Friday, May 1, 2015

The Year of Death Continues

If you get a tarot reading someday and the death card appears in your spread, you shouldn't freak out. Death doesn't always mean death. It usually means a significant transition. A very big, life altering change. And that change is often for the better.

Death, the real pushing-up-daisies kind, also signifies transition for those of us left standing. 

My 30th year began with the death of my childhood dog, which was, I must say, traumatic. Then last week, the uncle married to one of my favorite aunts unexpectedly passed away. The day after, we received news that my 99 year-old grandfather was going into hospice. He passed on Tuesday the 28th, and his funeral is next Thursday (and, in a cruel ironic twist, his funeral is on the birthday of the aunt who just lost her husband - that poor woman is getting pounded)

In the midst of all this was the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends who finally married the girl of my dreams (and presumably his too). She is everything I always hoped he'd find, and then some. So, for one day, I got to set aside my grief and celebrate the start of something truly splendid and wonderful with friends I've known for nearly twenty years. I'd wanted to write them a card, something that would impart wisdom and best wishes and somehow magically bless their union with the written word. But I couldn't find the words. Something about how, even though so many things change over the years including ourselves, the parts of ourselves that never change are what we love most. Something like that. 

So. Death. And change. 

I've taken a week off of work to wrap my head around all of this, which is the very best thing you can do. And yesterday, while on a morning hike, the parts of my life that I don't like crystallized. I haven't been living up to my own expectations. I haven't been fulfilling my Life Goal (which I came up with when I was 11, don't judge): To be an interesting person. 

Here's the interesting thing about this goal. Interestingness is not only purely subjective, it's dependent on other people finding me interesting. I'm living my life on a stage of public opinion. This does not bother me. None of us live in a vacuum, no man is an island, and I like getting nods of approval from perfect strangers. 

But somewhere between my last crazy trip to parts unusual and now, I've become boring (at least to myself). I don't get a kick out of telling people what I do for a living anymore. I've gotten fat. Yes, fat. Don't argue with me. My life has been wrapped around my husband, my house, and lately my new rescue dog Greta (Greta Garbo, because she is THAT glamorous), which are all things I love, but aren't objectively fascinating. So last week, after I heard the news about my uncle, I sat down to write my requirements for being an interesting person. This is purely my own opinion, but that's the one that counts.

1. Be fit enough to do awesome things.
Fix: Get fit by doing awesome things, including hiking, archery, dancing, and yoga.

2. Finish goals I've started.
Fix: Sort out the back yard vegetable and herb gardens, succeed at composting, finally learn to use my damn camera.

3. Do awesome things.
Fix: Travel more, visit friends, plan a roadtrip, play with exotic animals, learn a new dance style. Do things that are completely unexpected.

4. Travel to unusual places.
Fix: We're planning a trip in a year to go to China, Hong Kong and Tokyo. And I'm thinking of Africa, or Vietnam/Cambodia...when I can afford it again. Houses are expensive.

5. Explore different painting styles.
Fix: Van Gogh is on my list, as are midcentury modern styles.

6. Get work/life balance together so I have time to DO interesting things.
Fix: Limiting my work hours to 4 hours a day.

7. Change jobs.
Fix: This is a hard one. Marketing is not what I want to do with my life. I don't like selling things and I don't like being sold to, so I'll be looking at other ways to use my talents and experience this year. I want to have the kind of job that makes jaws drop at cocktail parties. 

I guess what I'm doing is using death as a springboard for making changes I've needed to make for a while now. Death is transition, even when it's literal.

Sadly, the one thing I cannot do, which I would find very interesting indeed, is to attend that wedding in England. I'm really bummed about missing it, but now that I've figured out the root cause of all that angst I was feeling, I'm doing okay. I should have realized that my reaction to that wedding was more about me not living up to my life goal - and that is something I have the ability to change.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I'm a damn fool

Whelp, you can't have successes without a few mishaps along the way, can you? My mishap is of the moral/philosophical variety.

We received  a lovely Save the Date email for the aforementioned wedding, and I "Squeeed" with delight (this is not the moral/philosophical failing, though "squeeing" is undignified). But 5 minutes later, I felt so guilty about just how much my nuptial assumptions bent me out of shape, that some of the fun was taken out of it. A lot of the fun. Most of the fun.

See, in the months of assuming an invitation to the wedding of my dreams, I could neatly ignore just how much I wanted it and why. When I thought the invitation would never come, all my emotional baggage hurtled to the front of the Train-to-Denial. The upset wasn't from an invitation unsent, it was from a life unlived. And it sucked.

When I was in college, I had a choice: Pursue my ambitions to move to England and, frankly, become English (via marriage or special dispensation from the Queen or unearthing a torrid affair between my mother and a random Englishman - I wasn't picky). It's the lifelong goal of a die-hard anglophile, which I've been ever since I can remember (age 3?). It's the longest, most passionate unrequited love of my life, and I had a choice to pursue it - or be with my lovely, intelligent, coffee-bearing American boyfriend.

Reader, I married him.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one more traveled by. (How many literary references can I make in a single post? Let's find out!)

Meanwhile, the Bride in question went to England, found a lovely, intelligent, tea-and-toddy-bearing British boyfriend, and has been living [MY LIFE] in Oxford for the past several years. She's well on her way to citizenship, has a circle of intellectual, creative friends who say clever things all the time, and has a local pub. I am all the bad things: Jealous, regretful, sad, angsty, annoyed. I am some of the good things: Proud of her, happy for them, and I enjoy our visits very much.

Now, to be perfectly honest about how horrible a person I am, I need to say this: I have a really amazingly great life, with a ridiculously great husband, a house I adore in a picturesque town with nearly perfect weather. Also, a great job that I made myself, for which my clients appreciate me. I have the time and leisure to paint and garden, I have the money to collect records and old books and hats, and I have a husband who supports me in all these things. I'm happy most of the time.

But staring down that road not taken is like a punch in the gut. At the ripe old age of 30, I finally have one regret - and yet, I don't know that I'd choose differently. My husband is just as hard to pass up now as he was ten years ago, much to his credit.

I should be perfectly happy with what I have. I know this. But I want all the things. I want clever English friends with big ideas; I want a local pub that's like an English version of Cheers; I want to soak myself in British culture like a tea bag in a china cup.

So I'm going to punch that green-eyed monster in the face and channel my energies into figuring out how to get a little of that English life for myself. Here's my working checklist:

  1. Make intellectual, clever, creative friends nearby (proximity is important)
  2. Travel to England more frequently (hard to do, expensive, but still a compromise)
  3. Make more friends in England (because it's lovely to visit friends)

No, I'm not forgetting the most important thing, though I'd love to ignore it. I don't yet know how to not be jealous. But, I can make sure I don't dive into another tailspin of questioning all of my life choices for the last decade (yes, I did that, hence the title of this post).

I have so so many of the things I've always wanted, and I've worked hard and consciously to get them. Someday, there will be a time for England (really trying NOT to make a West Side Story ref here). I know this because I can make the things I want happen. I found camels in San Diego for Christ's sake! Nothing is beyond my power. Except marrying a British husband - because I'm not trading mine for anything.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Word on Weddiquette

I'd thought of everything. The hat I would wear - the lime green one with the drooping feathers and fashionable folds. The soft knee-length green dress that goes with the hat. The ivory gloves that go with the dress. The smooth green leather shoes that I'd probably have to change if there was much dancing to be done.

I had the itinerary planned for the entire trip, barring the handful of hours we would be celebrating the nuptials of our friends. We would walk along the storied river for a week, traveling by foot from idyllic village to cozy bed-and-breakfast, winding our way with the water through green hills. Rain or shine, makes no difference, because the rain is wet, and green, and fresh. Chill would be chased away by a pastry, and heat would be easily quelled by a cool, not cold, brown ale. Then we would drive North to see what there is to see and smell the heather blooming in early summer, and marvel at the clothes hanging out to dry in every cottage yard despite the intermittent rain. An homage to true optimism waving with every damp sheet.

I don't believe the invitation is coming. Our invitation arrived there two years ago, safe and sound, and was responded to within the allotted time with a positive "Yes!" They sat, they danced, they ate our cake, and we were deeply glad they had flown the distance. We looked forward to returning the favor. Expected to. Even though expectations of such things are a tad self-serving.

I suppose, really, that I should be happy for their long-awaited union. But when I see my feathered hat, so perfect for that sort of wedding, I kind of wish that the venue buries them in a heap of ancient sandy-colored stones, and that their last words are "Our one regret is not inviting Lauren and Charles!." It's petty. I admit it.

We would have given a nice gift. A very nice gift. We're not cheap. That should count for something, even if it is also a shallow, petty consideration. But aren't most considerations shallow and petty where weddings are concerned? I realize not everyone can be invited to a wedding. But I thought we had something. I thought our good times, good drinks, good food, good company, good thank-you gifts, good manners, and goodness in general meant something. Apparently, not quite the price of a plate or the space of a seat.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Turning 30 and the Weekend of Death

There's nothing like a milestone birthday to make a girl think of dying, especially when the celebration is nested between visiting my 98 year old grandfather in the hospital to chat casually about his funeral plans, and the family dog of nearly 19 years dying in your hands. Super. Fun.

Hello 30s!

I'll say one thing for that dog: he was a terrier to the last. I'm certain he bit the hand of Death at least five times before the old devil succeeded in taking him. I could have sworn I felt Death whip his hand back from the fierce doggy jowls. But, in the end, the stubborn beast met his maker, and I felt the last beat of his heart thud into silence.

My grandfather is rather terrier-like himself, and is not going gently into that good night either. He's still bright and alert, telling stories to the nurses, and shows more patience with them than I think I'll ever have. Watching him stoically submit to the indignities of aging gives me even greater respect for his fortitude, but it also makes me wonder: Is it worth it? Is it worth while to live to 140 in dog years, or 98 in people years, if so much of those later hours are spent in the prison of a barely-functional body?

I suppose as long as the good outweighs the bad, and you keep your sense of humor, it might be.

As I slid into my own fierce old age (I say this ironically - I've no wrinkles to speak of and my hair's still dark), I made a list of the accomplishments of my 20s. They read as follows:

List of Accomplishments in my Twenties
1. Graduated college with honors
2. Paid off student loans
3. Figured out office work is a no-go
4. Developed wine expertise
5. Built a business from nothing
6. Traveled around the world to England, Japan, Canada, India, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa, Italy, Germany, and Austria
7. Got married (and had the Best Wedding Ever)
8. Bought a house
9. Interviewed celebrities, which was pretty cool
10. Went to a real, Cinderella-worthy ball
11. Learned to wrangle camels
12. Learned oil painting
13. Made amazing friends
14. Let go of bad friends
15. Was ordained, and officiated a same-sex wedding
16. Was a bridesmaid
17. Bought a new car
18. Developed closer relationship with my sisters
19. Had a story published in a book
20. Got my own office

But, the accomplishments I'm most proud of are the people I've known over the last ten years. Making and keeping great friends is hard, and I am so proud to know the people I do.

Next, I made a list of Goals for my Thirties. They read as follows:

Goals for My Thirties
1. Get fit
2. Have adventures:
   - Travel to Asia
   - Work with exotic/unusual animals
   - Take a road trip through the American South
   - Organize girlfriend getaways of the creative variety
   - Walk the Thames Path (maybe not all 160 miles...)
   - Travel to Scotland (miss the place)
3. Increase income every year, until I quit working altogether
4. Quit working
5. Seriously consider kids
6. Lots of house projects:
   - Landscaping
   - Tree Lounge
   - Bathroom renovation
   - Kitchen renovation
7. Make local friends
8. Have more parties at the house
9. Befriend Gail Carriger (one of my favorite authors, and it seems like we have a lot in common)
10. Get really good pictures taken of me, after I get fit of course

So far, my goal to work less and earn more is going well. I'm letting go my lowest-paying clients (as much as I enjoy working with them, it's shooting myself in the foot to continue), getting raises from my mid-range clients, and demanding a solid $75/hour from everybody else. Note to creatives: You can't do your best work when you're underpaid. If you work for peanuts, you'll wear yourself out and quit altogether. So, pace yourself and work less, for more money.

And with that, I'm off to do my billing for the month and fire a couple clients. I'm starting my 30s with a new outlook on life and work - ie. I need to do more living and less working. After all, time's a wastin'.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Room of One's Own

I write this, finally, from my Home Office in San Diego.

My bronze Ganesh statue sits smugly on my left, a drained coffee mug and To-Do list on my right, and in front of me, a bright orange wall. I've always wanted a bright orange wall. Behind me is the window to the back yard, which needs some work, but we've only been moved in to the house for about a month. I can hear doves cooing, finches cheeping, chickens scratching and squabbling (we have four), and a gentle breeze. On that breeze is the scent of citrus blossoms. Ripe oranges roll down the road here.

My husband got the San Diego job in October (when we heard the news, it felt like winning the lottery) and we've spent the past five months house hunting and living with the in-laws - an intense time. No matter how lovely in-laws are (and they are lovely), it's hard to be in someone else's space. And, between them and me, there's a language barrier. Not literally, we both speak English, but every family has its own way of communicating which only makes sense to themselves. What do they say about England and America? Two countries separated by a common language. It's like that.

Having our own space, our own house, is bliss though. I'm so blissed out by it that I'm finding it hard to concentrate on work (it's so much easier to concentrate on work under a little constant stress, it turns out). It's hard to imagine that four weeks ago, when we were laboring to fill this house with boxes of our things,  I was wondering if I should seek help for depression. Yep, the stress had gotten that bad. I wasn't sure I was going to pull out of it. But, it turns out that when the situational stress is gone, I bounce back pretty quickly. And, I'm losing weight without even trying (not eating pepperoni pizza 1-2 times a week with the in-laws is a fantastic diet). I nearly hit 200 pounds this year. Those people love their carbs.

It's a bit lonely here though. My progress making friends in Orange County is a wash - have to start all over. But, my oldest friend has already come for a too-brief visit, and I can't wait to have more guests. San Diego is a much better draw for out-of-towners than OC. I'd like to think that visiting us would be the draw, but I don't kid myself. This is a lovely place. I have, however, made one new friend who is smart, well educated and articulate, and an old soul straight out of the 1920's. Ms. Pearce has definite possibilities, especially since she used the "Idiocracy" argument for why smart people should have kids (which is my argument too).

Kids are a hot topic of discussion among my friends this month. At age 29 and 30's, we're all feeling a little pressure to figure it out. And, of course, many of our friends are popping out babies like it's going out of style. I cannot relate. I have shit to do. Still, I try to be happy for them and supportive of them. And, I am so grateful to my friends who are able to give me positive perspectives on it. I have a feeling the next five years are going to be a constant battle of trying to talk myself into having kids. I want to want that. I don't. Maybe, hopefully, I'll trip and hit my head on a rock some day and it'll finally sound like a great idea.

Speaking of taking on mothering, my little half-sister is coming to live with us for 2-4 weeks this summer. She's been getting into more and more trouble, still depressed, on meds, smoking pot, seeing the therapist, almost getting arrested for stealing hard liquor with her loser friends. Our father is off playing with his new girlfriend, using little sister's drama to gain him pity points no doubt, and her mother would really rather be playing with her boyfriend and is delighted by the prospect of having a parenting vacation. I fear both parents think I can somehow magically make their kid okay. I can't. I don't expect to. My expectations are as follows:

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

I can show her that a happy, peaceful, loving and successful life is possible. I can be the model for a better way of being. But she's got to want to get there on her own. And that probably won't happen at age 15 - maybe by age 25. The only power I have is to give her the option of living well, and act as living proof that it's possible. It's more than many troubled teens get. Still, 2-4 weeks with a depressed, angry teenager is going to be... strenuous. For both of us. Not to mention my sweet husband. I hope it will be fun too though. Best case scenario: I get to teach her what I do (she's "interning"), and teach her a few good life lessons too.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I've got 29 problems but a B---- ain't one.

It's my 29th birthday today and I'm sitting here drinking coffee made by my husband, and eating a cookie made by our neighbors - who literally came over to borrow a cup of sugar. Yes, I've managed to make friends since January, for which I am thrilled and grateful. But I've also managed to lose a friend, which though incredibly painful, is definitely for the best. This year, just like my horoscope said, I've had to set boundaries with people, and that friend crossed the line egregiously. I feel stronger not allowing people to treat me badly.

"Siblings or close relatives could become a source of strain, and you'll have to create firm boundaries."

My siblings - the unhappy products of modern-day parenting - have been in constant crisis since May when my 16 year old sister discovered cut marks on the 14 year old sister (while they were wrestling with each other - they fight non-stop). I tried to take the place of a responsible parent, but I couldn't do it. I was losing sleep, losing work, losing my sanity trying to be the person they can count on when no one else was acting or reacting appropriately. I know I did some good because my sisters and I forged a closer bond than we have ever had, and the 14 year old is getting professional help. But I know that deep pit of sadness doesn't just go away - ever. Professional help and pills will keep you standing, but having a happy, functional, fulfilling life after so much of you has been grown in an adverse environment is an uphill battle. I'm there for them as much as I can be, but I've definitely had to set boundaries with our father (who'd be only too happy to turn over full-time parenting to me so he can go play). 

As if that didn't having me tearing out my hair enough this Spring, June took a swift downturn after our first wedding anniversary when Husband didn't come home one night. He finally called at 3 in the morning, voice muffled, not really coherent, and asked me to pick him up at the train station. I get there to find him in a pool of blood. He had been mugged and violently beaten and kicked multiple times over a wallet with no cash in it and a cheap watch. Days of hospitals, worry over surgery (that he didn't need, thank God), friends coming over in droves to help keep us up and going (extraordinarily wonderful). June went by in a tearful blur and we were well rid of the whole horrible month by the time July rolled around. 

I think that, more than anything, helped me sort out my boundaries. There's nothing like a real crisis to force you to prioritize. Maybe it's the strength that I found then that helped me to end my bad friendship. I just don't have time for selfish people in my life anymore. That tolerance went right out the window this year. I cleaned out my Facebook friends too.

The wild ride of Big Events continued through the first week of July, when I became a Reverend to marry my same-sex friends in a beautiful coastal elopement. I feel like I got to be a part of California history, and I'm so grateful for that. Sadly, that's also the friend I lost. To make a long story short: I worked so hard to help her make her wedding as special and wonderful as it could be (taking a week off of work, driving them all over for hours, hosting them on my futon, hand-making garlands, getting up at 5am to scout and collect flowers, gifting them a honeymoon suite), and then she had her new wife yell at me for 15 minutes for the stupidest of reasons (I suggested to a mutual friend that she might want to send them a congratulatory card, when I guess the wedding was supposed to be top secret?). I didn't deserve that treatment, and it made me realize that I had been ignoring her self-centeredness for a long time. Marrying them is still one of the best, most incredible moments of my life, but I couldn't keep someone who treats me badly as a friend. Reminds me of the rap song "99 Problems" - I've had 29 problems, but a bitch ain't one.

"The second half of the year will be better spent socializing and creating community. You'll be more interested in meeting new people than promoting your work. Get ready to meet amazing and passionate folks who will remain in your life for years to come." 

I just came back from Boise, Idaho which was so much about my food blog, socializing and creating community that this really rings true. I did meet amazing and passionate folks - one in particular - who I hope will remain in my life for years to come. Whenever you clear a space in your life (like ditching a bad friend), nature abhors a vacuum. Something or someone comes along to fill it. In this case, I've made a new friend in a Mr. Smith, who I can only describe as a louder, more energetic version of myself if I were a 44 year old gay man from Canada. We bounce up and down in our chairs when Billy Idol songs come on, we both reach for the "Everything" bagel at the counter, we're both addicted to good coffee and have the exact same taste in food. It's insta-love - feels like we've known each other for a decade. Husband is a little jealous, but that's only because he hasn't met him yet - they have a lot in common as well. But what strikes me most about Mr. Smith is how generous he is with his time, his knowledge, and his own two hands and feet. He's just plain helpful to everyone, in every way he can be. And that is such a striking contrast to the friend I lost that I can't help but feel that I've upgraded. 

I firmly believe that all the weird sh*t that's happened this year was thrown at us for a reason, like we're gaining karmic points to spend on something really great. I'm hoping for one thing in particular: moving to San Diego. I want it. I want it bad. Husband has a chance at a job down there right now and I am praying that we get good news today. Come on Ganesh! Remove some obstacles! This writer needs her own home office! 

And, my horoscope:
There may be some kind of conflict in your life arising from a great urge to do something different. (Yeah, like move to San Diego).
The year ahead promises to be a busy, dynamic, and significant period in your life.Neptune's challenging transit to your Sun is winding down and finally passes in February - an influence that has been with you for some time and that may have at times confused you as to what direction your life should take. As this transit lifts, life tends to become considerably clearer. (Good, because part of me wants to fire my writing clients and paint landscapes for a living).
The Sun conjunct Mercury in your Solar Return chart suggests that you have a lot to do this year. At times, you may feel like the pace of your life is running ahead of you. (!!!) You can be especially productive, however, in all types of communications--writing, speaking, learning, teaching, and so forth. There can be a lot of change happening during this period of your life, but generally on a small scale.
This year, you can feel that your spiritual and material goals harmonize or at least don't get in each other's way. Circumstances and your own attitudes facilitate following through on your dreams or turning your visions and ideals into reality. Combining imagination and effort is successful now. There can be a sense that your dreams are realizable, and you can build stronger faith and acceptance. There may be some tension over your personal finances, and/or need to make a large payment that necessitates changes in your spending habits. Finances may be complicated. Some of you could experience power struggles with money. (Let's hope this means a new house).
But my other aspiration for this year (now that I've nailed the making-friends challenge - yay!) is gaining strength and losing weight. All the chaos this year has made it really hard to eat less, exercise more. So, August 29th is when a year of taking care of myself starts. And if anything gets in the way of that, I've learned how to set boundaries to protect myself. 

I refuse to be 30 and fluffy. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hindsight, Foresight, and 2013

That dream about bees in October did indeed bring busyness, business, creativity and wealth. Not long after that dream, I got in touch with Todd Reichman over at AMantoFish, who is a legitimate creative business guru, and he sorted me and my business out. Tough love style. Instead of hiring more people, I reorganized my work schedule to take on more work, and better paying projects. Then even better paying projects materialized. For 2013, my goal (Shhh! Don't tell anyone!) is to clear $30,000 after taxes. It's a modest goal, but for a freelance writer just beginning to find her feet, it's where I'm comfortable. Considering what's been happening since October, I'm secretly hoping to overshoot it.


I'm ready for it. 2012 was such a mad-dash year with the engagement, wedding, family drama, wedding blog, podcasting, starting new dream job managing travel bloggers, honeymoon, flubbing being a tour coordinator, constant fear of letting people down, constant guilt for never getting everything done. As 2012 wound to a close this week, I felt exhausted. A pervasive sleepiness that just wouldn't quit. My eyes were open, barely, but my will was still in bed.

But between 12/31 and 1/2, I've felt a surge of focus. Husband and I rearranged our living room drastically, which opened up my mind to new possibilities. Change that we control can be as invigorating as swimming in a lake on a hot day. Change that we don't control, of course, is always terrifying. Sometimes in a good way.

So what does 2013 have in store? My yearly horoscope:

2013: virgo overview
2013 brings you sweeping change and intensity, Virgo. The biggest transformation takes place in the realm of the mind. Communication, correspondence and courses of new study carry great importance. Saturn, the cosmic taskmaster, is spending a good chunk of time in the sector of your chart ruling the mental realms and communication. If you're not already a powerful public speaker, teacher or writer, get ready to discover your latent potential to sway the masses with your power of speech! You're also hungry for knowledge in 2013, and will want to strengthen your skill set and beef up your resume with even more knowledge than you possess naturally.
Jupiter continues to bring the potential for great promise and recognition to your career zone this year. Prepare to push all of your projects most strongly during the first half of the year while you have the support of Jupiter. The second half of the year will be better spent socializing and creating community. You'll be more interested in meeting new people than promoting your work. Get ready to meet amazing and passionate folks who will remain in your life for years to come. 
The eclipse patterns stir up endings and new beginnings in relation to siblings, travel and legal issues. Siblings or close relatives could become a source of strain, and you'll have to create firm boundaries. In fact, boundaries in all realms of communication will serve you to avoid overload. Your life is about to become ridiculously busy and filled with more people than you know what to do with. At the end of the day, you're still a hermit at heart and need plenty of alone time, so be sure to carve that out regardless of how social your world becomes.
Oh great, more intensity. Can't help but groan a little there after this last year. But, it looks like the writing business will continue to take off, and then I might even manage a social life. That's one thing I've been wanting: friends. Working from home is a lonely business, though not so lonely as working in an office full of people with whom you have nothing in common (been there, done that, donated the T-shirt). I've been reading "MWF Seeks BFF" about a married late 20-something woman trying to make new friends in Chicago, and the parallels are striking. It's not easy to make friends after college.

The friendship issue has been on the top of my mind lately. I'm coming to the conclusion that my generation is extremely narcissistic. "Fundamental narcissism" is what I've been calling it. The kind of people who can't be bothered to go out of their way to be friends, but who are very happy if you go out of your way for them. Husband and I are just the kind of people who bend over backwards for everyone as a matter of good manners. Recognizing this Fundamental Narcissism it in far too many people I meet has made me deeply appreciate the notable exceptions to the rule. I just wish there were more of them, that they lived closer, and that we could have them over for dinner parties.

Husband and I were watching "Liberal Arts" last night, an independent film starring Ted Mosby (HIMYM), exploring the idea of adulthood after college. One line struck me "People are disappointing." And one of the themes was that the idealism and openness of college gets pummeled out of you by all of these disappointments. What can I say? It *can* be true. Yet I know people for whom it is not true. Some people stubbornly retain their idealism and positive view of humanity. Too bad those people are so damned far away.

If my 2013 horoscope is accurate (and aren't they always?), my island nation of WorkFromHome is soon to be occupied by people other than myself, my husband, and our few far-flung friends. That will be a most welcome change.

But enough of that - We stay positive around here no matter what. Fundamental Optimism is what I call it. My friend and writing partner sent me the best card ever. She writes:
"Truth or Dare? Dare you say? Super! I dare you...
1) To write haiku together on post-it-notes and decorate public bathrooms at a bar.
2) Reach out to someone on Craiglist who is new in town and seems normal but a bit lonely.
Mostly, my lovely friends, I wish you both Brand New moments and fiercely bold living in 2013."
May I wish the same to anyone reading this Chronicle of my Quarter Life Crisis.