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Friendship, Change, and Sunday Nights

29 Jul

If anyone has ever been stupid silly enough to ask me what I’m doing on a Sunday night, any Sunday night, for the past seven years, my answer has always been the same: an incredulous look and an exhasperated, “It’s Sunday.” Some heavy sighs and annoyed eye rolls later, the stupid silly person typically is forced to recall that I have done the same thing on Sunday nights, every Sunday night, for the past seven years.

Try to take over the world.

Sunday nights are when Bestie and I get together for dinner and shows.

Food and television may seem like too simplistic an event to build a tradition around. Not for us.

It started, admittedly, because of Twilight. Bestie and I were both (yes, I’ll admit it), wildly into the Twilight book series. We had devoured them up that summer, and had spent literally hours emailing back and forth about the series. If you happened to know me during my Xanga days, you may remember those emails turned into blog posts. Anyway, thick into the vampire craze, we found ourselves mildly intrigued by this television show we kept seeing ads for. Maybe it was the need to fill the Twilight shaped holes in our hearts since we had finished the series. Maybe it was the advertisements that looked like liquor campaigns. Whatever it was, we decided to give True Blood a shot.

Thus, a tradition was born, and we have never looked back. Our Sunday nights have included themed dinners, show-specific cocktails, and more nudity/graphic violence than I ever thought I’d watch in my lifetime. We’ve stormed our way (sometimes through the help of DVD) through True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, the Newsroom, Girls, Game of Thrones, the Leftovers, Downton Abbey, Mad MenBreaking Bad, and Better Call Saul. Our Sunday nights have withstood my pregnancies, the births of my children, university courses (for both of us), and multiple changes in employment (again, for both of us). No matter what is going on in our lives, we make time for Sunday nights.

For me, Sunday nights have become far more than just a night of entertainment. It’s guaranteed time to catch up with each other. It’s guaranteed time to vent our frustrations about the week, and to celebrate our successes. It helps me to relax and mentally prepare for whatever is on the docket that week. There are many weeks when Sunday night has been the high point of that week. In a way, it’s something I’ve learned to count on. Even if I’m stressed or burnt out or just feeling all around shitty and pissed at life, at least my Sunday night was bound to be positive. There has not been a time when Bestie has left my house and I didn’t feel better than I did before she arrived.

I’m not going to say that our Sunday night success has been reliant on the close proximity between where my bestie lives and where I live. But, it hasn’t hurt. For the last seven years, Bestie and I have lived a whopping seven minutes away from each other. I clocked it once. It was about three miles.

Now, my bestie is moving away.

I say that in an intentionally melodramatic fashion.

She’s moving a whole 30 miles away. It will take about 45 minutes to get to her new place from my house.

For someone who has lived in the suburbs the bulk of her life, I’m used to that drive. I’m very comfortable with that drive. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s actually probably the average distance between besties, I’m guessing. We’ll be fine making that drive regularly. It won’t change anything.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I have a lot of insecurities when it comes to friendships. I’ve seen my own friendships evolve over time. Sometimes it’s for the better, but sometimes…

I feel like I’ve been here before. I’ve been close to friends before. Then I got married. I moved in with my husband, they moved in with each other, and we’ve never fully recovered what we once had. Can I say for sure that it was due to distance alone? No. There were definitely other factors at play. But the distance made it harder to address those issues.

I’ve wondered before if I mean as much to my friends as they mean to me. If I didn’t put in the effort, would they? I’ve never wondered that about Bestie. But then again, it never took much effort before. We were so close it made regular get-togethers easy. Now that more effort is actually going to be required, those ugly doubts are surfacing again.

I also just have to call a spade a spade and be honest with myself. A part of me is jealous. My bestie has been making a lot of new friends lately, due to a new job, etc. She’s also moving in with a mutual friend of ours. The opportunities for bonds to be made and fun to be had without me are practically endless. It’s silly, and petty, and really quite unjustified, but I can’t help but feel a little left out of these new aspects of her life. It’s a situation I’m uncomfortable being in. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m being needy.

It is healthy, and normal, that we have lives outside of each other. Logically, I know this. I have separate aspects of my own life, too. Neither of us has reason to feel guilty about that. Still, I also know that change, however positive, is always hard. This change, in particular, has been a bitch of a pill to swallow.

Last night marked the last Sunday night that we’ll have together as residents of the same city. I’m not going to lie; I may have shed a tear or two after her departure. It marks a milestone in our relationship, but I know that our friendship is stronger than a few extra miles. We’ve talked about all of these challenges, and all of my unfounded and unreasonable fears. If Sunday nights become Saturday nights, or if other accommodations have to be made, we are going to be just fine. In the end, I am positive that this challenge of distance will only make us value our friendship all that much more.

So here’s to positive changes, and a beautiful friendship. May it continue through many more seasons of HBO.

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A Struggle with Faith and a Wish for a Friend

8 Feb

To say that I struggle with my faith would be accurate. This is a post about faith, but what I believe and why I believe them are not really the issue here. Let’s just say that I do believe. What I have the hardest time doing is believing blindly. These past couple of days, I have found myself questioning more than trusting.

I have a lot of friends and family more religiously inclined than myself. When there are posts of happiness on Facebook and Twitter I see a lot of comments stating that “God is good.” In those moments of joy, I can understand what all the fuss is about. To feel so blissful must be an act of a higher power.

It’s when the posts are ones of sadness that I find myself grappling with the larger picture at play. It seems that the standard religious response in times of hardship is one of two things. It’s either “The Lord only gives you what he knows you can handle” or “He has a different plan for you that hasn’t yet been brought to light.” Most of the time, I’m ok with that. I have been known to say myself that everything happens for a reason. In my own personal experiences, the times of greatest hardship were often followed up by times of greater joy that wouldn’t have been possible had the negative experience not happened first. I can’t help but wonder, though, why the pain has to be so great.

I have a friend right now who’s suffering the greatest loss imaginable. She’s a woman of faith. She has believed devoutly, is kinder than most I’ve known and was impossibly patient while waiting for a blessing. When her dream finally did come true I could not have been happier for her. No one was more deserving. Now that dream has been yanked away and I’m failing to understand the cruelty of her situation. I want to believe that an even greater blessing is just around the corner for her. I am desperate to believe it. But why does there have to be such devastation in the meantime? If this is all part of God’s bigger plan, if he is trying to teach her some sort of lesson here, does he have to be such a dick about it? I am a person of logic and reason, and I can’t see the reason behind this.

While I may struggle with these concepts, I’m not blind to the fact that in times of suffering it is often faith that pulls people through. The belief that there is a greater purpose for their struggles. I hope that these beliefs pull my friend through and that her pain fades quickly. Even more than that, I hope her dream is not destroyed. I hope it is merely misplaced, and that she finds it again soon.

Whatever you believe, please send your kind thoughts/prayers/juju in my friend’s direction. She needs them.

 

Thoughts of a Helpless Onlooker

21 Nov

It’s been my experience in life that there’s nothing harder than seeing a problem and being unable to fix it. And yes, while this does apply to something as trivial as why there is sometimes no sound when I try to use my Blu-Ray player, I’m really speaking about the bigger problems in life. It’s of course painful when the problem applies to me and my own life, but the pain of helplessness is amplified tenfold when the problem I seek to fix belongs to a loved one. I am a planner and a fixer by nature. I see something broken and it’s my instinct to put it back together, but there are times in life when the situation is out of my control. I can’t take away someone else’s pain. I can’t relieve someone else’s suffering, and I can’t right the wrongs of others.

I hate nothing more than having idle hands. Sitting by while I watch someone make decisions that I disagree with. Twiddling my thumbs while people I care about make choices in life that I know are not the smart ones. Wishing that I could show people how I see them, instead of how they see themselves. While I would love to pull a Monica and be in charge of making decisions for others, life doesn’t work that way. Free will is a strangely beautiful thing. The options we have are limitless, and the ultimate decision ours to make, even when that decision is self-destructive.

How do you convince someone to change their mind when their mind is already made-up? It’s one thing when they’re not aware of the negative effects of their behavior, but what if they know and just don’t care? How can I persuade someone to see the positive when their vision has been clouded by grey? The sad but true answer to these questions is that I can’t. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, match every con with a pro and in many situations it won’t make a difference. The decision has been made, locked in and sealed somewhere I can’t reach. Like watching a storm roll in, there is literally nothing I can do to stop it. All I can do is try to prepare for the worst, pray the damage is minimal, and be there to clean up the aftermath.

If you’re reading this, you know who you are. I think I’ve said all there is to say already, so I’ll remind you one more time: I love you.

Sweet & Salty Chex Mix

1 Sep

Let me preface this post by saying that no one in their right mind would call me a chef. Even to say that I am a “good cook” would be stretching it. What I am good at, though, is following recipes put together by people with much more culinary savvy than myself.

One such recipe that has gotten a lot of acclaim amongst my circles of family and friends is a Sweet & Salty Chex Mix recipe that I was fortunate enough to acquire as a wedding gift from my parents’ neighbors. The Johnson family always made this recipe around the holiday season, and I remember spending time in their kitchen with their granddaughter helping to put it all together. Waiting for the delicious batches to be ready for eating seemed like it took a million years. I know now that it was really only a matter of minutes; I’m happy to say that one of my favorite recipes, this is also one of the easiest to follow.

I’ve had a request recently from a family friend to share this recipe with her, so I figured I might as well share it with you lovely readers as well.

Johnson Family Chex Mix
(aka Sweet & Salty Chex Mix)

Ingredients
2 cups wheat Chex
2 cups corn Chex
2 cups rice Chex
1.5 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup salted peanuts (optional)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar

Pour all of the dry ingredients into a large roaster pan. Melt the butter and the brown sugar in a sauce pan. Cook until not separated – a few minutes. Pour over cereal mixture and mix thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Stir and bake another six minutes. Spread on a cookie sheet to cool.

If cooking for a gathering of some sort (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) I double this recipe, and it always goes, fast.

Enjoy!

On being artsy-craftsy

24 Jun

I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately. I’ve also been spending an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest. Collectively what these two hobbies have done is made me wish that I had millions of dollars and a helluva whole lot more creativity than I actually do (and I consider myself to be a fairly creative person). In order to convince myself that these two hobbies are more than a complete waste of time, I’ve decided to put forth an actual effort into being more artsy-craftsy. I began my efforts with a couple of Father’s Day creations. (Author’s Note: Yes, this entry would have been more relevant a little closer to Father’s Day, but I just now uploaded these pictures so deal with it.) 

My father is near impossible to buy for. It’s something that I’m convinced he inherited from my grandma (may she RIP). He claims to have no artificial wants, which is why his birthday list usually contains things like socks and stamps. This year for Father’s Day, he only requested that we set aside an evening to watch an old movie. An easy request to grant, but I still wanted something to physically give him, so I crafted this little gem.

Ticket

 

The idea to give him an actual ticket was my own, but the handy-dandy template came from this site. You can’t beat the free price, folks!

Along with that, I saw all sorts of cute Grandpa gift ideas floating around on Pinterest. I took the wording from several projects I saw, but decided to create my own artwork to give my dad. I had been meaning to give Illustrator a try for quite some time, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Let me warn you: Illustrator is effing hard. As in extremely difficult if you’ve had no previous experience. I’m generally a technology-savvy person, but I struggled a lot (as is evidenced by my mismatched corners on my was-supposed-to-be-a-chevron-but-turned-into-a-zig-zag-design). Still, I think it turned out pretty cute, all things considered, and my dad certainly liked it.

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Then there was the matter of what to get Husband. He’s not as difficult to buy for, and has plenty of wants/desires, so I got him a certificate to play a round of golf with the person of his choosing (whom was not me, btw). But, I wanted him to get something “from” Child, since it was Father’s Day and not Husband’s Day, after all. Once again, Pinterest smiled upon me and gave me this idea of filling a six-pack of bottles with Husband’s favorite candies and dressing it up cutesy-style.

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Just a couple of tips in case someone reading wants to try this idea. For starters, it takes a lot longer than you might anticipate to get everything cut out and glued. The blog instructions says you can use a hot glue gun, but I struggled with that and wound up taping it; the spray adhesive would have worked better. It also says that both the IBC Root Beer and Cream Soda varieties work. I chose root beer, since I don’t care for cream soda and didn’t want to let the pop go to waste. The only drawback to this is that the root beer bottles are brown; the clear cream soda ones would have looked a bit nicer. And lastly, it takes more candy than you might think to fill those bastards. At least two of the movie theatre sized boxes of each candy variety. So, while it looked like a cute and semi-cheap DIY gift idea, it wound up being about a $15 – $20 venture. Was it worth it? I’m not so sure. Husband sure liked it, but I don’t think I’d attempt to do it again.

Overall, I’d say my foray into the world of arts and crafts was a successful one, although I clearly have a lot to learn. It’s a good thing I have a whole nursery to plan and decorate…

Beauty in Snowflakes and Memories in Songs

25 Dec

I’ve always believed in the magic of Christmas. As a child, that magic, of course, entailed Santa Claus, some reindeer, and the fact that I never noticed Santa’s handwriting looked suspiciously like my father’s. While one might assume that “growing up” has lessened the magic that comes with the holiday season, I can’t help but feel that for me, the opposite is true. Christmas is more magical to me now than it ever has been.

Yes, I am that person. The one who listens to Christmas music non-stop the second the first snowflake falls. The one who doesn’t mind the appearance of Christmas lights at Target before Halloween is even over. I love every cookie, light, ugly sweater, piece of tinsel and bow that goes into Christmas. My enthusiasm is unbridled and neverending (obnoxiously so, if you’re the Ebenezer type). I know many people who think that Christmas has become a retail holiday. One without meaning beyond the presents under the tree. I could not disagree more.

At Christmas time, we try harder. We do more. We give more, and we think of ourselves less. We may grumble about the lines at the stores, the crowds at the malls, and the dents in our wallets, but we do so while hunting down the perfect gifts for those we love. We volunteer to ring bells. We donate to various food and toy drives. We play, and we laugh with all the wild abandon of a child. At this time of year, there is beauty in snowflakes and memories in songs. We create priceless and irreplaceable moments with those we love. The world is filled with lights, glitter, and the pure joy that comes with believing in the impossible.

Recent events that have unfolded on the news, as well as in my own life, are painful reminders that life is short, and precious. We do what we can to be safe, stay healthy, and cherish what is ours, but when it comes down to it: you just never know. There are far too many of us out there who know that in the blink of an eye, worlds can be shattered. Christmas reminds us to give thanks and celebrate every second we have with those we love.

My son was old enough this year to understand the stories and the meaning behind the rituals. We hung stockings, baked cookies and listened for the tapping of hooves on the roof together, and last night when he told me that he heard those reindeer, I swear I could hear it too. We are never too old to believe in something bigger than ourselves. It is never too late to right a wrong, mend that which has been broken, and dare yourself to try.

My son believes in the magic of Christmas, and I hope he always will.

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Christmas time 
And the moments just beginning 
From last night 
When we’d wished upon a star

If our kindness 
This day is just pretending 
If we pretend long enough 
Never giving up 
It just might be who we are

       – – “Promises to Keep” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra 

A Little Bit of Self-Evaluation

22 Sep

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
― Aristotle

Every now and then an event happens in my life that makes me feel something unexpected. My own reactions to simple things sometimes take me by surprise, and it’s in those moments that I’m forced to be introspective and really evaluate who I am as a person. As a human being. The result isn’t always pretty, but it is always educational, if for no other reason than it gives me something to work on. I’m not, after all, perfect.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kind of friend I am. I know I’ve blogged before about my own insecurities (case in point), but blogging about it doesn’t make it any easier to wrestle with. I still feel like I care too much, like I share and give and get very little reciprocated. It also doesn’t help that several of my best friends are the “private” type. They don’t tell me the inner workings of their thoughts, fears, dreams, goals, etc. until things are certain. They tell me when there’s something to tell. That seems logical enough, but I’m not that type. I’m the type that will tell you about the very faintest inkling of a thought and then walk you through every detail of every feeling I’m having about the thought. Then, we’ll discuss every single possible outcome of the thought (complete with a pros/cons list for each option), followed by a step-by-step plan on what I’m going to do with said thought. I’m a sharer by nature; I can’t help it, that’s just who I am.

It’s very difficult for me to accept that not everyone is like this. When my private friends tell me, “I don’t want to talk about it,” or, “I’m not ready to tell you,” my first reaction is one of hurt. Logically, I know that their responses have nothing to do with me. They’re just people who like to sometimes keep the personal aspects of their life personal. But deep inside I go into panic mode. Is it me? Is it because they don’t trust me? Is it because they think I’ll judge them? Is it because we’re not as close of friends as I thought we were? The list goes on. Outwardly I smile and say, “Ok, I understand.” Inside, I’m a mess. This is something that I wrestle with. Constantly. I think it’s because I’ve been burnt before by “friends” that said they’d tell me when there was something to tell and then…didn’t. I think that with time, as my true friends continue to keep me updated about their lives, but in their own time, I’ll realize that “not now” doesn’t mean “not ever.” It just involves something that is hard for me: trust.

I was also forced to look inward this week when a dear friend of mine posted some amazing news on Facebook. She’s a wonderful friend and a wonderful person who deserves nothing but wonderful things in her life. And instead of being immediately happy for her, my first pang was one of jealousy. Followed, of course, by crazy happiness and excitement, but the jealousy was still there all the same. It lingered and left a bad taste in my mouth, and my soul.

It’s always easy to want the best for your friends, and for all their hopes and dreams to come true. Unless those hopes and dreams match your own. I have to admit that as irrational as it is, I think deep down I sometimes think, “Yes! I really want insert friend’s name here to accomplish x, y, and z. I just want him/her to accomplish them after I do.” I’m not proud of these thoughts. Especially since having my friends accomplish everything they want to in life in no way lessens my own chances of accomplishing those same things. If anything it could help me. My friends succeeding in what I hope to achieve can only come with advice, contacts, support and understanding.

To further complicate my inner musings, friends of ours recently faced a personal loss. The same kind of loss my husband and I experienced recently. It goes without saying that I instantly grieved for my friends. Having gone through it myself, I would never wish such a loss on anyone. But, at the same time, a small part of me also felt relieved. I was disgusted by that feeling. Does misery really love company so much, that it would welcome the tragedy of friends? I have a hard time believing that.

Why, then, does jealousy sometimes enter my thoughts when friends receive good news? Why does relief sometimes encroach upon my emotions when friends are suffering? I’m not sure I know the answer. Perhaps it comes down to fear. Fear of watching others enjoy what I might never have. Fear of others obtaining what seems so unobtainable for me. Fear of my own shortcomings and doubts.

Like I said, self-evaluation is not always pretty, but it is necessary for growth. Hopefully these reflections will help me learn to trust. To let go of fear and insecurities and enjoy with abandon the blessings of others, and fully support those in their time of need. To know, in my soul, that my time too will come.