Dude, This Is a Totally Deep Hole

In attempting to solve The Case of Where To Go Dancing When You Are Over 40, my friend Leanne and I met at a beachside bar about 40 minutes from where I am staying in my parents’ town. She humors my geocaching addiction, so when I said “Let’s kill some time before the music starts by looking at the sunset and I’ll grab a cache or two” she said “Sure!”

And that’s where the night went awry.

The sunset was indeed beautiful. Look:

old lyme sunset

I snapped this picture right before I nabbed the cache, which was nestled at shoulder height among some large rocks that shored up a bridge over this inlet. What I did not realize is that the rocks were not exactly on solid ground. So when I stepped forward to replace the cache, I kicked my car keys, which I had placed on the ground next to my phone so that I’d have my hands free to sign the log, into a little depression in the rock formation.

“Haha,” I laughed to myself. “Losing the keys would be SO bad!” And I bent down to retrieve them, poking them farther into this depression, which was actually a small hole in the pile of rocks.

“HAHA!” I bark-laughed to myself. “VERY BAD INDEED!” I stuck my hand into the hole to grab the keys, and they slipped out of my hand, farther into the hole.

And I never heard where they landed.

That’s because they didn’t land. They fell into the deepest of deep holes in rocks piled up underneath bridges over salty inlets along the Connecticut coast.

Fully panicking now, I got down on my belly – in my beautiful multicolored floor length summer skirt and jeweled thongs, worn to create a beachy tried-a-little-but-not-too-hard look for the dancing at the beach bar – and shined the light of my phone into this dark hole which was now increasingly difficult to see into because the end of natural light was upon me. I felt around inside with my hand. The rocks had formed a tunnel which went straight down into blackness, roughly the diameter of my arm.

At one point, if you were, say, a fisherman paddling by in your rowboat, you might have looked up onto the white rocks that support this bridge on Route 156 in Old Lyme, CT, and seen a middle aged woman in a beautiful skirt, laid out horizontally on the dirty path, her entire right arm seemingly swallowed by the rocks up to the shoulder. I had my entire arm down in this hole, desperately feeling about for the keys. I heard some subterranean clanking, and thought with a momentary thrill that I had found them, but it was just my watch pinging against a large shard of broken glass. And that’s when I realized I was well and truly screwed. (That is not the exact word I used in my head, but since geocaching is a family activity I am keeping my language clean-ish for this story.)

I pulled my arm out of the hole, stood up to full height, and waved my lit phone over my head to signal to Leanne, who had waited across the street in her mile-high espadrille wedges, having suggested (in vain) as I skipped off on the hunt that I leave the keys with her so she could wait in the car. She is smart.

And also the best person with whom I could have shared this misadventure. Because when I shouted “I dropped the car keys down a hole and they are gone forever!” she trotted down the path in the darkening dusk, twisting her ankle and skinning her knee, looked into the hole, confirmed that the keys were indeed gone forever and we were indeed well and truly screwed…

..and she laughed.

We hadn’t even been into the bar yet. We hadn’t had a drop to drink. This was just another example of The Way Things Go Sometimes. A fluke, a thankfully harmless one.

The worst part was that her husband had to come pick us up, drive us back to get the spare key from my parents (“Um, hi Mom, yes I’m okay but I lost your car keys”) and then Leanne and I drove all the way back to get the first car, THEN we finally shoehorned at least one dance (all alone just the two of us in the middle of a big, empty beach bar that has actual people in it during the DAY) into our night before calling it and heading back home, each at a separate wheel.

In the end, the only damage done is that my Mom’s keys are lost, and those are replaceable. This story certainly is not, the moral being that if you are going to squeeze just one geocache hunt into the beginning of your night out you must give your keys to your friend or for God’s sake wear something with pockets.

Wordless Wednesday: Bulky Item Pickup

IMG_3569

In my parents’ town there is a twice-yearly event called Bulky Item Pickup, during which you can put large items out on the curb in front of your house and the trash trucks will pick them up. The day was Monday, but since last weekend was a holiday, it took a few days to clear all of the curbs in town. On various walks and drives I have seen TV’s, disassembled play structures, furniture in varying states of sag, and an organ. Like the kind you play.

I love the idea of Bulky Item Pickup. I wish there was such an event for the soul. A regular cleaning-out. As I walked along the beach at the end of the Long Island Sound, I felt lucky to be able to come here and clear my head, free for a short hour of the chaotic sounds of little boys.


Coffee Junkie on the Corner

dunkin donuts shopThis Dunkin Donuts location was the birthplace of my lifelong coffee addiction.

In high school, my bus stop was right out front. On cold winter days we would wait inside, and naturally we’d buy things. I started drinking coffee “light and sweet” – with lots of cream and sugar, when I was 16.

I slowly evolved over the years to this sad blend of coconut milk creamers (French Vanilla flavor mixed with plain, because I am a delicate flower who likes her coffee just so), but my all time favorite is Dunkin Donuts hazelnut regular. Where I come from, “regular” means cream and sugar. DD staffers put the goods right in the cup for you, no self-mixing necessary.

I arrived in Hartford with my children on the redeye this morning, having not slept much at all because they are so big now that every fidget wakes me up. I napped for four hours, and then later I decided that maybe I could just go without coffee today, see how that goes.

It didn’t.

My body chemistry is just that way now, and I’m on vacation. This is no time to mess with it.

photo 2

My Top 10 Social Media Pet Peeves

This was part of my reason for ramping down on Social Media for the summer. Because, obviously.

what-if-were-annoying-by-bashing-annoying-fb-people-and-by-posti

I’m up on my soapbox to bitch about the annoying shit I see all over the Facebook and the Twitter and the Pinterest and the Instagram and…what’s next? As soon as a new app comes out that seems awesome and fun to use and useful, even, the world catches on and people start to spoil it. I mean, just look at what happened to email. Who even checks their email anymore? I loved my email but my inbox is cluttered with junk mail and pitches so now people find it easier to DM me on Twitter or PM me on Facebook and how formal can you be in 140 characters? Sometimes I find it all so annoying that I have to step away from the technology and unplug from the social cloud because of the way people ruin my favorite online playgrounds.

1. Hashtag abuse. Since the advent of the hashtag, which I maintain still isn’t really necessary because all of these apps have search functions that allow you to search for a word and find the results whether or not they are hashtagged, too many people have gone way too crazy with the little number sign. Once upon a time it was fun to see people’s ironic hashtags in a tweet. But now you see 100 hashtags on Instagram photos, Facebook posts, and FLTOG, now Pinterest. Kill me now. it would be one thing if you, Hashtag Abuser, put one or two hashtags into a post that is meant to be informative and help people find your content if it is relevant. Tags like “instalove” and “killmenow” and “ilovepizza,” if they are preceded or followed by 80 other hashtags that make even less sense. You might as well tag it #Ihaveanawesomelife. Which brings me to my next peeve.

From iownthepackers on reddit:

“I#can’t#stand#when#people#feel#the#need#to#hashtag#every#single#word#in#their#post.”

2. Humble brags. This is such an obnoxious problem that there is a Twitter feed just to call people out on them. (It hasn’t been active in a year but it’s worth reading the archives. https://twitter.com/humblebrag Hilare.) A humblebrag is when someone complains about their far too fabulous life, and says something like “Aww, my limo is stuck in traffic. Now I’m going to be late for the Grammy’s!” Boo hoo.

3. Vaguebooking. Oh you know exactly what I’m talking about because you’ve done it yourself. “Squee! Life is great and God is good! Can’t tell you why yet!” Or slightly less annoying but equally as frustrating, the complainy vaguebook: “I hate it when people are mean.” I mean, come on. Details, people! You are my Facebook friend! If someone is mean to you I am going to help you feel better by getting your back, but first I need to know who to be mad at.

The VAGUE status drives me batty. Especially when it is painfully obvious that it was intended for only a chosen few. That is what TEXTS are for.

And its cousin – fishbooking. When someone posts a deliberately incomplete announcement, like “I’m so excited about my upcoming trip!” This is a person who is fishing for you to say “WHAT TRIP?” At least give us some details, people. // “I am going on a FABULOUS trip next week.” Or, “I have 12 AMAZING trips/events planned.” OK…to where? What? When? Drives me batty. These are really cool things – tell us details!

4. The super-sweet couple. You’re in love. Your husband or wife or girlfriend or boyfriend the most wonderful person on Earth and you are so lucky to have him/her. I am very happy for you, really I am. And so are all the people who follow your social media accounts. But just as PDA is not appropriate in certain circumstances, your frequent posts about how you are the luckiest person alive because he/she loves you and is your hero? Annoying.

Related: when you and your adorable lover post sappy updates on each other’s Facebook wall all day and everyone can tell you’re sitting right next to each other. There’s a time and place for that, and it’s called Not All Day Long on the Internet. That’s just over the top adorable and you need to be careful with that much adorableness. It’s dangerous.

5. Unauthorized tagging. This has so many ways of going wrong. If you are trying to keep your actual real life activity on the downlow and someone posts a photo and tags you in it without your approval, you’re busted. So you took a sick day and now the whole world knowings you went skiing with your friends. Excellent. Thanks for outing me, pal! Or when someone tags you in a status update on Facebook and then your notifications BLOW UP as all the other people comment and like it and you have navigate over to the post to “stop notifications.” (Yes, it’s a small problem, but again, we’re just talking pet peeves.)

Corollaries of this are people who tag you in photos without asking in general, and people who post photos of that fabulous party that all your friends attended. The one you weren’t invited to, and didn’t even know about until you saw the pictures. Look, if you’re going to have a party and NOT invite one specific person, it’s extra mean to splash it all over the internet to show them what a good time they didn’t have.

6. Making fun of people. Several times a day I see instagram photos of unsuspecting victims in bad outfits, with pretty snarky descriptions calling them out. They are indeed funny, but come on. That’s just mean. Also in this category are parents who call their children assholes in blog posts that go viral, or constantly post images of unhappy kids. Especially when they are supposed to be having “the best time ever.”

Side note: I have nothing against posting adorable images of your babies and kids. Everyone loves cute babies, cute kids, and puppies. Who doesn’t love puppies? People who get sick of your cute kid images should just hide your from their newsfeed or unfollow you altogether. I mean, you’re a mom or a dad. You love your kids. This is different from the sappy romantic stuff people post about their lovers. Don’t ask me how. It just is.

7. Those passive aggressive “who likes me and who ignores my posts?” posts. “This is a test to see if you really read my updates or you just scroll on by…” that kind of thing. First of all, not everyone sees all of your Facebook updates in their stream because Facebook went crazy like that. Same thing on Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter or Google+, especially if your friends are really active, because they follow a LOT of people. If someone doesn’t respond to your deliberate call for headpats, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you. It just means he’s got actual stuff to do and his time-wasting hour is over.

8. Annoying memes. My least favorite are the pointless “retweet or share to support breast cancer” type posts. Um, we don’t want to support cancer, for one thing. And my retweeting your tweet isn’t actually going to help anyone. Unless there is a specific campaign by a person or company with actual money who has pledged to send $1 per share to a research project or something, which you don’t really know if that’s true until you click through a jillion links to find the supporting information, then this is bogus and you are not a bad person if you don’t forward the message. In fact, you’re doing us all a favor but not adding to the clutter of the Internets by staying away from that “share” button.

9. Feed flooders. Sometimes I pop into my Pinterest main page or my Instagram feed to see what the peeps are up to. And sometimes this is a very bad idea, because one of the people I follow has just had social media diarrhea all over the place. One hundred pins of turquoise  knitted sweaters and Polvyore boards pinned on Pinterest. Photos from twenty different angles of the amazing view from my #hotel #room on Instagram. I’m scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, and finally I get past what THIS person just did so I can see what everyone else is posting. Guess what that gets you? An unfollow.

10. Kids on social media. There are age minimums for social media apps and they are there for a reason: nobody wants their kids to see some of the nasty stuff shared on social media. I’ve seen more and more children starting blogs, which can be fun for them, but parents have to be really careful about who can comment and how that information is presented. There are plenty of companies that foster safer social media for children (KidzVuz, a video sharing site, comes to mind) but young kids on Instagram, or Facebook? If you let your kids use these apps, you should be prepared to put the time in to monitor what they can see and make sure their behavior is not inappropriate. And if you get that weird friend request from your 10 year old nephew, by all means exercise your adult option to not accept. Call him or his mom and explain why. Even if YOU are really careful about what you say or post, you can’t control the what your friends do, and they might post a snarky or inappropriate comment that you’d hate your young relative to see.

Bonus: People who quote themselves. Especially when they make their inspiring sentence into a pretty square that they can pin on Pinterest. That’s just the pinnacle of self-importance, isn’t it?