Tag Archives: family

Why I don’t hate Facebook

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This post is intended as a bit of a comeback to the anti-social networking rants I keep seeing on Facebook.*  I’m writing in particular about the personal use of Facebook.  While I’ll readily admit that there are downsides to any new technology, for me, the positives of social networking sites for personal use far outweigh the negatives. So here they are:

~Personalities:  My relatives are people?!  This is probably self-evident. Yet, I (and I think a lot of us) never really thought about my elders as being actual people, with flaws, skills, opinions, triumphs, failures, and stories. Granted, I may have been better off knowing about some of the wacky political leanings of some of my loved ones, but I’m willing to know a little too much in order to know them as people.

~Distance: I can’t have dinner with my sisters, or ride the carousel with my godsons. But I can read about it later, and despite the time difference, I have conversations about what went down via comments and instant messages.

~Shyness:  I was already really shy.  Contrary to many of the anti-networking rants, the Internet didn’t make me a social recluse. I was already the chick who brings a book to weddings and ditches parties thirty minutes into the shindig. Forcing face to face contact tends to make me clam up or put on a show. By removing myself somewhat, I can relax, and ease into social interactions via written comments, messaging, etc.

~Think–>Speak (write). We all say things we don’t mean, but, at least for me, I have much more luck explaining myself, being kind, and expressing myself clearly, when I write things out. I edit them. I think about the sources of my opinions, and the context in which they’re being received by those around me. I’m sure some people really don’t think before they hit “Enter,” but I do. And I think a lot of other people do, too.

~Information changes really quickly these days. How many phone numbers do you remember now, as opposed to ten years ago? The number is probably far smaller. People get new phone numbers, addresses, email address, etc pretty often. Social networking sites let you keep in touch, advertise your new info, and make sure that you don’t accidentally leave people out.

~Photos: I have friends and loved ones who hail from countries where internet access and use isn’t as common as it is in North America. One friend, whose parents are elderly, has lived in North America for almost ten years, now. His parents don’t use the internet, and although he calls them every week, he is still in for a major shock every time he visits. Recently, he started mailing them photos of himself every once in a while, but they can’t send photos back. It makes me appreciate the photographic connection I have with my family and friends via Facebook. I see the little moments in their lives, as well as the big ones. In addition, since posting photos to Facebook has become so prevalent, my family members actually take a lot more photos! Their kids will have a better record of their childhoods, too.

~Planning: It’s not easy to sync up schedules with my big family. When I come to visit, it’s rarely for more than a week or so. Thinking of things to do, letting everyone know the whens and wheres — we use social networking sites to facilitate a LOT of this planning. Consequently, when I am in town, I actually get more face time with them than I would if this were not the case!

~Potential new friends.  It’s a pretty common story.  You meet someone new, and you think you might want to be friends.  But either: a) the contact is never made.  Maybe you didn’t get their email/phone, or you forgot for a while and then feel like it’s too late. Or, b) you succeed in making the effort (or responding to their efforts), and then realize that this person is probably not someone you want to spend a whole lotta time with.   As for me, A happens more often than B, but they’re still both pretty common.  Facebook lets me to keep up with a potential friend, to feel out whether or not we might have a connection (or a real disconnect!).  Then I can proceed at a more natural pace.  I can include them in general invites, ask them out for an activity in which we seem to share an interest, etc.

~Branch out with old friends:  I’ve been a denizen of the ‘Net for years.  Some of my closest friendships started online (some people, I’ve never even met face to face!).  However, when I started making friends online, it was because we were in the same Yahoo! Group.  Thus, our friendship was pretty much predicated on our common interest in a given topic.  Facebook has really allowed me to flesh out my friendships, and find a connection beyond our specific shared interest.

~Birthdays: Last but not least, BIRTHDAYS! I have trouble remembering my partner’s birthday, let alone those of my friends, cousins, aunts, etc. Posting a birthday wish on someone’s account is free, it’s easy, and –yep — it’s still genuine. When it’s my birthday, and my wall is filled with well wishes, I really appreciate the warm fuzzies I get. Sure, even without the help of Facebook, I know that these people care about me. That little ping on my wall sure feels great, though.

* (Is using Facebook to hate one Facebook ironic?  Or is it just self-defeating, like using Freud to discredit Freud?).

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9/11 + Ten

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This is a post in relation to that by Shoshana, which can be found here. It was originally written as a post on a Yahoo! Group I belong to, but since it got too long for that, I decided to place it here on my blog.

This post was also trending among my friends on Facebook, too. I’d held off reading it until now. My DF (Dear Fiance! Yay! He proposed a few weeks ago, now I just have to get the nerve (and the unique idea) with which to propose to him, as was our deal) was determined to go sightseeing in NYC on Sept. 11, and, thankfully, things went very smoothly. He is from India, and usually very, very aware of being “the brown person.” That said, he was born and raised in India, and came to the USA as an adult for graduate school. Often, he doesn’t have the awareness of potentially racially charged situations, because some behavioral cues, buzzwords, and associations, he has few or no connotations for. Many of those ideas, such as the post author’s allusions to “beer bellies,” “country music,” and “flat tops” are *not* universal. (As a funny sidenote, my DF had always *wanted* a beer belly, just like some of his wealthier uncles had! In his early 20s, he finally achieved his long-suffering (or just large-eating) goal. Shortly after, though, he came to the USA, where his beer-belly was, sadly, not in vogue. Now he’s trying to lose it, and he hopes that it doesn’t take as long to lose the beer belly as it did to get it!).

DF is (rightfully) aware of race, color, and (mis)perception, and all things being equal, he avoids tense and/or uncomfortable situations where race is a factor. Also, he does sometimes appreciate it when he doesn’t have to think about and rehash racism – sometimes he, like all human beings, just isn’t in a place where he wants to engage such negative energies. Since the visit thus far had been pretty stressful for him (we were visiting my best friend, who has breast cancer at 27 – not exactly a happy go lucky vacay-type trip), I didn’t discuss the issue of 9/11’s upcoming 10-year date with him. At first, without telling him, I just asked our host if she would consider just chilling w/ us at her home, instead of trying to take the ferry and see the Statue of Liberty, etc.I don’t know that this was the right thing to do, but I knew I didn’t want to stress him more than he was already stressed, and usually he appreciates the gesture. As the date drew closer, though, he was getting more and more excited about sightseeing around NYC.

The days had been blurring together, so, I asked him if he was sure if the possibility of racism on 9/11/11 was something he was willing to face (actually, I think the conversation went something more like, “Uh babe, isn’t Sunday 9/11? I know it’s a cosmopolitan city and everything, but ya know there might be some a$$hole out then). In fact, he had forgotten the date, and it took him a while to think about it. He was quiet at first, but later, he casually mentioned that he really did want to go sightseeing. That was it, just, “You know, I really want to go around NYC this weekend.” So we went. We took the subway all the way down from Bronx, visited Battery Park and the waterfront, took the ferry across to Governor’s Island, walked all around lower Manhattan, had dinner with friends in a little cobble-stoned restaurant district (Adrianne’s, pizza, too expensive but tasty).

In all, I know he had weighed his company and the social “safety” it would bring to be holding hands with me — one light-skinned Italiatina, one black West Indian doctor, and one Indian, with half a dozen fluent languages between the three of us — and sized up what he knew of the possibilities. I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have anticipated over 50 incidents such as the author described, and it hurts that he (and me, and our host, and my family, who, being from a rural White area, was very worried for all of us being in an urban area ON 9/11 AND being brown – especially because a family friend, though not in a racially-charged situation, was jumped and badly beaten for no apparent reason a few weeks ago) had to weigh any of these things. He felt the events of 2001 very deeply, even being from another country, and he did want and need the opportunity to commemorate, and to mourn the loss of human life, and the loss of humanity, that took place ten years ago.

I’m very thankful that he is so strong, and that he maintained his determination to brave the possibilities (and in light of incidents such as the author’s post, the word “brave” can certainly be used), and that he remained so understanding, sweet, and focused on my (his DF’s) enjoyment and safety during that time. I am also thankful that the people WE happened to encounter on 9/11 were, if anything, nonplussed and while not quite polite (they’re New Yorkers, remember?! How’s that for a stereotype?! I’m just joking, though, many people were quite polite), unflustered.
Endnote: As it turned out, the President had even flown in a few hours prior to our being out and about downtown. That may have been a good thing, because downtown and the sightseeing spots were quite sparsely populated at the time we went.

Tuesday Evening Greyhound Fantasies

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Aw, I almost made the #PostaWeek2011 promise this week, but…I’m two days late. 🙂  I want to describe my newly amazing wedding cake-making skills, thanks to my little sister’s recent nuptials, but that’ll have to save itself for a little later.

An adoptable greyhound named "Easy"
It would be so “easy” to fall in love with this guy! Click for his profile on GreyhoundsOnly!

For now, I’m fresh (yeah, right!) off the plane, already missing mi familia, and here’s what I’m thinking about:  greyhounds!

I’m SO excited to move into new digs and adopt a retired racing greyhound through GreyhoundsOnly, a local Midwest organization.

I had my phone interview with Joy, a kennel manager, tonight on the phone.  She was really informative, and seemed really excited about having my fiance and I as soon-to-be greyhound owners.  I admit, I did try pretty hard to seem on top of my stuff (especially since I have tried pretty hard to BE on top of my stuff, re: greyhound adoption!).  I think she liked that, though B totally noticed the change in countenance.  Still, he said he’d have acted the same way – he reaaaally wants a greyhound, too.

So of course, I’m perusing the adoptable greyhound lists again (ahem, for the billionth time) instead of writing my research as I know I should be.  It’s making me a lot happier, though! 🙂

Here’s my current dream-dog, named–what else?!–Easy!  Life might not always (ever?) be such, but here’s a boy that could make life a lot more fun!  Plus, one of his parents is named Flying Hydrogen (how cool is that for a physicist?!), and the other is named Ale Aivas Memory.

Sigh.  My heart melts.  Well, part of it.  The other part of me is sitting her like Elvira (?), the old cartoon character that would chase around little helpless animals, screaming like some quasi-toddler-imp, “Oh he’s soooo cute! I just wanna hug him, and love him, and squeeze him…!”  Beware, my someday-dog, beware.  I will cuddle you till you’re so tired of it, you’ll consider switching diets from Purina Proplan…to una Latina con Leche. ^_^  <insert oh-so innocent laugh>

Breaking the Summer’s Crap Curse

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Hola, mis sorellas y mis amigas, y todos!  Yep, I really believe that the summer’s Crap Curse is broken!!!

Aaaaand this is how it happened!  I know this little retelling doesn’t do it justice, but really, it was an experience that no piece of writing could do justice for. And I like it that way. 🙂  So, keep reading below……..

It’s been a really stressful summer.  A REALLY stressful summer (mostly crappy).  And, for the last two weeks, I’ve been seeing my bff.  I know, that should be good, but I only visited because she’s been recently diagnosed w/ a life threatening illness (invasive ductile cell carcinoma – breast cancer – at 27 years old), and I couldn’t wait.  I stayed for almost two weeks, and on Friday it was time to come back (my grandfather’s memorial is this Wednesday, and my sister’s wedding is this Sunday).  Soo, I had a Friday morning 7AM flight from Newark back to Chicago.  Only, I was late.  It took 1.3 HOURS to travel 15miles (can you tell I’m not used to driving in big cities?!).  I was so late to the airport that they wouldn’t let me check in for my own flight, since, ya know, it was leaving in 28 MINUTES.

All I could do was get a standby seat on the 10:30AM flight home.

I knew my partner (we’ll call him BCaric) had wiggled his work schedule around so he could pick me up from the airport like he always does.  I was hesitating to call and tell him to go ahead, sleep in a few extra hours, and go to work on time.  Instead, I just went ahead and plowed my way through security (okay that’s a lie, it was only 9min from check-in to gate – Newark Airport in the morning is awesome!) and got to the gate at 6:45AM.  I didn’t see anyone at my own gate, so I nearly gave into the coffee and Jersey-bagel urge, but instead took a chance (you know I can be sooo shy when it comes to asking for cust svc on my own behalf). I asked the employee at the next gate about how to check in for standby.  She inquired curtly about my original flight time, still pounding away at that old-fashioned keyboard.  Another worker came out to say that the doors were locked and everyone was sitting down and everything was ready.  Then, the second worker glanced down at the computer screen and said.  “Well, everyone except one person is sitting down!”  …She had put me on my original flight! Woot!!!! 😀  I got all sweetly excited (mostly genuine), and asked, “Is that me? Are you putting me on this flight?! Oh, thank you so much!”  The second worker just grinned at her co-worker (still tak-tak-taking away at the ancient manila keys), and then at me.  “Yep, she’s super woman!” Sooo, I got a ticket printout, checked on, and I was the last person on the plane!

I didn’t know it then, but now I am thanking God that, for once, all my comfy stretch pants were just TOO dirty to wear, even for me.  I’d worn my pretty sleeveless sundress, so I was feeling cute, if suer chilly).  When the plane landed, I was doin the peepee dance, and a nice man let me get off ahead of him. The plane was whole 40min early (on a 90min flight!), so I did NOT pee my pants (not that I pee my pants often, buuut there’s always the phobia, right?).  I got off and got to O’Hare airport bathrooms, and the automatic sliding toilet seat cover actually worked (for once! Seriously!).  Sooo, I took my time, redid my hair, and texted back and forth with BCaric.  Over text messages, we agreed to go have breakfast downtown, so I forewent the coffee and egg bagel indulgence (a big thing to forego–you know me).  I headed through O’Hare to the CTA (Chicago’s version of the subway, also known as the “eL,” or “eLevated” trains) stop, and as I did, the guy that always plays guitar and sings (I think the airport authorities must have his spot reserved — I imagine he’s the “Welcome to Chicago” busker) was singing, “Don’t know much about the science book…don’t know much about the French I took…but I do know that I love you, and I know that if you love me too, what a wonderful world this would be….”  I couldn’t help smiling.  Perfect song for the moment.  Back to grad school land, and back to my beautiful man.  I dug around for my third to last dollar bill, and tipped him and thanked him, giddy.  “Tan feliz!”

Theeeen, I walked to the gates of the CTA, and waited for BCaric to come and use his CTA card to get me through.  When the next train arrived, I watched everybody get off, and although I was on the phone with him, I didn’t see him until he was right up at the gate, looking through at me!  I made him kiss me through the fence before I took the CTA card and went through the turnstile, and then made him kiss me before I moved again after. Hehe – he was quite willing to…. 😀 BCaric showed me his suit, telling me, “See, this is what I wore yesterday to the interview.  I wanted you to see just what I looked like.  Do you think I looked stupid?”  I just raised an eyebrow, and he laughed and said, “I know….”  I gave a fake smirky smile, and responded, “Ask a silly question, get a silly answer.”  Then, if I remember correctly (and I often don’t), I complimented him on some looks-related thing, because, frankly, he did look pretty dashing in his suit-minus-top-button-and-tie-combo (it’s partly the chest hair peeking out of the .

We neared where the trains were waiting, and as our train pulled in, the people around us trickled off the platform and onto the train.  You know me, I’m not usually in a hurry (at least not a *focused* hurry, LOL), so I just stood there holding BCaric’s hand.  BCaric started off, and then stopped and turned and said, “Oh, wait I brought you something.”  With that mischievous, sexy little grin of his (sexchievous?), he opened his jacket pocket and brought out a single rose, trimmed to about 5 or 6 inches and wrapped just to the top in aluminum foil (that is some seeeeriously cute forethought, right there!).  I was standing there w/ my backpack on, my bag slung over my arm, and holding his binder with one hand – leaving just the other hand free to accept the gift. 🙂

I was SO happy!

I don’t ask for flowers, and he knows I strongly *ahem, meaning only* prefer cut flowers if they can be dried and kept for a long time, and usually he brings me other kinds of sweet things, like apples, or books, or binders, or paper clips (yep, I’m an office supply junkie – you could staple a shortcut right to my heart).  So a rose was definitely a big surprise – especially wrapped in aluminum foil (SHINY! SHINY! Yay!!!)!  I just smiled and smelled it (and it actually smelled! Kudos to finding a nice, scented rose in this city! That takes both luck and hard work!), when he said, “Oh, I have something else for you, too.”  He opened his jacket again, and I saw the corner of a manila card.

Dun. Dunnn. Dunnnn. (drumroll)

Yeaaah, I kinda sorta *started* to suspect something.  But frankly, I’d only slept for two hours, and things take a while to process for me…. 😛

Soooo, BCaric took out the card, gets down on one knee on the wide cement subway platform in front of the trains, and says, “N.S.C.  I love you. Will you marry me?”*  I said*, “Yes, please! Yes, yes, of course!” And, he oh-so gracefully slipped the ring on my finger (after fumbling a little to slip it off the card/holder thingy).

And we headed for a train car.

An airport worker on the other CTA platform opposite ours jumped around and did a little dance and shouted “Woohoo! YEAH!!!” (I’m pretty thankful to the random stranger for doing that part on my behalf – it let me maintain a little more composure than I think I could have managed, otherwise!)

And we got on the train. And BCaric took embarrassing pictures of me being all giddy and giggly (too bad I completely spaced getting some of him!  He had a grin from ear to ear!!!).  And we snuggled and pretended not to notice the friendly stares of the other passengers who had witnessed the scene through the CTA car windows.

Well, there ya have it!  BCaric has been asking me to marry him everyday for months and months (and months), and everyday I’d tell him I’ll agree to marry him when he asks me in a unique, surprise-y way.  And now he has.  WOOT. 🙂

1*Teeensy weensy caveat –  I, uh, was really shocked.  I know there was something about love, and my full name before that, and marrying (DEF the marrying part, of course!).  Buuut, I honestly don’t remember what his exact words were.  It’s a good thing he didn’t prepare a speech (err, by which I mean I REALLY HOPE he didn’t prepare one! Because it would have been totally lost on me at that point!).*

2*By which I mean I THINK I said.  There were a lot of “yeses” coming from my mouth at the time, so I can’t be sure just which sixty-odd permutations of the positive responsive phrase I used.*

What are you good at remembering?

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Maybe if I highlighted each chapter with a smelly marker, I'd do better on tests. ;@)

I’m good at remembering…

Smells!

Chances are if you can tell me what I ate or what I smelled (there’s a %50 overlap anyway, right? Haha!), I can tell you about the REST of the situation.

I, for one, think it’s a cool talent!  I really gives me a rich sense of memory and imagination (sometimes perhaps a combination – I’m only human).  The only problem is, well, there aren’t too many exams which question your knowledge of smells and tastes.

The obvious exception, of course, is Top Chef!  I remember the episode where the contestants received bowls of random things, and had to tell what they were by the taste/aroma of the item.  I could have passed that test with MUCH higher scores than did any of the contestants….

In fact, when I cook, I can combine different smell/taste memories.  I just think about them and remember their smell/taste, and I have a pretty good guess of what it will taste like.  I’m usually pretty spot-on, too!  There have been obvious exceptions, of course.  Like the summer I thought light beer + juice concentrate wouldn’t be delicious (IT IS! Thanks to my cousin who forced me to try it anyway!).  Or, like the time I thought sharp white cheddar cheese + raspberry preserves + fudge brownie would be delicious (to my credit, I personally loved it.  It was everyone else that nearly retched).  Still, I trust my nose implicitly when it comes to culinary creativity. :@)

Funny, I think that sense of memory leads me to keeping a much more effective food diary than, you know, event/emotional diary.  Too bad I can’t smell my blog!  However, I wonder whether it would be effective to put on some kind of perfume/lotion when I go to sit down to write/read/study/whatever.  Maybe…?

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Quark – Not physics, just PROTEIN!

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Appel Farms quark

Yeaaap, one of the only good health-related experiences I got out of visiting my parents this summer was quark.  I think cottage cheese, which is actually OK for the 4-Hour Body diet, is getting a bit bland.  And, since I LOVE my dairy products, I’m eternally looking for milky items I can get away with!  Enter quark!

It is, for lack of a better word, a type of cheese.  More sour than yogurt, with somewhat of the consistency of sour cream, and an overall semi-grainy texture.  It’s definitely an acquired taste, but well worth it for the nutrition!

Quark Nutrition Facts

Calories Fat Carbs Protein Sodium
63 0.2g 3.9g 11.3g mg

Here’s an articl on the nutrition in quark, by Nicole Wolf, hosted by the website Livestrong (which is itself a pretty awesome website for nutrition and exercise info).

Surprisingly, Wikipedia claims that quark is the same thing as tvorog, a Russian-style cheese which I ate TONS of while I was away in Kyrgyzstan last year

These are Ukranian blinchiki, but hey, they look the same as the ones I love in KG)

(Russian-style food is very common in Kyrgyzstan).  I *love* tvorog (though mostly IN things and not by itself), but I’d say the resemblance is anything but exact.  Tvorog I eat in Kyrgyzstan is far more course, and a little more sour, even, than the packaged, processed quark I found in mom and dad’s fridge.  Plus, the tvorog I love so much in Kyrgyzstan comes mixed with what is probably an ungodly amount of sugar and fat, wrapped in crepes and called “blinchiki.”  (<—as an aside, I got the picture from a Google search which led me to a website about marrying Ukranian brides, or renting them, or whatever it is people do…!!!)

Since quark is also called “farmers’ cheese,” who knows?  Perhaps it varies locally, since, well, farms and farmers vary, too.

Related Links I found in the process of looking up this fabulous yummy food are as follows:
  • Russian Food (Русская еда), from RussianLessons.net
  •  And here is a really heart-warming post about blinchiki and mama

Is a Hot Meal Too Much to Ask For? (via livelaughloveliquor)

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Oh. My. Goodness. I’m laughing so hard I literally must wiggle around not to pee my pants in the office chair. BEST (only, but best) cruise ship story I’ve EVER READ/HEARD.

It reminds me of my niece, also two years old. My sister took her to the playground, where she was playing sweetly by herself, climbing all over the big-kid toys, letting mama read. Another parent/guardian sat down next to my sister and asked, “Is that your daughter? She is just SO well-behaved and SO adorable!”

Of course, my niece then chose that *exact* moment to show how incredibly articulate she is, on top of everything else. My niece stands up on the highest point of the jungle gym, and, with outstretched arms and a heart that must be filled with nothing but innocence and glee (absolutely no sarcasm intended), shouts, “I DO WHAT THE F@#K I WANT!”

Ah, kids.

Is a Hot Meal Too Much to Ask For? "I'm sorry Mrs. ______.  She struck another little girl when they were fighting over a toy.  She is banned from Kids camp for 24 hours and if she hits again, she can not come back for the remainder of the cruise."  The director of the child watch center on our cruise line explained to me very kindly, but firmly. I looked down at the little one.  Her mop of strawberry blonde curls hung over down cast eyes.  Banned from kids camp, we walked back to … Read More

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