“It’s fine, especially if you’re not looking for anything serious.”
My eyes darted back and forth between two women, a friend and a fellow partygoer, having one of those conversations that went from ‘Nice to meet you’ to ‘I’ve been in therapy for eight years’ in 7.6 seconds.
Frequenting such upstanding apps as eHarmony and Match had resulted in stories like this. And this. Annnnd this.
“Oh really? You would like the guy I just met a couple of months ago. Caramel skin, dark hair, green eyes…”
“Why didn’t you like him?”
“Too young for me, but he’s perfect for you.”
I watched the conversation between my friend and a complete stranger unfold, wondering if it would outlast the Prosecco supply.
“I’ll see if I can find his number.”
I blinked. Hang on. What just happened here? A stranger we’d met an hour ago was giving my friend the number of a stranger SHE met three months ago and… My head started to spin, not unlike when my girlfriends plan things.
Then I started to wonder… Was this really any less creepy than swiping your finger across a stranger’s likeness to indicate that you might want to share awkward conversation and unlimited breadsticks? Was this, in fact, a far more appropriate vetting system?
The next morning, the woman from the party called my friend.
“Hey, it’s Stranger Lady from last night! Great news! I found Stranger Guy’s number!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, my friend texted Stranger Guy with a few cute lines and a couple of photos of herself.
What do you think? Should we create an app for this?
“When you’re a kid, age matters a lot,” Babs, my mom, said the other day. We were lounging on her living room sofa killing time before her friends, Dick and Fern, came over for dinner.
Hang on. What’s that? You think I’m lying about their names being Dick and Fern? Would I lie about something like that? Babs even gave me permission to use their real names in this post! (Then again, Babs also gave me permission to paint my aunt’s house as a surprise gift…)
Dick and Fern have been friends with my parents since before bottled water was a thing.
“You know. If you’re seven and the neighbors are ten it’s a huge deal,” Babs went on. “Then you get into your 20s and it really doesn’t matter at all.”
She took a gulp of wine.
“Then it starts to matter again.”
She paused and gave me a look.
“Dick and Fern are a few years older than us so they’re in their 70s now,” Babs said. “And just look at this.” She whipped out her phone and showed me the text message that Fern had just sent.
“Late because of rain! At least she finally got a smart phone this year,” Babs went on. “Before that she was doing the texting where you had to hit the number keys over and over!”
“Yeah,” I replied. “It also seems like there’s get-off-my-lawn-seventy and I-AM-JUST-GETTING-STARTED-B*TCH-SEVENTY.”
This, of course, got me thinking of my own friendships. Had there ever been an age gap that suddenly became too pronounced? Is there ever a “cut off” when you can no longer relate, whether it’s on a surface level with cultural references, or emotionally based on various life stages?
So far, at 36, age has never been an issue in my friendships, though it’s still certainly bittersweet when they fade for other reasons: Distance, difference of opinion, or interests in chipmunks and priorities that no longer align.
My advice to Babs? Might as well stick it out. At least you’ll get to tell your favorite stories over and over.
“Do you think they’ll have coffee?” my sister asked, peering over the edge of a wide toll bridge that would take us past the Hudson River towards a small town in central New York state.
“I was just thinking the same thing!” I said, slapping the steering wheel. “We’ll have to ask as soon as we check in.”
After a two and a half hour car ride from our hometown in New Jersey, we arrived at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York on Friday afternoon, leaving plenty of time to have dinner before our weekend workshop began at 8:00pm.
Omega is a nonprofit, mission-driven, and donor-supported educational organization. For more than 40 years we’ve been a pioneer in holistic studies – helping people and organizations integrate personal growth and social change, moving beyond ‘the way it is’ toward ‘the way it can be.'” –Omega Institute website
We wound through bumpy, forest-lined roads until we pulled into the main driveway. A tan, golden-locked young man greeted us with an easy smile and glazed-over eyes.
“Hey there! Staying here or are you a commuter?”
“Commuter,” I replied.
“Right on. You can go ahead and park in either of these two rows. Have a good one.”
When we’d spot him later that evening, we’d find him still perched at his station, but holding a guitar. We parked the car in the gravel lot and joined a long line in front of a building at the main entrance.
Eventually receiving welcome instructions and a map, we moseyed uphill towards the dining hall.
“I feel like I’m in Dirty Dancing,” I said, gazing at the casually dressed men and women wandering through Omega’s plentiful cabins and gardens. There was something serene about the timeless energy surrounding us. Or maybe it was just the lack of wifi.
As calm and quiet as the campus seemed, the institute was fully booked for the weekend and the food hall was hopping, hundreds of people lined up at the (mostly) vegan buffet.
Commuters like us (we were staying at an off-campus AirBnB) had to pay a mandatory $110 “commuter fee” on top of the workshop registration fee in order to enjoy the food and campus amenities. (Coffee, the staff assured us at registration, would be available in the morning, along with milks made of everything from hemp to rainbows.)
We filled our plates and fruitlessly searched for the vodka station balanced our cups awkwardly as we tried to find a table outside.
All of the tables outside were large enough to accommodate at least eight people; luckily, I’d spotted the phrase “communal dining” in the brochure and had spent the prior two weeks practicing my fake niceties.
“What workshop are you here for?” I asked the man across from me, wondering how many chanterelle mushrooms I could shove into my mouth between questions.
“Psychic Detective,” he replied, spearing a chickpea and giving me the kind of bright-eyed, smiling response usually reserved for preschool teachers and cannibals. “How about you?”
I inhaled dramatically before replying with jazz hands, “Your Spirit Guides Await!”
He nodded as if I’d just said “the sky is blue” and we went on to cover all of the other usual platitudes for the next hour before finding an excuse to leave. The question he never asked, and that I imagine you’re wondering at this stage:
What the f&@% are you doing here?”
I blame meditation. After just a few short months of daily meditation, my sister and I found ourselves exploring other metaphysical curiosities, from oracle cards to crystals to chakra-balancing. Poking around these avenues ignited a spark in both of us that felt too intriguing to ignore.
With time to spare before our workshop began, my sister and I made our way down the hill towards the community lake, passing several people lounging in hammocks. We plopped down in two empty chaise lounges by the water and watched a few kayakers drift lazily in the distance. One of the staff members raked the sand in front of the water for a solid fifteen minutes, a concentrated frown on her face.
“Do you think she misunderstood the term ‘Reiki’?” I asked at one point.
My sister rolled her eyes at my pun and answered, “Do you think people take the kayaks out just to smoke pot?”
Neither of our questions were answered because we spent the rest of the weekend sitting barefoot in a small, brightly lit room with one instructor and eighteen strangers, meditating and channeling spirit guides, angels, and for one unlucky classmate not used to a plant-based diet, farts.
Elizabeth Harper, a walking fairy our instructor, explained in a lilting British accent that we all have one main spirit guide with us throughout our lives, along with one main guardian angel, but you might have other spirit guides with you for specific life events or goals. You can tap into these all-knowing, all-loving energy forces at any time, most especially through meditation. I would tell you more, but apparently I can make a lot of money offering this kind of instruction.
So, did I receive any meaningful guidance or insight throughout the weekend? Yes.
Did one of my spirit guides look like Zac Efron? Yes. Did I love not stressing about finding vegan food to eat? Yes. Did I mention the farter every chance I got? Yes. Would I go back?
I admit it, Chipmunks. I’m slipping. Between working full-time, embarking on a 130+ hour practicum project, writing a Masters thesis, and designing a new website (…stay tuned!), I’m starting to crack. I’m even getting other people to write posts for me.
On the upside, this post totally wrote itself.
1. You find yourself posting things like this to Facebook:
2. You Could Give the 3 Stooges a Run for Their Money
I have spilled not one, not two, not three, but FOUR dinners in the past few weeks. First, there were the freshly grilled veggie burgers that flew out of the container and down the stairs, making friends with all of my stinky workout shoes. Then there was the bag holding popcorn kernels that gave up on life just as I was about to dump its contents into a pot. And let’s not forget the tray of vegetables that took a detour from the grill to the house via the grass on Mother’s Day.
The crowning jewel was a tray of general Tso’s tofu, smothered in bright, red sauce, gleefully leaping from the confines of my plate and landing all over my gray living room carpet. I’m still finding sticky sauce in fun places, like underneath the dog’s bowls.
I would have recreated some of these moments for the photo op, but I promised Uncle Jesse I’d stop scaring him.
3. You Can’t Even Select the Right Address On Amazon
I’ve now sent a grand total of three packages to my parents’ house this month. Luckily nothing too embarrassing. Like ‘stache bleach.
Now that I think about it, I’ve also gone to the grocery store and walked away with everything but the one thing I really needed, lost or misplaced an umbrella, a phone charger, a water bottle top, a child, and even ordered a Redbox movie and tried to pick it up at the wrong location.
Oh, and I asked the woman at DSW Shoe Warehouse last weekend why my gift cards weren’t working.
4. You Mistake Someone for a Different Person…and They Look Nothing Alike
The other day my sister texted and said, “Come meet Joe and I at the pizza place!”
“Give me a few,” I replied. “I need to put on pants and stop crying over my nonexistent love life a really sh*tty Netflix movie.”
I greeted my sister and Joe fifteen minutes later, and after we chatted for a while, Joe said, “Oh, what’s your thesis about?”
I tried to cover up my confused expression. Hadn’t we just discussed this a few weeks ago over drinks in my sister’s yard when we first met? Was my project that boring? I bit my tongue and simply explained it again.
It wasn’t until the next day that my sister cleared up the confusion.
“Um… we had drinks with Chris in the yard. Wait. Wait. You thought Joe was Chris? They don’t even look alike!” she sputtered, breaking into hysterics.
“It was dark!” I tried to defend myself.
While she got her ab workout for the week, I realized, “Huh. That explains why only one of them had an accent.”
And the number one sign you’re losing it…
5. Halfway through writing this post, you realize you wrote a post with the same title six years ago.
I hope you’ll share some of your own ‘losing it’ stories so I don’t feel so alone.
Have you ever stumbled upon a Facebook post and thought, “I’m going to need a lot more information”?
This is precisely what happened to me (again) two weeks ago when I read an alarming update from my friend, Robin. Rather than fill you in on the details, I thought I’d let the wonderful woman herself handle the job!
Let’s all give a warm welcome to Robin (and her four-year-old son, who plays a…surprising…role in this tale)!
How does a day that started off normal end with a trip to the doctors, tweezers, and California Raisins?
Let’s start from the beginning…
Baby carrier in tow, I walk into my four year old’s classroom. He is peeing in the toilet, door wide open, a content look on his face – you do you, buddy! By the time I grab his bag, he has finished his business and I notice something on his ear.
In typical mom fashion, I lick my thumb and go to wipe his ear.
“Ow!” he winces.
Well, this can’t be good…
I lean in and take a closer look.
There is something IN HIS EAR.
Instant panic. Is it a bug? Is it poop (he was just in the bathroom)? Is it some other foreign object with which I am less familiar? I grab his hand and leave.
Sitting in the car I’m thinking, “What the actual f*ck is in your ear?” and I am not getting any straight answers. He is clearly exercising his right to plead the fifth. I call the pediatrician, who closes at 4:00, and hope they answer. They answer! I tear out of the parking lot, grilling this poor kid the whole way.
It took the entire drive to the office to get the full story. Apparently a little girl (who will not be named) was eating…wait for it….RAISINS at lunch and decided to put some in his ear. While listening I am wondering, Were you a willing participant in all this? Did she assault you? Should I tell the school? What the f*ck does a parent do in this situation? Also, note to this young lady with the raisins: not the way to make friends!
Once inside the office the panic begins to subside. Luckily we have an amazing pediatrician who was willing to see us right away and calmly removed said RAISIN from William’s ear…all while providing a teachable moment in a stern doctor voice.
The whole drive home, after the raisin extraction, I was thinking to myself what is the name of that cartoon…with the raisins who play instruments…they are in a band?…
Robin, I believe you’re referring to the Emmy Award-winning band, The California Raisins, who catapulted to popularity in the mid-1980s.
Now that things have settled down, I think you and your son can both enjoy (and hear) a trip down memory lane…
Any other surprising social media post-spottings out there?
I know what we should do! We should get a tent, go to that place in upstate New York with the naked dancing, and just CUT. LOOSE.
I have this group of really great girlfriends who love to get together and enjoy a glass or ten of wine. Eventually, one friend or another says some variation of the above.
The alpha female of the group (*cough* my sister) then pulls out her phone and starts pointing around the table, “WHEN ARE YOU FREE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE. WHEN ARE YOU FREE. OKAY….DONE.”
In these moments, I turn into a spastic owl puppet, my head spinning a full 360-degrees. I’m suddenly the only person who can see in the dark, wondering when the light will shine again.
As my little bird noggin spins like a top, everyone around me screams, “OH MY GODDDDD. BARRY CAN WATCH THE DOG AND I’LL TELL MY BOSS TO GO SCRATCH AND I’LL GET THAT SALSA FROM WHOLE FOODS AND YAAAAAAASSSSSS OH MY GOD YAASSSSSSSS!!!!!”
My heart starts racing. Once again, I’m becoming:
Chief Long Memory.
Chief Long Memory, ironically, is the member of the tribe with the least amount of responsibility — no kids, no mortgage, no sick ferret. In these moments, she sighs heavily, straightens her understated though decidedly fabulous headdress and gently reminds everyone what happened last time we thought signing up for horseback riding lessons in Tijuana on Cinqo de Mayo was a flawless endeavor.
“Um, hey, guys, yeah, it’s me. I was just thinking, I don’t know, remember that time we all spent 48 hours scraping neon pink vomit off our bangs –bangs which we did not have when this adventure began– and we couldn’t find Claire for, like, six weeks? I mean I don’t want to compare this latest discussion to the decision to film SHARKNADO 6, but, you ladies aren’t giving me a lot to work with here.”
Take, for example, road cycling. For the past year, I’ve been trying to, er, broaden the group’s collective appreciation of what it means to ride very uncomfortable bikes very long distances in very inhospitable weather.
I figured my case rested on facts included in this post and this post. (The CliffsNotes version: a 60-mile race in frigid rain with two flat tires and one fall, and a 30-mile epic Arizona mountain climb in oppressive heat with no water.)
What I didn’t realize: the untapped potential in pointing out the hazards of simply dressing for these hellish excursions.
Janeen is the member of our tribe who’s usually gleefully responding, “ALL THE TIMES!!!” to my sister’s, “WHEN ARE YOU FREE.” Where others go right, Janeen goes left. Where others say “Hell no,” Janeen says, “I’ll bring bean dip.” Despite what you’ve heard me say so far, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Janeen makes my project manager heart go thud. Janeen makes things happen in a way I haven’t seen since Britney and Justin at the 2001 American Music Awards.
Lest you think Janeen’s an irresponsible wild child, she has every single one of her sh*ts together, working one of those smarty-pants jobs my bird brain can’t even understand, raising three children, and running a household in a lighthearted yet no nonsense way that would make Mary Poppins proud.
I mean, she even turns watermelons into sharks, paints like Bob Ross, and curls her hair before meeting us for lunch, for crying out loud.
This is precisely why I should have known that Janeen would serve as my ultimate ally in the Chief Long Memory campaign.
“Oh my god you’ll never guess what happened to me this morning,” she said the other day, tossing her purse down wearily and taking a seat at the dining room table. The tribe stared at her, sipping our wine. She looked…frazzled.
Janeen never looks frazzled.
“I was in the car, all ready for the bike ride,” she began, “but then I realized I had to get Kid #3 something to eat. Mom guilt blah blah. I went back inside…to TOTAL BATSH*T CHAOS.”
She drew a long breath and continued.
“Shoes everywhere. EVERYWHERE! I trip, almost break my neck, get to the kitchen and find an ENTIRE BAG of bagels devoured by the dogs. Then I screamed at Kid #2 about the shoes — it was not my finest hour.”
By now we were all nodding sympathetically and filling her glass to the brim.
“Then I decide to go upstairs to grab my arm warmers,” she says ominously.
“And now I’m late as hell, so I’m trying to hurl myself into them. I can’t get the damn things on, they’re so tight. I’m tugging and tugging and tugging. I finally get one halfway up my arm, and then as I’m giving it one final tug….
“I PUNCHED MYSELF IN THE FACE.
“I CHIPPED MY OWN TOOTH. I chipped. My own. Tooth!”
I managed to stop laughing long enough to ask, “Did you still ride?!”
Janeen answered with this photo:
On second thought, I may still have my work cut out for me in convincing this group to stay inside and do jigsaw puzzles with me.
What kinds of trouble are your friends stirring up?
“So the ultimate goal, really,” the instructor said, brushing back a curly red lock that had broken loose from her bun, “is to start seeing the whole world this way: a universe filled with divinely placed signs and symbols to help guide you.”
I shuffled a large, colorful deck of cards for the tenth time, glancing around the room at the handful of other students. There was the older woman who introduced herself as a teacher’s assistant, a gray-haired man with turquoise beads around his neck, and someone about my age, in her mid-to-late 30’s.
We sat in the brightly colored yoga studio barefooted, having all been instructed to remove our shoes and wash our hands as soon as we had arrived.
“When you first get your cards,” the instructor continued, “you’ll need to cleanse them. For today, you can wave them over one of these candles, but make sure to pause on each one.”
She then explained how to develop our own interpretations of the “oracle cards” in our hands – oversized decks depicting vivid images and words.
“They come in all kinds of themed decks,” she went on, adjusting her blue-framed glasses, “and you can mix them however you’re called to.”
We spent the next two hours learning about the importance of color, challenging our initial associations between words and images, and tapping into our “inner knowing.”
Fast forward a week later, and I found myself registering for this:
Yup. That’s right. Part two. I went back for more.
Before the end of the second class, I was accurately predicting which cards I’d turn over – from a deck I’d never seen before!
So what was I doing there? Did someone drug me? Threaten to steal my dog? Promise free tickets to see Darren Criss and Lea Michele?
Last summer, I started tugging on a thread that quickly unraveled, revealing a treasure trove of paths to explore. By “following my allurements,” as a favorite teacher of mine likes to say, my love of learning and reading returned with a bang, hidden in a pile of metaphysical books and podcasts.
Astrology? Reiki? Past lives? Numerology? Near death experiences? Crystals? Sound healing? Chakra balancing? Spirit animals? Astral projection? Telepathy?
BRING IT ON.
The more I’ve explored, the more I want to know. The humorist in me loves that this is all just another way of following the classic improv mantra, “Yes, and.” The humane educator in me loves that this is just another way to acknowledge we’re all connected. The chipmunk in me loves that this is just another way to guarantee I’ll find some nuts. The project manager in me loves that this isn’t woo-woo at all; as Carl Sagan put it, “science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”
I’m finally finding words to articulate the strange things I’ve always experienced. And, the funny thing is, the more I’ve started opening up about this, the more I’ve found like-minded chipmunks everywhere. I mean seriously. Ya’ll were holding out.
Anyhoo. I’ll make sure to send postcards from down the rabbit hole.