Still Measuring Success…

May 29, 2012 § 16 Comments

Ah, Summer.  Poets wax philosophical about thee.  Children long for thee.  Lawns turn brown in thee.  I capitalize thee.  Facebook blows up with graduation and prom pictures upon the arrival of thee.  And now, I shall stop calling thee “thee.”

Last June, when I was just a baby blogger, I wrote a post for Catonsville Patch called “Measures of Success,” in which I list and give an accurate account of my accomplishments and the importance they’ve played in my life.  Well, people, you know that empty feeling you have inside?  That vague longing you can’t seem to identify and articulate?  It’s your intense desire to know what I’ve gotten away with accomplished this year.  I’m here for you.  Here to cure what ails you, and it ain’t more cowbell.

Let’s take a little looksie back, shall we?

1.  Recapture my lost youth?  Right after I adjust to these new trifocals.

2.  Age gracefully?  Right after I rant a little bit more on Facebook about bathing suits and their evil ways.

3.  Lose weight?   Well, now this was interesting…whereas last year I worked out with a personal trainer and gained weight, this year I stopped working out with a trainer, but joined Weight Watchers.  I actually lost 8 pounds!!!  And get this – I kept it off for…wait for it…wait for it…TWO WHOLE WEEKS!   You guys are jealous.  Admit it.

4.  Clean and declutter areas of the house?  HAHAHAHAHA!  Unless you count the bizarre episode wherein I became extremely frustrated at the number of things piled on top of each other in my refrigerator.  I got so aggravated at how things would fall our of the fridge whenever I opened the door, I did what any normally functioning human being would have done.

I got rid of lots of extraneous cookbooks and organized the liquor.  The fridge is still a mess, but at least I can get my hands on the citrus vodka more easily. That’s what I call progress.

Finally, in the category of TMI, I would like to share something of which I am very proud.  It has to do with, well, activity in the bedroom.  Something involving…um…the bed.  Something that, over the course, of 21 married years, I’ve come to realize is as much if not more my responsibility than anyone else’s.  Something that has improved and increased in its frequency and regularity.  And that something is…(hushed whispers, here) changing the sheets on the bed.  Wow, that was hard to admit.

Yes, folks, changing the sheets on everyone’s bed was something I avoided at all costs.  One of my children could have a bloody nose all over his pillowcase, or be throwing up on his sheets, and I’ll be there thinking, “Well, if I just sop it up with the wet-vac and cover the rest with a towel, he can sleep on it for a few more weeks…”  No longer!

I can say with boundless pride that I have for MONTHS now, been changing the sheets on everyone’s bed every two weeks, whether they need it or not!  While, on what I creatively dub “Sheet Changing Day”, the dirty sheets are normally deposited in a corner of my room for a week or more, I would like to point out that on one of those sheet changing days, I even managed to WASH AND FOLD the dirty sheets!  Do you hear me, people?  On the same day!!!  They may have sat, folded, in the laundry basket for 10 more days or so before I put them into their respective closets, but still – one can’t help but be impressed by the ways in which I am continually working to improve myself, no?

Now, who wants an appletini?

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Time to Go.

May 17, 2012 § 4 Comments

To the Editor of Time Magazine,

Rather than play into the outrage you so transparently tried to provoke, I shrug my shoulders.

Rather than blog about the unfairness and insensitivity of your cover, I leave that to others who have done so with far more aplomb than I could.

Rather than read the firestorm of criticism and debate that exploded in the blogesphere, I chose  three from writers I really respect.  One was a direct response, and the other two used it as a jumping off point to discuss what is relevant to me at the moment – writing and parenting.

Rather than have talks with my kids about it, I just left it on the counter for them to see.  Consider it ignored by them and the issue unread by me.

Rather than jump immediately into the fray, I waited a week and let my response develop naturally – and on the outskirts of my thinking.  Here it is, without even the courtesy of a link to the cover article that prompted this letter – I’m pretty sure you know the one to which I refer:

Thanks for helping me de-clutter my magazine rack and my mind.  Fareed Zakaria is brilliant, and Joel Stein is hilarious.  But really, I can get them online if I want them, and I officially dismiss you as extraneous.  Subscription cancelled.

With minimal regret,

Aliza Worthington

Stranger Danger – Part Deux

May 2, 2012 § 12 Comments

Before I began blogging, I wrote a Facebook note about my experiences with “stranger danger” – first as a child, then as a parent.

Yesterday, I met my local Patch editor for lunch and to catch up.  We talked about lots of things, but among them were a bunch of ideas I had for future blog posts.  (No, silly.  After my friend, Mara’s aggravation with plagiarism, I’m not sharing the ideas here…)

Then this happened.  The list of ideas went out the window.  (Click on it to enlarge if your eyes are challenged, like mine are…)

Now, I consider myself a moderately cautious person.  I figure if my kids think I’m overprotective, and my parents don’t think I’m careful enough, I’m probably striking a decent balance.  I recognize the risk of putting my writing into a public forum, but I figure stalkers would have to work pretty hard to find me, since I am pretty small-time in the writing world.

Yes, I also realize this person may, indeed, simply be a harmless, lonely guy starving for human interaction.  Maybe he really did see in my postings a charitable heart and approachable manner, and was reaching out for some kindness.  Even if that is the case, though, I don’t really have time for charity friendships – especially ones that fall so far outside my natural orbit as this one does.  Also, I’m not big on safety risks.

I heed the privacy warnings – reveal only where I have been, and not where I am going in terms of location.  I never tweet or put on Facebook that we are on vacation or otherwise away from home.  My posts are not available to the public, unless I make them so (which I do when I put a blog post up.)  I don’t do “check-ins” or “Foursquare”.  I have advised my kids to never tweet or put on Facebook the fact that they may be babysitting or home alone and why.  I have repeated that warning and checked their pages in the past to make sure they are obeying that rule, despite the guaranteed eye-rolls.

The above interaction took place with one of the EXTREMELY FEW Facebook friends I accepted without knowing the person.  “Oh, that person’s friends with my friend, wants to be friends with me, what’s the harm?”  I usually don’t do this.  Seriously, maybe three times I’ve become friends with someone I don’t know.  (In my defense, the person above has a name that in English, is usually a girl’s name.)  If I’ve never met them in person, these Facebook friendship requests come from friends of friends I know, trust, and with whom I have an established relationship.  I assume these friends of friends have been vetted in some way to ensure they are not creeps.  Yet, even this weeding out process is unreliable.  Anyone can stop paying attention for 5 seconds and allow the wrong person to fly in under the radar.

However – and this is a big, bold HOWEVER I have accepted with relative complacency the fact that my kids have hundreds upon hundreds of facebook friends, many of whom they have never met in person.  Friends of friends of friends who like their pictures or comments on their friends’ of friends’ pages, and thought, “Hey!  This chick is funny!” or “Wow – that dude seems really nice!” and sent a friend request to my kids which I suspect my kids pretty much automatically accept without discrimination.  I protested this weakly when they first joined Facebook, warning them against being FB friends with people they’ve never met.  Scarily, like so many other things, it is extremely difficult to keep track of, let alone enforce.  I’ve decided to (for the most part) trust their judgement.  Consider, though, the number of friendships they’ve accepted in the same way I’ve accepted THREE?  You do the math.  Yikes.

I showed this interaction to my 13 YO, with no introductions or set-ups.  Within a fraction of a second, his brows furrowed, and he said, “Wait, do you KNOW this guy?”  I said, “No.  But I accepted his friend request on Facebook anyway.”  I didn’t have to tell him it was stalker-ish.  He looked a little freaked.  Thank God.

I did, however, tell him that I was lucky this person was exceptionally bad at trying to strike up a friendship –  to elicit personal information – without red flags going up.  That even if he had been good at it, better at English, and done a better job making me feel at ease with our mutual connection to this actual friend of mine, I think (and hope) I still would have verified with my friend what this guy’s story was.   That that’s exactly what I SHOULD have done before I even accepted the friend request.

I sent this conversation to our mutual friend, and asked, “Do you know this guy?”  She was shocked, and said, “No!  Let’s BOTH block him!  But this would make a GREAT blog post…”  Done, and done.  Now please excuse me while I take my children out of school, take their electronics away and lock them up until they’re 35 in their rooms.  Which are located in a house on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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