Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Love at first glance?

Published in The Long Island Advance, December 28, 2006 Edition

In my regular work world I supervise a department of eight women who primarily do social work with the developmentally disabled. In our office, it’s common to know about everyone’s drama. Not only is it drama, but life in our office has taken on a Soap Opera-like quality in recent weeks. And boy, are we sucked in, and possibly me more so than others due to my skeptical nature.

Internet dating seems to be the thing these days, what going to bars to meet people, or running into potential dates at work use to be. It’s sort of like blind dating, yet not quite. And for a number of the single women in my department, Internet dating gives them an opportunity to meet and date when working in a world that’s essentially occupied by women. And right now, one of our own is being courted by a cowboy from Oklahoma. This particular cowboy has been nudging her since summer, sending her an email here and there, attempting to engage her in conversation. According to her, his latest try was successful.

There’s this thing in Internet dating called “winking.” One can wink at another without having to do any sort of writing. Apparently he kept winking at her until she finally broke down, wrote back and said, “You live 1,400 miles away from me, why are you winking at me?” We were riveted at work to that little exchange as it lead to an actual conversation in the “real world.” A conversation that sent her running in the other direction and cooled the soap opera off for a few months. According to Liz, this was a man on a mission….a politically liberal guy, home grown in a red state and looking to escape to a blue one. She did not want to be the reason for anyone’s relocation. That was until three weeks ago. Persistence seems to be one of his character traits and it has apparently paid off, at least for now.

Three weeks ago, the cowboy sent an email forward which according to Liz got her dander up. She responded back, in a not so nice way and as a means to discourage his continued attention, although considering the fact that said attention only occurred once every few months, it wasn’t stalker-like behavior. Only what ended up happening was that the cowboy got his wish and found a way to engage her in a conversation. This was all he needed to do.

We work in a field where listening and talking is something that people do a lot of, so for him, getting the conversation going was a step in a positive direction. Liz currently is loosing her mind as the cowboy recently told her that he thinks he loves her. Me, being the skeptic that I am, chimed in by saying “That’s impossible. There is no such thing.” Although, according to the cowboy, “You can’t help who you love any more than you can pick your parents.” Apparently he has no problem waiting for her to come around to his way of thinking. And when talking to her and saying “This is too crazy,” you can almost see her thinking that in fact, maybe it’s not.

I suspect that it will be a little inconvenient to have to call in to my old job, from a new one in order to get the daily update. But, like any good soap opera, I may be able to wean myself down to just getting my update on a Monday and a Friday. And this is the question that I’ll just leave hanging in the air for now or at least until Brian vacations in AZ and loans me his column again. Do you believe that this new age version of “love at first sight is possible? And consider that “at first sight,” in this case, means love at the glance of an Internet dating profile, a whole bunch of emails and phone conversations. Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think, about this, or anything else you might like to comment on.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas card slackers

Published in The Long Island Advance
December 21, 2006

Well, here it is, just a week away from Christmas and I have yet to write or send a card. Last year I was so much better organized and very excited that I found Christmas labels in Staples. I was able to go to the website listed on the package, download their label program and print out beautiful seasonal labels for my cards. And this year, unless a miracle happens the cards are not going to make it out of my house.

Back in October while walking through Macy’s, I began to wonder how we got into the habit of decorating for Christmas before Halloween had actually happened. Yes, it was the week before Halloween and Macy’s not only had the beginnings of Christmas decorations hung, they were lit too! In retrospect I should have gone home that very day and written out my Christmas cards. I could then have mailed them a few days after Thanksgiving and would not be sitting here, thinking and writing about them now.

I like sending Christmas cards. There are people who say, “Why send cards to people you never see?” Those are the people I like to send cards to the most. It’s this one, tenuous connection to others that may only happen once a year, but at least it happens. Writing out the cards gives me the opportunity to think back to all these people and remember what they mean to me. There’s my friend Cathy in Florida, who I worked with in the old Loft’s Candy Store on Main Street when I was in high school, or old friends of my parent’s who made it from their Christmas card list, to mine and who although I rarely, if ever see, remember with great fondness. I get to think about all of them, even if it’s only one time a year while writing out their Christmas card.

And this year I’m being a slacker. I have no idea how we went from September to December without my noticing it. Not only do I have the cards, the labels are printed and the stamps have been purchased and yet I have resigned myself to the fact that they’re not getting into the mail this year. In my old life I would have felt guilty for weeks about this, in my new one I’ve given myself permission not too.

My little 4’ Martha Stewart, pre-lit Christmas tree is decorated and sits in front of my bedroom window…with all the bags of Christmas gifts, still unwrapped and strewn around it. I have not baked one cookie or made one chocolate covered pretzel and the Gingerbread tree kit that I bought a few weeks back, is still in the box. I have yet to finish shopping, am not really sure what’s going to be on the menu for Christmas Eve dinner and have no idea what I’ll be wearing.

Here are the things I do know. I know the shopping will get finished, the presents will get wrapped, and we won’t suffer for lack of cookies or chocolate covered pretzels when we can go out and buy them. Between my mother and I, we’ll figure out what’s for Christmas Eve dinner and I’ll be able to pull something from my closet to wear, even if it’s a sweater with snowmen all over it. And, most importantly, the world will not end for my friends and family if they even realize that Susan did not send them a Christmas card this year.

In my head though, I’m drafting a New Year’s letter. Possibly it might say something like, “Happy New Year! During the time leading up to Christmas I was researching 17th-century witch trials in England and how they related to the play Vinegar Tom, by Caryl Churchill. Now that that part of my life is over and has been turned in, I can dig out my Christmas cards and get an early start for 2007.”

So, for this holiday season I’ll take a breath and wish you all a happy one. Be it Christmas, Hanukkah or any other celebration, enjoy, be well, have a safe and Happy New Year and for those who are like me, learn how not to sweat the small stuff all the time. I’m going to start practicing that soon, right after I get out the cards I want to start writing for next year.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Published in The Long Island Advance, December 7, 2006 Edition

I am a procrastinator and feel as if I should be standing in front of a support group announcing this fact. I vacillate between being either totally driven and focused, or completely unfocused and lackadaisical. This sort of behavior causes me a huge amount of stress and I often ask myself why I do it.

This very minute, as I write this piece, I am procrastinating the writing of two papers that are due in four days. Four days sounds like a long time to write two papers, and in fact would be more than sufficient if I didn’t have to have a day job. Having a day job significantly interferes with the writing that I would much rather be doing.

My mission when I awoke this morning was to get started. I’ve done all the reading which for me was the easy part, and the writing isn’t hard either and yet, I wait, and I wait, and I wait. Mulling over getting started and finding every conceivable excuse not to.

So, after waking up this morning I needed to spend minimally two hours sitting on my bed with my laptop, reading ever bit of news I could find. Then there were a few essential phone calls to make prior to actually getting moving. After breakfast I decided to sort laundry. My plan was to go to my parent’s house, laundry in tow, with my laptop and books, and start paper writing in between trips down to the washing machine. Since my parents are away I figured their house would have fewer distractions for me, allowing me to concentrate better. Well, I’ve made it over here, there’s laundry sloshing around in the washer and I’m writing about procrastination as a means to continue doing it.

Prior to actually sitting down at this table and opening up a blank Word Document I had to stop at 7-11 for coffee. Once I finally arrived here, I had to leave again so that I could bring a container of beef stew my mother wanted passed along to brother and sister-in-law, over to their house. I then had to stop back where I’m living….again, in order to find the first paper I had written for this particular class, on which I had jotted the notes about the second paper when last meeting with my professor. While running up and down the stairs, fetching these items, this little bit of writing hit me. What could I do? I had no other choice but to sit down and write it.

I often wonder how I can be a Virgo. Not one who really believes in the whole “horoscope thing,” I do recognize that I have many of those, over-planning, over-thinking, over-organizing traits that Virgo’s are known for, and yet they don’t carry over into all areas of my life. And this is certainly one area where I need those traits to kick in, or more like kick me in the butt to get me moving.

I’ve been procrastinating long enough to recognize my patterns and I’ve come to learn over the course of attending “nontraditional college,” that I need structure. I am not one who the professor can hand the course outline to and say, “See you at the end of 15 weeks with the work done.” That has happened and believe me; I almost did not survive doing 15 weeks of work, in the space of two. That lesson I learned well.

Now that I have procrastinated yet another half hour away there are no more excuses left to put off writing about Jane Austin, so….I guess I should get started. Well, maybe I should check on my laundry first.