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#MicroblogMondays 17: First Date Selfie

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


Apparently, first date selfies are a “thing.”  As in, kids today are taking a picture together on their first date and posting it to Instagram with the tag #firstdateselfie.

It took me many months to work up the courage to take a picture with Josh.  I mean, taking a picture together — that was serious shit.  You didn’t just take a picture with someone you had just started dating.  Telling someone that you wanted a picture of them meant something.  It meant you wanted to show your friends what the person looked like.  It meant you wanted to look at a picture of them when you were apart.

I mean, I wanted a picture on the first date, but I would have never had the guts to take a picture.

The technology certainly existed back then — I had a point-and-shoot camera with film in my purse at all times — but I would have never had the guts to suggest taking a picture together on our first date.

What about you?  I think we would all want the picture in retrospect, but would you have the courage to ask to take one?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.


December 22, 2014   11 Comments

Explaining Santa and His Mysterious Ways

So I saw an interesting photo on a friend’s Facebook wall:


Which is an interesting point and one I never thought about before; mostly because the gifts my kids receive (with the exception of money from the tooth fairy) comes from humans they know.  Discrepancies with money from the tooth fairy can be explained with the idea that there is more than one tooth fairy.  There is a tooth fairy army.  And the fairy assigned to our house gives X amount, and the fairy assigned to your friend’s house gives Y amount, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.  Regardless, the difference in amount is usually a couple of quarters.

But how do you explain to a child that Santa brought the bully in the class the XBox he always wanted and brought your child some new underwear, despite your child also asking for an XBox?  How do you explain to your child why Santa didn’t fulfill their wish items and instead went rogue with the gift giving whereas stuck to another child’s entire list that they uttered on his lap at the mall?

The first recess after winter break seems to be a big conference on “what did Santa bring you for Christmas?”  Kids tell each other what they got.  And I know the message is supposed to be of gracious acceptance; being happy with whatever gifts you are given.  But let’s be frank — how can you not internalize the discrepancies when you see one being (Santa) treating various children differently?  How can you not think you are the best kid ever or the worst kid ever if you see how different your experience is from your classmates; especially when the message of Santa is that he is judging you, seeing when you’re sleeping and awake, and giving out toys (or a lump of coal) befitting of your behaviour?

And yes, I know that most people don’t present Santa in the manner of omniscient decision maker, but even if you don’t state it outright, you can’t sing “Frosty the Snowman” or read Elf on a Shelf and not expect your child to pick up on that message.  Even I know what is said about Santa, and I’ve never celebrated Christmas.

Life isn’t fair or equal.  People have very different experiences interacting with the same person.  I know this and you know this.  And kids will learn this, too.  But somehow, Santa seems the wrong person to inadvertently teach this lesson, you know?  He’s supposed to embody happiness, generosity, kindness.  So how do you explain why he isn’t consistent with the gift giving?

I’m curious how other people react to that woman’s request to keep the smaller gifts from Santa and make the bigger gifts from parents in order to even out the story.  Do you do something similar?  Do you wish this was the case?  Do you think kids just need to deal — I mean, this isn’t a new thing.  Poor Laura Ingalls had to deal with this when Pa brought her a tin cup, and I’m sure Nellie Olson got something like a doll.  How do you handle/explain this?

[Side Note Reminder: Tomorrow is #MicroblogMonday.  Write your post.]

December 21, 2014   26 Comments

525th Friday Blog Roundup

It’s Chanukkah. I’m actually really not a fan of Chanukkah in general. It’s sort of a nothing holiday that has been given inflated importance because it falls on the calendar near Christmas. There’s not a lot you do for it: light the chanukkiah, eat fried foods, maybe play a round of dreidel.  See, not that exciting.

On the other hand, it’s frustrating to have holidays that are very exciting (Purim) or very fun (Succot) or very moving (Yom Kippur) or very holy (Rosh HaShanah) or very important (Pesach) and have people have no clue what most of those holidays are or what they’re about.  You know?  The world has latched onto Chanukkah, and some Jews have gone along with that wave.  But I’m not feeling it.  It’s just not my sort of holiday.  I’m fine with candles, but I’m definitely not a fan of fried foods.  And dreidel I only enjoy when you get a top that gives good spin.

Sometimes I think I do the bare minimum with Chanukkah just because the world around me is shrieking at me to do more with it.  To make it something it’s not.

This holiday brings out my contrary side.

I promise I’ll be back to my usual sunny self by the next holiday, Tu B’shvat.  Just kidding.  I don’t like trees, either.  But I’m totally excited for Purim.


Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Punch Drunk is back with a post lamenting that the blogosphere has changed.  And yes, it obviously has since everything changes, but on the same week that she posts this, Everyday Stranger returns with her Santa post.  A smart woman writing a smart post, and I love Santa’s point about antidepressants: “The pills only mute things, dearest. Even on mute, you are Someone.”  Two posts that drew me in.

A Half-Baked Life has a post about returning things and perfect gifts, and really, it’s about knowing yourself as much as it is about other people knowing you.  But I love this recounting of the perfect birthday gift, and how it makes her reflect on other gifts she has received over the years and her reactions to those that didn’t feel as if they fit.

The Bickerstaff Blog perfectly explains how she doesn’t spend all day thinking about her loss, but her loss affects her every day.  There are moments she feels sad and moments when she isn’t thinking about Malachi, but that loss paints the surface of her day-to-day life, the choices she makes, who she is at her core.  It’s a wonderful, brief post.

Lastly, Unpregnant Chicken has an amazing post about mourning a child who never was; a dream-child.  What it means to miss someone who was never here.  She explains: “When I miss a friend I can pinpoint the missing that I experience. I can vocalize it. People understand this missing, it’s real, tangible. I miss the coffee dates, the way they made a room light up, the soft hair on his cheeks… This missing is different. Slippery. Evasive. Unknowable.”  Go over and read the whole post.

The roundup to the Roundup: Not really a fan of Chanukkah.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between December 12th and 19th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

December 19, 2014   11 Comments

Expect to Live the Life You Choose

There was one other thing about Me Before You that struck me (beyond it being an exact copy of another book), and that was a line that came on page 260:

“Everything takes time… and that’s something that your generation find it a lot harder to adjust to. You have all grown up expecting things to go your way almost instantaneously. You all expect to live the lives you chose.”

Which made me ask… was there ever a generation that didn’t have expectations?  That didn’t strive for goals and become disappointed when their goals were thwarted?  I mean… it’s sort of a dick thing to say, right, beyond painting an entire generation of people with a single brush.  Let’s just admit that we all have a fairly skewed lens through which we view other generations or races or ethnicities or religions… choose your group.

But taking that quote as truth, the question remains whether it would be better to teach kids to have no expectations.  Because once you have expectations and goals, you have potential disappointments.  You have the fact that things may not go your way, you may not achieve your goal.  Would it be better to tell kids to drift?  To not imagine their future?  To let go of all material objects or desires for good health, and to simply go along with things as they unfold, accept whatever happens, and just… be.

Really?  There were generations that did that?


Even more dickish, the line is said about a person who is mourning their current state in life — paralysis — in comparison to the life they thought they would live — non-disabled.  That’s a fairly huge change being discussed by someone who has not gone through a fairly huge change.  Who always thought that she would be non-disabled (as I think most people do who are born non-disabled) and has continued to be non-disabled.

No one is guaranteed health and wellness, just as no one is guaranteed an easy pregnancy and delivery despite it being the norm.  But how would it ever be helpful for someone who has achieved three easy pregnancies to sit down next to an infertile woman and say, “snap out of it!  So it’s not going your way.  You need to learn to live with it!”  I mean, yes, that is said on a daily basis.  But really, how is it helpful?

No one is denying the validity of the statement.  We all do need to learn to live with things, but berating someone isn’t the way to go about helping that person come to a place of understanding and acceptance.

I couldn’t believe this character wasn’t punted across the room.  That her words were meant to be astute, an important point to change the way the other characters were seeing their situation.  The character who speaks these words is described in only the most glowing of terms.  If I had been at the party, I would have made given her the look.


There is no way to teach resilience.

I mean, that’s like trying to teach Spanish out of a textbook for an hour five times per week.  You aren’t going to get a fluent Spanish speaker if you approach the language in this manner, and you’re not going to get a resilient child if you talk to them about resilience while they’re in a place of comfort.

Resilience needs to come from experience; from having the unexpected take place and adjusting.  Or not adjusting.  One path is obviously the more desired path, but not everyone will reach the desired path.  Not everyone can get themselves to a place of acceptance.  And that is okay, too.  Maybe a lack of acceptance is what they need to fuel their fire.  Maybe not feeling settled with the status quo drives them to keep working towards a new goal.  I don’t know.  I can’t speak to anyone else’s process.

I don’t know anyone who grew up expecting everything to go their way almost instantaneously.  We were perhaps taught that if we could achieve a lot if we put out a great effort, and we chose to transfer that idea to situations outside our control.  What works when it comes to a classroom exam doesn’t work when it comes to life events such as marriage or parenthood.

But I can’t say that it’s a bad thing to expect to live the life you choose.  To imagine a life and try to get there.

December 17, 2014   20 Comments

Me Before You and Dying Young

This post contained spoilers for Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Dying Young by Marti Leimbach.  Don’t read this post if you haven’t read these books and think you may want to read them in the future.  Though read on if both books don’t sound like your cup of tea since this is really about how close is too close when it comes to shared plotlines.

But consider yourself warned about the spoilers.




Okay, so I just read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I didn’t just read it; I devoured it.  It has been a long time since I’ve raced through a book like this, sneaking pages into every available second of the day.  I really really really loved it.  I loved her writing style.  I loved the characters.  I loved Louisa and Will’s relationship.  I don’t know why I put off reading this book for so long.

But here is the thing: I already read this plotline back in 1990.  As in, this exact plotline, down to the twist at the end.  It was in a book called Dying Young by Marti Leimbach.

The book, Dying Young, is nothing like the film version with Julia Roberts.  It’s really a gorgeous book that I think a lot of people didn’t read because the film was so maudlin.  The book is about a lower middle class woman (like Louisa) who is hired by the family of an upper class man (like Will) who has cancer (instead of a spinal cord injury).  He has decided to stop treatments and wants her help in ending his life.  Plucky, slightly-awkward Hilary wrangles with arrogant, impatient Victor.  He is constantly trying to change her, to make her become the sparkling diamond he sees in the rough stone.  He wants her to see the world and do something amazing with her life, and she learns how to live by loving someone who is dying.

Does this sound familiar?

Fine, I could write off all the similarities up until this point.  It’s not as if these are the only Pygmalion-drenched lower class girl/upper class boy books.  It’s not as if there haven’t been other books that detail a caregiver relationship that doesn’t deliver the happy ending.

But there are other similarities that take us into a very grey zone.

Both books have tough-as-nail elderly birds who know how to handle the prickly young men.  In Dying Young, it’s the bit character of Estelle.  In Me Before You, it’s Mary Rawlinson.  In both books, there is another man, another outside romantic relationship.  In Dying Young, it’s Gordon.  In Me Before You, it’s Patrick.  In both books there is a parental figure who just doesn’t get it.  In Dying Young, it’s his father.  In Me Before You, it’s his mother.  In both cases, the main woman (Hilary/Louisa) is reporting to that clueless parent behind the man’s (Victor/Will) back.

Both books have women trying to change the mind of the man under their care.  And both books use applying for school as the way both women leave the men they love so they can get on with the dying.  And in both cases, at the very very end, you realize the men are not going to change their minds and will go through with their plan to end their life even though there has been a hiccup beforehand that makes you think you’re going to get a different ending.  Both books even include a hedge maze which holds emotional significance.  Seriously, it’s down to dual hedge mazes.

Both books are lovely, and I enjoyed both in their own right.  Both books do justice to the notion that there is nothing romantic about dying young.  Both books leave the reader gutted, wishing for just a few more minutes, hours, days.

So my first question is how close is too close?  Is this a form of plagiarism?  It sort of feels like it.  If it’s not, what is it?  It’s certainly not homage.

I felt wrong devouring Me Before You, as if I was doing a disservice to Marti Leimbach.  And perhaps Marti has read Me Before You and doesn’t see what I see and isn’t bothered by the similarities.  But if she did notice, aren’t I hurting the first author (Marti) by enjoying the book by the second author (Jojo)?

Could it all be a coincidence?  Yes.  Though Leimbach’s novel was fairly big in the early 90s and turned into a movie with Julia Roberts while she was in her Pretty Woman heyday.  I’d be surprised if Moyes never heard of it.  And I don’t know how you’d accidentally have the hedge maze appear in both related books.

December 16, 2014   6 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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