Wow. That sounds kind of narcissistic, now that I see it in front of me. “The Year of Me.” Who does that?
Well, I do. Or I will, soon.
It’s not what you think – I’m not going to go all self-absorbed on the world, caring only about MY wants and MY needs and MY chocolate. This is something different.
A few years ago, a friend and former coworker had the “Year of Chris.” She has two daughters, and twin grandchildren, and a husband, but she spent the year doing things that made her happy – or being happy doing the things she was doing. It was awesome. And I was jealous.
Having been a single mom since 2002 (you have no idea how much I HATE playing that card, seriously), there had been relatively few “Days of Me,” so the idea of taking a full year? That was amazing. That’s what dreams were made of.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a bitter, angry person. In fact, I’m actually quite happy. I laugh a lot, I smile a lot more, I enjoy the “todays” because they’re so fleeting. I enjoy life – I truly do, and I am honestly happy doing the things I’m doing. Do I wish I had more money to enjoy it more? Sure. It would be nice to have extra to be able to go more places and do more things. But do I let it get in the way of enjoying today? Not in the least.
But this year is going to be different. Kind of.
My big dream has always been to go to Ireland. I’m third generation Irish-American, and there are still some distant relatives I’d like to go meet. And let’s be honest – Ireland. It’s beautiful. Flights aren’t horribly expensive, and if I (and however many friends and family members care to join me) stay in an Airbnb place, lodging won’t be too bad, at all. So, I thought, set it up. Make a plan. Do it.
In 2017, right smack almost perfectly in the middle of the year, I turn 50. It’s not a frightening number to me – 20 years ago I was terrified of 30, but 50 sounds almost exciting – but it’s a milestone and I want to mark it as such. So, sometime in the Year of 50, I’m going to Ireland.
But what about the year leading up to it? I don’t really want to spend a year in wait, saving every penny (though I’ll be saving several), waiting for the calendar to turn the right amount of pages so I can go on my adventure. Plus, I’ve loved my 40s, absolutely loved them. This has been the most fun decade by far – even with scraping to get by, failed relationships (which made for some pretty funny stories, I gotta tell ya’), and the loss of my favorite canine companions. My 40s have been great, I can’t just let them end on a whimper.
No, what I’m going to do in the year between 49 and 50 is allow myself to do the things I haven’t made time for/didn’t save for/made excuses for over the last several years.
I’m going to Phoenix to stay with a cousin I don’t get to see very often. I’m going to go to one of my college football games and try to connect with some college roommates and friends. I plan to go to Chicago. I’m going to go see an Iowa Cubs game. I’m going to go to the movies. I’m going to go sit on a friend’s balcony and have drinks. I’m going to do things for me.
I think we all need to take a year for ourselves. Just not this year – this one’s mine.
Walks slowly across the empty stage to the microphone.
Ahem. (Taps microphone a few times)
Is this thing on?
I know I’m probably talking to an empty room. It’s been a while, you know, since I’ve last said anything here, and many may have given up. That’s OK, I don’t blame you. It’s like checking out a book and seeing a bunch of blank pages. Who wants to do that?
But I’m here, today, with my Christmas list. Well, more like my Christmas wish. It’s just one thing, really, but it’a a pretty big one.
My wish this year is that we all stop caring. Not about our neighbors, not about our families, not about causes that seem dear to us and make a difference. No, we should continue to care about those things with all that we have.
My wish is that we all stop caring about our differences.
I am a Christian, and a fairly intelligent person. There. I said it. I have a strong faith in God, but I haven’t been to church in several years because I have a real problem with the hypocrisy of religion. That whole, “Love thy neighbor, except not that one, or that one, or that one, and only that one if he changes his ways” thing really turns me off.
I have friends – very good friends – all along the religious spectrum: Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, and some I know I haven’t listed here. Each of them has a belief system that is just as meaningful to them as mine is to me. That, to me, is a wonderful thing. I don’t judge them, or point fingers and tell them they’re wrong because, well, I don’t know who is wrong, or if any of us are. They’re called “belief systems” for a reason: We believe. In something. Or in nothing. And that’s our choice.
I don’t normally use this space – when I do use this space – to preach or try to change people’s minds about anything. And, really, I don’t want to change anyone’s mind today, either. Just their behavior.
As a former religion reporter, I met people from all kinds of backgrounds. I remember doing one story on an atheist event, and then going to church the day after the story appeared in the paper. One of my friends – a good friend – mentioned the photo that went with the story, and told me he could tell that person was an atheist because “there’s such a vacancy in their eyes, there’s nothing there.”
I was taken aback. This source – a woman – was one of the most vibrant, alive people I know. She’s full of life and charm and concern for her fellow man. But because she was labeled “atheist,” my other friend saw something different. Something that just wasn’t true.
I’ve seen atheist friends question the intelligence of Christians on social media, comparing the belief in God to a belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, or indicating that anyone with a brain wouldn’t believe in “the fairy tale” of Christianity.
It’s insulting. It’s divisive. And it’s not what we need.
So here’s my wish: Stop caring about what someone else’s belief system is. Stop condemning entire groups of people based on the actions of a few. Stop saying atheists are “soulless,” or that Christians and Jews who believe in God are “idiots.” Stop believing all Muslims are “terrorists.”
Just … stop.
(Exits stage left)
I’m a dog lover, there’s no question about that. I can’t remember a time in my life – other than the year or two we were in an apartment in Minneapolis when I was 4 – that there hasn’t been at least one dog in my life (the actual canine kind, not the male human kind – that’s another post altogether). I didn’t have a dog with me when I was in college, but there was always a faithful pal waiting for me when I’d go home.
And these dogs weren’t just any dogs – they were big dogs. Always. Growing up we mostly had German shepherds or German shepherd mixes, and then when I got married we had Labs, Lab mixes and Newfoundlands.
I love dogs.
It’s no surprise, then, that I also love those sappy videos you see on Facebook, how this dog was saved from homelessness, or how this dog abuser got schooled by a group of old ladies who defended the dog, or how this dog found his way home when he got lost on vacation. I can’t help it – I always watch them, and I always cry. And I always think, “What a great story.”
This morning Mia and I had one of those stories of our own.
Mia is my 8-year-old Newfie, and our morning walks are typically about a quarter of a mile – she needs to walk a bit to “get things moving,” and Lord knows I could use the extra steps. So we went out for our walk, a little before 7 a.m., and as we’re coming back a semi pulls up to the stop sign and kills the engine. The driver leans out his window and asks about Mia’s age, then just climbs out of the truck – it was stopped in the northbound lane – and comes over to chat.
We’re kind of used to this, as I’m sure many people with giant breeds are. People stop all the time, asking if they can pet our dog. Even more people drive by and keep their eyes on the dog. I’ve had several people call me “the lady with that big dog.” They’re kind of a novelty to most people, and it’s that difference that brought Mia to us. We had lost our first Newfie to old age six years ago today, and in March 2010 I just happened to see an ad that read, “Free to good home, 3-year-old female Newfoundland.” I called about the dog – the owners apparently thought it would be neat to have a giant breed until they actually HAD a giant breed. They weren’t really prepared for the space she needed, the food she ate, the poops she took – any of it. So they decided to get rid of her. If I didn’t take her, they said, they were going to put her in a shelter.
I had a Lab mix at the time, but we made it work. We had to.
So back to this morning and the truck driver.
The driver knelt down and petted Mia as he asked me where I’d gotten her. I told him she was a rescue of sorts, and related the story. He then told me that he and his wife used to breed Newfoundlands. They had had two females and a male, and loved the gentle giants, but when the girls died and they sold their home, they decided not to get a new dog until they got settled. That’s still not happened, he said, but it’s something they still talk about. For someday.
He asked how old Mia was, and where her first family lived. For the life of me I couldn’t remember their last name, so that didn’t help him place them.
I was kind of struck at the patience Mia was showing. She’s an attention whore, to be sure, so she loves being petted. But usually she’s trying to give kisses or is moving around or showing other small signs of minor anxiety – as if saying, “Yes, this person can pet me, but only for so long.” With the truck driver, however, she was calm, just sitting there basking in the attention.
Then it happened. The driver asked me if I knew what her first family had named her. (At this point I still hadn’t told him her name.)
I shrugged and said, “Well, sure, we just kept the name – she’s Mia.”
His eyes grew wide and teared up all at the same time. He choked up a bit, then asked, again, how old she was. I told him she’s 8 this year.
“She’s one of my pups, I just know she is,” he said. He and Mia were now looking eye to eye. “We had a Mia about that long ago – she’s one of Myrtle’s pups.”
About that time traffic started to come up on his truck and he needed to go. I didn’t get his name, he didn’t get mine – but we didn’t need it. He and Mia reconnected – I could see it in her when he was petting her – and then we all went back to our regular days.
Our steps were just a little bit lighter.
I had a particularly, oh, let’s call it awful date recently, mostly because the man involved opened his mouth and spoke. He was fairly decent looking, educated, owned his own business. We apparently knew some of the same people.
But when he spoke, it was awful. He was lewd and crass and just plain disrespectful. For the first time ever, I ended a date early.
A few days later he actually sent me a text that said, “I really don’t understand what happened.” When I explained to him that telling a woman you want to put your “skin boat” in her “tuna chute,” or suggesting that we “go back to my place and f*** before (your headache) gets really bad,” aren’t things that are appreciated on just the second date, he took offense.
“You really need to look up the definition of sarcasm,” he said. “Good luck in the future, but you’re really going to need to lighten up if you think someone is going to be serious long-term.”
First: I shared my Date from Hell story with a friend who has an online forum on which she posts questions or situations and asks her more than 4,600 followers for comments and suggestions. My date story netted 55 responses in the first two hours, probably 80 percent of which were from men who were mortified that this guy was representing their species.
A few days later, I shared his text comments with my own friends – most of whom laughed at the idea that I needed to look up the definition of sarcasm.
“Wait … did he meet you?” one friend asked.
“Clearly he doesn’t realize you are the queen of sarcasm,” said another.
One friend won the Internet with this response:
“That’s like someone telling Kim Kardashian to look up “social media” and that she needs to “promote herself more strongly.”
You get the idea. I know my way around the sarcasm block.
But to prove my point, and my true understanding of the art of sarcasm, I’m putting his comments to the test with what I really should have said.
Sleaze, not sarcasm: “I want to put my skin boat in your tuna chute.”
Sarcasm: “That’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. Did you get that from Keats?”
Sleaze, not sarcasm: (To waiter in restaurant) “We’re going to drink some here, drink some somewhere else, and if I’m lucky we’ll go hook up after.”
Sarcasm: “And if I’m really lucky he’ll pass out and the only ‘hook-up’ he’ll get is from a tow truck as he’s sitting on the side of the road.”
Sleaze, not sarcasm: (After hearing about my growing headache) “We should just go to my place and f*** now then, before it gets too bad.”
Sarcasm: “Well, since you’re the one giving me the headache, I’m not sure that will help.”
The fun part of all of this is that I know he truly believes he’s quite the catch. I know this because he told me so – twice.
I wished him luck finding any woman who would appreciate his brand of humor, to which he replied that maybe he should “try out for the other team.”
“Good luck with that,” I said.
That was sarcasm.
A few weeks ago, one of my best friends and fellow wine lovers (she was an admirer long before me – I’m still in the “getting to know you” phase of my wine relationship) introduced me to this guy (well, via his videos) and I love it. Matt Bellassai works at Buzzfeed, which has got to be one of the coolest jobs ever, and then gets drunk at his desk one day a week and posts a video of him whining about something.
Um, hello?? Totally what I should be doing.
I’m incredibly jealous of his job. Why didn’t I think about this? I clearly used the whine/wine reference when naming this blog oh so many years ago. It probably has much to do with my fear (?) of being on camera – including webcam. And the fact that I just didn’t think about it.
Anyway, enjoy Matt – maybe we’ll get lucky and have a guest merger – Pour Me Some Whine About It.
“I’m sorry, but the number you have called has been disconnected or is no longer in service …”
Looking through past blog posts, I can almost hear the blogosphere operator saying that. Wow, three months – THREE months – since I’ve posted anything? Really?
It’s not like I haven’t had ideas – I’ve had several. I’ve even said to friends, “I’m going to blog about that.” And then … nothing. Nada. Apparently my blogging fingers have been on strike.
Well, here’s to hoping the strike is over. Lord knows there’s a lot of snark out there yet to be shared.