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The recent Facebook post reminded me of another Facebook phenomenon…mutual friends. Facebook tells you when you have a friend in common with another friend. I’m friends with Wreke, Silver Wendy (so named by Anya) is friends with Wreke; Wendy and I have a mutual friend. So do Wreke and I.

Most of the time, I know how the Mutual Friend came to be. Wreke met Silver Wendy through me, for example. But there have been a few times when different parts of my life have bumped into each other without me realizing it — when I have Mutual Friends and don’t know it, or discover it accidentally and can’t figure out why two people from different parts oof my life know each other.

The first time it happened, Carmen (a cow-orker) asked me about Kelly (the wife of a guy I went to school with.) Turns out they are friends in their own right — I think they met because both are active in their national sorority. There there’s Terry, (a cow-orker) and Alison (we sang in the sang a cappella group) — turns out they sang together at Cornell.

A variation on the theme is even weirder…when two people I know from totally different parts of my life are not friends with each other, but have a friend (not me) in common. I don’t think there is an official Facebook term for this – I’m going to call it Friend Connection. I think FC is harder to discover. With plain-vanilla mututal friends, Facebook points it out to you. Alison knew Terry was my friend because when Alison and I became friend, Facebook told her “hey, you and Jackie have a friend in common.”  With FC, you sort of discover it by accident.

My most recent FCs… Deb (friend from high school) and Josh (friend from college) have a Mutual Friend named Cap’n Jon Connors. I only figured this out when Cap’n Jon “liked” one of Josh’s post, and, thinking that Jon Connors was actually someone I knew, clicked through to his profile. There I saw he was friends with my old high school pal Deb. I wonder why they know the same person.

Another one:  Kristin, the kid I babysat for since she was born, had a baby recently. One of the people who congratulated her has such an unusual last name, I just knew she had to be related to a girl I sang with in college. Sure enough, my college acquaintence and Kristin’s friend are sisters.

I guess there are more links to Kevin Bacon than we realize.

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Got Friends?

I have 300 friends, or so Facebook tells me.  THREE HUNDRED??  I don’t think I can name 300 friends, let alone “friends” Facebook says I have. Let’s set aside larger questions of what is a friend, and when does someone become a friend vs. an acquaintance. Also a topic for another day —  whether someone who was a friend many years ago once again a friend today because, through the magic of Facebook,  I am constantly aware of the mundane details of their lives…they are a Yankees fan instead of a Mets fan, their kid was a robot for Halloween, they are sitting in traffic on 95…

I can’t remember when I caved and joined The Great Timesuck — it may have been around reunion time a couple of years ago when the curiosity about the kid who sat next to me in Mrs. Passor’s 5th grade class got the best of me. It gave me something fun to do on the train, too. I  friended everyone I used to know,  just to see what they were up to now. I accepted Friend Requests from everyone whose name I recognized…and some I didn’t. In at least 2 cases I had to message another FB friend or my brother (who refuses to get on FB because “if I wanted to be in touch with these people, I would be…”) to figure out who has contacted me.

Fulfilling voyeurish tendencies quickly lost its charm and, like many FBers, the “I wonder what happened to so-and-so” folks comprise a pretty large portion of the 300 “friends” I rarely interact with anymore. Unfriending them seems mean and unnecessary so there they sit. I don’t know why I care, as I am well aware I have been unfriended by several people I quite like and I don’t care (Joanna, Penny, Melissa, I’m talking to you…) so I don’t know why I think other people would care. Bygones.

Beyond scoping out what happened to the Head Cheerleader, Facebook has had some unexpected benefits.

I have a large, extended family. Raised Italian Catholic, it’s a requirement. Also typical for Italians, half of my family is not speaking to the other half at any given time. This means that I have a lot of cousins I have either never met, or haven’t seen in 20 years. I actually had to have one of my cousins raw me a family tree to help me figure out which kds and spouses went with which member of my dysfunctional family. But, Lo… through the magic of Facebook I chat with them far more than I otherwise would. Sometimes this means weekly instead of biennially; sometimes it means weekly instead of “ever”; sometimes it just means the potential for contact is increased.  My cousin Anna, who I more or less grew up knowing decently well, checks in every so often and we’ve reached out and touched someone fairly frequently. I’ve even seen her a bunch of times.  My cousin Jessica — I actually haven’t seen or talked to her since she was about 4 (she’s maybe 23 now) but we touch base and trade a few words at least weekly. Kinda cool, I think, and it has made me seriously consider making a trip to her hometown to see a lot of her aunts and uncles. My cousins Jeremy and Jenna…I don’t ever remember meeting them…but it’s nice to know they are there. 🙂

Reconnecting with friends I used to be pretty close to but since drifted away from. Jeanne, one of my best friends in high school, for example. We were close for years, we argued over something stupid, feelings were hurt, we drifted apart.  Bang, 20 years and one 20-year HS reunion later and I can’t tell you how delighted I am that we have reconnected. She is also conveniently married to another old friend I am delighted to get reacquainted with as an adult, and they are now one of my must-do visits when I go back to my hometown. A college pal, Ali. Three years younger than me, we didn’t overlap a lot in college and in all honesty she started out as one of those “oh wow,I used to know you…wonder what she’s been up to the last 18 years.” But guess what — if we go 3 days without touching base even  if just briefly, it’s a long time. And I am reconsidering Colorado as a potential location for work travel so that I can see her in person again. Claire in Australia, my uncle in Louisiana, and Megan in Pennsylvania — same deal…people I don’t see nearly enough, but have more of a connection to now.

Yes, it’s a time suck and yes, there are far too many stupid annoying applications and dumb pointless games…but overall, I’m hooked.

 

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Ketchup

Thought I would try and catch up a bit now that things are settling down a little around here. The latest is that the relocation company ran out of excuses and accepted the buy-out offer on Thursday — with 6 hours to spare until the offer expired (and there was much rejoicing!!)

Part of the relo package was that they would buy the old house for a certain price but the offer expired on 7/31. By that date we had to get a bunch of inspections and get any needed repairs. We have been going around and around with them about related issues for months. Obviously it all looks like it will work out (though I won’t rest completely easy until the $ is in our account) but it got bad enough that when this is all over I plan to take up one particular issue (among many) with the Attorney General in the state where the company is headquartered. We found out 3 few weeks ago that the relo company recently filed for Chapter 11 which is likely part of the problem. We had our lawyer involved to get his read on possible breach of contract issues and D’s company had to intervene once as well on our behalf. We’re not the only ones having trouble – there are lots of people at D’s company having issues as bad or worse than us. It was very stressful as the worst-case scenario would have had us holding mortgages on both houses plus a $70k loan at 12% interest. Thankfully, all the paperwork is now signed and all that remains is the actual wire transfer of $$ which should happen within 10 days.

The new house is mostly unpacked but there is a lot we can’t put away easily until the new addition is built (a great room, garage and expansion of our bedroom). We need to get a lot of storage solution type things, too. We have a lot of yard work to do — stuff we can’t easily do ourselves because it requires serious machinery, so that’s on tap relatively soon. We did the first round a few weeks ago – a lot of tree trimming and fertilizing and getting acres of yard mowed (we don’t have a ride on mower yet so it isn’t practical to do it ourselves). We filed the building permits for the expansion today and now we can get financing since the old house is sold.

The kids are adjusting beautifully and really seem to like it here. Overall, NH is much more suited to A’s natural likes and inclinations (she’s a very outdoorsy kid) which is nice. D’s job is going well but he was very disappointed when his boss left for another opportunity a few weeks ago. I have started to work in my Boston office a few times and that seems to be going well. It will be hard not to be here 2 nights a week but I am trying to put the best face on it as possible. I have already been back to DC once and I have 2 more trip planned so that makes my separation from my friends easier. We have a family trip back to Maryland planned for Labor Day weekend and also for the weekend before Thanksgiving. A bunch of close friends — including my brother and sister in law — kept me relatively sane while I was home alone with the kids, packing/selling the house and pretending to work full time. I could not have emerged more or less in once piece without them. This has not been an easy 6 months for a variety of reasons and having them all for moral support and to lean on and ask favors of was fabulous. I learned an awful lot about myself and who I can really count on and who I just thought I could. I don’t know how everything will turn out — who ever does? — but I am a better person for it in the end.

My dad had neck surgery on Tuesday which seems to have gone well. He came home today and sounds almost like his old self, though I am sure it will be a long recovery (what do you expect when they crack seven vertebrae open and mess around?) He didn’t do so well with the anesthesia and morphine but is doing better each day. I plan to go to Florida over the next few weeks to see him and help out my step-mother.

We are getting used to some small annoyances like not having trash pick up and therefore having to go to the transfer station to dump trash and recyclables, and the bazillion bugs in NH; and nice things like less humidity, not needing air conditioning, far fewer crowds, better camps, the gorgeous surroundings, and being able to walk to the farmers’ market and having abundant access to cheap, local food, which is very important to me (some of you may like this site… http://100milediet.org/) There is a lot about small-town living that I love already. I’m sure these are things that will annoy the crap out of me someday, too, but all in good time. Talk to me when Winter comes… 😉

And last but not least – we are *stupidly* excited that our best friends have moved back from Belguim!

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Well — our first full day in NH was Saturday July 5 and it’s Opening Day for the Wilmot Farmers’ Market. We can WALK there – I am SO excited about that. The kids asked if they could take plastic bags to pick up trash along the way (!!!) and off we went. Sadly, we filled a bag of trash on our short walk (Note to our local beer-drinkers: Find a trashcan. ps: life’s too short to drink bad beer…Ditch the Bud. Yours, MM.)

Being this far north we’re just starting the summer harvest season. We scoped out the yummies and planned supper. We bought: kale, garlic scapes, and leaf lettuce from Two Mountain Farm, and the most gorgeous semi-boneless leg of lamb from Fruit Cake Farm. At Autumn Harvest Farm we picked up some potted basil, thyme and rosemary to transplant (since I hadn’t had a chance to get any started back in Maryland) and a dozen eggs that were soooooo good. The kids fell in love with honey sticks from Cutting Farm, too. I was a little taken by the abundance and quality of the food — next thing you know I was buying an $8 loaf of french bread. Don’t get me wrong – it was great bread but even in DC and NY you don’t pay $8/loaf for the best, freshest, most authentic Italian and French bread there is (except for the stuff in, well, Italy and France.) Thankfully I found more reasonably priced bread at another local market.

I am really looking forward to Local Supper Nights each Saturday as I am calling them.

The following Tuesday we celebrated being partly unpacked (yeah, I know — any excuse for a party but we needed a pick me up) and I made a fresh (and local!) lob-stah dinner, complete with fresh (and local!) corn and a salad of leaf lettuce, pine nuts, fresh goat cheese from Twig Farm dressed with some gorgeous peppery olive oil my mom brought back from Tuscany last Fall, sea salt and fresh ground pepper and a squirt of fresh lemon juice. It was fabulous until I realized our nutcrackers were at my friend Deb’s (left behind at the last crab feast on the Chesapeake) and we had no butter. Ah well — we muddled through and I had the best leftovers ever…a fresh lobster roll for dinner the next night.

We’re still drowning in boxes but some rooms are more or less unpacked which gives us a respite. The kids are adjusting beautifully — for which I am so thankful — and we’re looking forward to our trip to Maryland at the end of August for A’s birthday and my girlfriend Renee’s Labor Day Bash. Working with the relo company to sell the Maryland house is proving to be an absolute nightmare (they say Sirva, we say Satan…) but this too shall pass…eventually. The latest bugaboo is that when we repaired some drywall in the basement we apparently disturbed some mold spores so we now have “bad air” which must be remediated and reinspected by July 31. Or else they won’t buy the house. Sigh. Well, we’ll get through it, I’m sure…

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Who can’t relate to this?  Another fabulous essay by My Friend Wreke.

 

 

 

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Why do so many people have issues with men and women being friends?

I have a number of men friends. Some of them are among my closest friends. Some of them are straight, even. And some are married to women whom I also consider to be among my closest friends. Surely I can’t be the only married woman who has close men friends. What do you think, Dear Readers…can men and women truly be friends? Or, as Harry says to Sally, does that pesky sex stuff get in the way?

Sure, at one point in time I had messed around to one degree or another with almost all of my close male friends. Except for the gay ones. Hmmm…wait a minute…nope, even some of the gay ones (which I suppose technically made them Bi- at the time…whatever.) Oh and except for one college pal named Mike – the fact that we never hooked up was a huge point of pride between us considering the incestuous, close-knit group we ran in. But that was in high school and college – everyone messed around with everyone so I don’t find my antics particularly relevant.

Although I no longer make a habit of messing around with my close male friends, the concept of cross-gender friendships in mature adults seems to trouble a lot of people. People actually raise their eyebrows if I happen to mention that one of my close male friends is a work colleague whose wife I am also rather close to. Eyebrows positively launch into hairlines when I say that perhaps my absolute closest male friend – besides my brother – is my husband’s best childhood friend. One person was “shocked” that my husband “let me” have drinks with a male friend by myself. Baking powder? Not in my world, sister.

Harry says that no man can be friends with a woman he finds attractive because he always wants to have sex with her. Is that supposed to make me run screaming? Girlfriend, I’m pushing 40 and I am 15 pounds overweight (Ok, 20 pounds). If some man who wasn’t my husband wanted to sleep with me I’d be *flattered* not horrified. I laughed for days when, 6 years ago, my friend Margo’s 21 year old nephew referred to me as a MILF…once I figured out what a MILF was.

OK, I’ll play…let’s assume that some of my men friends find me attractive (I don’t know, I’ve never come out and asked…) why is that a bad thing? Do people automatically assume that eros — passionate/erotic love, and philia — friendship love, must coincide? Or rather, collide?

I *heart* having men friends. They bring perspective to situations that most women can’t possibly. Mars and Venus and all that. To each his own, but my world would be a lesser place without my male friends. Here’s to you, boys.

******

Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: Are you say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.

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Out of the Closet

It is time. Finally, finally, I can speak publicly about what has been consuming my life for nearly 10 weeks. We are…

…moving to New Hampshire.

Anti-climactic for you all, I know. No death, destruction, divorce (yet) or babies belonging to the milkman. But this has been a roller-coaster since damned near Christmas and because it generally was not public knowledge for various reasons I couldn’t write about it here and writing is the best way I know how to process stuff.

D was presented with an opportunity he really can’t refuse. It’s in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region of New Hampshire, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere — both a blessing and a curse.

We have talked for a long time about raising the kids away from a metro area – somewhere more outdoors-focused and generally environmentally friendly where people hike, bike, camp, fish, ski, waterski, snowshoe, etc. A place where once is not concerned about French immersion programs for 4 year olds; where you don’t have to schedule swimming and play dates and sports teams to ensure your kids get enough exercise. But this plan was always for “someday” – not for now. So when this opportunity presented itself no one was more gobsmacked than me. I oscillate from being excited to being convinced that agreeing to do this is the worst.decision.ever. Not that there was ever really a decision to make – D wants this so badly he can taste it and although he said we won’t go if I don’t want to, I know that isn’t an option. I can’t in good conscience not agree to try something that means this much to him…even though I am not convinced he would do the same for me if the situation were reversed (his selfish gene is waaaaay stronger than mine – and a giving nature combined with 30+ years of Catholic Guilt is such a winning combination…) And parts of me really want to go. Especially since my office – which has to be the most wonderful, flexible place of employment in the DC-metro area – has agreed to transfer me to our Boston office and let me telework a few days a week because New London, the town we’ll likely be living in, is not commutable to Boston.

There are good things about the move – probably more good than bad. Like this and this and this. And this and this. And all the 1950s kumbaya idyllic childhood stuff I mentioned above. Like the near-total financial freedom that comes with selling this house at about a 180% profit, which will allow us to pay off every bit of debt we have, flood the kids’ college fund (at the moment, the college plan in my house is “somebody dies.”) and buy a new house with lots of land and have a 1/3 smaller mortgage than we do now. And being within a few hours of a couple of good friends we hardly ever see.

But there are completely, totally, *sucky* things, too. Like moving 8 hours from almost all of our friends and family. Like me having to stay overnight in Boston 2 nights a week – away from the kids – to make the job situation work (thankfully I am paid more than well enough to make it worth it, financially.) Like leaving my friends/neighbors I’ve known for 9 years…we live on the best.street.ever. Like completely side-tracking my career (in terms of advancement).

But hey – there are silver linings, too. Now when I have to go to DC for work, I’ll have to stay in a hotel. Maybe I’ll be able to suss out who Clients 1-8 are.

And here’s where I need to thank – from the very bottom of my super-sized heart – a handful of dear friends friends for keeping me as sane as possible these last few weeks…you know who you are, and I love you to bits.

Here’s to our adventure…D leaves March 30. I stay here with the kids until school is over (let’s hear it for single moms) and follow sometime this summer.

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Vegas, Baby!

We have done the Vegas thing several times – usually with the same couple- and it’s always a blast. My MIL came down to watch the girls for a few days and our friends took LG to Vegas and dropped her off with Grandma, who lives in a nearby suburb. I know people used to – and still do – bring kids to Vegas, but Vegas as a family destination never sat well with me. “Hey everyone, let’s take the kids to the Capital City of Gambling, Alcohol, and Sex!” I much prefer the more recent attitude of What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas…” So without straying too far from that mantra, I’ll share some highlights of our 4 day/3 night trip.

The idea started as a birthday celebration for Birthday Boy’s 40th birthday and doubled as one of a couple of getaways we try and take each year with our friends– some with the kids, some without. This one was most definitely without. Turns out post-New Years is a fabulously inexpensive time to stay in Vegas hotels so we snagged rooms at Mandalay Bay for well under $150/night. At check-in, Birthday Boy was taken by the moment and made the absolutely fabulous decision to upgrade his room to a Penthouse Suite so as to get a view of this. Totally worth it and enjoyed by the four of us every night.

We at a late lunch at Burger Bar. We saw Bodies: The Exhibition at The Tropicana – very, very cool. We shopped. We had drinks at Rum Jungle, which is apparently a hot nightclub but clearly not at 8pm on a Wednesday night which is when us old people were there. We enjoyed That Gorgeous View from The Suite… complete with a bottle of wine.

Thursday the girls enjoyed the gym and the spa while the boys rode the 3 thrill rides at the top of the Stratosphere. They said the only one that scared them was the free-fall type ride. We took a helicopter ride at twilight and got amazing views of Lake Meade, Hoover Dam, and The Strip just as the lights came on. We had a fabulous dinner at Rosemary’s which is an off-strip restaurant that we cannot recommend highly enough. We enjoyed That Gorgeous View from The Suite…complete with a bottle of wine.

Friday we enjoyed the gym and the spa. We browsed. We shopped. We ate lunch at the posh Wynn hotel and enjoyed cocktails at the Wynn’s cool little outdoor bar beside a “lake” and a wall of water. We ended the evening at BATS in NYNY and had a crazy-good time at the Dueling Piano show. Best.Time.Ever. This has been a long-time favorite of ours — the only complaint we have is that it is SO much fun that it is way too easy to stay out until 2am. Ahem. We enjoyed That Gorgeous View from The Suite…complete with a bottle of wine.

As on all our good “We Four” vacations, we laughed a lot, loved a lot, ate and drank a lot, learned a couple of new things about each other, argued politics and religion, and generally increased our stash of awesome memories tenfold.

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Playing Catchup

What a whirlwind 2 weeks! Most important things first – K is all better – she came off the nebulizer the Friday after Christmas. 🙂

We spent Christmas Day having “Jewish Christmas” with Wreke and her family. BC, Jools, Beans and Muppet had a fantabulous time at the movies (Alvin and the Chipmunks, God help us all) and then with Chinese take-out back at Chez Wreke. Many thanks, my darlings, for the invitation!

That Friday and Saturday we had fun, impromptu neighborhood dinners with several friends at our house. Sunday we welcomed our dear friends and their “almost 4” daughter (let’s call her LG) to our house for several days of fun. They are temporarily living overseas (though these days she and LG are generally there and he is generally here – don’t ask…it’s complicated and no one is happy) so it’s always a huge treat when they are home in the states together as a family – we called in the troops and had a little party Sunday night with The Gang (aka the guys they went to high school with.)

Beans graciously shared her room with LG and Muppet, and Muppet graciously surrendered her room to the grownups. The kids got along wonderfully as they always do – especially the little ones. They are about 10 weeks apart and have been fast friends ever since they bonded in utero on a park bench in the Tuileries Gardens.

New Years Eve – an over-rated holiday imho, and known as Amateur Night by my friend Ann Marie – was just as it should be…filled with friends, family, laughter and love.

New Years Day was part recovery, part preparations for the long-awaited, much-anticipated trip in honor of Birthday Boy’s 40th birthday…VEGAS, BABY!

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Ho Ho Ho

We had our 4th annual Progressive Dinner last night. Amy had cocktails and appetizers – the hit of that course was Pear and Cranberry cocktails. I had the salad course this year which was easy-peasy (fuji apple salad with cider emulsion – quite yummy and very different.) Chris had the main course, which was a HUGE Asian feast – fresh sushi (both nigiri and maki), steamed and fried homemade hong kong and shanghai style dumplings (which I helped make – fun!), authentic fried rice, pickled cucumbers (funny DH moment…”don’t we just call those…pickles?”), stir fried broccoli, cabbage, sesame noodles…YUM YUM YUM. His mom is Japanese so he’s had years and years to perfect and experiment – it’s SO good. I swear he made enough food for 20 people – we’re having a group lunch today to finish up the leftovers. Debbie brought us home with a pear tart and individual triple-chocolate tortes with molten chocolate centers. WOW.

Before the dinner, I picked up my Christmas present — $1800 worth of new air flow sensors, brakes, and a timing belt. 😦 We also got the Christmas tree and raked and bagged 28 bags of leaves.

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