Letter to my future child

One day, my friend Erin and I were discussing how everything on the Internet lives forever and how just about anything can be found in a Google search, when the conversation shifted to how that probably means that if/when I have kids, they will someday find this blog. We concluded that the only thing to do was the write a post to them now, just to head off any awkwardness later. This is that post. FOR THE RECORD I AM NOT PREGNANT NOR PLANNING ON IT ANY TIME SOON. Again, NOT PREGNANT. Now carry on:

Oh…heeeeey there. So I guess…you found this.

If you’re in your mid-20s, hopefully we’re the same person and you now think I’m awesome. Or hopefully you’re like your dad and really like me even when I’m weird.

If you’re in your teens, you’re probably mildly humiliated. Sorry for being weird.

If you’re under the age of 10, WHAT ARE YOU DOING USING THE COMPUTER UNSUPERVISED???

So now you know that you mom wrote (writes? did I keep this up?) a blog. AND that she had the foresight to assume posterity would someday discover it. Wacky, huh?

See? I know EVERYTHING.

Actually, I’m kind of glad this happened. There’s a pretty good chance that (because I’m your mom) you only see me as a parent. (Unless you are in your mid-20s, in which case you might have discovered that I’m a human being too.) But in case that hasn’t happened yet, this will help.

I started this blog because a college professor told me I should have one. I kept it up because I really enjoyed it. I kept it up even when I didn’t enjoy it because I knew that stopping might mean I would stop for good. And the fact is, the best part about having a written record of my young adult life is that I will always have this perspective.

I can look back on the post I wrote right after I moved to New York and remember how mildly panicked I was at having my whole life up in the air. I can look back at the post I wrote the weekend your dad asked me to be his girlfriend and remember how excited I was about the possibilities. I can read the post I wrote the morning of our wedding, and even though it’s brief, remember the sweet, joyful emotions I felt while sitting on that couch in my hotel room typing frantically on my phone.

So basically, you found my diary. And since you obviously read it, I have no qualms about reading yours when I find it.

I’m kidding.

(But seriously.)

I feel like I should be using this opportunity to give you some kind of profound advice, but the fact is (as you can probably tell from my posts), you pretty much just have to figure things out as you go. (Plus I’m not anywhere near a parent yet, so I have no idea where to start.)

Obviously there are a lot of personal things I’ve learned that I can tell you (we still talk right? Oh man, I hope I’m not dead when you find this, that would be really awkward…) and hopefully I’ve set a good example for you in the “how to be a real-live adult” thing, but in general, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to take jobs you hate and your priorities are going to change. You’re going to make friends, and you’re going to lose them.

Life is going to be so unapologetically cruel one day, and on another you will be humbled by how wonderful things can be. And for me, writing every bit of it out just…helped. It helped and it helps me get through the good and the bad.

So I guess that’s the extend of my profundity. (And because I’m your mom, I know you read a lot your whole life and appreciate my use of the word “profundity.”) Regardless of what’s happening in your life or how old you are, I hope you know that I always want us to be at least as honest with each other as I am in these posts.

So…that got kind of heavy. This post started as a joke. It was supposed to be a funny post. It was supposed to help AVOID awkwardness!

Well, if there’s one thing this blog should teach you about me, it’s that I’m usually awkward no matter what. Odds are, you are too. (Sorry about that…) I guess what all this means is that I hope you’ll let me know when you find this.

Now go clean your room.

What I hate about Craigslist

I have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist.

On one hand, I LOVE getting things for less than their retail price. Love. Craigslist is a great place to do that. And it feels like recycling, which is just nice for everyone. Heck, we got our TV stand off of Craigslist, and that little venture turned out awesome.

But then there’s the other side. The side that drives you crazy.

I’ve ranted about bad sellers on Craigslist, but today I have a different gripe: bad buyers.

Can we all just agree that if I have posted something for sale on CL, I want to sell it? I am not making this posting just to chat with you for a bit. I am not making this posting because I think it’s funny or fun or enjoyable. I have something that I don’t want to have anymore, and if I can make a buck on it, that would make me happy.

We’re all on the same page with that one? Great.

Now can you please explain to me why you’re emailing me just to shoot the breeze, ask questions that I already answered in the original post, and then ultimately disappear from my life without even just TELLING me that you’re no longer interested?

I used to think it was kind of ridiculous when people would add “serious buyers only” to their posts. I mean, what kind of person would email who wasn’t serious about buying?

Turns out those posters were just much wiser than poor, naive me.

Part of my plan for upping the decor factor of the apartment involves making some changes in the dining room. One of those changes is selling the server we have currently (it’s nice, but too small for our needs) and replacing it with two servers from IKEA (they are the perfect width to exactly span the wall, giving the impression of built-in storage). First, though, I need to sell the old one.

Another great quality pic, amiright?

Craigslist was the first place I thought of when I wanted to sell. I made a post, and sat back to wait. (Well, really I was at work, so I went back to doing work things.)

Lo and behold, within minutes I had a response. About an hour later, I had another one. And an hour after that, I had ANOTHER one.

Obviously, I gave priority to the first girl to respond. The trouble was, she wasn’t getting back to me very quickly.

After about 12 hours, I told the second girl that if she was ready to buy now, I would give her priority. Suddenly she had so many questions. What was the price of the piece? (Um…it had been in the title of the post AND in the actual post. Seriously?) Oh, well, she needed to talk it over with her husband.

Hmm?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tell people I want to buy large pieces of their furniture without at least passing the idea by my husband.

As you probably suspected, I never heard back from her after that.

Interestingly enough, I did hear back from the first girl. She wanted it. She would come get it on Wednesday. Perfect!

I gave her my address. And promptly received a spammy-type email explaining how she wanted to pay me through Paypal. D’oh!

Not a chance, lady. This is Craigslist, not Amazon. I explained this would be a cash-only transaction. And I never heard from her again.

The third potential buyer turned out to be a spambot. (After I sent him an email letting him know I had another buyer, I received a spammy “So glad tobuy yer furnature” email. Classic.

So, here I am, with zero buyers. Fortunately, enough time passed that I could re-post my furniture. I also made a posting on Apartment Therapy. Their classifieds always seem classier anyway. So if anyone knows anyone looking for a like-new server for their dining room, lemme know!

Serious buyers only. Srsly.

You are what you eat. Well…at least I’m sweet.

In general, I consider myself a pretty healthy person. I eat loads of vegetables, and I actually like them. I run fairly regularly. I drink over a gallon of water every day.

Sometimes, though…well, sometimes things go awry.

I blame this time of year. Do you realize how much crap (albeit delicious, delicious crap) I’m surrounded with from mid-October to mid-February?

Of course you do. Because you are surrounded with it too.

Let me give you a little run-down of everything I ate yesterday:

1. Two blueberry muffins (although this was my own fault…but they were small and homemade so….get off me)
2. A pumpkin scone (ok, I know I said I only eat one of these a year, but this was NOT a Starbucks pumpkin scone; it was also homemade and a girl in my office brought them in and it was small and GET OFF ME)
3. Four mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
5. A salad (hooray for me)
6. A mini Three Musketeers bar
7. Two MORE mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
8. A sensible dinner I made. It involved asparagus, shrimp, and part-skim ricotta cheese, if only so my body would not succumb to scurvy.

I did go running at least, so maybe that will counter-balance the roughly 1,000 extra calories I consumed. Except…not.

I actually avoid dieting on purpose, mostly because the second I tell myself I can’t have something, it is all. I. Can. Think. About. And I believe everything in moderation. And, you know, pumpkin scones and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups are delicious.

However, I can’t help but notice that what I fuel myself with drastically effects how I function. (Despite taking in almost exclusively refined and processed carbs yesterday, my run was fairly difficult. Who knew?)(Oh yeah, every doctor ever.)

I’d like to say that this is me kicking off a month of health and eschewing all things amazingsugary, but I also don’t like to lie to you. And I already told you, I don’t cut things out of my diet completely. (Unless it’s like, arsenic. Or trans fats.) Besides, I work out so I can eat more. Duh. (Well, and because it’s good for the heart and whatever. But mostly so I can eat more.)

That being said, part of that whole “moderation” theory means not going overboard in the other direction, either. So, body, this is me formally apologizing and promising not to have a chocolate and peanut butter free-for-all again…for at least a while.

Please tell me I’m not the only one whose office looks like a bakery these days? I can only imagine what will happen in December…

Like me…if you want to.

So…in lieu of ironic self-absorption, I have an announcement.

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One has it’s own Facebook page!

Yes, I created this after receiving that comment. No, the two were not really connected. It was something I had been planning to do for a while. Yes, I feel a little bit like a tool. But, no, I’m not taking it down.

I actually did hide it from the Facebook mini-feed for a few minutes. But a gchat convo with Susan made me buck up and share with the world. Enjoy:

Susan: YOUR BLOG HAS A FACEBOOK PAGE

Me: eeeee
yup
it’s about two hours old
I feel like a tool already
how did you see it?
(just curious)

Susan: it came up on my mini feed
i shall like it

Me: oh man haha
embarrassing
thanks though!
I was hoping I could create it secretly

Susan: haha
nope!
own it, girl!
you’re going to be famous one day
with a book deal and all
so you might as well get used to the exposure 🙂

Me: haha makes me feel weird promoting myself. It’s the same reason I hate cover letters
I hid it from the feed
I’m a coward

Susan: justine!

Me: ok, un-hid
sorry
gah
you are a good stage mom

Susan: you are the girl that is always telling ME to be BRAVE

Me: I knoooow
I just got rattled by that comment, I think
like, am I really self obsessed?
I try not to be
I just want to someday work from home and have a puppy. Ok, and a book deal.
haha

Susan: Blogs are inherently self-obsessed, as you noted in your response.
It’s about YOU. And, you wouldn’t be writing a blog if you didn’t think you were an interesting, thoughtful person, worthy of attention. There’s nothing wrong with that, blog troll.
I will tell you a story. It was the summer of 08, and I was sitting in on a story-planning Newsweek meeting
and one of the reporters pitched a story that Obama had a big ego. And the editor replied, “The man thinks he should be the next leader of the free world. Of course he has a big ego. That is not a story.”

Me: haha
truth

Susan: I’m just saying; haters are gonna hate. But you’re going to write, people are going to read and enjoy it, and then you can reap the benefits of that.

Me: you’re right. I need to get a thicker skin.

Susan: It’s a very Midwestern trait, I think. We’re groomed to be modest. Especially as girls, I think we struggle with being like “Look at me! I’m awesome!” And, I think that sometimes holds us back.

Yet again, Susan makes excellent points. (She usually does.) I’m not good at out and out saying I’m good at something. I’ve gotten to the point where I can do it, but I always undercut the message with something self-deprecating.

Example: I am really good at Scrabble and Scattegories. But I usually say, “The only two games I’m good at are Scrabble and Scattegories.”

The message is, “Listen, I know I’m not good at much, but…”

Why do I do that?

Because, potential blog trolls of the world, I’m not self-obsessed. And I really don’t like portraying myself or being portrayed that way.

But the fact is, I’m proud of my little blog. I never would have guess that it would grow to what it has, and I guess I’m ready for some more exposure. (Eek!)

So, if you feel so inclined, like me on Facebook. And maybe tell your friends.

I’ll sure be awful grateful if you did.

Dear blog troll…

Well, well, WELL, well, well!

(I don’t know why, but starting a statement with a series of inflected “wells” is always funny to me. So…that’s why I’m repeating the joke.)

Here I was sitting in my ivory tower, brushing my flowing hair daily (no fewer than 1,000 strokes per side) and thinking only (only!) of myself and assuming you all were equally fascinated. I mean, come on, do you know anyone more interesting than me?? Be serious now.

And /sarcasm.

Although, it turns out, that is apparently the self-image I give off in this blog. Who knew?

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (oops, there I go again talking about myself! On my own blog…) already know that earlier today I had the pleasure of experiencing my first hate comment from a stranger.

Irony of ironies, this actually did make me feel a little self-important. I mean, lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to comment more on other people’s blogs (it’s what makes the blog world go round, y’all), and I have to say, reaching out takes time! And effort! So you have to admit it’s a little funny that someone would go out of their way to acknowledge me as a way of proving to me that I don’t matter. (And with a username like “smarterthanyou.” One would think not, my friend.)

I should clarify that I have no problem with constructive criticism, but if you’re going to tell me I’m doing something wrong, it had better be something I can fix. Not talking about myself on my personal lifestyle blog? Not too much I can do there.

Sigh, I guess this is the life I asked for. Paris Hilton should be calling any minute so we can swap hater stories. We self-obsessed girls gotta stick together, ya know?

But just because I would prefer not to continue the negativity on my blog (which I consider to be a happy space), let’s turn this into something positive, shaaaaallll we?

Here’s my top 5 list of things that are about other people that I like:

1. My friend Heather is throwing a really cool dinner party that I’m super excited about. She is the ultimate hostess, and she even sent out some gorgeous invitations for the event. Don’t you love having creative friends?

2. My other friend Susan has started blogging again, after an almost year-long hiatus. I love Susan, and I love her blog almost as much. Today she wrote a really great post about overcoming the stigma of loving your significant other more than work. Definitely worth a read.

3. A former co-worker and friend’s dog was featured on BusinessInsider.com for his awesome Kanye West costume. Yes. A dog. Dressed as Kanye. Stop pretending like you didn’t click the link before I even finished this sentence.

4. Another former co-worker and friend now writes for Everyday Health, and she posted her first blog post here about how taking the pill changes how you pick your partner.

5. My husband made excellent use of our door clip again today by leaving me a note reminding me (oops! Used a selfish pronoun. Sorry!) to leave his debit card, which he had accidentally left in my car a couple of days ago. He’s so smart/thoughtful.

Of course, I’m sure that there are loads of other things going on in other people’s lives right this second, and many of them would probably be excellent blog posts. Alas, I’m me. (Sorry.) So, in general, I can only write about…well…me.

But you should feel better, random troll from Jersey. I spent the whole blog post talking about you. You’re welcome.

Repeat. And again.

I know this girl who is a terrible story teller. I don’t want to say how I know her, but suffice to say our relationship hasn’t been that long or, thankfully, storied. But the fact remains.

Terrible. TERRIBLE.

First of all, she speaks very, very slowly, and pauses at awkward places, presumably to build up suspense. The problem is, all of her stories are:

a) about nothing anyone cares about. Like, how she decided which yogurt to eat for lunch, or a conversation she had with her mom about carpet cleaner.

b) entirely devoid of punchlines. Every SINGLE time she finishes I story, I’m still leaning in like, “And then?” But there is no and then. There’s nothing more. But she’s sitting there preening and waiting for some big laugh. I. Don’t. Get. It.

I’ve been kind of spoiled because so many of my friends are GOOD story tellers. A lot of them are journalists, so if they can’t tell a story, they have bigger problems. But even my non-professional writer friends are good story tellers. Two great examples? Annie and Work Annie. (Not to be confused.) Both GREAT story tellers, in print and in spoken word. If they say they have a story, I settle in.

I don’t think it’s good for me to be around bad story tellers. What if it’s catching?

I already have enough insecurities about whether or not I’ve already told a story, let alone if it was any good. I mean, when I finally see someone in person I haven’t seen for a while, my first question is, “Do you read my blog?” And if they say yes, it’s followed up quickly with, “Are you caught up?” Because I really don’t want to bore them with stories they’ve already heard, and probably with better grammar and sentence structure.

Because when I have a story finalized, that’s how I tell it. Every time. Same jokes, same inflection. It has been elevated to an art form, and I’m not going to mess that up by “trying something new.”

Joey can validate this for me. Being married to me, he has to hear me tell the same stories and jokes multiple times. Bless him, he’ll usually laugh no matter how many times he’s heard it. But lately he’s taken to doing this thing that gets me every single time.

He’ll start telling me my own stories back like it’s something that happened to him.

For example, I guess I must have told him a couple of times how when the movie Beethoven came out, there’s this scene where the little blonde kid drives a car through a factory wall. For some reason, my brothers and I found this beyond hilarious and once rewound it about eight times and watched it over and over again. Good times. (Have no idea what I’m talking about? You HAVE to watch this before you continue reading. Still don’t get it? Well…forget you.)

Apparently I had told this story to my husband one too many times. One day we were walking somewhere, and I saw something that reminded me of that story. Unable to remember if I had already told him, I started to launch into the story. This happened:

Me: You know the scene in Beethoven where the kid drives through the factory?

Him: Yeah, I used to watch that scene over and over with my brothers.

For about half a second, I actually thought, “Oh my gosh, I did that too! We’re so similar! We’re totally soul mates.” And then I saw him grinning at me, remembered he had no brothers, and slugged him in the arm.

He’s started doing this a lot. It’s gotten to the point where when he tells me that he did something I’ve done, I’m 90% sure he’s teasing me.

Case in point, the last time we were in the city, we were on the train home when he tells me he used to name all his pets Bob.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, buddy. I used to name all my pets Bob.

I didn’t remember actually ever telling him this, but my skepticism took over.

Me: Are you only saying that because you know that I used to name ALL of my pets Bob?

Him: What? No, I really named him Bob. Did you do that?

Me: Never mind.

Him: No, really, all of them?

Me: I said never mind!

It’s really putting a strain on our marriage, as you can see.

The point is, bad stories hurt, and bad story tellers are even worse. And if you’re a bad story teller, you shouldn’t start a blog. Lord knows I’ve cornered the market on that one.

Scaredy cat

I think I’m becoming more of a scaredy cat the older I get.

(Yes, this is me ignoring the fact that I owe you a list update. I’m on vacation. Deal with it.)

When I was little, I was fairly fearless. I did gymnastics, flinging my body at thin mats and on wobbly bars. I was obsessed with snorkeling, considering the thrill of the swim a more motivating force than the threat of sharks. And I loved traveling by place, even reveling in the dips and drops of turbulence. It was like a roller coaster!

But somewhere along the way, something changed.

Now, I’m kind of terrified of things. I can’t even turn a cartwheel because I can’t stop picturing my face smashing into the ground. Deep open water gives me heart palpatations. And as for turbulence…well, as you probably assumed, there’s a story with that one.

As you may know, I’m in Iowa for my sister’s wedding. And it was no small feat getting here.

We had to take two flights (there is no such thing as a direct flight to Des Moines), and about ten minutes into the first flight we started experiencing some turbulence. Like, a lot.

It was like a giant person grabbed the tail of the plane and started shaking it up and down.

The first big jolt, everyone in the plane flew up in their seats and a few people screamed (I may or may not have been one of them). I’m not even exaggerating when I say the first thing that popped into my head was “the plane is going to crash and we’re going to die.”

The turbulence continued for the next ten minutes or so, though it felt like hours.

I was a wreck. Tears were streaming down my face, and I’m pretty sure I cut off the circulation to Joey’s hand a couple of times. (Side note: One of the best parts about our relationship is that we have this natural dynamic where when one of us is freaking out, the other one is scarily calm and rational. Joey was a champ while I continued to have a nervous breakdown.)

After we moved down to a lower altitude to escape the wind, I calmed down a bit, but I had a stomach ache and a tension headache by the time we landed. I felt even more justified for my terror when someone asked a pilot who was sitting across the aisle (he was a passenger, not the pilot of our plane…thank goodness) what the worst turbulence he’d ever seen was. He looked at everyone uneasily and said, “That was the worst turbulence I’ve ever seen.”

So…justified.

The point is, I have never genuinely thought I was going to die before. I guess I’m losing some of that vulnerability that comes with youth.

Which is a fancy way of saying I think I’m getting older.

Also, that flight was really scary.