Monthly Archives: May 2010

Blogging, Baking, and Camping

After thinking quite a bit about the many things in life I enjoy doing I’ve narrowed it down for my June happiness challenge – focusing on my passions.  I’ve come up with three items – cooking and baking, blogging, and camping.  Here are a few of the ideas I have for June’s challenge.

Cooking and Baking

  • Make something from scratch daily
  • Drastically reduce the purchase of pre-made snacks
  • Use high quality, local ingredients when possible

Blogging

  • Start a new blog with my husband
  • Set a goal of 4 posts per week on The Wooden Spoon, and then set up times to write

Camping

  • Go camping at least three times this summer
  • Continue camp journal
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Catastrophic friendship failure.

I wish that I could start this post with, “Oh, I had so much fun with my meetup.com cooking group, I met so many potential friends…” However, to my embarrassment and semi-regret I completely chickened out.

I was supposed to go to a pot luck cookout at a lady’s house.  I should have gone; I could have gone; I didn’t go.

It’s easy to say that if I wasn’t sick I would have gone (spent 3 work days in bed this week), or if the gathering was at a public place I would have gone (what if the host was an ax murderer?), but to be honest I’m not sure that I would have gone even in ideal  conditions.

To make matters worse, I dropped out of the club (and meetup.com) entirely.  I just panicked.  Catastrophic friendship failure.

I’ll just have to pick up the pieces and move on.

Mission Accomplished

With only 13 school days left to go, I took a sick day yesterday.  I’m nursing a nasty sinus infection, with a good dose of nausea on top of it.  While I wish I wouldn’t have needed to take a day off, I think my body is thanking me.

With all of that down time, I managed to be totally unproductive in nearly all areas… however… my Google Reader is now looking stellar.  I am down from a high of 250 blogs in February to… drumroll please…

77 !

I have an addictive personality when it comes to the computer, and I do need to reign myself in every so often.  My previous attempts at organizing my Google Reader were working well, but oh so slowly.  I was in a ruthless mood today, so I went through each and every blog that I hadn’t already assessed and looked at the last ten or so posts.  If I didn’t love it, it was out the door.

Now, the only challenge is keeping it that way…

Small Successes

Friendship month is kind of a wash.  I still have almost two weeks left, though, so maybe I’ll have some larger successes in the near future.  For now, however, I’ll have to be content with my (very) minor successes so far:

  • I joined meetup.com and will (hopefully, if I don’t lose my nerve) attend my first event this weekend.  Nevermind that when I told my mom about it, she was sure I’d be murdered and basically made me regret ever joining.
  • Joined a Zumba class.  This, I think, will be key.  Same time, same place, same people – I have to make a friend out of this eventually, right?
  • Started a friendship log, so I can see what I’m doing (and where I’m lacking).

Small steps will get me somewhere, slowly but surely, I suppose… so long as I keep taking them!

Await Your Reply (Book Review)

Title: Await Your Reply

Author: Dan Chaon

Genre: Fiction, Suspense

Year Published: Ballantine Books, 2009

Recommended by: IndieBound

Review: Publisher’s Weekly. Starred Review. Three disparate characters and their oddly interlocking lives propel this intricate novel about lost souls and hidden identities from National Book Award–finalist Chaon (You Remind Me of Me). Eighteen-year-old Lucy Lattimore, her parents dead, flees her stifling hometown with charismatic high school teacher George Orson, soon to find herself enmeshed in a dangerous embezzling scheme. Meanwhile, Miles Chesire is searching for his unstable twin brother, Hayden, a man with many personas who’s been missing for 10 years and is possibly responsible for the house fire that killed their mother. Ryan Schuyler is running identity-theft scams for his birth father, Jay Kozelek, after dropping out of college to reconnect with him, dazed and confused after learning he was raised thinking his father was his uncle. Chaon deftly intertwines a trio of story lines, showcasing his characters’ individuality by threading subtle connections between and among them with effortless finesse, all the while invoking the complexities of what’s real and what’s fake with mesmerizing brilliance. This novel’s structure echoes that of his well-received debut—also a book of threes—even as it bests that book’s elegant prose, haunting plot and knockout literary excellence.

Notes: I couldn’t put this book down, and I think it’ll stick with me; however, I was highly unsatisfied with the ending – almost all storylines had loose ends.  The book raised interesting questions of any given person’s identity.

Rating (out of four stars): two stars

Date Finished: 5/12/10

Friendship Month Is Hard

I feel a bit guilty.  Organization month was so much fun for me.  All April, I had a great time getting my ducks in a row, making lists and plans, generally creating order.  I enjoyed reading books on the topic, and even while each chore or task was not necessarily a joy, it gave me a sense of accomplishment.  It was check-able.

Friendship month, on the other had, is drudgery.  I feel just awful saying that.  I should be excited to make new friends, and make better connections with those that I already have.  I am just spent, though.  It’s exhausting keeping up with other people – everyone’s schedules are different, and sometimes I wonder if I’m even benefiting from the project.  I mean, if it’s a complete chore to maintain contact with someone, is the effort worth it?  On the other hand, if I don’t start to be a little more active in this area, I’m going to end up friendless.

Is it possibly just that this point in my life isn’t necessarily conducive to friend making?  I have a few co-workers and neighbors that I could become closer with, but I’m not sure that’s a line I want to cross.  It seems like it’s easy enough to make friends when you have kids – I used to make temporary mom-friends without trying when I’d take my babysitting charges to the playground.  Not that I’d pursue those friendships – I felt like a fraud in that situation – but I can see how those types of friendships could easily and naturally evolve.  In my current situation, I feel like I’m forcing friendships.

So which is better – forced friendships, or none at all?

I wish I just felt a little more comfortable socializing.  That would make this month quite a bit easier!  But… again… “easy” is not why I’m doing the Happiness Project!  It seems strange that being happy should be work, or that happiness can be unpleasant.  I suppose this month I just need to remind myself that I’m working toward long-term happiness and not just temporary pleasure.  Forcing myself to communicate and get out into the social scene WILL eventually make things better — and hopefully it will get easier with practice!

Remembering Birthdays

I don’t have a knack for remembering dates (or names, or faces…), so I’m working on a way to track and celebrate birthdays.  I have a few ideas, so far, but haven’t settled on one.  Maybe you have something to add to my list.

  1. Gift Elephant, which I’ve posted about before, will e-mail you a week before a birthday.  I added my closest friends’ and family members’ names in, but haven’t taken the time (yet?) to enter cousins, acquaintances, etc.
  2. I use Google Calendar, in which you can repeat an event so it shows up every year.  I think you can have it remind you, as well.  Again, I have immediate family members’ birthdays entered, but that’s it.
  3. Facebook does a fantastic job of reminding people of acquaintances’ (and in my case, some cousins’) birthdays; however, in order to use this feature I’d need to actually log in once in a while.  I know that I’m not committed enough to Facebook to log in daily just to see if it’s anyone’s birthday, but I could do a better job of checking birthdays the times I do sign on.
  4. During my organization month in April, I set up a tickler file – a system of 12 file folders labeled by month and 31 slots (for days of the month) in a bill organizer.  This would be handy to keep cards in – for example, I could make an anniversary card whenever I have the time, and stick it in the August folder to plan ahead for my parents’ anniversary.  I could even attach a list of important dates in each folder, and on the first of the month plan ahead accordingly.
  5. I love the idea of having a hanging paper calendar on the fridge.  I could fill in birthdays at the beginning of the year.
  6. My grandma buys cards in advance, and as soon as she purchases them, addresses the envelope and puts the delivery date in the top right corner.  When the date approaches, she sticks a stamp over the date and drops it in the mailbox.  Maybe I could somehow combine this with my tickler system.

I have two birthdays to remember in May, so hopefully I’ll have my system worked out in the next week or so.  Any ideas would be appreciated!