Monthly Archives: December 2011

your new years resolution is going to happen in 2012!

. . . . and how to use this blog to help you!

last year, at december 30, i woke up and decided what i was going to do to change my life.  not change it by saying i’m going to lose five pounds, drink less, get more organized.  none of those resolutions that disappear by february, leaving self-loathing as a lenten finish.

i am a person who doesn’t leave the house unless i have to.  i am person who is afraid all the time.   i am a person who lives alone but thinks i have a great social life because i’m on the computer all day and i’m communicating.  particularly on facebook.

emily dickinson was a nineteenth century poet who was a reclusive spinster. i am not a spinster, having been married once. and i'm not a poet. but she definitely would have had a healthy facebook account.

so i decided i would meet every one of these people whom i have messaged and messaged by, posted and responded to posts, liked and commented on.  i knew it would mean getting on a plane.  going to a country not my own.  meeting people.  some of them for the first time.  or at least the first time in a long time.  but i knew i was sick of being me.  of drinking or taking ativan to make it through the things that most people regard as just what you do in our modern times.  don’t tell me to try therapy–i have and i think therapy just makes me dependent on a therapist.  don’t tell me drugs–i like them, don’t get me wrong, but drugs just help me addicted to drugs.  meditation, hypnosis, etc.–i’ve tried them.  this time i would try relying on me . . . and my friends.

so for you, make a resolution.  make it huge.  make it so huge it scares you.  it should really scare you.  and then tell everyone of your friends.  on your facebook page, on a comment to this blog, by telling the town gossip, whatever it takes.

in my case, i posted a video on my facebook profile page and within hours i knew what this year was going to be like.  it scared me.  and it should have.  if you want to read about that, go to the top of this blog page and click on the “for those who like to start at the beginning”.  then i started taking baby steps.  small discrete things i could handle.  some of the results were funny.  some were heartbreaking.  some were scary.  some made me feel really strong.

do one thing each day in furtherance of your resolution and don’t for a moment think about the obstacles way ahead of you.  trust that you will be strong enough for them when you get there.

the biggest thing i was scared of was traveling around the world.  i decided to break up the friends into geographic zones and visit a few in each zone  and make the travels just a little more challenging each time.  and then come back home and see friends in chicago.

which totally reminds me, i saw facebook friend #290 yesterday.  she was pretty funny.  she didn’t want me to use her name and instead wants me to call her agent 99.  okay that’s fine.  i’m seeing facebook friend 291 today and possibly 292 tomorrow.  i will get to about ninety percent of my goal.

some friends were unreachable.  some friends were reluctant and i have no interest in forcing anybody to do something they don’t want to do.  some friends had their own issues that made seeing them impossible.  quite bluntly, there are four friends in california that would have seen me but i ran out of money–and i’ve been to their area of california twice already.

i’ve been to over 51 different cities.  i’ve been on at least forty five flights.  i’ve taken trains, cars, buses, planes although never a boat.  i’ve been to mexico city, the top of alaska, around the world.  i traveled through new york enough times that i honestly can’t remember.  i’ve made new friends.  i’ve rediscovered old friends.  and now when i read a post or a comment, i have a picture in my head of the person.  i know who they are in a way that can’t be communicated just through facebook or a social network site.

i have to make a new years resolution for 2012 and i want it to include some aspect of helping others who are in somewhat the position i was in last year.

rely on your friends to help you with your resolution.  if you don’t ask your friends for help, you’re saying you don’t need them.  and if that’s the case, what kind of friend are you?

i want to be the friend who helps.  contact me on facebook or comment at this blog.  i want to be the friend who helps another friend.

friends for a reason friends for a season

the year is coming to a close and i am forced to concede that i will not see all of the 325 facebook friends i had last year at this time when i made the resolution.  but i’ve done a lot of interesting things and re/connected with a lot of friends. two of the most interesting episodes occurred yesterday.

f2fb friend #288 jeffrey jon smith is a documentary filmmaker who directed a movie called “the miracle” . . . joseph was in the film and it was shot so many years ago that i’m not sure joseph had facial hair.  well, he did but it had to be drawn in.  the miracle is about tekki lomnicki, a little person, who wanted a miracle at lourdes when she was much younger.  it’s directed in the style of an old-time hollywood movie.  the miracle has its own facebook page–the miracle movie–so i could have made the movie my friend.  instead, i made the director my friend.  we had only met once, at joseph’s audition.  jeffrey and i became facebook friends in part because the job of a mom of a young actor is to scope out the project and the people her children work with.  is it okay that i replayed the scene with joseph in it a few dozen times?

jeffrey teaches at both columbia college and facets film school in chicago. we talked a lot about what goes into making a movie! for jeffrey the miracle movie required a miracle--in health, finances, and endurance. sort of all the things we hope for a new year!

later when i went home i was visited by a woman who lives in a community near to winnetka.  she brought me christmas cookies.  she was apologetic that they were “late” christmas cookies but if someone’s going to bake for me, i figure she can bring me christmas cookies in july.  but i invited her in and that’s when she told me she was my f2fb friend #289.  i had to admit she had been on my list but i had thought she had defriended me.  instead, she had deactivated her account because of a stalker ex-husband.  in fact, she had become a bit paranoid about all sorts of things–linked in, pta parent rosters, the mail being delivered late or possibly not at all.

but she knew i had this project and she just wanted me to know it was nothing personal.   i told her that she would have to share “anonymous” with f2fb friends #88, #228, and #229 who all had their reasons for secrecy.

am i going to have a new year’s miracle in which all the rest of my facebook friends will bring me christmas cookies?  luckily, for my waistline, no.  there are friends who have moved, friends who’ve become fan pages (elmore leonard was, sigh, once a friend) and there’s even a few friends who aren’t even real people and they seem to get a lot of free iphones and restylane treatments.  some friends were friends because we were working together or went to school and now that doesn’t exist.  and then there’s this:  some of my friends want to keep a facebook friendship just that, a facebook friendship.

and some friends are for life!

the disasters you meet will never be the ones you anticipate. . . .

so christmas was going along splendidly.  i had hosted my ex-husband, my stepson, and my two boys for christmas eve dinner and then for brunch, my ex-husband, his first ex-wife, his daughter, her husband, their daughter, and my two boys.  after the last chocolates had been eaten and everyone was feeling a bit bloated and happy, my younger son eastman announced he wanted to go out and he would take my car.  so far so good.  at least for another half hour.

in the meantime, i reflected on the new years eve resolution that had brought me to christmas–sure, i’m not going to get to all 325 friends.  some are spambots and don’t even really exist.  some are uninterested in seeing me.  some have moved.   four of them are orphaned to me because i can’t afford another flight to california.  but i was thinking ninety percent was looking pretty good.  if i made a new years resolution to make a million dollars and i only made $900k i’d still be able to afford a pair of pretty earrings.  and if i made a new years resolution to lose ten pounds and i only lost nine i’d still feel better about that bikini.  i was getting pretty self-congratulatory, which is really something you shouldn’t do until you actually cross that finish line.

eastman arrived home with the news that the back window of the car had spontaneously shattered.  then there was the confusing addition to the storyline of a mysterious group of underage drinkers, a garage, and a verbal altercation.  while my first reflex was relief that eastman was not hurt, i suddenly realized i had better cancel my december 26 facebook appointments.  i did so with a heavy heart because i know how busy the holidays are — these were appointments i might not be able to make up by december 31.  and further, everything i do from here on out requires a car.  and the window will not be repaired for at least til the end of the year.

i lost it.  utterly lost it.  pulled a dark cloud over my head and gave up.  spent december 26th in bed with a migraine-ish pain in my soul.  i would quit.  five days before the end of the year.  i was mad at me, mad at eastman, mad at the entire year of 2011!

i turn to white wine when i'm feeling awful. it's not like it helps matters any and adding chocolate does nothing either.

then i thought, this project is about friendship and about sometimes having to ask for help.  lots of help from your friends.  if you don’t ask for help, then you’re really saying you don’t need your friends.

i called brenda allison, f2fb friend #287, and asked if there was any way she could meet me today in winnetka even though i had had to cancel for the twenty sixth.  i am grateful that she agreed.  after all, she’s from fayettevill, arkansas–it’s quite a drive.  to be fair, she was visiting relatives in chicago.  we got together and in the meantime, my ex-husband has volunteered his car to eastman who has now signed on to be my driver for the next several days.  an ex-husband and a son can be good friends too!

brenda and i got matching pedicures.  we caught up on the things that had happened since brenda and her husband moved to fayetteville a year and a half ago.  it’s the sort of catching up that doesn’t work when you just see a news feed scroll by. . . .  and then she had something very interesting to say about new years resolutions!


the best christmas begins at norad. . . .

you shouldn’t be looking at this–you should be tracking santa with the north american aerospace defense command.  every year, on christmas eve, the folks at norad who are our first line of defense against aliens, terrorists, and otherwise enemies tracks the progress of santa from the north pole.  the tradition of tracking santa began in 1955 when the sears & roebuck company misprinted a telephone number which children could use to call santa and find out about his progress.  the number actually connected to NORAD’s predecessor CONAD — please just roll with the acronyms — and in particular to colonel harry shoup who found himself on the phone with youngsters reassuring them that he had santa on his radar screen.  the next year, there really wasn’t a way to weasel out of the responsibility.  when santa is in north american airspace, the NORAD pilots tip their wings and santa thinks it’s just grand!

the biggest impediment to a healthy belief in santa is the twenty four hour delivery time.  and yet, we say yessirree bob to fedex all the time or we believe that an email is going to show up on someone’s cell phone like snap!  but okay, one man, nine deer (if you include rudolph, who was actually a latecomer to the fold), it’s a tough ideology.

a big stumbling block is that we all think it takes 24 hours to deliver presents around the world.  how can that happen?  just think einstein, space time continuum.  if you’re a physicist you know what i’m talking about.  time exists in a different way for santa.  he probably thinks he’s on the road all year long, just like someone tracking down all their facebook friends.  that’s why you should leave out really good snacks and a bucket of water and some carrots for the deer.  for santa, not me.

in winnetka, christmas starts three or four days before the actual twenty fifth.  i saw f2fb friend #284 lauren redmond only briefly but it was as if space and time were gone.  i’ve known her since she was in third grade, when her ambition was to become a writer and an actress.  she can do anything she wants, although right now she’s doing marketing for a soccer association.  then i saw f2fb friend #285 wendy mitome who said she can’t take a good picture. . . i won’t even post a poll.  we all know the answer.

yes she can!!!!!


and then i saw tripper.  all year, tripper–okay, lawson whitesides III–has said “economize, consolidate, don’t make unnecessary trips. i live in dallas, you have no other facebook friends in dallas, wait until christmas and i will see you then”

to believe in santa and tripper, well, it takes some gumption.  i had to believe, really believe, and not push it.  not pick up some cheap special and go.  and i was rewarded this morning.  tripper and his beloved bride myra (okay, eight years but who’s counting?) met up with me.  we spent an hour catching up and there was a lot to catch up on–tripper has survived cancer, he’s started a thriving insurance practice, he’s married, and i suddenly felt old.

except not too old to believe in santa.  if he could bring tripper (f2fb friend #286) the most beautiful bride in the world, he can do anything!

i am grateful to tripper, myra, and to the tracking system.  as i write, santa is pulling out of russia and heading this way.  it’s three thirty in the afternoon but one thing norad warns you about is if you’re not asleep santa might accidentally pass you over.  i put aside two ambien just for the occasion!

the worst christmas ever is always the one that’s coming. . .

i yelled at my ex-husband over the phone this morning that i wanted to kill myself.  i have been crying for nearly three hours off and on, and it’s really hard to order coffee at caribou while you’re hiding a secret behind your ray-bans.  i’ll have the wahhhhh! decaf medium sniff! please!

the patricks were not holiday people.  they considered birthdays for children under the age of five and since i was adopted at three you can sort of see how much traction my birthday got.  halloween trick or treating?  ixnay.  valentine’s?  there’d better be no boys sniffing around this house with cards–i don’t care if your teacher says that everybody has to send everybody a card.

they were okay on christmas, a little.  there was a tree.  we ate datenut bread and cream cheese sandwiches on christmas eve and on christmas day, dinner was accompanied by prince andre cold duck.  until the patricks discovered sparkling burgundy.  the day after christmas, the tree was thrown out onto the parkway.

it’s the lead up that always did me in!

one year, i was so excited about santa’s imminent arrival that i repeatedly snuck down the stairs to the living room.  santa never arrived.  i woke up in the morning and saw nothing under the tree.  my mother said that santa had simply skipped the neighborhood.  but when my older adopted sister sandra and i went next door, there were presents and laughter and stockings.  sandra got them to give us some candy and she put it in my stocking.  that was christmas.  a few years later, mrs. patrick allowed as how it made her so mad that i kept getting up, she finally decided to punish me with no christmas.  it was quite effective.  the next year, they had to drag me out of bed christmas morning.

but that wasn’t as bad as the year i turned eleven.  there was several boxes just for me under the tree!  i was so excited but i forgot:  puberty was just around the corner.  so was bleeding.  menstruation was something mrs. patrick didn’t have to deal with because she had had a hysterectomy when she was seventeen.  she delighted that she didn’t have that “dirtiness” to contend with.  my christmas presents were a box of kotex napkins, some underwear that had a garter to hold the napkins in place, and mr. patrick (who traveled on business a lot) had contributed a box of the airsickness bags he had filched so that i could dispose of the used napkins.  i was sternly warned that under no circumstances could i put the napkins in the household garbage cans.

“that’s how diseases are spread,”  mrs. patrick warned me.  i felt really funny around my father, knowing that he knew this would happen to me.  my sister gave me the talk about how periods worked but she used such convoluted language that i thought i would be bleeding from my belly button.  wow!  i was so surprised when it actually happened!  i thought i was dying!

airlines used to place airsickness bags in the pocket in the seat in front of you. they were for use when people threw up from nausea midflight.


so i have had christmases alone, i’ve had wonderful christmases with the eastmans and with my own family.  but i always have the pre-christmas fears that this is going to be one of those bad christmases.  this year, i’m already panicking.  i wish there was a holiday five days before where everybody would announce that they loved everybody in their family A LOT!  it would certainly help me.

and yet, what i should remember most is not whether one son or another remembers to get me a present or whether everybody behaves at the two different christmas dinners i’m hosting (two of which will include an ex-husband and one of which will include his first ex-wife) or whether someone gets mad because i didn’t mail their christmas wreath to them soon enough.  i should remember that next year’s christmas.  . .  definitely could be worse and it’s a long ways away!



my last f2fb flight of the year. . . . unless i can earn some easy money

when i travel this year, i try to walk as much as possible.  and in the calm quiet of my hotel room in downtown portland, i mapquested how to get to f2fb friend #282 karin deitterich mcdonough.  i was very excited because i hadn’t seen her since high school.  she was always the smart chick.  i thought she was very chic.  i couldn’t wait to hear about what had happened in the past thirtysome years.

on mapquest, if i took a car, it would take nine minutes to traverse the four miles.  but i decided to try the walking option.  again, four miles.  but an hour and a half?  oh, come now!  i might be fifty one but i think of myself as pretty fit.  i took down the directions and headed out at eight–i was supposed to meet her for breakfast at her house between ten and ten thirty.  i dawdled through the downtown because i had a lot of time on my hands.  then i entered into what portlanders would call “the hills”.  the hills go straight up.  then the street changes its name like an identity thief on crack.  then the hills go straight down, which when a gal is wear a bit of a coquette-ish heel–well, let’s just say i put my bag and my ass down at one point and sort of scootched along as toddlers do.  when i looked down i realized i could not see the downtown any longer.  as a chicagoan, i take a lot of comfort in skyscrapers seen at a distance.

i arrived promptly at ten thirty.  i only had to call her once because there was a court, a boulevard, a street, a parkway, and an avenue all with the same name as her little rue.  i had hoped she would give me a bell ringing lesson.  we didn’t really have time for that.  but she did give me a bell ringing lesson of an unexpected type: 

after a first marriage ended, karin met her second husband through their shared love of bell ringing. they both perform and karin is going to get her master's in music education. told you she was the smart one!!

karin was so nice to drive me to the airport.  i told her i needed to be there early because i am always the person randomly selected for patdowns, feel ups, extra wanding, bags unpacked, questions asked, go through that magnetized thing again, let’s swab your fingertips.  she thought i was overreacting but she got me to the airport and the strangest thing happened.
nothing.  i felt a bit nostalgic when the tsa agent said “awesome” which is, as near as i can tell, what people in portland say when they mean “yes” or “i like that” or “you must not be a terrorist, you’re free to go”. . . this might very well be my last plane trip for my new year’s resolution and there wasn’t a single blue gloved hand grope. 

peter butier welcomed me home to winnetka--he travels almost as much as i have this year because he balances a girlfriend in lake forest and children in arizona, california, and texas. i told him about the fact that this new years resolution was written about in and he thought that was funny. i do too!

so i have four “orphaned” friends in california who would be happy to see me but weren’t able to see me the other two times i went to los angeles and san diego.  but i could squeeze it in if i made some easy quick cash. 

yo, shortie, it’s yo birthday we gonna party like . . .

a birthday alone is pretty difficult for most people.  facebook makes you feel a lot like you’re not alone because it shoots out reminders every day of all the friends who are having birthdays.  i try to send a message to the birthday boy or girl.  yo, shortie, it’s your birthday! 

long before facebook, i had a birthday that seemed like it was going to be one of those depressing solitary experiences.  i had moved out of the patrick’s house when i was just shy of fifteen, i had somehow graduated from college (sideswiping that high school degree) and had gotten into law school.  i applied to northwestern law school because i knew how to get there from the train station.  

i moved into the lawson ymca four blocks from northwestern law school. my world was in between the two buildings. the first night i stayed at the lawson a man jumped out of a window and killed himself. it happened frequently during the three years i lived there.

 i worked as a research assistant for dick speidel, my contracts professor.  margie worked as a research assistant as well and although she didn’t know me very well, she knew when my birthday came up and she took me to lunch.  i am still grateful to her.  do you have someone on your facebook friendship list who needs to be taken to lunch for their birthday?

we lost track of each other after law school graduation but we’re facebook friends.  she’s a fancy schmancy professor at the university of oregon law school.  i’m so damned impressed!!! 

and then i had a legal question. . . .

a little while after lunch, the sun came up in portland and it was time for me to say goodbye to f2fb friend #281–i am so glad i got a chance to hear the second quarter has gone well for this gal!!

absinthe, sweater trees, and the curious habits of seattle

justin and i left vancouver and got on a bus for a four hour ride to seattle, one hour of which was spent at customs.  i have learned my lessons with customs folks.  i pretend i don’t understand english. . . or any other language. 

in seattle we stayed at the arctic club on third street.  immediately, viktor enticed justin with an absinthe.  prepared in the czech manner because the french manner is so . . . yesterday.

seattle are very solicitious of nature.  for instance, they wrap their trees in brightly colored sweaters.  i can’t imagine how they get the trees to settle down for this since it’s awfully hard to get a three year old to let you  put a sweater on them.  click on the x to see the lovely sweatertress!


this seemed like such a strange custom that i thought perhaps i was the one drinking absinthe, but no it was justin who didn’t really like the taste but appreciated the opportunity to have the medicinal effects of wormwood.

the next morning, f2fb friend #280 george moffat.  i hadn’t seen george since high school but there is something–perhaps it is in the nature of how our eyes deteriorate or our judgments soften–that made me think that not only had he not aged a whit but he had become more handsome.  he has settled into seattle and was doing some christmas shopping for his lovely wife and three daughters.  i had to promise to not write down what they’re getting. 

we talked about how lucky we are that we were even able to get together.  so many friends disperse after high school and before facebook came along if you decided you really did want to see a friend you had lost track of, you had to find their parents or relatives.  a lot of private detective work.  facebook is good that way.  george and me–unfortunately, the picture is like a christmas present:  you have to open it!

then i had to say goodbye both to my dad and to george–off to portland on an amtrak for me while justin would travel to tallahassee and then on to hawaii. 

i really appreciated seeing george, but i also really appreciated having some time with my father.  in february, it hadn’t gone well.  and i had worried that my last memory of him would be him saying “you’re a superconman and you’re trying to destroy me!”  now my last memory of him is watching him get into a cab and the man next to me asking me if i wanted to do a good deed for the day by giving him five bucks.

raven of the northwest on my last big trip of the f2fb year!

it’s nearly the end of this resolution, i’m getting so close and yet so many friends i’ll probably never meet.  and that makes me wonder about whether i’m really friends with them.  my last major flight was yesterday morning and f2fb friend #278 rob woolson was so kind as to call me and take me to the airport.  i was a bit cranky but he was determined. 

in vancouver, my father justin (f2fb friend #30) was waiting.  he had spent the previous day with bruce byfield (f2fb friend #279).  justin’s wife barbara had been quite concerned that justin not be required to sleep in a hovel so instead of the vancouver ymca we went to the fairmont hotel where i ran into the biggest celebrity in the entire world!!!

f2fb friend #279 bruce byfield wrote his dissertation on fritz leiber, my grandfather, who was a science fiction writer.  bruce writes mostly about open source software, that is to say, software that is free to users and exists somewhat outside of the range of copyright law.  he is a great fan of the northwest’s “first nations” peoples and he wears an enormous copper bracelet which is engraved with a description of the famous story of raven.

it was delightful to put a face to a friendship!  and this morning justin and i have to dash for the bus stop where we pick up the three hour amtrak cascade to seattle!

i hope my mom accepts my friendship request

i thought about my two moms yesterday.  it’s near christmas.  i worry about whether i’m a good mom to my boys.  i watched an episode of modern family.  i get a little sentimental.

so i checked.  yes, my mom is on facebook.  my biological mom.

this picture was probably taken around the time my mother and i had contact with each other. she would have been about my age. now she would be in her early seventies


my biological mom aleta and her then-husband my biological father justin put me up for adoption just before i turned three years old.  i was adopted by the patrick family.  the patricks were told by the adoption agency caseworker that it was best to change my name (from arlynn to lynn) and to try to erase all memories of my relationship with my biological parents.  when i finally went to live with the patricks i wasn’t allowed to take my clothes or even my favorite stuffed kitten.  i obviously knew i had been adopted but nothing else beyond that bare fact.  in fact, when i saw my birth certificate for the first time,  i was startled to realize that the state of illinois had switched the names of my parents.

these days people are more inclined to use “open” adoption or to give the child a sense of whatever heritage or history there is.

mrs. patrick was over forty when i came into the patrick family.


i left the patricks when i was just shy of fifteen and entered into the illinois foster system.  ultimately i went to college and law school.  after law school, i hired a private investigator to locate my biological parents.  it took him roughly a month to find my father justin (who is my facebook friend) and it took him roughly another month to locate my mother because she had remarried and divorced a second time, retaining her second husband’s last name.

after a few years, i lost track of my mom aleta.  i’ve tried phone books, google searches, directory assistance a few times over the years but she has seemed lost to me forever.  this morning, it took me less than twenty seconds to find her on facebook.  i’ve sent a friendship request.  we’ll see what happens.  so far she has “ignored” the request.

yesterday, i also got a chance to get a “two-fer” on my facebook new year’s resolution.  i am friends with liza roche who works for the sun-times media group.  i first met her at the winnetka rotary club.

liza roche is my f2fb friend #276!

liza is also the editor of the winnetka talk newspaper.  the winnetka talk is one of many chicago area pioneer press papers owned by the sun-times.

f2fb friend #277 has three stories and lots of cubicles inside.


i saw both friends at the pioneer press offices.  in the days before the internet, a newspaper often had a “bullpen” of reporters working together.  these days,  a reporter might work from home or from the table next to you at starbucks or caribou coffee.