Thursday, March 25, 2010

A blah blah blog post

So I have a little bit of "home alone" time, and so many things that I could do, and a few that I probably should do, like walk on the treadmill (and that would also mean watching Lost from two nights ago, and it's supposed to be an amazing episode, but yeah, I don't think the treadmill is gonna happen tonight). But I decided to start with a blah blah blog post, because I've been depressed since yesterday afternoon, and I have that deep yearning inside that, when paired with a dark mood, usually means I need to do some writing. I haven't the time or brain power to properly CRAFT anything, thus, the blah blah blog post, where I write about as many of my scattered thoughts as I can in the time allotted, in hopes that it will bring a touch more clarity and order to my head, and at the same time there's the chance that all the typing will, very simply, make me feel better.

And so.

One reason I don't have the luxury of time is that when Jeff and the boys come home, I will begin working with Kyle ASAP on his math. Forgive me if I already told this story, I don't recall telling it. Some weeks ago, we found out that Kyle got one of the top four highest scores for his grade on this math assessment. The four highest-scoring kids from each grade, at each school in the district, get to participate in a math competition called SUMday -- something like "Students United in Mathematics," yes it does sound goofy but whatever. Well, SUMday is this coming Saturday, starting at 9am, and not only is Kyle in the competition, but I volunteered to be a parent helper. I just got the official word TODAY that my assignment will involve grading some of the completed tests. Yippee. Why did I sign up for this again??? Oh right, I didn't know I'd be depressed in the days leading up to the event, which makes everything from getting out of bed to driving home from work, and pretty much everything in between, seem like a challenge. I also didn't know I'd spend the intervening weeks looking at so many VERY DIFFICULT math problems with Kyle, and trying to help him, and heaven help me, looking through his SUMday study guide so I would know how to figure out the area of a triangle, the volume of a cube, or the sum of the interior angles of a regular nonagon, and could then impart that information to my child.

(Short aside: I'm glad I got selected for grading papers and NOT for monitoring kids who are taking the tests. I MUCH PREFER doing the grading, which could be viewed as a cousin to proofreading, which I really like, and I'm pretty good at it if I do say so myself.)

Saturday evening, incredibly, Jeff and I are going to see Patty Griffin in concert in Lawrence. Patty is amazing, my favorite singer, and I've been listening to her for five or six years and have never seen her live. I should totally be walking on air this whole week!!! But no, I'm stressed about math, stressed about work, depressed and feeling bad about myself, feeling so fat but not wanting to exercise... oh God the list just goes on, you get the idea. But it's like I don't really believe that we're going to the concert. It's like this wonderful fantastic thing that can't possibly be happening to ME because I'm a lazy fat sack and my husband's unemployed and the kids drive me crazy and I can't get out of my own way to get anything done ever --- it's like the idea of seeing Patty live in concert is a dream, and I know I'll wake up and just be back in my regular life where the walls are falling in on me.

Whew. I must be at a stopping point, I'm suddenly feeling wiped out. My mind has paused between topics, and my fingers want a rest. There's more I've been thinking of writing about, in recent days, but those should be separate posts, IF I can get around to them after SUMday and Patty. I'll try.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

FreeVerse: "Small Bodies" by Mary Oliver

So often, I think about participating in FreeVerse, a weekly meme hosted by Cara at Ooh...Books! on Wednesdays. And so often, Wednesday sneaks up on me and I think, "Darn it, it's already Wednesday again and I don't have a poem to post for FreeVerse!" Today, I brought one of my Mary Oliver books to work with me, Red Bird from 2008, skimmed through it, and decided to post a poem called "Small Bodies." Then, I found out that although some of the restrictions of the recent change in our web filtering program have been loosened, and I'm able to read blogs with blogspot, typepad, or wordpress urls, when I typed in to try to write a post, I got blocked. So here it is, about 8 1/2 hours later than I originally hoped to post it, but still technically Wednesday. Without further ado, a poem by the amazing and wonderful Mary Oliver.

Small Bodies

It is almost summer. In the pond
the pickerel leap, and the delicate teal have brought forth
their many charming young,
and the turtle is ravenous.
It is hard sometimes, oh Lord,
to be faithful.
I am more boldly made
than the little ducks, paddling and laughing.
But not so bold
as the turtle
with his greasy mouth.
I know you know everything –
I rely on this.
Still, there are so many small bodies in the world,
for which I am afraid.

--- Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Of Paper, and Its Work

For weeks now, Jeff has had piles of paperwork and folders set aside in an area of our bedroom, waiting for me to sort through them and determine what can be recycled. This morning, after sleeping in, I woke to a few inches of snow, which immediately pushed away any ambition I might have had for getting dressed today. As I finished breakfast, Jeff suggested that perhaps I could sort through some of that paperwork today. I considered a bit, and said, "Maybe."

So that's what I did, for maybe two hours or so, and weeded out a lot of paper to be recycled, and another pile to be shredded first and then recycled. And the thing is, it's not easy for me. One of the folders held all kinds of forms, mail, and notes about my mom. I took out all the old account statements from the nursing home so they could be shredded, and some other papers here and there, but I couldn't go through everything. Certain categories of things, I just jumped right past, thinking, "I'll look at those later on, I don't want to deal with them today." (Of course, that's the story of my life: always tomorrow, not today.)

For someone as much in love with paper as I am, and in love with all the words upon the leaves, sorting through what looks like junk to most other people brings memories to the surface of my mind, and then the emotions that follow close behind. Each sheet is like a breath, a moment I lived through, a note I wrote about my mom's failing health as a nurse or social worker told me what I needed to know, and what I must do next.

One thought I had very soon after my mom passed away was, "I guess I'm not her Health Care Proxy anymore." I'd signed the paper, agreed to make the decisions regarding her care and treatment whenever she was unable to make them on her own. A lot of the paper that collects in the grooves of our lives is truly not important -- "waste paper," to be recycled, or trashed, or used for packing material or art projects. But the Health Care Proxy form is something else completely: it's a promise that, in the same way a parent takes care of and protects a baby or child, holding its fate as well as its small body in strong, grown-up hands, the adult child will hold the fading parent close, return the love they received in the beginning to the parent who gave it, to make that last fall as soft and peaceful as they can.

Whole worlds can exist in small groups of words, making a single sheet of paper so full of life, it might jump and fly away on its own.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I FINISHED IT! -- and other notes on recent reading

What a difference a day can make. I wrote the title of this blog post YESTERDAY around 5pm. It's now Sunday, getting close to 930pm, and this post will need to be much shorter than I originally planned. But, I'm okay with that. I just want to get it written because I know I can't do it tomorrow -- or at least not at work, as I mentioned in my last couple posts.

Yesterday morning, I FINALLY FINISHED VANITY FAIR!!!!! I've been reading (and/or listening) to this one since late November, and at times I wanted to give up, so it feels a bit like I've climbed a mountain. I actually enjoyed a lot of it, but there were enough sections where I was dealing with the introduction of additional supporting characters, or lots of extraneous descriptions, or good heavens, the introduction of additional supporting characters WHICH INCLUDED lots of extraneous descriptions -- well, I wanted to toss up my hands and yell, "Just get on with it, Thackeray!" He could easly have cut the book by 50 or 100 pages and not lost anything critical -- and it would still have been over 500 pages, I think, no matter what kind of edition you had! I'll sum up my recent stretch toward the end by saying, I think that most of the characters pretty much got the finish they deserved -- so I found the conclusion satisfying.

My book group's selection for March was Dubliners by James Joyce. We'd read the story "The Dead" for our December meeting, but then the weather was terrible and several people didn't get there (myself included). I listened to the whole collection on audio a year or two ago, and enjoyed it. This time I was reading my print copy, and I guess didn't get started early enough, because I still had a few stories to go (not including "The Dead," which is the last and longest one in the book, but I did just re-read that one in December) by the time we met last Tuesday. I haven't decided 100%, but I'm leaning toward putting it aside now rather than finishing it -- because it's a re-read, and doesn't count toward any of my challenges, and also because I'm itching for other stuff.

Next month's selection -- oh right, I already mentioned that because I just bought it at Hastings, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. I think I'll read ONE more book from my collection before I start that one, something not too long. I am looking forward to the Silko book, in part, because it will count toward my POC Reading Challenge. I read a couple of books toward that challenge in quick succession in early February, but now haven't read another in a while, so the Silko will help me get back on track for that one.

Oh yes --- other recent reading. Another novel I read in late February / early March was Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee. I was drawn in from the very first page, even though the main character was initially NOT too sympathetic. But Coetzee got him away from the university and out to the country with his grown daughter, and put him through the ringer, and the character became more sympathetic -- perhaps not wholly redeemed, but at least partway there.

(The boys are screaming. Why are the boys screaming? I guess it's just as well I'm not in bed yet, I couldn't try to sleep with that racket. Jeff is up there, it's quieter now. Where was I?)

So yesterday before we went to Grandma's for supper, I grabbed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from the shelf, figuring this would be a quick read before I get to the Silko book. I've had it for a couple years, and it's one of those that everyone else seems to have read, so I just picked it up and put it in my purse. After dinner, when everyone else was watching basketball (I think it was, with teams wrapping up their conference tournaments before tonight's big SELECTION SHOW, and the invites to THE BIG DANCE), and my nose stuffed and feeling achy, I went down to one of the bedrooms, laid down, and started reading this book.

I finished the novel early this afternoon. Yes, I read the whole damn thing in less than 24 hours. So, so, so very good. And just a page-turner!!! It doesn't happen often enough, where I have a book that I literally don't want to put down AND I actually have a fairly free pocket of time where I CAN read. (It helped that I'm sort of sick, and so had a better excuse to lounge around with my book.) As I was finishing my housecleaning later in the afternoon, I had a realization: When I've spent a block of time reading a good book, I never think later on, "I wish I'd spent more time doing ABC or XYZ instead of reading," or, "Instead of reading so much this weekend, I should have gotten ABC task done or worked on XYZ project." Like one reason I didn't write this blog earlier today, as I'd originally planned, was because I was reading The Curious Incident, and it was GLORIOUS to not have to stop, and WONDERFUL to make such quick progress in it and say to Jeff, "I'm going to finish this book today."

I also cleaned the kitchen this afternoon, and paid the next couple bills, and this evening I filed the state income taxes (with less than a 45-minute time investment, thank you very much -- I love that Kansas makes filing online SO EASY, I've done it at least four years in a row now). I cleaned the bathrooms yesterday and started a new audiobook while I worked. Oh, and I talked to my friend Marie in Maine this morning, first time in WEEKS, so that was great. :-) And this weekend was one hour "shorter" than usual since we've just started Daylight Saving Time. Damn, I did pretty good! On that note, I must close and get ready for bed. Just after 10pm, not too terrible. ;-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Feeling better, thanks to book bargains!

Today at work, I was feeling kind of blue. Parts of my day were somewhat productive, but I also had a difficult request, took quite a while to find a library that owned the right volume of the journal, one that also would hopefully not charge us an arm and leg for a 10- or 12-page article. I did get the request done with half an hour left in the day, and was able to pack two boxes of books that had been sitting in the back room way longer than I care to recall, and that felt pretty good. I'm having an important visitor in the library this coming Wednesday, and want to get some more things straighened up before then. Today wasn't as successful as I'd hoped, but it was an okay start, and I still have Monday and Tuesday to keep at it.

So anyway, Hastings is having a Friday-and-Saturday-only sale that includes "Buy two used items -- mix and match books, CDs, DVDs, and video games -- and get the third one for $1.00." During supper, Jeff and I watched a movie that he'd gotten from the library (The Boys and Girl from County Clare, I really liked it!), and then I went to Hastings on my own since the boys didn't want to go. It seemed like there were bunches of books I was interested in. After I had four in my hands, I went and browsed the DVDs for maybe 15 minutes, had one particular title in mind but didn't see it, so then went back to the books. I stopped to call Jeff and let him know I had four books in front of me and had to decide which ones I was actually getting. He was nice about it and it sounded like the boys were getting along for the most part.

After I talked to Jeff, I started looking at the section of Used Book Recent Arrivals, and found three or four more in that section that I took from the shelf and added to my arms. (I forgot to mention, I also got my Heath Mocha drink, so I was sometimes juggling the books and the cup, sometimes putting the cup on the shelf or the pile of books on the floor, to browse more easily. I did not drop or spill anything, that's always good!) I was most tempted by the poetry, finding several by authors I was familiar with. So there I was, back in the cafe, at a table with what remained of my drink plus seven or eight books scattered in front of me, flipping through and reading poems, trying to narrow the field to the final three.

The only book I knew I was getting when I went into the store was Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. That's our book group choice for April, and I'd called Hastings this morning to ask if they had a used copy. That book was the first in my "I have to buy this one" pile. What else did I end up purchasing? A small book of essays about poetry by Mark Strand, entitled The Weather of Words: Poetic Invention. Flipping through that one, I became enamoured of the end of one piece that includes this statement about a poem can do: "It allows us to have the life we are denied because we are too busy living." This book was already drawing me in, I bought it.

The third one is a more unusual and potentially embarrassing selection. It was in the philosophy/Zen/meditation section, but is also sort of "self-help." I am intermittently drawn to self-help-type books, usually related to moods and/or depression, or related to one's relationship with food/one's body size/one's weight, and how to change from the twisted and scary and dysfunctional relationship one has, to a more normal/less obsessive/less food-addicted relationship with that aspect of oneself. The thing about a lot of these books is, I either start reading them and don't finish, or I regret buying them before I even start. (This is more true with the eating/body image books than the moods/depression books -- but I've had it happen with books in both categories.) But this one was really calling to me, so yes, I put away John Ashbery, Sharon Olds, and N. Scott Momaday, and purchased Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment.

If I could ever make a committed effort to learn about and practice meditation, it would likely have a positive impact on both my moods and struggles with depression, and my less-than-healthy eating habits. So instead of getting another "You're Fat," or "You're Miserable," or even "Hey, You're Fat AND Miserable!" book, I got a "You Can Be Happier" book. It just felt like the right one to choose. (And it's a hardcover that only cost $4.99!) Hopefully I'll be able to work it into my near-term reading plans. Recent and near-term reading will actually be another post, hopefully this weekend, because right now I need to close up and get myself to bed -- it's almost 1130pm. But I had such a great time browsing and buying at Hastings, and got three books for less than $14.00, and watched a good movie with Jeff, and had my oh-so-good Heath Mocha Frost... it was just a good evening, after a not-too-super day, and I really needed to share and celebrate it. :-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Software change further hampers blog communications

A couple days ago, my work changed the program they use to block people from accessing certain kinds of websites on work computers. I completely understand the need for this, and for the most part, I understand why they block the kinds of sites they block -- because even if Facebook is a place to make professional connections, it's still a potential timesink for lots of people -- so yeah, some social media sites that lean more heavily toward the "social" side, I think it's fine to block them.

But what I found with this new software they're using is, if I go to a blog that has blogspot, wordpress, or typepad in the url, I get the message that it's blocked. I confirmed today that some blogs that DON'T have the platform name in the url, like My Friend Amy, are blocked, while others, like Books on the Nightstand, are okay. I can read entries in my Google Reader, so the blogs I subscribe to are still mostly accessible just for reading, but I'm peeved about the change, and it means that I can't work on a blog post of my own on Blogger, but would have to save it in Word (and then put on flash drive or e-mail to, fun).

I realize I already don't spend enough time on my blog to grow any kind of following, and that I'm terrible at replying to comments that people are so nice to leave for me... I just hate that this is one additional thing that will leave me EVEN LESS time for blogging, and for visiting other blogs. I'm just annoyed.

Now, to try to end this whiny post on a more positive note: first, the boys have just started spring break, so no homework tonight, and when I get ready for work tomorrow morning, I won't have to listen to Jeff and the boys battling over what they're having for breakfast. Yay for some peace and quiet in the morning! Second, although they've had basketball on the local NBC station, it should be finished by 8pm, so I am planning to watch The Office, which I haven't done in quite a while -- even more miraculously, I'll be watching it while it's actually on, not a recording of it! (And yes, I'll try to walk on the treadmill while I watch, see how far I get.) So, things aren't bad really, and hopefully I'll be able to post a (long overdue) reading update over the weekend ... it could happen, keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, March 1, 2010

In which I make excuses for my silence

I had a feeling I was overdue to write a blog post, and now I see, it's even been a few days longer than I thought it had. And so, here's some of what I've been doing the past couple weeks (or nearly that) since I last posted (and unfortunately not very much reading).

As usual, basketball. The boys' YMCA season just ended with a double header (yes, another double header) yesterday. In addition to those games on Saturdays, they'd had practice on most Monday evenings, and a few Tuesday evenings, except for the Tuesdays where we had a conflict with a SportZone game, or the night Jeff had a game and I had book group. Jeff's games ended around Feb. 9th, so that helped me out a bit. SportZone games have continued for both boys, usually one evening a week for each kid, plus they both have had SportZone practices on Wednesdays. Their last games are this coming Tuesday (Ryan) and Thursday (Kyle). Also this coming Tuesday: first parents' meeting for Ryan's team for the upcoming baseball season. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. At least these overlapping basketball games will be done soon, and I'm glad for that.

One thing that had been hanging over my head the past few weeks was the income taxes. I'm usually working on the federal return around Groundhog Day, and that just didn't happen. Then, I started doing my preparatory paperwork last Saturday, and planned to make good progress on them last Sunday. But then we had another minor snowstorm (4 or 5 inches was the total for our area), and Grandma had spent the night on Saturday and didn't go to church because of the weather, so we were all hanging around on Sunday, and not too motivated to do productive things. Well, Kyle had seen some commercials, and had been asking me for a couple weeks to check out He asked me again last Sunday, and I thought what the heck, I'll take a look and see what I could find.

By the end of the day Sunday, my family tree (and Jeff's too, really, because his mom was here and had TONS of dates, or at least months and years in a lot of cases, not only for her forebears but for Papa's side of the family too) had maybe 90 people in it. I was obsessively searching for information and documents about my dad's side of the family -- more specifically, about his biological mother, who died when he was six years old, on Christmas Day. (Is it any wonder he had mental / emotional problems??? Try telling THAT six-year-old that Santa Claus is real and will bring him wonderful toys and gifts.) Later in the week, Jeff was able to track down a couple pages of family history that my dad's Uncle Charlie had sent to me back in 2000. I'd never met him, but had written to him after Kyle was born to find out more about my grandmother (his sister) and great-grandparents. That letter helped me add to the tree and find more documents. I found a scan of my great-grandfather's draft registration from 1918, and a record of my great-grandmother bringing the three kids back to the US from Liverpool in the early 1920s! (She'd been born in Scotland, but my grandmother and her two brothers were born and raised in New York, so this wasn't "immigration" information, just very cool to find.)

This weekend, I was able to buckle down and finish the federal income taxes. I got them filed online late yesterday afternoon, following the two basketball games. The state taxes will be much easier, so I'm allowing myself a break of a few days before looking at them. The other thing I did this weekend was house cleaning, after not doing the best job on that the last couple weeks, either. I cleaned the kitchen and both bathrooms today, and hopefully I'll be able to get some dusting done soon, with basketball winding down. I haven't really looked at this weekend, knowing that if I got going on there I'd never get anything else finished. (Yes, I did show a little self-restraint, believe it or not!) BUT, we signed up for a 14-day trial for the access to US historical records, so I want to spend some more time on there during this coming week, see what else I can glean from the records, before we cancel that before next Sunday and only have the basic "build and maintain your family tree online" access.

So my last post was the evening of Feb. 16th, a Tuesday. Right after that, something happened that put me in a difficult mood the rest of that week. I received an e-mail from a friend, one of my former co-workers at EDS. I hadn't seen or spoken with her in quite a while, and Jeff said that she hadn't sent us a Christmas card this year (though she usually does, and she's been on our card list as well). The subject line of the e-mail said "GREAT VIDEO!" It wasn't a personal message to me, but a video she was forwarding on to a whole bunch of people. As usual, it was an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal video.

I don't know if this friend and I ever talked about politics before, but the past couple years, she's sent out these e-mail blasts periodically to people in her address book, and they're always anti-liberal. I tend not to be very vocal about political issues, I think because I don't have any confidence in my ability to debate, I never really learned how, and as I've mentioned previously, I can often see good points from different sides, or at least good reasons why people feel or believe the way they do. But in the same blog post where I talked about cooperation, I tried to explain some of the foundations of my liberal beliefs. It's hard to have a blue-state perspective and live in a red state, and it just makes me talk LESS about politics. So, I probably never told this friend that I was leftward-leaning.

After I watched the "GREAT VIDEO!" that my friend had forwarded to me (and many others ... though I don't want to assume she sent it to everyone in her address book, I really don't know), I decided to reply to her. I wrote back only to her, and did not copy anyone else. I was short, but I think I was civil. I wrote:
Hi (...) - I hope you're well.

I'm glad to be on your contact list, but please, please, don't send me any more anti-liberal stuff.

Thank you.

Sorry to be short, gotta get ready for bed, always 1000 things to do and never enough time.


It was 930 on a Tuesday evening, and I had a kid talking to me, maybe climbing on my lap, and I had Jeff asking if I was about ready to go to bed, and I'm sure the TV was still on -- the usual pre-bedtime chaos.

My friend wrote back soon after, but we didn't see the reply till next morning. It said:
Sorry to hear that you've chosen that way of thinking...please don't send me any more form-type Christmas letters.

Best of luck to you and your family in this messed up world of ours, only worsening by your unwise-spending liberals. Want to pay my taxes and fund a raise that I've not gotten b/c of the ruining healthcare situation out there that's only planned to get worse when we go to socialized medicine?

Sorry, but you've lost a friend in this choice of yours...but again, you have that choice that you can make, so I've chosen this one.

After this response from my friend (former friend, I guess), there was a message from someone who'd chosen to "Reply All" which read, in part:

Wow! Amazing video!!!!!

Now, as you asked, let me pass this on.

My guess is that not one single person involved in the creation of this video actually "voted for you." (Prove me wrong.)

My hunch is that the people standing and applauding after seeing this were the same ones who, after Rush Limbaugh said he hoped "Obama fails" in the midst of the greatest depression since the 1920s said "amen" and "right on." (Ah - bipartisanship and America-first at its best!)

I could be completely wrong, but my suspicion is the head-nodders and ditto-heads who said anyone who dared to question the Bush-Cheney approach were "traitors" and "defeatists," that we all ought to "support the President," are the very same people who now cheer on that same chicken-hawk Dick Cheney as he does everything he criticized just months ago.

Don't get me wrong. I understand, there's a difference between "us" and "them."

"Us" can continually harass a legally elected President by questioning his long-proven credentials, call him Muslim when he is a life-long Christian, can even make light of his love of his spouse while the ranks of "us" justify "wide stances" in public restrooms, list hookers in their congressional phone books, and are filled with governors who "go hiking" with their mistress on the Appalachian Trail all the way to South America on Father's Day.

Yes. The health care initiative is a complete mess. Imagine, forcing people to - for the first time in our history - buy insurance. It will require your Grandma to be put to death. It's socialism at its very heart. Yeah! Amen! Well, except for the fact that all that is either a bold-face lie or something the no-no-no-never Republicans were first to introduce and support. (Oops. The cameras weren't supposed to be rolling, were they?)

Of course, "Us" is trying. When the people of this country went to local town hall meetings to discuss the problems of health care, Dancin' Dick Armey and his astro-grass-movement were there with yells and shouts and SCREAMS and Obama-as-Hitler posters. (How very American!) And when President Obama outlined his program of fighting terriorism in Afganistan, "us" told the country this "Muslim" scheduled this whole thing to deplace "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

So now, you're comin' for us. You promise you're gonna kick our ass and make everything right. You're gonna take back America. You're gonna make amends for getting your butts whipped good in 2008. Good for you. Just remember you're going to have to be more than just the GOnoPe party. You're gonna have to get us out of this mess your deregulations and business-will-take-care-of-business created. You're gonna have to - gasp - actually suggest something we ought to do. Then make it happen.

The best of luck on that.

Mind if we borrow your ascorbic film crew two years from now?

(Please feel free to pass this on!!!!!!!)

What REALLY got to me about this was, I remembered an earlier occasion where my former friend had sent something anti-liberal or anti-Obama, and someone came back and loudly disagreed, and obviously used the "Reply All" because otherwise I wouldn't have gotten it. I looked at the newest message, sorted by sender name, and bingo, it was the same guy. (Have I mentioned in the past that I'm bad about deleting old e-mails? I am, I'm very bad at it.) So THIS guy, whoever he is, writes back to her and ridicules her beliefs and COPIES everyone else that got the e-mail, and HE is still on her distribution list. I, on the other hand, wrote to her PRIVATELY to ask that she not send me those kinds of e-mails, and she takes the opportunity to ridicule MY beliefs and to basically end our friendship.

So I was torn between wanting to say something mean to my former friend (like, "Remember that guy I set you up with on a blind date with all those years ago? He's married now! I bet you're still single and living with just your cat and dog, right?" or something like, "How interesting, YOU also send out form-letter Christmas cards, and you don't even have a family and kids' school and other activities filling up your non-work hours, so how busy can you be really?"), and wanting to reply to her and cc: the "Reply All" guy, and ask, "How come you're still sending e-mails to THIS guy, who makes fun of you to everyone, but you say mean things to me when I wrote to you directly and civilly?" (I also thought, I probably have more in common with him than I ever did with her, maybe I should just write to him instead!)

One more thing that gets to me: I was liberal before I ever MET this woman, and she was probably conservative before we met as well, yet still we were friendly at work, and kept in touch after I left that job. I tend to follow that old saying, that when you're looking for general conversation topics, it's best not to discuss politics or religion; I prefer to get along with people, so sue me.

In the end, I decided to do nothing, and say nothing (well, until now, in this post). I figured whatever I did or said would just make things worse. And although I was very moody and sort of off-kilter the rest of that week, the truth is, the friendship I'd had with this woman had pretty much run its course. I felt angry at her, annoyed with the situation, but no sense of sorrow over losing a friend. Mostly I was thinking of yet another cliched old saying, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?" And I was thinking of my dad's Uncle Charlie, and how much fondness I feel for him although I've never met him; and my friend Marie in Maine, my BEST friend, and the fact that we've played phone tag but haven't actually spoken in weeks and I hope she's all right; and my old friend Elizabeth from Smith, one of those people I've loved and lost touch with, and will miss for the rest of my life.