Posts from the ‘Friendships’ Category

My Birthday Wish: You.

I’ve never struggled with what I want for my birthday. I’ve always known. Which is why I hate making birthday and Christmas lists, because what I want isn’t something I can really put on a list.

I want you. Here.

I want to spend time with you.

I don’t want to feel an absence when all I want in the world is your presence.

I don’t want to plan a day filled with time instead of people.

How do I put that on I list? How do I ask for the impossible? You have lives. You have jobs. Your world does not revolve around me and I don’t believe it should! But that doesn’t change that the thing that tops my birthday list is YOU. Your smiles and your laughter. Your hugs and your voice. Your pitch-perfect renditions of the birthday song and your off-key belting of it. Your love.  I want a day and a heart full of the people who I love best.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, for those of you who’ve been around the block with me a time or two know what I’m going to ask you to do. I’ve done it before. I’ll probably do it again. You ready?

Call me. Only for a minute or two, I know you’re busy.

Yup. That’s it.

I know you can’t be here. I know my birthday wish is pie-in-the-sky high. Everyone I love? In one place? I must be crazy. So, I’m asking for the slightly inconvenient, but hopefully doable.

Because then, I’ll still get to spend a little time with you. I’ll get to hear your voice and that’s ALMOST as good as getting a hug. I’ll hear the background noises and get a sense of your life that’s slightly more full than I can get through e-mail or text. I’ll get to hear love and laughter. I’ll get to hear one of the most important voices in my world.

Don’t have my phone number? Message me! If you’re seeing this, you have access to my facebook, twitter, tumblr and/or blog e-mail. Send me a private message. I’ll happily reply. And next Wednesday, July 2, I’ll hopefully get a call. And hear a voice. And know you’re there. (Please keep in mind, I live in Colorado, USA. UTC -7)

It won’t be perfect. It won’t be exact.

But it will be just enough.

Pasta Day: Come food with me!

I’ll get right on writing Pasta Day appropriate lyrics to “Come Fly With Me.”  (Maybe not. I’m not the most clever of lyricists.)

The Set-Up

So last year, I discovered this artisan pasta company at my local Farmers’ Market, whose praises I will always sing.  Most flavored pastas are disappointing at best and unrecognizable as such at worst.  So, I gave them a test run and fell in love.  Pappardelle’s Pasta actually gets the flavors into their noodles, which makes for a symphony of deliciousness.  They also make sweet pastas, which is a thing I am sad to say I did not know existed until last summer.  With that in mind, I mentioned to my sister that I would love to do a true pasta dinner, wherein each course was a different kind of pasta!  Because, well, I could.

She agreed that it sounded like a wonderful idea.  We planned it for a night my parents were going to be out, so that we did not take over the kitchen in a pasta frenzy when they needed use of the counters and pots and pans.  We trolled the website for ideas and set down a menu:

  • Salad: Southwestern black bean salad.  The pasta blend flavors are blue corn, maize, jalapeño, and chili.  It’ll be a lot like a regular Southwestern salad with salsa, avacado, and cheese added in – just with pasta as the base. Served cold.
  • Fruit: Sweet fruit salad.  We’ll add some proper fruit chunks to the lemon, lime, tangerine, raspberry noodles, as well as a light sauce. Served cold.
  • Main Dish: Artichoke/Lemon/Asparagus ravioli.  We’re going to let this one be.  No need to mess with a beautiful, spinach and egg dough wrapped thing. Served warm.
  • Dessert: Chocolate and raspberry with whipped cream.  This one is less determined, but we’re going to home-whip some cream and possibly have some fresh fruit or syrup for the top. I’m thinking hot pasta with cold whipped cream, but Anli may override me.

And there we were.  I went to the Market this morning and picked up the first of our pastas, I’ll be going back next week to pick up the special order of ravioli and the dessert pasta.  We’ll hammer out the details and make a great meal on July 10.  With pictures, of course.

The Invitation

So, I mentioned this evening of pasta on Facebook a couple times and a lot of people (a surprising amount) were really interested in what Pasta Day was.  I explained, they said it sounded like something fun to do and so I told them they were welcome to do their own version.  And I offered this blog as a space to do it.

If you like, we’d love to have you RSVP in the comments or via my email (rjlouiseblogging [at] gmail [dot] com) as willing members of the Pasta Day.  You don’t have to use Pappardelle’s (they’re convenient for me, as they come to my local Farmers’ Market) or even do an entire dinner of pasta.  Just try something new.  Find a pasta that you’ve never had or a sauce you’ve never tried or a recipe you thought looked fun.  Make a casserole!  Make a salad!  Make a dessert!  Make up a recipe! Make your own pasta!  (I would not say no to a recipe for Stuffed Shells or homemade noodles.) I don’t care what you do or how you do it, but if you like, you are welcome to make Pasta Day a Thing.

Once you’ve tried your new flavor or recipe, e-mail me pictures of the results!  And, of course the recipe.  If you have a blog, send me the link to that!  You’ll feature as a guest post (hence why I’d like the RSVP, to give me an idea of how many people each are taking over my blog for a day) and have a chance to see the recipes everyone else put together.  Do it on July 10, do it in your own time, but do something new.  Try something interesting or strange or crazy.  I’ll be right there with you.  I mean, seriously, FRUIT-FLAVORED PASTA.

Just come, and enjoy the memories food can make, even across states and spaces.

And then reap the rewards of other people’s Pasta Day adventures.

P.S.  Feel free to share with strangers.  I don’t care if they tromp all over this space.  Especially if it means pasta recipes.

An open letter:

Dear Friends: past, present, and future:

I’ve come to a realization, lately.  And it’s not a pretty one.  Most of you only want to be my friend in three situations:

  1. When you need support or help.
  2. When I’m right in front of you.
  3. When we’re alone.

I wish I could say, you know who you are.  But you DON’T!  Some of you have NO CLUE that you’ve been treating me like this.  Now, I am not innocent in this.  Some of you, I’ve just let you do it.  I’ve never told you it bothers me or that I think you’re doing this.  Others I have called on it and, well, I’m sorry to say it’s not getting better.  And yet others, I have reciprocated similarly until recently.  I have made an earnest attempt to change my behavior and be a better friend to those I was treating badly and have tried to tell those culprits who are by far the worst perpetrators of these attitudes how I’m feeling.

But that’s not been working.  And I know several of you read my blog and those that don’t, well, that’s not my fault.  I put it up on Twitter and Facebook.  It’s not my job to make you invest in my life.

What is my job is to be your friend every day.  That is what I strive to do and what I would like to continue doing.  I hope you, as my friend, will join me in this quest to be friends every day (and no, that does not mean I expect to hear from you EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES).  But, for those of you who insist on doing one of the above three things, things are going to be a little different from now on.

  1. I will not be able to emotionally invest in your problems or be your advice machine until the time comes that a) you will do the same for me reliably and b) I hear from you in other situations.
  2. I will be politely interested in your day to day life, but will no longer work so hard to remember the fiddly little details across weeks and months or send you the little gifts or messages that let you know I’m thinking of you until a) you will do the same for me reliably and b) demonstrate an ability to consider my existence outside our face to face conversations.
  3. I will happily spend time with you in the company of multiple individuals, but I will no longer reserve personal time for you (in my apartment or one-on-one time in a public arena) until you demonstrate a desire to have me part of all your life.

Now, I don’t expect you to just magically figure out how this is going to work now.  I really don’t know myself.  We’ve been in bad patterns for years and it’s time to break them.  Here are some ideas for each behavior:

  1. Text me or call me when awesome things happen in your life.  I’ll be so much more willing to be there during the tough times if you include me in the good ones.  Step up from there: text me or e-mail me on the boring days.  Or the embarrassing ones.  Or the silly ones.  I really do not get tired of hearing about your life.
  2. A similar solution to problem one is a solution to problem two.  When something reminds you of me (like an article on reddit or buzzfeed), e-mail it or text it to me!  Or to the ten people who you think will appreciate it.  I will not be offended that I am one of several.  When I occur to you, let me know.   Every time I run across your mind will be a bit much, certainly, but nothing is wrong with letting me know you’re thinking about me once every five or six times.  Sometimes this will turn into a conversation.  Other times not.  THIS IS OKAY.  Seriously, people, this is not hard.  YOU CAN LIKE MY STATUS ON FACEBOOK OR FAVORITE A TWEET AND THAT’LL BE A SIGN!  Step up from there: call, e-mail, or text me with the INTENT to have a conversation.  Make it happen, even if it’s only a five minute one.
  3. Introduce me to your friends.  I don’t expect I’ll become their best friends or even their good friends, but I want to know the people in your life.  Your family, other people who are your friends!  I don’t want to feel like you’re ashamed to be my friend.   I want to feel like I am part of your life.  Even if I meet your family or friends ONCE and that’s it, that’s enough for me to know you appreciate me enough to include me.  But don’t parse out our friendship and act like you and I can ONLY be friends in a one-on-one situation and never a social one.  And if you’re doing this because I’ve botched a social situation: TELL ME.  I won’t be offended.  I will ask for details so I can do better in the future, but I won’t be angry.  And then, please, have the patience to try me out again in a group situation.   Step up from there: organize a night specifically to introduce not just me but MANY of your friends to each other.  We’ll find some people we like, we’ll find some people we’ll be glad not to interact with, we’ll find some people right in the middle.  No one has 100% success in keeping their friends friendly.

Okay.  There’s the letter.  It’s an open one, so there may be changes along the way.  I may decide that I’m still okay with one-on-one time with you number threes, so long as there’s public time, too.  I may decide to boot some of you to the curb.  Done.  No more. I can’t deal with it.  I have good hope, however, that this will not be the case.  I’d like very much to keep as many of you as friends as possible.

But what I will not do to keep you around is sell myself short again.  You are my friends.  You care about me.  Or, I hope you are and do.  If this is the case, I will no longer accept *implied* friendship.  I’m going to need you to tell me at the very least.  Maybe, one day you’ll do one step better and SHOW me.

Certainly, I will do my best to continue to do so on my end.

But my friendship is no longer a guarantee.  You’re going to have to give some as well.

Just a (rather large) pond away.

Today, I am grateful for DearestBex.

I mention her enough here, I’m sure you all know who she is.  She’s my best friend who lives in England.  It’s her birthday today.

DearestBex and I met on FictionCentral.net in late 2005-ish.  She was publishing one of the most popular stories on there, and I was reading it along with everyone else.  It was an extremely raw story subject.  I could tell when she had a rough day writing it, so I started leaving very supportive and encouraging reviews, along with my technical reviews.

Apparently, they helped.  We started reviewing each others’ works, e-mailing, and then we just became best friends.  She’s supported me through the crazy journeys of recovering from Bi-Polar, a broken heart, loneliness, identity crisis, and a whole host of large and small things that one can only go to the best of friends with.  The 1’s and 0’s have been very kind to us.

Last year, I got to go see her.  Nothing quite compares to the anxiety of meeting the woman who has been your best friend for three years, and a good friend for six, for the first time.  I had all sorts of horrible nightmares that DearestBex would hate Real-Life Me and only like Internet Me.  Nothing was further from the truth (silly paranoid subconscious).  I had the time of my life with my England family.

Happy birthday, my love.  Miles apart, but never too far away.

Some people are amazing in every way:

My next guest blogger is one of my best friends in the whole world!

Presenting: Celeste!

She doesn’t have an online platform for me to link to and I totally spaced putting her picture on my jump drive so you guys can see her beautiful face.

Hrm.

*trolls Facebook*

Here she is all dolled up:

She’s pretty cute, huh?

But here’s the Celeste I know and love:

Yup, that’s my best friend!

And here’s her rambunctious dog that seems to love me more because she freaks me out (I’m freaked by big dogs and Sophie is just at that size that starts to bother if it’s in my face . . . and she loves my face):

Oh, dog. You’re pretty, but you don’t understand that I need my space.

Celeste is an online friend that became a real-life friend.  She and I were part of the Fiction Central community.  I’d link to it, but the website was bought by a new company and has been entirely wiped.  Hopefully it’ll be up and running again in the near future.  We were some of the oldest writers on that website, and we were only 18 to 19 when we signed up.  It was a young, enthusiastic community and we bonded over being–shall we say–less enthusiastic.  I’m NOT saying we were better writers, we were just more careful, doing things like editing and formatting before we posted.

After we became review buddies, we went on to be e-mail buddies (good thing, since the site shut down), which turned into calling each other once every few weeks, which became weekly, then practically daily.  We visit each other as often as we can (read: not often) and don’t spend NEARLY enough time together.

Celeste is just under a year older than I am, studying to be an angel on earth educator (High School Science, specifically Biology), is a manager at the family restaurant at the same time, and is the girl I can have ALL those awkward conversations with.  And I think we have had them AAAAALLLLLL.  My goodness.  She’s a born and bred Missouri girl and truly a gem among people.  She’s smart and funny and passionate and lets me be ridiculous with only the slightest of nudging when I’m in the process of committing social suicide.

We get along because we’re both borderline pedants, have a deep and abiding love for sepia photos, are country girls at heart (if not geographically, in my case), and make each other laugh.  There’s no better reason to love someone than that.

I can’t WAIT to see what she writes about next week. 😉

On turning twenty-five:

First of all, it was SO not a big deal.  I went to work, Dad took me to lunch, I went home to have dinner with my family, and then opened presents.  I went home to my apartment and my roommate said happy birthday before announcing it was time to clean up (which I completely agreed with).  We worked well into my second day as a twenty-five year old dusting, vacuuming, and re-decorating with some things that have been needing to make their way onto the walls and shelves since I moved in in October.  Yep – we’re super fast like that.  But we both went to bed feeling more relaxed than we had since well before the Waldo Canyon Fire mess.

So what did it actually mean to hit a quarter of a century?  Not much.  The day before my birthday found me at my parents’ dinner table with a couple family friends.  We were talking and Dad decided to mention my twenty-fifth birthday was the following day.  One of them said, “That’s the only birthday that hit me.”  The other said, “The one that hit me was twenty-seven.”  I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the birthday that hit me was twenty-two.  Why?  Because I had officially been in treatment longer that I hadn’t.  I had been living with my disease for the greater half of my life.  After that became true, I have been incredibly nonplussed.  It’s a birthday – yay!  It’s a specific birthday – so?

I remember telling a friend years ago that if I wasn’t married/engaged by the time I was twenty-five, I didn’t expect to ever get married.  Thankfully, that’s no longer true.  It was never that I thought that after twenty-five my life would stop or I would become less marriageable .  The reason I thought that was directly due to looking at the statistics and rightly concluding that my chances after twenty-five were lousy in the LDS community.  Those statistics have not gotten any better, in case you were wondering, but I’ve realized that I really didn’t WANT to be married before twenty-five.  In many ways, reaching this age as a single woman has done wonders for me.  I’m happy with myself and with everything I’ve been able to do on my own.  That being said, I expect that it will be harder to get married now than it would have been in the past few years, not because the statistics say so, but because I know me.  I’ve come to love my independence, to love being alone, to love being just me.  Sharing that life that I have so slowly built is a frightening prospect.  The longer I am alone, the more exceptional the man will have to be to convince me to give up the world I have built around myself (and I say that knowing that it will be true in the reverse as well).  I’m not saying that world can’t make room for someone else, but it will take some effort.  I won’t make that effort for just anyone.  (Funny side note: there’s a quote from Brigham Young, a long-dead LDS prophet that says, “A man who is twenty-five and unmarried is a menace to society.”  (Brigham never did mince words.) Now I get to wonder, what does that make me?  Nothing good. 😉 )  That conversation has been on my mind as I approached the day that I had pronounced as the death of my chances to marry so many years ago, but thankfully my attitude changed so long ago that while my mind has frequently returned to the conversation the past couple months, each time I’ve been able to shrug and think, “How silly I was.”

I am getting old, though.  Not in the sense that I am unaware that I am still quite young, but that I’m feeling further and further displaced from what has been, to this point, my community.  I see commercials that are aimed at today’s teens and early twenties and realize, “My goodness, this isn’t meant for me anymore.”  The people I used to be lumped with by surveyists, pollsters, demographic analyzers, and–to be honest–me is no longer the group I’m comfortable in.  I don’t want to be that young anymore, and this did not suddenly happen on my birthday.  I guess being twenty-five just made it official.  I’m growing up and out of the main targeted demographic, and I feel it.  I’ve been feeling it for a while, though, so it’s not quite so disappointing as it is something to learn how to adjust to.  I don’t care that advertising no longer centers around me (I’m actually quite excited about that), but I do care about the disconnect I feel with my younger friends, that disconnect that became much more pronounced over the past year than I expected.

Despite all this, there were some REALLY good moments to end the first twenty-five years and (hopefully) begin the next twenty-five.  And I want to enumerate them:

  1. PHONE CALLS!!!!  Remember this post?  Well, I rejoined the world of Facebook around December to see all the Christmas photos (What?  I have nieces and nephews!  They take precedence over my world-weary views.)  Because of this, I was able to write this note:   “Friends, as some of you may know, my birthday is coming up in less than two weeks.  And I have a request for you that may seem strange, but bear with me, please.  As much as I appreciate all the messages and wall posts that you have given me in the past, I would like something else for my birthday this year.  I don’t want a single post on my wall or hug or a present or whatever this year’s fad is.  I want a phone call.  I want to hear your voice.  It doesn’t have to be a drawn out conversation or even more than a, “Hello, happy birthday!”  No, a text doesn’t count.  Why?  Because YOUR voice is one of the most significant sounds in my world.  I miss it.  I want your voice to remind me of the good times, the bad times, and–more importantly–all the times that have made it possible for me to maintain a connection with you while we’re apart.  Why is this a big deal?  Because you’re my friends.  You make up the best parts of me.  I’m reminded of those parts when I talk to you, even more so when I HEAR you.  E-mails, texts, wall posts – these things are okay for every day but for those most special days of the year, they just don’t cut it.  My phone number is on my profile – simple as that.  So, after you call me (because you will, right?), I have one more favor to ask.  If you could, I’d like you to call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.  Someone you’ve known for years or someone who you just haven’t had the chance to talk to in too long.  If your voice is that important to me, imagine the significance to someone who’s known you your entire life or who is just learning what it is to miss you.  It may be small, but that’s the gift I want most: the gift of you.Love, always and ever,

    Joie”

    And I got some calls!    Nine of them, but nine good ones!  I got calls from people I hear from on a less than weekly basis, people who I talk to about every other week, friends that I hear from every few months if I’m lucky, some friends from far away, a friend who–until recently–I thought our friendship had been broken irreparably, and one from a friend whose voice I had not heard in a full decade.  This, of course was the WHOLE point of the experiment.  It went better than I expected, though not as well as I had hoped, so we’ll try again next year.  My goal is to eventually get so many phone calls on my birthday that I’ll have to take off work for fielding calls.

  2. Waldo Canyon Fire was 70% contained by the end of the day! My family was displaced for a few days by the fire, and we were lucky.  We have a couple friends whose houses were burned down.  These are houses I have distinct memories in.  It’s hard for me to know they’re no longer there, I cannot imagine their loss.  The campus of my first summer job, the job that introduced me to cowboy culture (which I proceeded to fall in love with and have obviously maintained a romance with in the ensuing years), burned to the ground.  I have so many formative memories at the Flying W Ranch, and it hurts to think that it’s not there.  They’re planning to rebuild, but it won’t quite ever be the same.  With so much loss, having it THAT contained by the end of the day was possibly the best birthday present I could have.  I love my city, and seeing it burn were some of the worst days of my life.  Thank you, firemen, for all you do.
  3. The first proper summer thundershower came along!  That’s right, the summer thundershowers that I so dearly love finally made an appearance.  We waited through all of June for them to come, and I’ll give that we got a few afternoon sprinkles, but nothing like what we’re used to.  Between the fire containment and the rain moving in, I might just have had the most perfect birthday I could ask for.
  4. Lunch with my daddy.  We went to Rock Bottom Brewery, which was amazing as ever.  We had a guacamole appetizer (Mango guac, green apple guac, and Anaheim pepper guac.  Yes, yes, and yes.) and delicious salads.  And we just got to talk.  Perhaps one of the sweetest moments leading up to my birthday was when my dad asked, “Am I going to get to spend any time with you on your birthday?”  I love my father so much and I really treasure the daddy/daughter moments we’ve had over the years.  This one was a great way to start the next twenty-five right.
  5. Birthday dinner.  My mother?  Best cook ever.  There is no such thing as a birthday without the birthday dinner and my mother is the one who makes that dinner perfect.  The asparagus?  FANTASTIC!  The chicken croquettes: delectable.  And the carrot cake: my goodness, let me drown in the amazing.  Perhaps the kindest part was that she let me take home all the left overs of the meal!  I even got to cut out the center of the cake so I didn’t have to deal with any of the edges . . . meaning I left my family with a C-block of edged cake.  I was spoiled and would say sorry except that I am not.  At all.
  6. The thoughtful presents.  My family is super amazing and sweet.  I always send a huge list and let them choose what they will to give me.  I try to including things that I know my siblings and parents would like to give.  I even remember a year when I asked for a video game as much for the joy I knew it would give my brothers to give it to me as the pleasure I would receive from the gift.  That was a good year.  This year was no different.  I was unsurprised by the gifts everyone gave me, knowing my family as I do, but at the same time touched.  My parents gave me some much needed clothes that will last me for years to come.  My baby brother gave me a book from a series that he introduced me to many years ago.  In addition, he got me the first two books of a series I gave him when he was little and used to read aloud to him.  I expected to get books from him, but the ones he chose from the long list were especially meaningful.  Then, we all played a game, which is a rare occurrence.  That was probably the gift I loved the most, as my chronically ill sister made the effort to stick out the entire evening.  I know she couldn’t have been comfortable.  (Also, I didn’t have to do dishes.  That’s very nice.)
  7. Realizing that I’m twenty-five.  I can tell you there were days I really didn’t think I would make it to this age.  And I did, not with a band or by a hair, but quietly and peacefully.  A true gift.
  8. I had a quiet birthday.  No big fanfare, no fuss.  Just a few calls, a dinner and game with the family, and some presents.  I’ve been trying to do this kind of quiet birthday for years, and this is the first year I think I got the balance just right.  It was wonderful.

So, after wondering for years how I would feel to be twenty-five, I know.  And it’s a good feeling, if a little less than describable.  I think it’s going to be a stunning year.

FROM THE PAST: I HAVE A REQUEST

I didn’t plan on doing this entry, as it’s totally not on one of the days I usually post on this blog, but it’s my birthday.  I get to do what I want.

Besides, this has been brewing for several months and even though I thought I was okay with giving this plan up (as it depended on me being on Facebook), it seems that I am not.  Not only is the subject important to me, but my birthday is as well.  Naturally. ; )

As I have mentioned before, I am a planner.  I got this from my Grammy, who used to ask for birthday and Christmas lists at LEAST two to three months in advance.  The habit has stayed with me and, even though I no longer publish the lists quite as early as I used to, I often start thinking about what I want to do for my birthday/Christmas well before hand.  When I began to think of my birthday many months ago, I planned on posting on my Facebook page this message:

As much as I appreciate all your messages to me today, I would like something else for my birthday.  I don’t want a single post on my wall or hug or a flair or a present.  I want a phone call.  I want to hear your voice.  It doesn’t have to be a drawn out conversation or even more than a, “Hello, happy birthday!”  It may be small, but that’s the gift I want most.

Then, of course, I realized I’d be in Sweden at the time and not only would I be away from Facebook and unable to post, but if I WERE able to post that request, at $1.49 a minute over-seas, those would be some very expensive birthday gifts I would end up paying for.  Then I deactivated Facebook, which further sealed the fate of this birthday request.

So, here I am, just a bit less than a month before my birthday, and I’m writing out my request on my blog to be posted on the day of.  But this time, the post isn’t for me.  This post is for my friends.  And here’s my modified, for the better, birthday request:

As much as I miss you all while I’m overseas, I have something I’d like you to do for me back home on my birthday.  In honor of me, would you please call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while?  Just as I miss hearing your voice, I imagine they probably do, too.  Don’t just text them or IM them, actually talk to them.  Help them remember just why you’re friends, what they love so much about you.  It’s not just what you say, but how and when you say it.  Don’t get me wrong, texting and IMing is great.  Without those, I’d never hear from more than half of you.  But your voice is one of the most important sounds in my world.  For my birthday, please give that wonderful, important gift to someone who’s missed it for a while.  And then, if it’s not too greedy of me, when I get back, could I get it, too?

There you have it.  My birthday request: give the gift of you.  I’ll try to do the same.  Love to you all, and see or talk to you soon!