just the main focus of my day. Isn’t it the main focus of other people’s days? Do other people talk about work a lot and I just don’t notice? Maybe people don’t notice when I talk about work. I feel like they do. I worry about weird things. I was going to try that writing thing for November…the NaNoWriMo. Then I looked into it. 50,000 words in 30 days means approximately 1,666.66667 words per day. That right there spooked me. I don’t like all those 6’s. Especially when they’re together like that. So I got over that and realized the today is the 9th. That means I only have 22 days, including today, for a total of 2,272.72727 words per day. I also read in the rules (yes, I’m a rule reader-that should not shock you) that you can’t use work you’ve already written. Here’s where I get whiney… But I already have over 6,000 words…waaaaaah…that means that I could just write 1,993.90909 words per day (Seriously…does nothing go into 50,000 evenly???) and I’d be done in time…waaaaaaaah. Two more bits of fun…I don’t have another idea for a book, and I don’t have that much time. Also, once I get started writing, it’s really hard for me to stop. There’s a reason why some writers go to a secluded cabin to write and have no human contact. Getting myself to a cabin would be challenging. I don’t have one of my own (it would be SO cool of I did), and even if I could borrow one or rent one, I can’t because I have a strange fear of being murdered in the woods, and I spook easily. Did you not notice that with my thing about 6’s? If I can hardly look at the number six in my office, how on earth would I go to a cabin alone? But, if I could get over my fear, once I got there, I could totally do it. If I only had a computer, and no internet. If I had internet, I’d be in big trouble. Because there’s Facebook. And Pinterest. And other things I can’t think of right now. Like a phone. I’d need one to call 911 when someone tries to murder me in the woods. What if 911 doesn’t work out there? What if there’s no internet? I mean there couldn’t be for my computer, but what about my phone? How long could I live without Draw Something? Words with Friends? SongPop? That logo game I recently downloaded that I’m determined not to cheat on, but am stuck with logos I don’t know?  Anyway, I’m still undecided. It’s a little late to be undecided, but I still am. I really don’t see how I could do it, unless I used what I already have. Sorry this was boring. More sorry that I started another sentence with “but”. Two of them. And one or two with “and”. Plus that one. I do know better. I promise. Oh well. That is all.