Tag Archives: christmas trees

dortmund might be a disaster, or just a distraction

on january first, i went through my friends list just to get an idea of all the places and people i had committed to seeing.  i was puzzled by a few friends.  claudia was one of them.  she seldom showed up in the status updates and when she did, she wrote mostly in german–which i can’t understand.  we had two mutual friends — f2fb friend #140 ben gonzalez and #150 branden blinn.  ben and branden both had no idea how they were friends with claudia–i had accepted her friendship request on the basis of those relationships and to find out that they didn’t even know her was quite unsettling.  i messaged her, explaining the project and gently probed as to where she was and what our connection was.  i received no response.  i did this several times.  i was prepared to write her off as i received no replies. 

ben was sure that claudia was just being shy.  he instant messaged her.  explained the project.  and claudia declared that she “was uncomfortable meeting people”  especially ones she doesn’t know.  she was just as baffled as to why i was her friend as i was about why she was my friend.  she wrote to ben that her english was not good enough for her to feel comfortable meeting an american.  i communicated through ben that this was no impediment to friendship. 

over the course of several sessions of instant messaging, ben was persuasive.  she agreed to see me  in her home town of dortmund, germany.  but only on a tuesday because she got off work early on tuesdays.  that could fit quite nicely into the jigsaw puzzle of my trip around the world since i needed to be in dubai on either a friday or saturday to see f2fb friend #246 cecilia gigiolio.  claudia would meet me at the dortmund hbf rail station around seven o’clock on november first.  i reconfirmed with a message just before i bought my international tickets.  claudia responded that she was looking forward to meeting me.  i booked a flight from rome to dusseldorf, with a two hour layover in vienna, and studied the train schedules to find the one hour train ride that would put me into dortmund around seven.

the night before i was to meet claudia, i jumped on facebook to message her a reminder of our meeting.  i discovered she had defriended me.  and blocked me. 

i had a seat on a plane to luten, england from dortmund’s airport.  it was too late and too expensive to do anything else but head out from rome the next morning.

i waited, on the offchance that she would show up.  i even found myself looking at other people on the train platform, thinking someone would tap my shoulder and say “sie mussen arlynn werden”. . .

in the end, i had to take this as a loss.  no claudia.  no facebook meeting.  and no real purpose to being in dortmund.  except, of course, that the borussian soccer team was hosting greece for a match that would serve as an allegory for the problems of the european union. 

still, i sympathize with claudia.  i figure she felt overwhelmed.  didn’t know how to say no.  or nein.  and then maybe panicked at the last minute.  she dealt with the matter in a way that facebook facilitates very nicely:  if you are defriended by someone, you don’t get a sad face amongst your notifications.  you just have to find out on your own.  and because claudia blocked me, i can’t even message her that i’m sorry this didn’t work out.

still, travel requires flexibility.  there was dortmund.  they had a laundromat.  i really needed to visit that because joseph and i have been living out of my carhartt utility bag and a backpack.  and there was the dortmund hansmarket.  i tried my hand at roulette. . .

and i came across dortmund’s pride–the world’s largest christmas tree–being assembled in the city square.  the tree reminded me that there’s only two months left for me to make my goal of meeting all those who were my facebook friends on january 1, 2011.  if i pout, or feel down, because i have failed in one aspect of my resolution, i won’t have the nerve to succeed at what is still possible.  so i splurged and took a cab to dortmund’s airport.  and aimed for england and the last two facebook friends on this overseas adventure.

christmas in july

it’s july one.  the middle of the year.  the middle of a new years resolution.  and i have achieved twin successes–a milestone and an intriguing but daunting proposal–and both scare me as much as they delight me.  but first, i must explain the blessed absolution i received in the matter of stealing the christmas trees from the boy scouts.

facebook posts and news feeds leave a lot of room for misunderstanding between friends.  and friends of friends.  my misunderstanding with f2fb friend #165 phil hoza had its origins in an event that occured even before there was a facebook! 

it was nearing christmas.  my then husband was working in england.  joseph and eastman were eight and four years old.  i had been feeling poorly.  low energy.  afternoons disappearing into naps, workouts disappearing altogether, boys watching a lot of television. 

i went to the doctor who said he was going to admit me to the hospital because i had pneumonia.  i said no, i have no one to take care of my children.  he gave me drugs and made me promise complete bedrest.  i drove home thinking about how the boys’ christmas was now officially ruined.  i stopped at the parking lot where the boy scout troop sold christmas trees.  nobody was there except for an old woman who picked out a tree, shoved it into the trunk of her car, and glided out of the parking lot with none of that shoplifter guilty look.  i figured “what the hell?”  and took a tree myself.

i put up the tree in my bedroom because it would make watching the boys easier.  they asked me where i had gotten the tree.

“i stole it from the boy scouts,”  i said.

i was instantly transformed into the cool mom.  later i found out that after the last saturday before christmas the boy scouts abandon the tree selling business.  so it wasn’t technically stealing.  i never corrected the boys on this minor legal technicality.  i let them think i brazenly stole that christmas tree.  that i wasn’t scared of time in the pokey.  that i was just a little bit of an outlaw.

after that, the boys believed that i stole every year’s christmas tree. to be fair, i only stole a christmas tree one other year and that was when the leader of the boy scout troop called me on the saturday evening before christmas to tell me that if i wanted to steal a good one, i’d better hurry.

“buying christmas tree is for suckers,”  eastman told me as we dragged the tree along the snowy side streets. 

this past christmas i posted on facebook that i had carried on the family tradition and stole a christmas tree.  i actually must fess to having bought one.  but still, the boys were happy.  some of my facebook friends were not.  f2fb friend phil hoza had a good suggestion “you should write a check to the boy scouts” but i was worried that he was really really really angry with me.  and the compressed nature of facebook posts flummoxed me–how could i communicate the entire story in a 140 character post? 

so i didn’t. 

phil is a vietnam veteran who was shot during the tet offensive of 1968.  his daughter carrie serve in korea during peacetime and iraq during the first gulf war.  phil has volunteered his time to charities and public works projects in winnetka so much that he rightfully can lay claim to the title of secural saint.  i was nervous about seeing him as part of this new years resolution.  i shouldn’t have been.  he gave me absolution and told me to sin no more. . . .
phil hoza has lived and worked in wilmette and winnetka all his life!  he does so much for our towns!

many people have christmas in july parties.  phil hoza and i had our christmas in july party today!

the milestone today is that i am seeing friend number 166 tomorrow.  i am halfway through the new years resolution.  that’s a great milestone because i find so much of it unbelievable.  the proposal?  not for marriage, but for a project that would make this new year’s resolution something that would explain myself one day to my boys.  this means the project becomes much more difficult, logistically and personally.  when i first heard of this proposal, i went to lakeside groceries, bought a bottle of wine, drank the entire bottle while sitting on the couch, and then passed out. 

waking up, i realized something awful about myself.  i’m just as scared of success as i am of failure.