My mom took over the blog this week. Enjoy! -Sarah
I admit – technology scares me.
Netflix. It is a technological wonder. I had heard of it and knew of people who had subscribed to its services, but I never experienced it until my husband found himself in need of diversion following some surgery (see below). That’s when my daughter and son-in-law kicked into high gear to provide entertainment for his recovery. They brought with them their iPad and a world of magic. Okay, maybe not magic, but just like sawing a lady in half,** I am not sure how Netflix works. We were transported to the 1980’s and the Cheers episodes that made us laugh so hard.
Fast forward to this Christmas. Our wonderful children gave us a subscription to Netflix so we could enjoy Masterpiece Classic Theater and All Creatures Big and Small and all of the episodes of the Wonder Years. The gift included an additional piece of technology which allows us to view these nostalgic events on our television. My first response to Roku was “Not more technology!” (said silently). Now I am in awe…. and more than a little timid.
My head was spinning the last time we upgraded to an HD TV and the attendant upgrade of everything else involved in television watching. We had to program remotes and find new outlets and make new connections. David pointed to our coffee table today and was impressed that we could master the three remotes that our Netflix requires. Bring it on, just not so much of it. We need to learn the wonders of the New World a little at a time.
I find myself watching TV with a purpose now. No more turning on the TV and ignoring it or using it as background noise while I busy myself with some other task. Now television watching is just that. Sitting in one place and “watching” television. And with no commercial breaks, how will I know when to snack or go to the bathroom?
David found a suspenseful movie for us to watch together for our first viewing experience. After the first idyllic 2 minutes, the death and mayhem began. I left the room to avoid getting too upset, but curiosity got the better of me. I looked up the plot line of the movie and learned that, as I had suspected, the good guy was able to overcome evil in the end. The fact that it was accomplished by stabbing the villain in the head confirmed my decision to “watch” the movie by reading about it online.
Now that we are taking full advantage of our gift, I am concerned that we may go into a Classic TV seclusion. I am reminded of when we moved our television into the basement family room because we found that we kept it on all of the time when it was in the living room. We wanted to spend less time watching TV. And a few months later for Christmas, my husband got us a television for our bedroom. Not that we didn’t enjoy it. I remember the family piled on the king size bed to watch Hook together. The beauty of it is I slept through much of it, but I was on a bed!
And a wonderful feature of Netflix is that once you watch a movie or TV show, they help to suggest other events that you might enjoy based on your history. However, my husband and I have vastly differing tastes. We are certainly challenging the Netflix genie or whoever is back at the headquarters promoting other programs we might enjoy. (Okay, I realize this is not a person but technology that provides the suggested viewing options.)
My biggest fear is not that I will become a couch potato or that I will brush aside my responsibilities in favor of just one more episode. I am afraid that as I perform at a functioning level, more and more technology will stream my way. I know how to press source on one remote, use the Roku remote for the Netflix options, and increase the volume with the TV remote. But if one more device is added to the mix, my head might explode!
The truth is that now I don’t believe I will want to give up this wonder called Netflix. Wait….what?* I like technology? If I have 23 minutes, I can get at least one good laugh out loud watching an episode of Arrested Development.** And that is worth all the remotes, connections, and time involved. Netflix here I come!
* I had to put in the overused “Wait….what?” statement for two reasons. To impress readers with how up to date I am with the current lingo and to also show how distracted by technology everyone is becoming. Wait…I was texting, checking my email messages, watching Netflix, playing a computer game….what? I wasn’t listening to anything you were saying because of my technology…..
**Sarah here: My mom informed me that after she wrote this post, she saw an episode of Arrested Development in which they show how to saw a woman in half. How timely!
Well. The 2014 Olympic Winter Games have come to a close. As much as I appreciate the renewed freedom I have in the evening (I watched as many of the events as I could), I will miss the special interest stories, the tense “will s/he pull it off?” moments, the weird paradox of the same event being won and lost in the same fraction of a fraction of a second, or two-tenths of a point in deductions. I watched more of the Olympics this year than I have in a long time (probably because I recently got a TV antenna and therefore reception–thanks Mom and Dad!), and I found myself getting more emotional than I have in the past. Maybe it’s age (I turned 32 on Tuesday) or maybe it’s the realization that this Olympics would have been the last one that I would have possibly been “young” enough to compete in (aside from curling, and not factoring in the fact that I’ve never been an Olympic-level athlete, nor am I remotely* in shape), but I found myself tearing up a lot. When people won. When people fell. When people finished well, raised their fists in the air, hugged their teammate(s), and collapsed to their knees in gratitude.
Here are some thoughts I have after watching this year’s competition:
This is another guest blog post from my sister, Libby, about her experiences working at a homeless shelter in Seattle. Enjoy! – Sarah
Before I start, I have to be very clear about something. I am writing about my personal experience while working at a homeless shelter. The purpose is only to show my own growth, from someone who lived (and still lives) a very comfortable life to someone who was forced to acknowledge the enormity of my own privilege. The examples I am writing about are not intended to be glib and are in no way a representation of each individual that came through the shelter or the circumstances that brought them there.
While reading my sister’s book* about her time in New York, I felt inspired to write about some of my time in Seattle. My first year in Seattle is what my former roommate jokingly describes as “the worst year of her life”.** Mostly because we barely knew one another, and I was extremely sleep-deprived and overly emotional.*** I would frequently come home from an overnight shift at the homeless shelter where I worked, awakening her as I collapsed in a pile of tears at the foot of her bed.
I had applied to work at the shelter through AmeriCorps, and I distinctly remember one of the questions from my phone interview because it is the most unusual interview question I have ever gotten. “What would you do if a transgender female guest wanted to use the women’s restrooms, but it made a female-bodied guest uncomfortable?”**** Apparently I had a good enough answer, because a week later I was on a plane with three suitcases, ready to start a new adventure.
My first overnight at the shelter, I was training with one of the regular volunteers. While he was writing the nightly report, I decided to do a walk-through of the sleeping area. It was on this first solo walk-through that I was unfortunate enough to witness a guest masturbating on his mat. All I could think at the time was, “There’s a bathroom 100 feet from where you’re sleeping. Why?” I learned over the next year that privacy is rare for those who are homeless.
A few months later, a different volunteer brought me what looked like a metal pipe wrapped in a handkerchief. It definitely looked drug-related, and I could tell from his tone that my suspicions were correct.
“We will need to talk about this during our meeting tonight,” he said.
Since I had absolutely no clue what he was holding in his hands, I wanted to at least pretend like I might have known what it was before someone asked me to describe it out loud, especially in a group of people that worked with homeless youth.
“I think it best that you be the one to talk about it, since you found it in the laundry,” was my reply.
Any drug paraphernalia found on the premises meant the loss of privileges for a week, including laundry and showers. It happened so rarely while I was there, but we all dreaded when it did, since it meant punishing everyone for one person’s actions.
“I found a crack pipe in the laundry tonight,” the volunteer said during our nightly staff/volunteer meeting.
My response? “Yes he did. I saw it with my own eyes.”
Despite a few of these experiences at the shelter, there were so many times when I was humbled while working with the guests. We frequently had to turn people away, since there was only space for 25 guests. On one of the coldest nights of the year, a guest asked if we could let his friend stay instead of him, since he had a couch he could “probably crash on.” This was not the first time someone made this request, regardless of whether they had any other options.
Throughout the year, I was challenged and had my privilege called out, and I grew as a human being. It was one of the best, hardest years for me. The biggest thing I learned during that year is that there is no difference between me and someone who is living on the streets, except that I have been given so many opportunities in my life, and that is often not the case for someone without shelter.
In my first winter back in the Midwest, there have been a number of days where the high temperature for the day has been well below zero, and at least one where the “feels like” temperature was -50 degrees for most of MN. It breaks my heart thinking that people have to figure out what they are going to do when it’s that cold. On these days, I send all of my positive thoughts to anyone that is without a home or shelter to go to.
*A little plug for Sarah’s book. I haven’t finished it yet, but I am thoroughly enjoying it, and have laughed out loud, sighed deeply, and felt shared heartache. If you ever have a chance to read it,♦ I would highly recommend it.
**We are now very good friends, and ended up living together for five of my years in Seattle.
***Those of you that know me well know that I could be described as an emotional person to begin with. Yikes.
****According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, it has been estimated that one in five people who are transgender experience homelessness at some time in their lives, and transgender people make up 20-40% of the homeless population.
♦Sarah here: Before you start asking where you can get a copy of my book, you should know that Libby read a copy of my (unpublished) thesis. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as it is published.
Well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day again, but instead of my usual post/re-post love letter to single people, I thought I’d do something a little different. I’m fortunate to have several wonderful kids in my life (the children of long-time friends and beloved cousins), and over Christmas two of them told me they had girlfriend/boyfriend relationships. I remember my first crush, RR, in kindergarten and even though I didn’t really know what the terms “crush,” “girlfriend,” or “boyfriend” meant,* I knew that they had something to do with another term: love. I’ve only recently come to a place where I feel like I understand fully what that word means, and it’s not what I thought it meant at 6 years old. Or, I should say, it’s not as narrow as I thought back then. As a non-parent grown-up friend, I wanted to write a letter to my younger friends that I wish a grown-up had written to me when I was younger. SO Cora, Jane, Eli, Bridget, Nathan, Braden, Matt, Johanna, Eve, Aubrey, Tesla, Alivia, Daniel, Makinley, Roark, and Mallory: Here’s what I’d like you (and any future kids I have) to know about love.
When I was little, I thought that I would get married at 22 and start having babies shortly thereafter. My parents were 21 and 22 when they said “I do,” as were several of their friends and siblings, and pretty much all the adults in my life, at least in my earliest memories of them, were married. It seemed logical when I was six: you meet someone in your late teens or early 20s, date for a couple of years, and get married right after you graduate college. I have friends who similarly thought that’s what you did, because the only examples we had––our parents––all pretty much followed that path. But as I got a little older, I started re-thinking this plan.
I didn’t date much in high school (or college, for that matter) and the people I did date weren’t right for me. Or at least we’d be wrong for each other as the people we’ve become now. And, to be quite honest, sometime during college I came to the realization that I didn’t want to be married at 22. I wanted to move to New York City and have lots of adventures, dating and otherwise. Marriage, while wonderful, would have made that much more difficult. More importantly, I never believed that finding a romantic partner would fix everything; I’d rather learn how to do basic maintenance on my car or home myself than rely on finding someone who is good at these things.
This post is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It’s a controversial topic, but since it’s Smokey Robinson’s birthday in two weeks, it’s Black History month and Black Americans* die from guns almost twice as much as White Americans, gun deaths involve children way more than they should, and in light of a recent segment on 20/20 (see below), I felt compelled to write. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor have I exhausted the research on this topic. These are just my thoughts. -Sarah
I remember when I fell in love with puns. I don’t remember the date, what I was wearing, or who else was in the room, but I remember the exact moment.
It was a Sesame Street episode (of course): Sesame Street, Hee Haw, and Disney movies filled my childhood with puns, clever wordplay, and (clean) grown-up humor. I still watch Disney movies because of the adult humor. But this Sesame Street episode must have aired when I was really young, and when I got the joke, I felt really smart.
Smokey Robinson was the musical guest and he sang his/The Miracles’ famous song, “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” only it was “U Really Got a Hold on Me,” and this was the ’80s, well before text-speak. You’d have to watch the segment to get it.
I know people have varied feelings about puns, and I can appreciate that. In fact, my brother-in-law, who also grew up in the ’80s (we were born the same year), does not share my love of puns. But, aside from inducing groans and eye rolls, puns haven’t done him any harm, and he’s told me he’s enjoyed a pun or two, even some of mine.
Sure, we wish LoLa could strut her sassy self in the 3rd quarter, but it’s okay. Honestly, it’s much better than that.
We ran a fun campaign and are incredibly proud of the stir you kicked up trying to Hail Mary a chicken into the world’s largest football spectacle. And you did an impressive job. The PR firm working with Intuit says that Locally Laid got media impressions that number in the billions – that’s billions with a B. That’s a whole lot of attention for a retro egg, a pasture-raised bird, and the little company trying to do her right. Plus it was good for Duluth, good for Minnesota and good for farmers raising Real Food everywhere.
You should be proud of yourselves getting us named Runner Up. (More to come…)
This week’s post was guest-written by Jeremy Moritz, my cousin Megan’s husband. Jeremy has been a long-time reader and is one of my most (if not the most) active commenters, and as he is a valued reader, I offered him the option of guest-posting. He came up with something pretty great.* Enjoy! -Sarah
First I just want to introduce myself and give you a little background as to why I’m writing on Sarah’s blog. I am Jeremy Moritz, I am a friend of Sarah’s who also just so happens to be married to her cousin Megan, and I like to call Sarah my cousin-in-law. I’ve known Sarah since 2005 when I first starting dating Megan and attending family functions. It’s been almost nine years now and over that time I’ve gotten to know Sarah; her personality, her kindness, her drive, her love for life, and her genuine goodness. It’s those things that have made me really think of her more as a friend then a person who just ended up in my life because of my marriage. Because we’re friends and I do truly love Sarah’s personality, I have been reading and following Sarah’s blog for some time now. Therefore she naturally asked this completely non-writer type to guest blog. Oh, that sounds like a brilliant idea! *Insert sarcastic eye roll* Well, anyway, I’ve decided that I’d give it a shot, and her post on January 16th finally got me to start it and helped me come up with my topic – Live For Change.
Change – According to Google, one definition of change and how I’m going to talk about it is its use as a noun – “the act or instance of making or becoming different.” In our lives there is one thing that is certain, everything is going to change. For one, it is impossible not to change as you grow and age; that’s called science and biology. However, if you figure out how to prolong certain periods in your life please let me know as I’d gladly stay in certain stages longer than others. If change is so certain in life then why do so many people fight change? I assure you I don’t have the education or the credibility to answer that question, but I want to share some things about how I’ve seen change affect myself and others.
In April 2013 I had the biggest change in my life occur. I became a child-rearing man. Notice I didn’t say dad or father because that isn’t what I was on April 20, 2013. Over the past nine months, though, all my life has been is change. Through the help and guidance of my wife, my friends, my family, the internet, and so many others, I feel I have changed into a dad and father and continue to change in that aspect. In reality I didn’t have much choice in the matter either. Makinley is here to stay and I either needed to live for the change or stay the same and miss out on the many great things I get to do as a dad.
As my daughter grows and learns new things I not only have to change myself to support (cope) with her changes, but I also get the privilege to watch her change. Watching her embrace exploring the world every day and learn new things is so incredibly amazing. Her ways of handling going from breastfeeding to eating solid foods, from not being able to get around to crawling and scooting all over the house are just a couple examples of her not only embracing the changes occurring in her life, but living for them. Her smiles of excitement when she sees how thrilled we are when she does something new are a constant reminder for us to help her continue to embrace the changes occurring as she grows.
Okay, so that’s a big change and a happy change, but what about the bad changes in our lives? Why should you be excited about those changes? In my opinion, you should be excited because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not. Okay, maybe excited doesn’t have to be your feeling, but accepting would be a better approach. The main reason I say that is because if something changes for the negative you can remind yourself that it isn’t going to be the last change in your life. As I stated earlier “everything is going to change.” Take that negative change and make it a positive. If you know that things are going to change then you might as well take it upon yourself to make the change and live the change that will make it a positive.
In February 2012 I found out (well, really I knew it was happening) that I had reached a weight that I never wanted to be at. At that time I made it a goal to be healthier and get down to where I needed to be for me to be healthy and happy with myself. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun most times (I love food and especially sweets), but I made changes. It didn’t come fast either, but I had to remind myself that the negative change didn’t happen overnight and this wasn’t going to happen overnight either. I started watching what and how much I ate, I exercised, and I surrounded myself with people that supported my change. I’ve changed and now am where I want to be and have been maintaining for about six months.
Alright, so big deal; this random guy on the internet had a couple changes occur in his life why should I care what he says. Well, you don’t have to and I won’t be hurt if you don’t. However, I can tell you that in your life things will change. You will grow and learn and you will have things happen that you don’t like, but I say this: Live for change. It really is an amazing thing when you embrace that no matter what is going on in your life, things will change. Sometimes they will be for the better and sometimes for the worse, but you don’t have to worry or fight the change because guess what: life is going to change again. Are you going to be the positive change in your life or are you going to just let change pass you by?
In the nearly nine years I’ve known Sarah there is one thing I’ve seen and been a part of and that is her change(s). When I first met Sarah she lived in New York, which I was lucky enough to get to visit and have her be a tour guide for. She now lives in Minnesota, has had different jobs, gone to school, finished school, had relationships, expanded her horizons, and so much more. Sarah is a mind-blowing example of what it means to live for change. It has been my pleasure being in Sarah’s life and see her always say yes. I can assure you that any man, employer, or person that meets Sarah is guaranteed one thing in their life – it’s about to change in a very positive way!
*I’m not just saying that because we’re related, or because he wrote some nice things about me.
… for having to write this post. I feel bad because I know this post will make some of you feel bad, which is the last thing I want to do, but an issue has reached critical mass for me and I just can’t sit here feeling bad and biting my tongue anymore. So, I’m sorry if this makes you feel bad, but I just have to tell you: You use “badly” badly.*
To be fair, you’re not alone; a character on a TV show I love used “badly” incorrectly a few weeks ago. TV commentators misuse it all the time. Donald Trump did it. Really smart friends of mine whom I love dearly and who, I think, at one time knew better say “badly” when they really mean bad. I did an internet search for “feel badly” (in quotes) and found countless (good?) examples of badly being used badly.
I don’t know when or where it started but I think I understand why. We all were taught “I feel bad…” as a means of communicating feelings (remember “I feel…when (you)…because…I want”?) but somewhere along the line someone thought, Wait a minute, “feel” is a verb, “bad” is an adjective and “badly” is an adverb, so shouldn’t I use an adverb to modify a verb? Isn’t it “badly”?** NO. No no no no no. I’m sorry, but no. Badly does modify the verb, meaning it indicates how well you are able to feel. (Just like “I play volleyball badly” is telling you how well I am able to play volleyball.) Unfortunately, someone else heard that person using “badly” when they meant “bad” and thought, I’m going to use that from now on. And so on and so wr[on]g.
“I feel badly” means you have a difficult time feeling. “I feel badly” means that your mechanism for feeling is broken. It means you are bad at (i.e. not good at) generating feelings, when what you really mean*** is “I don’t feel good about this.” There was an episode of Home Improvement**** in which Wilson explains this to Tim, so I know the issue has been around since the ’90s, and I’m sure the confusion began well before then, but it seems like it has gotten worse in the past five to ten years. Or maybe I’ve just started noticing it more. Either way, it has reached a level at which I can no longer stay silent. So please, stop making me feel bad and for heaven’s sake use “bad” when you mean “bad.” Okay? Whew. I feel better.
*Not all of you. Some of you already know this (consciously or subconsciously) and are using “bad” and “badly” correctly. But, since I can’t address people on a “bad” case by case basis, here we are.
***At least, most of the time. Maybe sometimes you are having a hard time feeling something about a situation. In that case and only in that case is “badly” correct.
****Which I haven’t been able to find. If someone finds this for me I will send that person cookies in the mail!
…and new update on What I’m Reading. Okay, so it’s over two weeks into 2014, but I waited to unveil my new theme for the year until now for a few reasons. Tomorrow is my last day at the job I’ve had for almost four years, and I have bittersweet feelings about it. I’m excited about the new opportunity (which is an amazing opportunity) but I’ve really enjoyed this job and my coworkers, whom I will miss, even if I’m ready for the next challenge.
And I am really going to miss them. I’ll admit it: I get attached. I’m a sentimental sap. I have hoarding tendencies and not just for tangible things; I hold onto people. If we know each other in real life, even if we haven’t seen one another in years, rest assured I remember you. I mean, I write creative nonfiction for goodness sake–what greater display of past-hoarding is there than memoir?
I also have mixed feelings because I thought I might be moving away. I’ve felt that way since shortly after I moved to Minnesota but every year something has made me stay. First it was school, then a relationship, now this new job. As thrilled as I am by the idea of moving to Chicago or the West Coast or back to New York, if I’m being completely honest, I may have been waiting for something–someone--to give me a reason to stay. Living in the future, in a different city than where you are, is exhausting. And it’s not healthy.
Maybe it shouldn’t have been one thing or one person or one reason to make me stay. Maybe that’s too much to expect. Or maybe I was just looking at the wrong person; as my wise younger sister said, “You’ve put a lot of energy into building a life here,” which is true. I have. And it’s a pretty good life with a lot of reasons that make staying worthwhile. I’m not saying I won’t remain open to moving somewhere else (new or previous) in the future. And I’m not saying I won’t still look back at the past, because, well, that’s what I do. But my goal–my theme–for the year is “Live Here Now.” I want to stop pining so much for the past or imagining too much about the future and enjoy more of this wonderful present* I’ve created.
“Live Here Now” means doing the things I’ve always wanted to do and not waiting until conditions are perfect. It means taking things as they come and jumping in with both feet. It means exactly what it says. So tomorrow I’ll be enjoying (or probably crying at) my last day at one job, and next week I’ll be living life at a new job, possibly looking for a new apartment, probably meeting new people, definitely trying new things. 2014: Live Here Now.
*This reminds me of the quote (sources vary): “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.”
Sometime in the mid-naughts* people started referring to 30 as the new 20 and 40 as the new 30. While it seems like merely a positive affirmation that people in their 40s (today) are as vibrant and youthful as people in the past who were in their 30s, this week’s polar vortex*** had me thinking about this in terms of weather.
I used to think the teens and low 20s were cold, temperature-wise, with zero being the point at which my Midwestern resolve started to die. I know the mercury dipped below zero when I was little, and I remember playing outside when it was cold, but I don’t remember liking it all that much. And I definitely remember indoor recess. Days when my hair would freeze while I was waiting for the bus or coming home from swim practice. Fogged glasses and steamy exhalations that I used to pretend were from smoking. Cold so sharp it took my breath away and made my eyes water (and then freeze). I liked building snow forts, sure, and downhill skiing, but you can bet I bundled up for these activities and spent hours afterward thawing out. Nothing quite compares to the icy burn of snow sprayed in your face when you’re sledding.