Surreal Week

Sally Ann Strawberry, High School Graduate, 2015

Sally Ann Strawberry, High School Graduate, 2015

My performance review at work was stellar.  I actually hit a ball during the softball game.  I’m becoming really good friends with a fellow blogger from Indiana, who sounds like a hick but gives really good text.  My Best Friend in the Whole Wide World gave me shit about my Match profile.  Tomorrow, I’m going to visit the company that laid me off, for a meeting.  Michael, who blew me off, said that we should spend New Year’s together on a tropical island.  On Saturday, my little girl will graduate from high school.

What an odd week.

First off, stellar performance review = YAY!!  During my three month, “How am I doing?” meeting, my boss wrote how much he enjoys working with me.  He said that I’m creative and I don’t care who gets the credit for the design.  Get this: there was no “But.”

Every other boss that I’ve had, has said, “but you need to work harder,” or “but you overcommit yourself,” or “but you don’t listen well enough.”  On one hand, constructive criticism is welcome.  On the other, I have been beaten down and told that I wasn’t good enough so much, that I honestly couldn’t comprehend a stellar review.  I was guarded.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It didn’t.  Boss Man is REALLY, COMPLETELY happy with me and my work.

I love my job.  Can I say it again?  I think I will.  I LOVE MY FREAKIN’ JOB!

As for the softball game, I already blogged about that, but hitting that ball was one of the highlights of my week.  So it’s worth another mention.  I love being on a team where hitting the ball is an accomplishment.  Getting on a base is a goal for a future game.

My Best Friend in the Whole Wide World, who has reviewed and commented on my profile previously, gave me shit about my Match profile.  Rather, Reggie gave me grief over one little part of one little sentence.  Can you guess?

It was, “My two beautiful/handsome, intelligent children are college age, so they take care of themselves.”  I cut my original paragraph down to this one sentence AT HIS INSISTANCE!  Now he has a problem with my one measly sentence?!

Here’s his logic: everyone thinks that their children are beautiful/handsome and intelligent.  Saying so is cliché, so why say it?

My answer is, no, not everyone feels that way.  If I just say, “My kids are in college,” then someone might read that and think, “Why is that all she says?  Do they hate her?  Does she hate them?  Are they deformed?  Are they in jail?”

Prisoners can take college courses, right?  Online or something?  I’m pretty sure I saw that in a movie or on TV, so it must be true.

I mean, if I read a guy’s profile and he just said, “My kids are in college,” I’d think something was up.  Add the fact that he doesn’t have any pics of the kids, and I’d wonder if they had a restraining order against him.

Ok, so maybe I’m overthinking this.  Bottom line, I love my kids and I’d plaster my profile with pics of them and write an entire essay on their virtues, if I thought that anyone wanted to read it.  As it is, Reggie and I negotiated one sentence.  And I’m standing by my sentence.  It’s a good sentence, and if he thinks that my adjectives are superfluous, then he can just *not* read it.

So there.

And the whole disagreement is weird, because we’re talking about a mother complimenting her children.  Right?  Right.

Like I said, it’s been a surreal week.

Company H, which laid me off (it wasn’t personal, there have been a LOT of layoffs at that company in the past few months), is the sponsor of my master’s thesis.  That is, they are paying for the project that I’m completing for my master’s thesis: the lab fees, the material, my undergraduate student lab assistant, etc.  I could have taken a salary, but I’d rather have the lab assistant (Igor!  Quick!  Pull the lever!)

So now that the tests are complete and I have data, I need to present my findings to my sponsor.  Who happens to be my old employer.  Which is a little weird, right?  I get to go back to the company where I used to work, as a visitor, and present at a meeting in a conference room 10 feet from my old desk.

The good news is, I like the guys who will be in the meeting.  I even sent a “Get Well” card to one after he suffered a terrible cycling accident.  (He’s mostly fine now, BTW.)  So I’m not worried about it, or concerned.  Heck, I’m not even nervous.  It’s just…


Michael and I remained friends after we decided not to date.  I haven’t seen him, but I did invite him to ComiCon.  He didn’t make it, and that’s ok.  We started a text conversation, he said that he was looking at vacation packages for New Years on a beach somewhere, and said that I should join him.

Um, hello, what?

Maybe he was joking.  After all, NY is months away.  Sure, he was just making small talk.  I invite people to join me for tropical vacations on holidays all the time!  It’s normal!

I keep talking about my upcoming vacation because I can’t seem to process what’s happening this Saturday.  My little baby girl is graduating from high school.  Little Sally Ann Strawberry is going to be a college student, for real.  She’s already an adult—well, she’s 18, anyway.  My baby—uh, young lady—will be sitting on the stage at graduation.  She’s 3rd in her class, president of the Science Olympiad, etc. etc.  I’m not sure exactly which title leveraged her elevation, but I am grateful.  We had a heck of a time picking Jack out of the crowd at his graduation three years ago.

Since March, she’s been able vote, die for her country, make her own medical decisions, etc.  But graduating…that’s another big milestone.  Wow.

Again I say, surreal.

I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes at Company H.  It’ll be after happy hour – I need a drink with friends after this week!  In fact, I think I’ll start now.


Bestest Friend in the Whole Wide World

Reggie really showed me how much he cared.  He cooked me dinner (gluten free, soy free, and garlic free, due to my many allergies) on Saturday night: chicken fajitas with hand-made corn tortillas.  Yum!  He doesn’t drink, but he bought me a bottle of cabernet.  And then we went for a hike (walk, really) at a local park and saw fireflies!

It was a magical night.

Then we watched Archer on Netflix and I was asleep by 10:30 p.m.  Seriously.  Doesn’t take much to entertain me!

Earlier in the day, I stopped by his place in Temple on my way down to Austin.  I told him, “I should be back by 6:30 p.m.  I’m meeting Sally at 1 for lunch, then Mary at 4 for coffee, then I’ll drive back here to spend time with you.”  I was a bit frazzled; it was kinda stressful fitting everyone in, even though I love them all and really did want to spend time with them.

Reggie looked me in the eye and said, “Take your time.  Just text me when you’re headed this way, and I don’t care if it’s 6 or 8 or midnight.  Relax.”

What a great friend!  That was exactly what I needed to hear.  We walked around his apartment complex parking lot for about 30 minutes, then I got in the car and drove the hour to Austin to see Sally.

She’s doing great, by the way.  Her high school graduation is June 6th, right around the corner!  The University of Texas at Austin accepted her into their honors program, where she’ll study physics and astronomy.  I’m so damn proud of her!  She’s studied hard and she’s just amazing.

I brought her a couple of boxes of size 4 clothes.  After a couple of years of trying to lost the proverbial “last 10 pounds” (or 15, but who’s counting?), I finally gave up.  I’m a size 6, and I work darn hard for that privilege.  Now I’m just going to try for another month to get into the rest of the size 4’s in my closet, and then I’ll give *them* to Sally, too.

She had a grand time going through the clothes.  I told her, “It’s like a resale shop, where everything’s free!”

She answered, “But I just went through my closet and purged a bunch of stuff.”

“It’s free!” I repeated with a smile.

She rejected half of it.  Truthfully, she has good taste.  I honestly don’t know how the Mom Jeans got into the box, or where the tight sequined shirts came from.  I discretely put the corduroy jeans in the backseat.  I’ve got another month to work out hard; I could fit into those jeans soon.

Hope springs eternal.

After Sally had stuffed the last pair of cool jeans into her bag, she asked, “What now?”  I looked at her and before I could answer, she said, “Mozart’s Coffee Shop!”

I said, “YES!!”

She said, “THAT WAS LOUD!”

I said, “QUIT READING MY MIND!  No, don’t; I like it!”

You are what you eat: Sally Strawberry.

You are what you eat: Sally Strawberry.

View at Mozart's

View at Mozart’s

So we went down to the coffee shop on the lake.  When I looked longingly at the fruit tarts, cakes, and brownies, I sighed.  “What do you have that’s gluten free?” I asked the barista.

“Chocolate covered strawberries and bananas,” she answered.

“Strawberry!” Sally and I answered.  Then I said, “Two please!”

Later I visited with Mary.  She was my neighbor when I lived in Austin, and we bonded over raising two boys who were the same age.  Both were difficult, in different ways.  I’ve always amused her with my dating stories, and we enjoy each other’s company, so we’ve kept in touch.  She’s a wonderful, fabulous friend.

“There’s a guy,” she said.

I was surprised.  She’s been single for over a year, close to two years, since her boyfriend died.

She told me a little about the new gentleman and she lit up.  Mary is over 60 and has 10 grandchildren.  To see her get excited about a man is just so cute!

After our visit, I hit the road again.  Reggie spoiled me (as mentioned) and generously gave me his bed.  The next morning, he cooked me bacon and eggs.  He doesn’t drink coffee, which is hard to comprehend, but true.  He took me on a Quest to Find Coffee!  And we succeeded!  The little café had banana bread for him, too.  Bonus!

We went for another hike (walk around the park) and saw a giant earthworm, several snails (it’s been raining a lot lately), and a snake skin.  I was so happy that every little snail looked amazing.  Funny, they’re usually boring little slugs.  But on a weekend like this one—with my best friend spoiling me rotten and getting to spend time with Sally—they’re magical.  Like the fireflies.


Snail, May 17, 2015, Temple, TX

Snail, May 17, 2015, Temple, TX

Giant Earthworm!  That's my foot and Reggie's.  Wowzers!

Giant Earthworm! That’s my foot and Reggie’s. Wowzers!

Facebook Friends Vs Real Friends

Friends play on the playground together

Friends play on the playground together

Happy pi Day!  Today’s blog is by Reggie, my Bestest Friend in the Whole Wide World, who provides a rebuttal to my last post.


Let us not confuse friendship with simple interaction.  Facebook simply allows people an easy way to interact, but most interactions as as superficial as saying, “Hi” to the guy at the corner.

The difference is, people believe there is an intimacy by putting information online and that somehow if knowing about you makes them a friend.  This is a false intimacy just like going in front of a crowd and yelling your personal information makes everyone a friend.

I have seen pictures of movie stars kids and have had them tell me I am wonderful along with millions of their fans.  Hell, I can go on twitch TV or YouTube and they will call me out by name when I follow them.  That doesn’t mean we are friends.

I congratulate people on promotions who I just met at in a grocery store line or wish a person at the bus stop to get well.  Let us not confuse simple pleasantries with friendship.  Otherwise it is a meaningless statement just like saying I went on a date because I sent and received an email from someone.

Acquaintances are people we know and exchange simple pleasantries.  We don’t go out of our way for such people, but we don’t hold animosity either.  This is at best a Facebook friend.

Friends don’t need qualifiers.  They are your friend or they are not.  They go out of their way to help or interact with you for nothing more than your company.  This doesn’t mean people on your Facebook cannot be friends, but let’s not assume because someone is bored and likes a post about your cat means they are a friend or that human empathy automatically makes them a friend.


Ah, ok, Reggie, I get it!  You see the world in a very black and white sort of way.  Either a person is a help-you-move, do-anything-for-you friend, or they aren’t.  People on Facebook may be friends or acquaintances, but you do not recognize the term, “Facebook Friends.”

Allow me to clarify: if I say, “Allie Apple is a work friend,” I mean, “Allie is a friend who I met at work.”  If say, “Coco Truffles is a Facebook friend,” I mean, “Coco is a friend who I met on Facebook.”  Don’t worry about whether we’re new acquaintances or what you call, “True Friends,” I consider them special to me in some way. And if I say, “My Bestest Friend in the Whole Wide World,” I mean that you can disagree with me all you want, I still love you.  (Even when you’re wrong!  :-P)

Enjoy your pi!


Reggie’s Dating Advice

Reggie & Jules, 2013

Reggie & Jules, 2013

“I’m talking to 3 guys from Match.  They answer my questions, but don’t keep the conversation going.  It’s frustrating,” I texted to Reggie.  He’s in Chicago and I’m in Dallas, but we talk or text nearly every day.  He’s my bestest friend in the whole wide world; even if he does think that I’m a little bonkers.

“Talk to them,” Reggie texted back.

“May have to,” I replied.

“If there are more than 3 emails, I would rather talk,” Reggie typed.

“Noah asked me what day I was free, but he won’t commit until he sees how work goes this week.  I hate people who won’t plan!” I texted.  Noah is the guy that I’ve been texting for over 2 weeks now, but have not yet met in person.

“Workaholic,” Reggie replied.

I’ve dated workaholics before.  One of the Mikes definitely fell into that category.  He lived 5 minutes from my house and I didn’t see him for 2 weeks straight.  I begged him to bring his laundry over, so that we can see each other while it was running.  When he said, “No,” I knew that our relationship was over.  I mean, I’d folded his laundry before; when you date someone for 2 years, you do stuff like that.  But after 2 years, he wouldn’t drive 5 minutes to see me because he was spending all his time at work.  Ya, that relationship was over.

I dodged the question by getting back to his comment about calling the guys.  “I would rather meet in person.  For me, nonverbal clues tell me more than words.”  Kinda funny to hear from a blogger, right?

“Cannot plan if work takes up that many hours,” Reggie responded.

Ok, so he wasn’t going to let the workaholic thing go.  I texted, “Right!  He didn’t work this past weekend (he said), but nor did he ask me out.”

“True.  The phone call is to see if you like their personality.  Then meet them,” Reggie explained.

I wrinkled my nose.  I don’t like talking on the phone; I can’t tell when the other person is about to say something, or what they really think about what I just said.  It also hurts my ear to have a receiver pressed to it for too long.

However, Reggie did have a point; I might not want to meet the guy after I talk to him on the phone.  Could save me the trouble of meeting them.  But what if they’re just really bad on the phone, but awesome in person?

Reggie added, “Don’t over think it.”

Damn it, he knows me too well!

Reggie continued, “You pick a time that you want to meet and say you are free between this time and this time for an hour.”

“I’m not overthinking.  Overthinking would be wondering if he was with another and keeping me as Plan B,” I responded.  He didn’t need to know that I had been overthinking in a different direction.

“So what?” Reggie texted.

I continued, answering his previous text, “I told him Wednesday night.  I’m seriously busy the other nights.  Tomorrow, I’m meeting a guy and hope to sell the car.  Gala will be here on Thursday night and I take her back to the airport on Friday.  Saturday we’ll be in Austin, weather permitting.”

Then I thought about his So What. “I don’t want to be Plan B.”

Reggie said, “You make him Plan B or your preferred plan.”  Reggie meant that I can make him Plan A or Plan B; it’s my choice.  “But if he doesn’t commit by Tuesday, you are going with another guy.”

“I like it!” I answered.  Instead of giving Noah the power to make me Plan B or make me wait until the last minute to tell me if he’ll take me out, I’m taking the power back.  He has a deadline.  If he doesn’t get back to me soon, he’ll be SOL.  That’s an acronym which stands for, “Shit out of Luck.”

“That is the way I look at it.  Until things get serious, he is simply a plan that is implemented if convenient.  If I talk to a number of girls, there is always one I prefer.  But if she isn’t available, I go down the list based on my interest in them or an activity I want to do, i.e. go for coffee or play miniature golf.  Miniature golf wins almost every time.  Coffee wins if I have free time before meeting a friend to do something else.”

I was laughing.  One, Reggie doesn’t drink coffee.  The one time that I convinced him to go into a Starbucks, he bought a non-caffeinated frozen concoction.  Two, this text made him sound like a serious player.  Which he is not.  He hasn’t had a date in over a month and I can’t remember the last time that he got —uh—more than kissed.  But his point was well taken: don’t count on the guy.  If I want to do something, find someone else.  If we get together, great.  If not, shrug, there are other people to hang out with.

“Makes sense,” I texted, “Might not get to meet anyone this week; weather looks dangerous up to Saturday.”

“I figure I can always get a friend out of it.  So even if she (my date) is not dating material, if she seems cool, I will meet her,” Reggie said.  He meant it, too.  He had kept in touch with more than one woman that he had met on Match, even though they had agreed not to date.

“I miss sex,” I told him.

“So do I, but I don’t miss the stress of all the crap that comes with it,” Reggie texted.

I laughed.  So true!  After sex, I have decide whether to go or stay (or if he’s at my house, kick him out or let him stay); whether this means that I’m in a relationship; etc.

I texted, “True.  You are very insightful this evening.”

“I blame the pizza,” he answered.

I laughed again.  He was in rare form!

He continued, “Dating is like animals hunting.  Go for the slow and weak ones that you separate from the herd if you want to eat.  Because the athletic alert ones are super hard to catch.”

“You’re a nut tonight!” I told him.

“Big girls need love, too,” he replied.

On that note…