Monday, March 6, 2017

Virtual Relationship Disorder: My Story

I deactivated my Facebook account some weeks ago. It's funny, but when I know I can't log on, I do not miss it one tiny bit. I suppose that because I grew up before the Internet--and certainly social media--was a thing, I don't have this visceral need to know what everyone I've ever known is doing, has done, or is about to do, no matter how trivial.

In the time I've been on Facebook (since one of my friends talked me into creating an account in 2008), I've been able to contact people I knew earlier in life and had wondered about and could find out where their lives had taken them. While that was thrilling at first, reality did settle in quite quickly. Now that I had re-connected to old friends and had exchanged enough data to satisfy my curiosity about how they were, the relationships usually devolved into a sort of gray and lifeless limbo, a highly unsatisfying turn of events, to my mind. I'd rather have no relationship at all than one that is only kept alive by the life support of knowing they are "out there" and we can contact each other whenever we want to, but don't.

It's amazing the amount of stress reduction I've felt after FB deactivation. Also, I do other things with the time I used to spend scrolling through my newsfeed.

Yeah, right.

But here's one more observation about the duality that relationships take on in the virtual vs. real world:

I have been looking for a new gig. Sick to death of writing for other people, and exhausted from being a freelancer and having to constantly look for new clients, I reached out to my friends and asked if anyone knew of something--anything--that I could do that would get me a paycheck. One of my friends responded that a data entry job had come up in her department. She warned me that the job often requires 10 hours of work per day--and often also on weekends--and that workers are paid by the piece, averaging around $9 an hour.

The fact that I shuddered in horror at the thought of working those kinds of hours for slave wages isn't the point, even if it was a work-from-home job. Even Husband agreed that I couldn't stay sane under those conditions.

The point is that I don't often talk to this particular friend face-to-face, even though she lives just around the corner from me, and so my interactions with her are usually through text messages--and those are infrequent. We usually see each other at church on Sundays, but she works with the children and I work with the adult women, so our paths don't cross there, either, except for the occasional "hello" in the hallways. My relationship with her, therefore, is almost entirely virtual, even if we are friendly with each other in our extremely rare face-to-face conversations.

If only texting were an aerobic activity.

It was a day after she had told me about this job, and I was getting more worried that I'd have to take it out of desperation, when another friend called me and told me he had put my name in with a friend of his in the county school district's transportation department, and that I had a job as a district bus driver if I wanted it. Get out of the house for a few hours a day? Check. Drive large vehicles? Check. Satisfy my love of a good road trip (even if it's local)? Check. Get paid far more per hour than data entry and get my CDL for free in the bargain? Check. Obviously, I submitted an application, called them up, and went in for the interview the next day. I'm now their newest trainee substitute bus driver/attendant until I get my CDL and the district approves me as an official driver.

I texted my other friend and thanked her for the job info, but told her I wasn't going to apply. I told her of another of our friends who was looking for physically undemanding work and asked if she'd like to reach out to her, instead. She thanked me for the information and said she'd contact this other woman.

Later that day, I was parked in my usual spot to pick up the afternoon carpool of children from the high school and junior high. This guy who got me the job jumped off his bus and came up to my car window, where we had a face-to-face conversation, and where I thanked him in person for landing me the job. We always joke around with each other, and we had a fun, casual conversation before he had to get back to his bus. A short but highly satisfying exchange. He reminds me a bit of my dad. I have only ever texted him about this job. Otherwise, our relationship is all face-to-face.

Yesterday, at church, I had the opportunity to lead the singing time for the children. The woman who told me about the data entry job was the pianist. I interacted with her through the duration of the singing time about the music, but it wasn't until after I got home from church that it struck me that during that interaction, I had entirely forgotten that she is also the same woman who told me about the data entry job. In my head, I have totally compartmentalized my virtual relationship and my face-to-face relationship with her. The compartmentalization is so effective that I fail to remember that both of those relationships are with the same person.

I wonder how I even have any friends who will talk to me at all? I forget, when I'm talking to them in person, that we have this other relationship that is virtual, and vice versa. In my subconscious, the two relationships are with two separate individuals, even if I know, consciously, that they are one and the same person. I realize that I don't even meld the two worlds of our relationships: I don't mention things to them in person that we have discussed via email or text message, especially if that is our primary form of communication.

Does that make sense? Am I the only one who has developed this psychological dichotomy between real and virtual relationships? Is it any wonder why I had such a rage issue with Facebook?

Ah, the endless psychological wonder that is our brave new world of virtual interaction!

This would be my favorite cafe.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


My youngest son, Little Gary, is nine years old. His best friend is a girl of eight, and she's so absolutely cute, she's going to be a total heartbreaker when she's old enough to date, I guarantee it! Her name is Molly.

Little Gary and Molly often collaborate on ways to earn money for the purpose of having me drive them to the dollar store so they can purchase snacks to feast on while they play video games. Their ideas are pretty creative, too. A couple times, they spent a while drawing and coloring comics, which they then sold to people we know. They've made a surprising amount of money selling those comics.

Today, they figured it was too soon to sell comics again, so they choreographed three different interpretive dances and then went and offered to perform the dances for a dollar. To my surprise, they came back with about five dollars.

They're now feasting on cheese crackers and candy while they play a video game together.

Little Gary and Molly have been friends for a couple years now. For a long time, Little Gary used to come to me and complain that the boys in the neighborhood and some kids from school who saw them walking home together would tease them and make mean comments about them being boyfriend and girlfriend. It just bothered Little Gary so much.

I told Little Gary to try and ignore it. I told him that, in fact, those boys are going to be incredibly jealous in just a couple years. When Little Gary asked why, I told him that he is learning how to talk to and become friends with girls, and that's a skill those other boys are going to wish they had--especially in this neighborhood, which appears to have produced a massive gaggle of boys and just a few girls. And especially as Molly gets older.

Molly's mother told me Molly has come to her with the same complaints, and she's told her to just endure it for the time being.

So now they just brush off the comments and hang out together at our house or her house.

"Wouldn't it be great if those two grew up and got married?" Sophia said to me the other day while we watched them playing. I gestured at her to be more quiet. We don't need to give them any ideas. Let them just be friends for now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

You Can't Trust the Pictures You See

My daughter, Gabrielle, is taking a video game designing class. One of her assignments was to alter a picture using Photoshop. She had to remove the tree from the original photo and insert herself in its place and make it look seamless. After she turned in her completed assignment, the teacher texted her    a gushing compliment (it started with "OMG!") and asked if she could use Gabrielle's picture as an example for all her classes.

Obviously, I'm proud of my daughter for doing such a good job. Obviously, it just reinforces my belief that you can no longer trust anything you see.

Here is the original photo with the tree:

Here is Gabrielle's completed assignment:

At first glance, you wouldn't be struck by anything out of the ordinary in this photo. There's nothing jarringly incorrect about the direction of the light source or how the shadows fall across her body or across the ground. It would be easy to assume this is a real photo if you didn't have a practiced eye for altered photos (which I don't) or if you didn't closely inspect the shadows themselves (which I did only because I knew it was doctored).

In other news, Sophia and Elannah are doubles for the same part in their high school play, which opened last night. They were both cast as Marcy in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (click here to see an example of Marcy's big solo)

Sophia and Elannah, are, fortunately, fairly non-competitive with each other, but this is Sophia's final year of high school, so Elannah can reign supreme in musical theater next year as the only representative of the Aurora family. Meanwhile, there was a tiny bit of squabbling over who got to perform on which nights, but they worked it out without resorting to bloodshed. So, on Friday, we'll go see Sophia as Marcy, and on Saturday, we'll go see Elannah.

Curious about how my oldest daughter, Sian, is doing? She's had an interesting time since she got back from Ukraine.

She found herself a full-time job in August and then started dating a lovely young man last September, and she was over the moon because this young man had all the qualities she wanted in a future husband. There was even talk of marriage after they both finished up the next semester at BYU. Sian was completely and utterly twitterpated, totally gaga, flying high with love and beautiful dreams of a bright future. Husband and I also approved of him as a future son-in-law and future father to loads of our grandchildren.

And then he broke up with her right after Christmas, stating that he just wasn't ready for a really serious relationship yet.

Fair enough. You wouldn't want to marry someone who was going to resent the fact that he was married to you, even if he was the one who first started talking about getting married. But, understandably, it broke Sian's heart, and I spent a few weeks helping her put her shattered heart and dreams of her future into perspective before she had to head back to school. We had many long talks and many sessions where I just let her cry her heart out.

Fortunately, she's been able to deal with her grief and begin moving on with her life. She's even put herself back into the dating pool and has made a concerted effort to be social and make friends. She decided to change her major from linguistics to English teaching with an ESL minor, and, for fun, she took a music composition class, which she absolutely loves. She's doing well, and we talk all the time.

I love how as my daughters have grown, our relationships have changed into friendships. I still play the "Because I'm Your Parent and It's My Job to Teach You Important Things" card with my two younger daughters--and especially with my even younger sons--but I'm encouraged that my two oldest are good, decent people. They are independent and make good choices, but they still feel free to call me and their dad and ask for advice or just tell us about their lives. All my kids are unique, but they all know they are completely loved by their parents, and that whatever struggles they have to go through, they know we're there to support them. That thought comforts me when my brain plays all my parental failures over and over in my head.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Things I Collect on Purpose

If you need me, I'll be in the study. 

1. Books
    a. Cookbooks
    b. Books on subjects I wish I had time and money to master (domestic arts like sewing, upholstery, gardening, interior decoration, etc.)
    c. Books on crochet (afghans, crochet blocks and edgings, bedspreads, crocheted wire jewelry)
    c. Books on subjects I have had to write about extensively in my freelance writing work (plumbing, home repairs, personal injury law, divorce law, car repair, real estate, etc.)
    d. Books on disappearing cottage crafts (i.e. lute making, building a homemade non-electric lathe, building a house by yourself)
    e. Books on miscellaneous subjects that catch my fancy (quantum physics, energy healing, history, health and nutrition, writing, architecture, psychology, etc.)
    f. Fiction (i.e. classic English literature, young adult fiction, books I loved when I was a kid, etc.)
    g. Blank books
    h. Books of house plans
    i. Music books (piano, cello, guitar, voice) and sheet music (piano, solo voice, choral)
2. Magazines
3. Pens
5. Odd and quirky thrift store art
6. Perfume
7. Empty cardboard toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls -- how many times do those come in handy, am I right?
8. Plain white ceramic mixing bowls, soup bowls, mugs, and plates
9. Spices
10. Bottles and boxes of ingredients for foreign dishes I don't make all the time but that are essential to have on hand if I do (i.e. various curry pastes, fish sauce, pho seasonings, rice vinegar, seaweed, rice wrappers, etc.)
11. Shoes
12. Personal letters my friends and family wrote to me when snail mail was still a thing, including the original copies of letters I wrote to my dear friend and former college roommate (who sent them to me recently after making digital copies of them in order to reduce the amount of stuff she has to store while her job takes her around the world)
13. Cheap jewelry

Things I Collect on Accident

Bath salts: a great idea for re-gifting.

1. Bath bombs and bath salts (these are gifts, but I can't remember the last time I had a bath instead of a shower)
2. Ingredients for experiments that are cheaper to buy in bulk (i.e. 10 pounds of diatomaceous earth, five pounds of magnesium chloride flakes, sunflower lecithin, a gallon of vegetable glycerin, boxes of Borax, etc.)
3. Jars
4. Beads
5. Yarn
6. Credit card offers with sensitive information that need to be shredded
7. Fabric remnants

Things I Used to Collect but Never Had the Space to Display

Beautiful milk jugs just mock the lactose intolerant among us.

1. Ceramic milk jugs

Things I Collect Digitally

The key is to remember where you put all your thumb drives for safe-keeping.

1. All the yearly anthologies of Backwoods Home Magazine
2. My painstakingly typed up collection of all my journal entries from the time I was six years old
3. Digital copies of all the letters my mother wrote me after I moved away from home

Bottom line: I'm planning a massive yard sale when the weather gets warm enough. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Rumination in Four Parts

Part I

Life is funny, no?

The ebbs, the flows. The ups, the downs. The twists and turns. Just when you're sitting on top of the world, your throne is yanked out from under you. And when you're at your lowest and most desperate, a guide appears to lead you back up to the light.

I'm not saying I'm currently on top of the world or in the lowest valley at the moment. I'm just tired. I face yet one more setback just as I am presented with a possible opportunity. Both feel exhausting.

Part II

On Sunday, I was sitting in church. It was Fast Sunday, which is a day in the month when you are invited to refrain from eating for two consecutive meals (health permitting) and donate the money you would have spent on food to those in need. During your fast, you spend time in prayer, meditation, and scripture study. It's amazing how fasting can enhance your ability to feel the Spirit--and not just because you're light-headed and hungry.

On Fast Sunday, anyone in the congregation who feels moved to do so can stand up and bear testimony during the Sacrament Meeting.

I was sitting quite comfortably on my bench, smug with the knowledge that I was teaching a lesson in Relief Society (and that I had remembered that fact with enough time to actually prepare!) and, therefore, didn't feel it necessary to take away from someone else's chance to bear their testimony.

But as I sat there, I started thinking about what Sun Tzu said in his book, The Art of War: "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

Why that suddenly popped into my head, I couldn't say. Yet, suddenly, I could feel the Spirit move me (warm feeling, heart beginning to pound) to get up and speak about that. That's not your normal testimony fodder, so I just tried to shake it off. But it kept coming at me in waves.

"Dang it," I whispered to Husband. "I have to get up there, but I don't know what the heck I'm going to say. Sorry in advance."

After I walked up to the pulpit, I stood in front of the congregation and tried to catch my breath. Usually, I have little fear speaking in public. Sure, I get butterflies in anticipation, but I never feel paralyzed with fear, even when faced with a very large room full of people. So I breathed for a moment, and then I opened my mouth and started speaking. I spoke about the need to understand the enemy--in this case, the enemy of all mankind: Satan. In knowing the enemy, we can predict some of his actions and spot his propaganda. Satan laces truth with fatal lies. What he says often sounds so good, so true, so wonderful. But almost always, his propaganda includes the lies that a) there is no God, or b) if there is a God, there certainly is no devil who opposes him and wishes harm to mankind, and c) humankind can ascend or become more and greater without the need for the atoning sacrifice and grace of Jesus Christ. Then I bore my testimony of Jesus Christ as the only savior, the only way to gain eternal life. In order to defeat the enemy, each of us must know Jesus Christ.

I wasn't eloquent. I didn't feel like what I said at the pulpit was profound or moving to anyone--not that bearing testimony is about you as a speaker; it's about the message. But I had to say it, so I did. And then I sat down, feeling decidedly foolish. Husband rubbed my back and whispered that I'd done a fine job. I appreciated it, but I didn't believe it.

Others got up to speak, and as I sat there, contemplating why I had had to get up and speak about that particular subject, the thought suddenly came to me that my thoughts were a piece of a larger puzzle, which was being put together as others also bore the testimonies in their hearts. I felt comforted by that. I listened to the things others said as they bore their testimonies, and I was touched by the truthfulness of what they had to say. All of our testimonies built on each other, like those puzzle pieces coming together to create a bigger picture.

Part III

As I'm sure you've experienced, knowing what you need to do and actually doing it can be difficult. It's especially difficult if the thing you need to do is scary. In my case, I fear failure. I often succumb to the false idea that everything rests on my shoulders, and when the problem is financial in nature, failure could have serious consequences. So when I allow that false idea to consume me, the fear naturally grows until I am overwhelmed and paralyzed.

I've dealt with fear before, sometimes more successfully and sometimes more poorly. I find it is always best to name it. Once you name it, it loses its enervating power over you, and you can start working your way around it. In this particular case, fear is unnecessary. I'm not going to hurt myself if I fail, yet I find that, while I am generally laid back about many things, I can be intensely perfectionist about certain things. That perfectionism creates an aura of fear, sometimes the paralyzing kind.

Here's the issue: I've been working as a freelance writer for years. I spent about six months as a full-time writer for a startup digital marketing company, but they laid me off when revenue went down. Then they hired me as a contractor, and I've been doing that for another 18 months. They kept me busy enough that I didn't have the brain power to take on other demanding clients. 

In January, they had no work for me. I don't know if they will have anything for me in February, either, as they have been less than communicative. I am not sure if they found cheaper writers or what, but here I face the pitfall of freelancing work: no work unless I seek it out. 

Ironically, maybe, it was in January that I started taking courses in website monetization, up-to-date SEO practices, and honing my content writing abilities. I would have used my sharpened skills for the contract work, but since that resource seems to have dried up, I have the excellent opportunity to work for myself. I can do for myself what my client is doing for their clients. The investment is small enough not to be an obstacle. All that remains is that I try.

Part IV

All these things that make me afraid, that make me stretch are part of the bigger puzzle. Would I be forced out of my comfort zone if everything always went my way? After all, the things that really count are already mine.

This is nothing you don't know. All of this is common knowledge. Sometimes I just have to work myself through it once more and remember how far I've come. It's easy to forget that you've already accomplished a great deal when you face that fear again, that fear that whispers, "You can't do this. You're not good enough." 

I just have to keep my eye on the opportunity and the prize. It will all work out.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Resolution: Thin out the Bookshelves (and Other Things)

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm currently lying in bed trying not to move much because my stomach is in a decidedly iffy state. It started last night, which I tried not to take as an omen for the upcoming year.

It was probably my favorite Christmas ever this time, but that may be because I have a short memory. Still, it was mostly lovely. The best parts were:

  • Husband did all of the present shopping, since he's the best at that (I wrap them all on Christmas Eve). He is an expert at finding the perfect gift for each person--and usually for less than retail. For instance, he took my old laptop that wouldn't even turn on anymore and revamped it, bought a new battery, loaded it with Windows 10, got it running all smoothly again, and gave it to his mother, who has been dealing with a clunky, incredibly slow machine for years. Another example: Elannah accidentally permanently corrupted the PS3 when she turned it off while it was downloading something. It just wouldn't work anymore. So Husband took Elannah's broken laptop, removed the hard drive, replaced the PS3's hard drive with the laptop hard drive, and now we have a working PS3 again. For free. 
  • And yet another example of my dear spouse's magic: Husband found the transcription of my mom's letters to me, which I'd painstakingly typed up in 2011, saved on a thumb drive, and then promptly misplaced. Of all the gifts I could have received, that one was the best possible gift. Now I get to format the letters and have them printed into a book for my mother. She wrote me incredibly detailed, multi-page letters from the time I went off to college in 1990, and then when I was on my mission in England until June of 1994. I'm pretty sure she didn't write all those details into her journals, so this will be a treasure trove of all the little things that were happening with my family during those years. She is going to LOVE IT! I am beyond excited.
  • I had all of my children under one roof for almost three days. Gabrielle came up from Utah Valley, and it was so much fun to have them all here before Sian also heads down to Utah Valley for school at the end of this week. Sophia just turned 18 right before Christmas, so she's graduating from high school this year and will make her plans to head off into the wide world. Having all my children together was my favorite.
  • While I mostly did the wrapping, I did make a few gifts by hand. For Little Gary, I crocheted a Sack Boy from Little Big Planet, which he was thrilled to play with (he's still young enough to have that active imagination that turns inanimate objects into thinking beings). For Gabrielle, I crocheted Yoshi, which she loved. For Sian and Gabrielle, I typed up all our favorite family recipes--culling them from my loose recipes clipboard and all my cookbooks--and collected them all into binders. The girls were so excited, and they spent quite a while on Christmas Day reading through all the recipes I'd included and shouting, "I love this one!" I added little notes about who loved which dishes most, who gave the recipes to us, and occasions when the recipes were used. For instance, the recipe that we call "Grandma Lee's Casserole" is actually a dish my 90-year-old grandmother ate when she was very young and living on a farm with her Swedish relatives in Minnesota. She says they just called it "Hot Dish," which is the Minnesotan term for "casserole." After she was married, she made it for my mother and my aunts, and my mother often cooked it while I was growing up. I've cooked it for my family, and my kids love that casserole. Now they'll never forget where it came from. I printed an extra set of recipes for myself, as I thought it would be very handy to not have to sort through all my loose recipes and cookbooks anymore. When Sophia and Elannah (and further down the line, the boys) move out, I'll make more binders for them. All of them can add additional favorite recipes to the binders as they find new ones.
There were many ways in which this Christmas was absolutely wonderful. There was one very sad thing that happened, however. Sian had been dating a wonderful young man for a while, and they had talked about marriage after the upcoming semester (they're both attending the same school). She was so happy, so in love. This was the guy. And honestly, they were a match made in heaven, so perfect for each other in the way they think and view the world and in their future goals. I would have loved to have him as a son-in-law, husband to my darling daughter, and father to my grandchildren. But he abruptly broke up with her right after Christmas, and she was heartbroken. 

It's been a very rough week for her, with lots of long mother-daughter talks and sobbing and general misery. Now we're all glad they didn't end up finding housing in the same apartment complex, where she would probably catch frequent sight of him and have her heart broken over and over. This will be difficult for her to overcome because he was The One (and he told her the same), but she's starting to see a light at the end of that tunnel of grief, even though I warned her that the grief will come back in waves, and unexpectedly at times, and that it's completely normal. It's so hard to watch your children suffer so much, but she's becoming more philosophical about it now. Time will help. 

We're fortunate in the fact that Sian has convinced Gabrielle not to break his face in sisterly retribution. Gabrielle says that she won't hurt him as long as he runs really fast. It's a compromise, but we'll take it. 

Last night, my in-laws came over and we ate tons of junk and watched London's New Year fireworks and a couple old movies before they left at 10pm (close enough! Happy New Year!). Today, my parents and brothers were supposed to come over for dinner (I was going to make Chinese food), but I'm burping egg (blech), Joseph has the trots bad, and Elannah just barely crawled out of her basement bedroom after being sick all night. The smart choice is to cancel. None of us want my 90-year-old grandmother to catch this. Bummer.

But this new year is full of promise. I love the anticipation of wondering what it will bring. Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Pie and Song

I've written about three blog posts that are deeply personal and cathartic. Obviously, I haven't posted any of them, and that's probably a good thing as they were mostly devoid of humor, although I did mention my Shoulder Demon several times. But none of those blog posts was political, which should come as a surprise. Let's just say that I've had some major stresses lately, and caring about the staged theater that is this year's presidential elections falls far down my list of Stuff to Worry About.

But at this point, you're probably wondering if I still love pie. You were, weren't you?

Yes. Yes, I do. Deeply. Forever. I just can't shake that pie thang. I would be upset about it if I thought that was a bad thing.

But to keep things completely superficial (and to avoid waxing poetic about my favorite pie--or to avoid talking myself into eating my feelings), I've got some new music obsessions that I thought I'd share.

I was working on a Da Nang, Vietnam, travel guide, which naturally led me to YouTube, where I explored music in an effort to cool my overheated brain and do a little procrastinating at the same time. Bonus: my brain is really going to have to perform in a hurry because the deadline is tomorrow and I'm only 1/3 of the way through a very, very long travel guide about a city and a country I've never been to. I've already completed travel guides on Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, and Ha Long City. This should be a piece of cake, right? No worries.

I do mean it: no worries. My adrenal glands have completely shorted out. They're done. Kaput. The good thing is that I now have a hard time getting too fussed about anything inconsequential, and if I'm a little late on my deadline, the assignments will be done by Monday. Whatever.

Here's what has grabbed hold of my ever-loving pie sensors:

Zayn Malik may once have been part of One Direction (or 1D, to the rabid fans), but he's got chops all on his own, too. The chorus of "It's You" sends me. There is one gentle F-bomb in the first verse, but I've embedded the clean lyrics version. Also, the posted lyrics are slightly incorrect: where the video reads, "So my silence won't be mistaken for believing," it should actually be, "So my silence won't be mistaken for peace." That's a big difference. The poetry of the correct lyrics must be preserved. Except for the F-bomb.

At risk of making you think I can't get enough of men singing in falsetto, I must also share Borns's "Past Lives."

Just for fun, Borns does a cover of Zayn Malik's "It's You." You can compare and contrast, if you wish. Personally, I prefer the original by far. You know what would be great? If Chase Holfelder did a cover of "It's You," I'd probably wear out the replay button.

Watch out: this one doesn't cover up the F-bomb, but it's an easy F-bomb to miss.

I was in the car with Sophia, and I insisted she listen to "It's You," which, surprisingly, she hadn't heard yet. After she listened, she said, "Wow, Mom! You actually like cool music!" Um, thanks, young one. I'll be DJ-ing your next high school dance. But what she said next made me howl. Literally. Like a wolf.

"Mom, have you ever heard of 'Open Arms' by Journey?"

SMH, as the kids say. S.M.H.

She loves "Open Arms." We both belted the chorus, and I proved to her that I remember all the lyrics. Mostly.

Singing at the top of your lungs in the car with someone you love, that never gets old. Pie and song.