Tag Archives: travel

easiest place to be asked out on a date should be . . . .

heading out to new york for further facebook travels and as usual, i get the treatment.  but i’m thinking i have a right to be treated as a lady, to be treated as more than just a bootie call (well, actually, i’m the one who initiated the bootie call by buying a plane ticket). . .

 

what’s the worst the t.s.a. has done for you?


denzel and sandy take away my flight mojo

i think i’m scared of flying again.  i was scheduled to fly into laguardia this week to meet new facebook friends and reconnect with my son joseph.  then, as the dire predictions rolled in about hurricane sandy, i felt that familiar panic about getting on a plane.  the three days before imagining crashes,bird strikes, fuel starvation, sabotage–to say nothing of panic attacks, homicidal fellow passengers, delirious flight attendants, ebola virus transmission. .. .

i also watched the trailer for the denzel washington movie “flight” and although denzel is the sexiest man on earth, i wouldn’t recommend watching this. even if you’re the most placid of flyers or high on a mixture of ambien and margaritas, just the preview will make you think twice about anything aeronautical.

when i made a commitment to meet all 325 of my facebook friends during 2011 i was a white knuckle flyer.  okay, honestly, i was a three glasses of wine and an ativan before i get on the plane gal.  i probably was in more danger from that combination than anything else.

as the year progressed, as i got on a plane just about every week, i stopped being scared.  stopped thinking about it too much.  drank less.  didn’t even bother with the ativan.  started to feel wonderful as the plane gently or bumpily  lifted me into the air.

still, the hurricane spooked me and it’s been nearly two months since i’ve been on a plane.  i have fallen back into the habit of fear.  i’ve lost my flight mojo!

the airports of new york closed and i will reschedule.  but now i will have to teach myself again to sally forth.  at least i have a credit at delta airlines!

so here’s an experiment.  watch the flight trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhUrWRV1cxs

now think about yourself on a plane.


homeless no more, the things i will not take for granted

running water, electricity, heat, internet, a refrigerator, waking up in the same place every morning, a bed, hanging up my clothes in a closet, a medicine cabinet, leaving the shampoo in the bathtub after a shower, keys, neighbors, pillows, hand washing lingerie and hanging panties on the shower curtain rod. . . .

this past weekend i moved into an apartment with facebook friend william clark, pictured here on top of the piano i had had in storage. this morning, the bed was delivered. next week, a rug is coming. my ex maximilian says that i have been “officially without residence” for three months.

 

i am a very lucky homeless person:  i have a credit card, i have means, i have a car, i have friends.  the friends are the most important part of the equation.  still, i have been tired.  i have been scared.  i have been weary of being on the road.  it is good to have a place to call home  and i promise to never take for granted the things  i have been blessed with.


we are all that one lost sheep–facebook friend #331

a week ago i posted about alcohol.  specifically, my relationship with white wine.  i didn’t feel great.  in fact, i felt pretty damn lousy.  the self-loathing ticker was high.  i had returned from florida and never got my bearings.

especially since on wednesday of last week i had a martini for the first and last time of my life.  and was suitably embarrassed and mortified by the effects and consequences.

but i never felt quite so bad as when facebook friend #331 messaged that i couldn’t come see her.  i had thought she was an agoraphobic unable to leave the house.  i thought i was being a good friend to show up, say “hey, i can do it, so can you” and i was wrong.

“i can go anywhere.  i don’t have a problem with getting out of the house,”  miss x* assured me.  “i don’t have your problem.  but i read your post.  i drink too.  pint of vodka a day.  but that’s down.”

“i’d want to meet you sober.”

“forget it.   too scary.”

“well, scary for me too.”

i told her i would drive to kentucky, i would knock on her door and if she opened the door, saw me, slammed the door it would be fine.  at least, she would know that her facebook friend wanted the best for her.

sunday night i picked up my messages on facebook and my phone at ten fifteen.  she wanted to cancel again.  i called.  she was hostile and frustrated.  her thoughts were expressed like the first break in billiards, with three balls dropping in pockets, the rest bouncing against the walls, and the eight ball scratching.

the problem to her was that i hadn’t been in communication with her since thursday.  that i didn’t phone her.  that i didn’t keep lines of communication open.  that it was too much pressure to clean the house in anticipation of my arrival if i wasn’t going to arrive.  and time–there needed to be an exact time.

i have a garmin gps that was purchased for me by a friend who was tired of reading blogposts in which i fretted over having gotten lost. the garmin tells me the exact time i will reach a location. trouble is, i still get lost. i turn at the next street over, i miss the exit, i don’t see the turnaround. my garmin shrieks “recalculating! recalculating!” and then i say . . . @%#xte$!!!!

then i listened closely.  i wasn’t listening to my facebook friend who is witty and funny and adorable in her posts, statuses, and comments.  no, i was listening to alcohol.   alcohol had taken over the conversation entirely.  and i got the impression a lot of people had said “so long, happy trails to you” when alcohol had butted into their chats with miss x.

so i said i would call her in the morning and we’d figure out whether we would meet.  i admit to thinking “nope, we’re not doing this”

in the morning, she was the miss x i had been communicating with on facebook for the last year and a half.  the one with witty, wry observations.  the one who had seen a news piece about me and friended me, saying “i don’t have your problems but boy i sympathize”  she was nervous, but so was i.

i drove the three hours from indianapolis to louisville.  i was a little early, but i thought that was good because i would catch her before she had a chance to pop a pre-meeting vodka.

i wasn’t early enough.  and she had one while i was there.  again, i had a conversation with alcohol.  i couldn’t keep up with the tangents.  and i couldn’t keep up with the emotional swings–happy, insecure, witty, hostile, frustrated, apologetic, demanding, paranoid, sweet as can be.

she said don’t judge me and i said i can’t judge you i am in jail with you.  i’m just standing closer to the door.

i shared with her what i’m doing to rein in my drinking.  she was intrigued but argued the point of whether i was an alcoholic, a heavy drinker or an amateur.  she drank more in an afternoon than i could lay down in an entire night–but she herself said she could drink any 250 pound man under the table.   she considered me an amateur.

can you name another disease besides alcoholism that’s self-diagnosed? miss x considers me an amateur, social drinker. there’s people who think of me as off the charts, ship me off to rehab. the horrific thing is the very people who will say “you have a problem” are often the people who are the first to bolt. miss x has had some bolters. i want to get out her address book and say “hey, whassup dude?” because she’s brave, smart, funny and needs all friends and family on deck. it is said that when the lions go after the gazelles, the pack separates the weak for slaughter. no, don’t separate her from the pack.  she’s your best one, the one that will tell the lion what’s what.

i believe some people drink because they are bored, boredom being shorthand for no purpose, because they are that one lost sheep that the shepherd needs to find.  miss x is unemployed, with no children to care for, no volunteer activities and–by her account–no friends (hello, i’m here in your kitchen!).

i suggested a goal, a purpose.  doesn’t matter what it is, just that she try.  i made a new years resolution on december 2010 to meet the (then) 325 facebook friends i have.  that’s a pretty silly life mission when you think about it.  but if you wake up every morning with a reason to push, you do.

miss x is adorable and beautiful and we made a contract that her goal was to walk one half hour before ever having that first drink. i’m a big believer in small goals and big goals. this is a small but manageable goal.

 

i was sorry to have to leave her.  she went to a nephew’s house to see relatives and help with a little one’s homework.  she said “i feel like i’ve gained and lost a friend in the space of a few hours” and i said no, i became your friend on facebook a year and a half ago, and i got to meet you today and i will be your friend tomorrow.

i was speaking the truth.

i am striking for cookeville, tennessee tomorrow.  i believe i meet two facebook friends, one of whom WILL be the inspiration for miss x.  i’m just playing matchmaker for two new best friends.

 

i truly hope miss x believes me because we will meet again, my 331st facebook visit since january 1, 2011.

 

*she kept saying i could use her name, that she had no secrets, but i think for the moment i’d like to let this her be miss x.

miss x looks very much like lana turner from the 1966 movie “madame x” about a mother who sacrifices everything for the welfare of her husband and infant son. except for the fact that miss x wore blue jeans.  i am so enchanted by the movie madame x, which i watched when i was barely an infant, that i like calling my friend “miss x” 

 


millie and me. although really, my friend lanny jones and millie

i’m a little under the weather and i always welcome missives from friends who want to share with other friends.  this from lanny jones, a facebook friend i visited this past year.  he wrote “william clark and the shaping of the west” about my facebook friend and faux fiance william clark.  here’s what lanny had to say:

Three weeks ago, on August 28, a fire detection specialist named Steve Christman was riding shotgun in a lightweight Cessna 182 flying over the Gallatin National Forest in Southwest Montana. Below him was some of the most rugged terrain in the Northern Rockies — the Gallatin Crest, a rocky, heavily timbered crazy quilt of creeks, steep slopes, and 10,000′ mountain peaks. Sprawling just a few miles from the resort community of Big Sky, it is a region beloved by hikers and mountain bikers but inaccessible to just about everyone else.

My wife and I spend the summers in a cabin that borders this forest. On a map, you could draw a line south from our porch and hit nothing but trees, rocks, and lakes to Yellowstone and then to the Grand Teton National Forest and Jackson Hole before you hit a paved road. But in a matter of hours after Christman’s flight, we were to be engulfed in one of the largest and most public events imaginable. It brought with it acts of astonishing individual bravery, as well as the combined efforts of more than 500 firefighters, and the expense of at least $7 million of federal funds. All of this was produced by a mega-wildfire beguilingly named Millie.

At 2:21 p.m., Christman noticed a single plume of smoke rising from the south slope of Storm Castle Creek. A 25-year veteran of the Forest Service, Christman was not surprised; a lightning storm had rolled through the mountains the previous day. This year’s long drought had baked a region already weakened by bug kills into a forest of bones. The moisture content of trees had fallen beneath the requirement for kiln-dried boards sold in a lumberyard. The fire covered less a tenth of an acre, most of it creeping in the ground cover, but Christman immediately radioed for help. “It was in heavy timber and had fairly high potential,” he says. “I knew it would take a while to get an engine into it, and we needed to do something or else we’d have a fairly big fire.”

At 2:32 p.m., eleven minutes after Steve Christman radioed in his first report, dispatcher Kayla Lemire faxed a request that a Smokejumper team temporarily based in nearly West Yellowstone be flown up to the fire. The request was received by Dan Cottrell, a seamy-faced, deceptively relaxed 38-year-old who has been jumping out of the air into fires on the ground for more than dozen years. Smokejumpers are something like the SEALs of the wildland firefighters (though they would get an argument from the equally highly trained Hotshot crews). They undertake some of the most physically demanding jobs in the federal work force, though Cottrell likes to say that the most dangerous thing he does every day is to drive to work.

By 3 p.m. Cottrell and his stick of eight jumpers were circling over the fire, which by then had grown to a half-acre of flames, mostly on the ground. Cottrell requested a helicopter to bring in the “Bambi buckets,” 500-gallon dollops of water scooped from a reservoir and nearby lakes. The Smokejumpers chose a desired landing-spot a half-mile from the fire. They tossed several streamers out of the plane to gauge both wind direction and the best flight path to the LZ. They were carrying four “squares” — parachutes that work best in high winds — and four “rounds.” After the four squares jumped, they threw another set of streamers — but now the wind churning up the ridgetops was becoming dangerously turbulent. Cottrell decided reluctantly that he and the other three Smokejumpers would have to return to West Yellowstone and drive back in their truck – a journey of several hours.

Meanwhile, a local fire engine crew stationed at Big Sky had been ordered to the scene by the Forest Service. It would take 90 minutes for them to crawl up the gravel road to the fire. Among the four men aboard Engine 661 was Dan Kettman, a newly trained, 25-year-old rookie fire fighter who was on his first assignment. He had never fought a fire before. “We kept hearing traffic on the radio about the fire,” he remembers. “We knew it was growing, and I was starting to feel a little nervous.”

Circling overhead in his Cessna, Steve Christman saw that the fire had grown to 30 or 40 acres and was burning rapidly on all sides and up towards a ridgetop. He told the dispatcher that the fire had “a high potential to run.”

 

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View of Millie from my porch, August 29A little before 5 p.m., Dan Kettman and the crew of Engine 661 arrived at the Blanchard Ranch, a private inholding in the national forest with a few guest cabins and horses. They cut the lock to the gate and requested that the owners be notified to take out the horses. They then crossed Storm Castle Creek and took a Forest Service road to an overlook of the drainage. They were startled by what they saw. The fire had grown to 60-75 acres and was generating its own weather system in the treetops. “You could hear trees popping like Roman candles,” says Kettman. “It was too close for comfort.”

Concluding that they could no longer fight the fire on the ground, and worried about being encircled and entrapped, they backed off. “I was the new guy,” says Kettman, “so they had me stand on top of the engine to look and make sure we could get out.” As they were backing away, the four Smokejumpers who were first on the fire walked out of the smoking woods.

Kettman and the others were concerned about what wildland firefighters call “a blowup.” Here is what Norman Maclean says about blowups in Young Men and Fire:

“The chief danger from a ground fire is that it will become a ‘crown fire,’ that is, get into the branches or ‘crowns’ of trees especially where the trees are close together and the branches interlace … The crown fire is the one that sounds like a train coming too fast around a curve and may get so high-keyed the crew cannot understand what their foreman is trying to do to save them. Sometimes, when the timber thins out, it sounds as if the train were clicking across a bridge, sometimes it hits an open clearing and becomes hushed as if going through a tunnel, but when the burning cones swirl through the air and fall on the other side of the clearing, starting spot fires there, the new fire sounds as if it were the train coming out of the tunnel belching black unburned smoke. The unburned smoke boils up until it reaches oxygen, then bursts into gigantic flames on the top of its cloud of smoke in the sky. The new firefighter, seeing black smoke rise from the ground and then at the top of the sky turn into flames, thinks that natural law has been reversed. The flames should come first and the smoke from them. The new firefighter doesn’t know how his fire got way up there. He is frightened and should be.”

Steve Christman, still circling overhead and watching the fire gallop ahead, was running low on fuel. When he saw the Engine 661 pick up the Smokejumpers, he dipped his wing in acknowledgment. “When I saw that I knew we would be okay,” Kettman remembers.

By 6 p.m., Dan Cottrell was back on the scene, now designated as a Type 3 Incident Commander, the boss of the operation. He reported that the fire was now up to 150 acres, burning ferociously with a wall of flames waving 20-30 feet high. It was making runs through thick timber and up the rocky slopes. Additional resources had been ordered in: Helicopters, air tankers, a Native American Hotshot crew from Ft. Apache, AZ, and an “Air Attack Platform” plane to observe the fire. At 11 p.m., Cottrell reported “significant fire activity” near the Blanchard Ranch. He would soon bed down for the night, anxious about what the next day might bring, especially if the hot, dry weather continued.

Over the next 24 hours, on August 29, this fire — her sweet name of “Millie” apparently resulted from a dispatcher’s typo of “Miller” — erupted into one of the most devastating conflagrations of the season. Leaping from the dried-out grasses into the crowns of the subalpine and mixed conifers, Millie took a running start and jumped Storm Castle Creek, burning a swathe five miles long and two miles deep, torching and blackening everything in its path and consuming almost 10,000 acres. Firefighters reported large predators in the area – bears and a pack of 20 wolves dislocated by the fire. The largest predator of all, of course, was Millie. Writers describing fires almost inevitably fall back on an atavistic, primordial vocabulary. Fires are a deranged, feline creature — “crouching,” “creeping,” “licking,” “leaping,” and “waiting.”

Two deputies from Gallatin County Sheriff’s office placed us on “evacuation warning” on August 30. We moved our so-called valuables to a friend’s house and took our dog everywhere (in case we were prevented from returning to the house). We visited the fire camp — or, as the Forest Service calls it — the ICP (Incident Command Post), a mini-city of 550 souls, many of them living in tents in a former hayfield. By this time the fire had been upgraded to the level managed by the Great Basin Type 2 Management Team — a group of 30-40 experienced managers who travel around the country providing logistical support — food, shelter, sanitation, communications, finance, administration, security — to firefighters on the front lines.

My wife and I feel close to Millie. We have spent the past two weeks in her close company. Our house and those of our immediate neighbors are the closest structures to the fire, which, as I write this, is still burning five miles away — uncomfortably close to the same distance it moved on its first, intense day of rampage. The amount of energy released in a typical woodland wildfire is comparable to that of a nuclear explosion. Over the past two weeks I learned about about Bambi Buckets, Sky Cranes, torching, and spotting. I talked to people identifying themselves as Fire Behavior Specialists and Fire Meteorologists. I visited the perimeter of the fire, near the spot where Engine 661 picked up the Smokejumpers.

What did I learn? I learned that mega-fires like Millie will become increasingly common in the years to come, as climate-change clears our forests. And I learned that the men and women who fight fires in our country are the best we — and our government — have to offer. At one of the public Fire Information Meetings I attended, a local woman from Bozeman stood up and thanked “the foreigners” for the dedication and professionalism they had amply demonstrated at all levels of government — federal, state, and municipal. Witnessing this, it is difficult to understand why some politicians attempt to curry favor by denigrating the work of these and other public servants.

On September 13, the Gallatin County Sheriff rescinded our Evacuation Warning. On September 14, the Great Basin Incident Management Team turned over management of the fire to the Gallatin National Forest. We can unroll the rugs we had readied for a quick departure. But we are not yet ready to put the photographs back on the wall. Millie still sends up unnerving smoke columns when clumps of trees within the perimeter suddenly burst into flames, as if to remind us that she is still in the building. Current predictions are that she will still be burning until November 1.


if you don’t have something nice to say. . .

or even if you do . . . . there is always a negative aspect.  which somehow will become all that is remembered.

i left my father in tallahassee and his provenge treatment went well.  i met two new facebook friends–william taylor and ron winegar.  i wasn’t able to meet others i was scheduled to see, most particularly jennifer brand clair from tampa.  jennifer built me a facebook cake to celebrate what would have been our first meeting.

the cake is like an open book, with one page about facebook and twin laptops–hers and mine. the other page has an airplane flying down to florida to meet jennifer. she sent me the cake as an attachment to a message. buttercream frosting doesn’t taste as good when you’re trying to lick it off your screen.

 

i flew from tallahassee to charlotte and from there to chicago–the t.s.a. were definitely more attentive and they’ve implemented the “second look” policy at the gates.

this morning, i was surprised to find the following article.  i had forgotten that more than a week ago, a reporter called and wanted to talk about my new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  he kept focusing his questions on the negative. . . things that went wrong, friendships that weren’t good, unfriending, disaster.  and i think i sound like i am a more negative person than i think i am.

your thoughts?

oh, here’s the link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/14/unfollow-unfriend-on-facebook-twitter

can i add this to the article? can i tape this to my front door? can i tack this onto the bulletin board at the starbucks? because i think words really affect us.

 


i don’t want to “like” mitt or barack. . . . with socialfixer.com i don’t have to!

i will be in charlotte and in tampa next week, but i seemed to have missed my opportunity to pick up swag at the conventions–you know, like baseball hats and bumper stickers and seamus the romney family dog plush toys.

in 1983, with five sons, a wife, some luggage and dog, mitt romney made the decision to put seamus in a dog carrier strapped to to the roof of the car for his 36 hour drive to a family home in ontario. bad political move! and since everybody’s seeing seamus’ mug on facebook, couldn’t we get a better shot of him?

in tampa, i will bake a facebook cake with my facebook friend jennifer. it will be the first time we have met, but i already know i will like her. for real, not just with a click!

 

but missing the conventions doesn’t mean that i won’t have a bit of politics hanging on me like a piece of tissue on my shoe as i leave the ladies’ room.  people everywhere are a little guarded in their comments about the upcoming elections and the ones who aren’t make me go quiet and start counting fibonacci numbers in my head.  while nodding in agreement. zero, one, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty one, uh, thirty four, fifty five, uh, let me think now. . . eighty nine!

on facebook, it can get pretty annoying when somebody posts something to your wall.  it can also make some of your friends start comment wars.

she’s beautiful, she’s witty, and i like her. but roughly half my friends are going to have smoke coming out of their ears if one of my friends posts this on my wall.

so while i intend to vote — and i have a substantial bet with my ex-husband on the outcome of the election–i am here to advise on how to get rid of politics on your facebook page.

1.  install socialfixer.com and figure out the key words you don’t want to see on your page.

2.  status updates:  go to social fixer’s options in the blue bar at the top of your screen, then click filters in the right sidebar. Under matching text, type what you want blocked, looking like this: /romney|obama|republicans|democrats/i. Putting the “i” at the end ensures that the filtered terms aren’t case-sensitive. After that, click hide and save.

3.  links.  we’re so tired of people posting links to their favorite rant, so why should you have to suffer?  go back to options and click add new filter, putting text similar to what you don’t want in the matching selector box a[href*="obama|romney|republicans|democrats"].  no more see any links that have these words in the URL.  there’s going to be stuff that gets past it, but not so much anymore.

you can use socialfixer.com for all kinds of things like cute/inspirational/puppies or chicago/cubs/aren’t/ever/going/to/win/the/world/series/ever!

 

i just got this on my page this morning. socialfixer won’t get rid of this picture, no matter how handsome he may be, but i’ve been asked to “like” and for all my friends to “like”.  i might like this guy, i might not like this guy, but if he gets reelected i feel honorbound to “like” him. 

 

i think facebook needs a “i respect your opinion and your thoughtfulness in sharing” button!


invite me to your sorority initiation rites because i sorta know the alphabet

when i was twenty five i shopped around for a therapist for all that ails a gal in her quarter life crisis.  anxiety, depression, panic attacks, a touch of the eating disorder.

me at twenty five. fifteen pounds lighter. damn, if i knew now what i didn’t know then, i would have ate more candy, spent my money on pretty dresses and drinks for cute boys, and wouldn’t have bothered with therapy, waxing kits or underwire bras.

so i tried a gestalt therapist.  interviewed a freudian.  did one session with a cognitive psychotherapist.  even got my chakras manifested.  nothing clicked.  nothing seemed particularly helpful.

when i went to a “blended” psychotherapist i remember he asked me a half dozen questions.  one of them was “who is your best friend?”  i said, well, it’s actually two people.  they’re married to each other and i can’t really separate them.  not that i want to. . . and they’re seventy-ish and they’re retired and well they’re like parents to me.  dick and vivian eastman.  he taught me english in college.”

the therapist put down pad and pen and stared at me in that woeful, soulful, doleful sort of way that therapists are wont to.

“don’t you think it’s a sign of a . . . problem . . . that you consider your best friends a couple who separated by so many years from your peers and . . .”

he didn’t get the whole question out before i moved on.  and i never found that perfect therapist.  and, sadly, both dick and vivian passed on a few years ago.  i felt honored that they considered me a friend.

i find it strange that american culture assumes you are friends with people who are roughly your own age.  your own grade.  and i have reached an age at which i am honored particularly by young than me people who consider me their friend.

this weekend i went to visit my facebook friend taylor jordan.  she is not even twenty years old and all the adjectives apply:  beautiful, enthusiastic, energetic, fun!  i am not her best friend but i am included in the circle of people she counts as that word.

i think my facebook friend taylor jordan (on the left) would consider taylor lufkin (on the right) her best friend! they are both in college–he’s going to be a writer, she’s going to teach. this is our wonderful future and i’m so happy for these two!

 

taylor was the eighty-fifth facebook friend i visited last year.  she is the granddaughter of my friend suzanne’s husband.  although i had often interacted with her in the context of seeing my friend suzanne, i had never really spent time with taylor as a friend unto herself.  last year, i went to her school in wisconsin to visit and discovered a way nuanced, intelligent, funny galpal. this year, i went to her school in central illinois.  next week, she is going to join a sorority, but first there’s an initiation rite that i tried to help her with. . . uh, well, maybe i’m not the friend you want at your side when you do that. . .

 


they never call, they never write. . .

. . . and they don’t text, email, post on my facebook page, invite me to their linkedIn network, tweet at me, instagramatic me, or send a carrier pigeon.  despite all the advances in communications, twentysomething sons just don’t communicate with their moms.  at least, this is what i’ve been advised.

i have a preflight ritual: as soon as i bolt away from the t.s.a. stormtroopers (uh, agents) i head for the bar, order a beer and text both my sons that the plane is about to take off and i love them. one of them almost always texts back “love you too” the other, meh, not so much.

 

some people say that if you’ve done your job well, then you WON’T hear from them.  that they’re independent.  i’m not so sure.

in any event, i was in st. louis to visit with facebook friend #327 daniel reyna.  he invited me to his home on a sunday afternoon for a dinner he would be making.  ordinarily, i wouldn’t meet a facebook friend for the first time in their home.  but for daniel there were two important exceptional circumstances:  he was inviting me to a family dinner and he has a limited comfort zone in which he operates without anxiety attacks.  also, i had a chaperone.

the reyna family is second generation mexican:  mrs. reyna, daniel’s mom, has nine siblings and her husband has a large family as well.  the reynas have five children including daniel and his twin brother david.  every sunday the reynas get together for an afternoon dinner.  while cousins are welcome, the five siblings and their significant others and children are the core of the meal.  the siblings take turns hosting and each host is allowed to invite an extra guest.  i was honored to be daniel’s guest.  and i was intrigued as to what he would make for us.  i was ushered into a kitchen and met the family.  the reynas are a boisterous group, five different conversations going on at once, and so many times was i asked if i wanted something to drink and ended up with three beers, a glass of wine and a soda in front of me.

i had been eating st. louis’ favorite specialty–fried ravioli–for two days. this dish is not exactly atkins diet material but this and a double i.p.a. is what i’ll be asking for when i’m on death row and the warden asks “what’s that last meal going to be?”

 

a small light meal of an antipasto platter, followed up by pulled pork, roast chicken, barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes, spanish rice, cole slaw, bread, baked beans, and daniel’s twin david had made chocolate pie and apple pie.  whoops, i forgot the louisiana bundt cake and ice cream sandwiches.

in addition to the reynas getting together for sunday meals, they also host a family olympics in the summer with egg tosses, races, and a pie eating contest.  they have a christmas talent show for each other.  they go to mexico every year–although daniel doesn’t go with because of his anxiety.  and they invent their own games, one of which–spoons–they tried to teach me.

i told mrs. reyna that she was so lucky to have her children with her and she said “the best present a mom can give her children is a family.”  she is absolutely right.

daniel was a bit shy about having his picture put in a blog post.  i never post pictures that people don’t want me to.  so i keep the picture in my cellphone.  it was late when i had to say goodbye and i didn’t really say goodbye.  i said au revoir, until we see each other again.  even if it’s on facebook.

later that day, i was on facebook and noticed a status update of one of my sons on my newsfeed.  with all the tools of communication, i think it just makes us MORE aware of wanting what the reynas have every sunday afternoon.


in order to succeed. . .

in order to succeed, a million things must go right.  in order to fail, only one thing has to go wrong.  i admit that on the morning of august ninth i was thinking there’s going to be that one thing today.  four friends coming together for lunch at laconda verde in new york city.  one coming in from japan.  one from brooklyn.  one from staten island.  and me?  i get lost everywhere.

i just didn’t think it could happen.

facebook friend #316 carolyn quinn woke up on that morning and had a completely different mindset!

on may 9th of this year, i met michele piersiak of staten island.  she is the 317th facebook friend i have met with since i made the new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  so often, we have friendships and partnerships that exist online, on the phone, on facebook or twitter or instagram–and it’s important to supplement those interactions with real time.

michele followed the progress of my resolution because she shares a characteristic with me–we are both agoraphobic.  we both have awful panic attacks and tend to look for our “safe” zone–and that zone can expand and contract.  in my case, it has expanded considerably because of my facebook project.  in michele’s case, she had been nearly housebound for more than a year because leaving the house affords too many opportunities for panic.   but she’s just too young and pretty and bright and with so much to offer . . .  it’s a darn shame to take that away from the world.

i’m a believer in tackling small goals and in doing so creating courage for tackling bigger ones.  for michele, a big goal is to become a doctor to help others with this condition.  a smaller goal was to have lunch at laconda verde.  i said if she could make it to the restaurant in manhattan,  i would fly out and take her there.  she’s been working on getting out of the house and this morning she would get on the staten island ferry.  we picked her up at the station.  she was accompanied by her boyfriend anthony.

michele did something that is really important.  she planned what she was going to bring.  as someone who now lives out of her little orange bag, i totally understand.

we got off the ferry and took a cab to the restaurant.  we were met by facebook friend #326 azusa watanabe who had flown in from japan a few days before.

the second most wonderful thing about lunch was dessert! the most wonderful thing was being with friends! after lunch azusa, carolyn and i went to have our auras photographed. michele and anthony went home to staten island. i think michele can do anything she sets her mind to!


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