Blogging: May Cause International Friendship.

I regularly struggle about this blog. Besides the fact that blogging is a dead art, I have less to write about than when my kids were tiny, I have less time (thanks, kids, for not napping anymore), I have more varied interests that take up my time (running, hiking, photography, reading), and it’s harder for me to write well. Late at night when I can’t sleep and anxiety attacks me in random ways, I sometimes decide to quit writing. But the next morning, I always change my mind. And a chief cause of that is relationships.

I have made hundreds of friends through writing, in dozens of states and quite a few countries. I have met scores of these people in real life, and many of my good friends came from blogging. These bonds were formed because we, for many various reasons, have things in common. We view life out of the same lens (sorry if your lens is as sarcastic and cynical as mine.) We can relate. Because somehow – via comments or social media or emails exchanged in the middle of the night, we connected. We made an impact on each other’s lives simply through the exchanged written word.

This is why I still write. Not as often, not as well-crafted. But I write.

This past week was a reminder of the beauty of this blogging side effect.

A blog reader, who googled “Plus sized blue jeans” and found me half a decade ago when she lived in the jungles of Mozambique, came to visit me last week – for the second time. And she brought her husband along this time – who, for some bizarre reason, agreed to come stay with strangers for six days.

Now back to being residents in their home country of Canada, Rick and Heather are (clearly) the adventurous sort, and as such, we did all the things while they were here.

We greeted them at the front door, and they seemed happy to have arrived…

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Okay no we didn’t try and convince them that this was our house. But it would’ve been exceedingly fun to send them this address and wait for the texts to come in.

Back to what we DID do.

Heather wanted to meet all the people in Birmingham that I’ve “introduced” her to via the internet. So we started with lunch with Katherine of Grass Stains fame. (We tried to get Jamie to join us as well, but she was attacked by an October cold.)

We didn’t manage to get a picture with Katherine at our delightful lunch, but we did, however, find time to take multiple photos of the bathroom.

Because – who knew? The old Federal Reserve building downtown (where our lunch date at Urban Standard was located) turned the old vault into the bathrooms.

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Talk about needing to make a deposit.blog IMG_3447

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Since, on their trip down, Rick and Heather stopped at the biggest everything that they could find (you can see Heather’s Instagram feed for evidence of that), I took her to the OLDEST things.

The oldest baseball field in America (Rickwood Field),

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The oldest castle in Birmingham (Quinlan Castle, built in 1927 – you know because we have so many castles),

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The oldest Giant Amazon Box in Birmingham (okay there are a few others and I have no idea which was built first but they’ve been around for like a week or three),

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The oldest selfie-angel-wings in Birmingham (they’re not quite a year old yet but aren’t they fabulous?)

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And the oldest cannon pointed at downtown Birmingham.

blog Heather and Rick About Town IMG_4564The Canadians are coming! The Canadians are coming!!

We also visited some of the best Birmingham restaurants (Nabeel’s and John’s City Diner) and fantastic Birmingham signage nearby,

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Along with the Light Tunnels,blog Heather and Rick Light Tunnel IMG_4687

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Graffiti of note,

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And OBVIOUSLY the sunset.

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It was basically a Birmingham Second Honeymoon. With tour guides.

Because Heather found such fabulous deals last time she visited, we took another trip to Unclaimed Baggage, a couple of hours away – where all unclaimed baggage of all the airlines ends up.

I hung out in the books section for most of our visit, because I discovered that all paperbacks are $1.49-1.99 and hardbacks are $2.99 (and people read REALLY GREAT books on planes). I bought about 15 books, so I’m set for a few days.

I also reprised my small group girl’s trip tradition of finding the most unsafe pair of heels and trying to stand in them.

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I do not exaggerate when I say that I almost broke myself. And I only put one of the shoes on.

Heather’s husband, Rick, was surprisingly cool with all this – even the shopping trip, where he found himself the hottest vintage Baywatch jacket in all the land.

171015 Moss Rock Preserve High Falls 171012  Weathington Park IMG_4510Did I mention he’s a pastor? He’s going to look so fabulous preaching in his Baywatch gear.

Rick did find the need to DO something, which led him to begging us for access to our chain saw (to cut down a tree that fell through our trampoline during what was left of Hurricane Nate), putting together a “some assembly required” storage box I’d ordered from Amazon, and also I came home one day to my dryer taken apart because apparently, cleaning the lint filter doesn’t get all the lint out. (Who knew?) In his spare time, he made things like this with my children:

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A man’s gotta vacation how a man’s gotta vacation.

But what they REALLY came for…

was Alabama football.

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To see the things our state celebrates so thoroughly, like an elephant taking a poop on a Beetle.

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To see what we do with our excess tissue paper.

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And most importantly, to see Alabama Gameday Fashion at its absolute finest.

We saw it all. Multiple men changing clothes in public, ladies wearing scarves as shirts, all manner of visible bras (and visible oh-well-would-you-look-at-that-she’s-not-wearing-a-bra), and tutus. SO MANY tutus.

Heather said, more than once, and I quote,

“Wh – but Wh – Wh wh wh wh WHY??”

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Because Alabama. That’s why.

We made it into the game, where the culture continued to pour out onto us – this time in the form of significant back sweat of the man sitting in front of – and leaning onto – our row.

blog IMG_3658The back which provided the artisan Alabama perspiration can be seen leaning on Rick’s legs.

We had six days of all the adventure and experience and oddities that Alabama could offer. Which was absolutely delightful.

…As was this Introvert’s ICU ward that I entered upon their departure.

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When Being an Early Adopter Spins Out.

I am aware and annoyed that the world tends to hate on new things as they come along, picking apart all of the potential dangers and drawbacks before anyone has had a chance to even try them.

Remember when Pokemon Go came out? All the news stories were about people walking over cliffs or wrecking cars (or the possibilities of those things potentially happening) rather than the fact that an entire people group just emerged from their video-game-playing-basements and were all of a sudden getting loads of exercise and Vitamin D and even human interaction.

(I still marvel at the shocking paleness I witnessed those first few weeks when Pokemon Go was THE THING. I’m pretty sure some of those people had never visited outdoor parks in their lives before said parks contained Snorlaxes and Squirtles.)

The 80s in particular were full of this judge-first hobby – especially in Southern Christian circles. The Smurfs were satanic. Dungeons and Dragons was double satanic. Yoga would turn you into a new age witch. And speaking of witches, don’t forget about Stevie Nicks because she was totally a witch. Oh and now that we’re talking about music, any song played backwards will tell you to worship Satan (did you know that Congress actually held hearings on this issue??) And DO NOT read the clouds in “Aladdin” or look at the cover of “The Little Mermaid” or YOU WILL SEE THINGS.

It even carried over to the 90s when Harry Potter was the echelon of all things Satanic. Too far, too far.

I find this outlook endlessly pessimistic and more-than-a-bit off-putting and am seriously happy that the 80s are over. As such, I always try to give things a good, hard, first try before identifying their potential downsides. Why not look for the benefits of new ideas rather than the drawbacks?

With one exception.

Since the moment they emerged in an explosion of fad and frenzy, I have DETESTED fidget spinners.

Detested isn’t a deep enough word. Loathed, perhaps. Abominated. Is that a thing? I abominate fidget spinners.

I abhor the quiet, smoothly fizzing sound when other people use them around me (“isn’t this a No Fidget Spinning section of this restaurant? No? Please seat me in the No Fidget Spinning section – I’m allergic.”) and I am disgusted by the feeling of them spinning around on the top of my own finger, and I despise them spinning between my thumb and index finger. They literally make me shiver with horror. They give me the total heebs. And actual chill bumps.

Of course, every member of my family with the exception of myself owns and regularly carries one of these horrible devices. Including my husband. Even though he conceal carries, it grosses me out just knowing that vile thing is in his pocket.

Before he realized my intense repulsion by The Fidget Spinner, Chris came home one night with a surprise for me and each of the kids. He played it up, acting like he was the best in all the world (which he is. Or was, until this night.)

After presenting the children with thrilling trinkets for which they hugged him and thanked him profusely, he finally pulled out my surprise – and as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, it was a fidget spinner. But not just any bland old fidget spinner – it was a fidget spinner printed with graffiti, and therefore he looked at me expectantly, happy that he’d hit upon one of my many and varied interests.

IMG_2910“My” Fidget Spinner is the one on the far left. Though I would never claim such vileness as mine.

I’m pretty good at faking thankfulness for gifts I’m not thrilled about, but my complete enmity toward these items made me recoil and scream out “EW! I can’t stand Fidget Spinners!” and push it across the table as if it were a box full of hissing cockroaches.

His face fell and I immediately felt bad. And both kids began begging for my rejected gift.

“OOOH DAD! Can I have it?” “No can I have it?” “I’d really love to have it!” “So would I!”

“You could have at least pretended to like it and told me later so that I didn’t have to figure out which kid to give it to.”

I apologized profusely, but stayed vigilant in my absolute refusal of his inappropriate gift.

(It later got used as bribery to get Noah to behave for like three whole days and was totally worth it.)

(Poor Ali. If only she required more bribery, she too could own more fidget spinners.)

Although Ali and Chris are moderate enthusiasts, Noah has become a collector of Fidget Spinners and Widget Spinners (what he calls the two-sided ones) of all sizes. He pines after them and begs me to search Amazon for newly released ones. I do not demonize these pursuits (at least out loud), even though I cringe with thought of the sound of yet another softly spinning object in my house. Instead, I press on, supporting my family and even my son’s horrific obsession.

Even though fidget spinners just have to be Satanic.

Congratulations on Your Simple Existence.

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Last week, I had a male nurse tell me all about how he has no health problems and takes no medications. He told me a hilarious story about him going to the doctor for the first time in years just so that he had a primary doctor if he ever needed one, but he probably wouldn’t. He told me the side-splitting tale about the nurse asking him about his health and his medications and then looking at him full of perplex and asking him “Then why are you here?”

He told me all of this directly after I had to tell him about my own complicated medical issues.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, it seems like “perfect health” is a man’s favorite bragging right. Although this is an especially odious habit for a male nurse, it comes with males everywhere. Especially after a woman has described symptoms and issues that, to them, sound like they must be exaggeration or hysteria since they’ve never experienced any similar thing.

So, healthy men of the world, it’s time we had a talk.

You need to shut the health up.

You’re so stinking proud of your easy existence. As if your body is equal to ours. In complexity, your body is a cheesy laxative commercial, while our body is the lovechild of The Matrix and Inception.

Your systems are early model typewriters – the ones without the self-correcting tape – compared to our super-computer operating systems. We run such high-level programs on our OS that you cannot even comprehend the bodily equations we do on a daily basis. So OF COURSE more things can go wrong and more code can get screwed up.

Most importantly, we are capable of CREATING additional humans. We have an entire system dedicated to that superpower. You think that’s not going to break more often compared to your Neanderthal abilities? So – yay for you. Your abacus hasn’t broken yet. Why don’t you use it to count how many humans you’ve grown.

What’s that you say? You make babies too? Oh yeah – that’s right. It takes you like twenty-two trabillion sperm swarming up a one-way street just to find one of our eggs. That’s some really efficient work you’ve got going on there. Perhaps if your software was detailed enough to program them to ask for directions, you’d be more helpful in the baby-making arena.

Meanwhile, after that “WE ARE MAN SEE US SWIM” ridiculously overpopulated army invasion of yours, we have to do the rest of the nine month process. Then when that new human finally emerges, our entire framework is reprogrammed within 24 hours to go from growing a baby inside to feeding a baby from the outside, which creates the side effect of complete nuclear emotional meltdown. Because duh.

Besides those times when we’re actually growing humans, our baby-making software requires an update every freaking month of nearly our entire life. Those updates take an entire week and while they’re running, every other program is trashed and slowed to 10% of its normal speed and efficiency. You know how on your actual computer you always click “ignore” on that update for Adobe Acrobat? Yeah. We can’t exactly ignore our updates without finding ourselves in one bloody hell of a mess.

And I’m not even going to get into the many studies on how much more complex and inter-wired our brains are than yours, because I don’t want to hurt the few connections you do have. And because I don’t dislike you, dear men – men are important. Men are great! Everyone needs a vintage box fan to help out their central air conditioning unit. But no one needs that box fan bragging incessantly about their perfectly functioning plastic blades.

So for all the women out there who have ever been told by a man that surely they don’t feel as bad as they actually do and by-the-way-have-I-told-you-about-my-own-perfect-health, just remember: you can’t expect Fred Flintstone to know how to drive a Tesla.