In Defense of Facebook Birthday Wishes

facebook gift

A little presumptuous, isn’t it?

Last year I got irritated at Facebook and their insistence that I wish every single one of my friends a happy birthday. It’s one thing to remind me when someone has a birthday approaching, it’s another to prod me to post on their timeline or suggest I use the convenient and totally impersonal method of just pressing “1” on my phone. It seems that one of my friends has a birthday just about every day. And now I’m also being pressured to buy people a gift – with real money!

What’s the point of a virtual birthday greeting anyway, when it is sometimes the only direct interaction I have with that person all year long. An acquaintance from high school or the girl in the other department at work won’t notice if my “happy birthday!” never comes. Continue reading

The Family Book Club: Month 1

Photo Jan 31, 1 00 43 PMI want to read more books.

I read a lot of industry articles, longform stories, and Instagram captions, but I haven’t made a dent in my “Books to Read” list which now has over 100 items. I want to read the newest popular fiction making the bestsellers list, and I want to read the classics I should have read long ago. So in 2016 I made it a resolution to read at least one book per month. Naturally, I’m dragging my family along for the ride.

There are five people in my family ranging in age from 8 to 40 (just to be clear, I am not the 40-year-old). Some of us prefer YA dystopian novels and others are strictly military/true crime nonfiction readers. Creating a family book club to provide an opportunity for us to share our love of reading and inspire each other to explore books in other genres was a challenging undertaking, but I’ve made some good headway.  Continue reading

Buying Broken Toys with Fake Money

Seany centsThis is “Seany Cents.” I can use it to buy things from Sean’s room like masks, toys, magazines, or pencils. The prices are determined by the number of LEGOs placed in front of each item on the carpet. You must have a ticket to enter the Seany Shop, which Sean will give you if you ask. Remember, all Seany Cents expire in two days, so act now!

I knew Sean was up to something this morning when his older sister asked if she could change the channel on the TV and he replied “Sure, I’m busy making up my own money system.” I was busy folding laundry and she was getting into a new episode of her favorite show, but before long we were haggling prices and strategically spending our “money” in the Seany Shop. I purchased a talking Woody doll (that no longer talks), the front cover of a recent LEGO magazine, and Pantyhose, a stuffed black panther that was mine as a kid, which Sean discounted to one Seany Cent, just for me.  Continue reading

My 2015 Goals & Why I’ve Already Abandoned One

New Year’s Resolutions are for losers. Yeah, I know it’s good to reevaluate and all that, but really, it’s just an excuse to put off something you should have started doing a long time ago. I do, however, like setting goals; for the year, for the summer, for the month. It keeps me motivated and always working toward something. This year I have three goals… Okay maybe only two; I’ve already allowed myself to give up on one of them. (I fully realize that I’m posting this 6 weeks into 2015. I’m busy; give me a break.)

#1: Run a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon.
Last year I started running and I’ve come to really enjoy it. I get up at 5:00am two days per week to run on the treadmill, but much prefer my outdoor runs on the weekends. I ran my first and only race in October 2014 – a 5K all by myself because I couldn’t find anyone to join me – and barely managed to run the entire time. This year I set the bar a little higher. I’ve recruited friends and family to run with me in the Atlanta St Patrick’s day 5K, the Peachtree Road Race in July (I even joined the Atlanta Track Club for guaranteed entry), and the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon in November. Continue reading

16 Minutes

That’s how long it took me to run one mile on the day I decided to finally start running; 16 minutes. It actually didn’t involve much running – more like short intervals of barely moving above a walking pace, mixed with longer intervals of barely moving at all, panting like a dog, my chest so tight it hurt.

That was the day in June that I finally deciding to stop making excuses and saying “I’ll do it when…” and just start already. You’ve probably seen that quote floating around Pinterest that is supposedly a Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Well, that one hit home for me and helped me get my butt in gear.

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An Instagram post from one of my first days running, when I decided I would get new shoes if I committed to using them!

Run, Debbie! Run!

I’ve always admired runners, jealous of the way they so effortlessly run several miles a day – without stopping! I want to be a person who runs because I want to, not because I have to. I want to be able to tell people I run to relive stress. I want to be able to run a few miles without struggling to do so. I want to be a runner. Continue reading

Taking Care of Debbie

IMG_0757I remember how I felt when I found her on the top shelf of the closet in our guest bedroom. It was a wonderful sense of accomplishment immediately followed by overwhelming regret. It was the first and last time I was successful at snooping for hidden Christmas presents. Once I found her, I realized what a mistake I had made. I now had to keep my discovery a secret for the coming weeks, and would have to fake my excitement on Christmas morning when I opened what would be my “big” present that year. I never searched for hidden presents again.

I named her Debbie because of her resemblance to me, in the self-centered manner expected from an 8 year old. She was a high quality doll, the fanciest one I owned throughout my childhood. I outgrew her eventually, and she spent some years stored in the basement. I was 15 when my parents divorced and the contents of our house went different directions. I took with me a box of memorabilia from when I was a kid: my pencil collection, a dollar bill signed my a Washington Redskins player I once met, the leg brace I wore when I tore a few ligaments in my knee that was signed by my friends, and Debbie. Continue reading

Okay With Being Ordinary

There is a lot of pressure in our culture to be different. Be unique. Don’t just follow the leader, forge your own path.

Hipsters are pretty much defined by their quest to determine the latest trend; to find the gem of a restaurant before everyone else; to become fans of that small indie band before they have their first hit played on the radio. Meanwhile, chain restaurants, sedans, planned subdivisions and big box stores are all seen as boring and ordinary. Continue reading

Urban Sprawl, Paused

I live in Cumming, Georgia, a rural suburb about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Cumming is growing very rapidly, and was listed on America’s Promise list of 100 Best Communities for Young People in 2012. It’s an interesting area, where you’ll find long -time rural residents mixed with newly transplanted yuppies. Cattle graze the peaceful rolling foothills of the north Georgia mountains, while the roads that pass their pastures are becoming increasingly crowded.

Half of the cars you pass on Cumming’s back country roads are pickup trucks, now sprinkled with the occasional BMW or Range Rover. The area still maintains a small town friendliness, it’s residents holding on to their strong southern accents. It’s the kind of place where the owner of the local convenience store, with it’s aging neon sign, will ask you which is your favorite flavor of coffee creamer, so he can keep it in stock. The kind of place where people greet their new neighbors with a basket of biscuits – even if they are only renting.

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Commuting Comforts

I have a long commute to work – 41.3 miles, to be exact. Several years ago my husband and I decided that we wanted to live in the country, away from the long lines of traffic lights, where it might take 20 minutes to drive 2 miles. So we moved away from the cookie-cutter neighborhoods of suburbia to the rural countryside just north of Cumming, Georgia. That was while I was still in school. Just before I graduated I was offered a job at my Alma Mater, Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. My first two thoughts upon the job offer were: 1. Yeah! I’ve got a job! and 2. Damn, that commute is gonna suck. And it does. It really, really sucks. Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the nation, and I get to enjoy it 5 days a week. On a good day with no traffic (like a weekend) the drive takes 50 minutes. Most days it takes me and hour and 15 minutes, one way. My record for longest commute is 3 1/2 hours round trip on one particularly bad day. So, yeah, I spend a lot of time in the car.

Like most things in my life, I try to look on the bright side and I’ve found that there are some hidden benefits to a long commute:

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My Existential Magazine Crisis

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A sample of magazines in my house. It took me 2 minutes to pull these together. Some brand new issues, some from years ago that I’m saving.

I’m a magazine junkie. I love the feel of a fresh issue, and determine the caliber of each by the number of pages I dog-ear. Once I pick one up, it’s hard for me to set it down. I love they way they flow (good magazines, anyway) with short articles mixed with features, lists and maybe a photo essay. I prefer reading print magazines to online articles simply for the presentation. In the same way that music artists craft their albums with one song purposely transitioning to the next, magazines need to have a rhythm. And my heart loves the rhythm of magazines. Continue reading