Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friendships, Part 2

So the original post for today was going to discuss friendships, but it seems I've already written it and said pretty much everything I want to say.

It's just that I'm thinking about all of that stuff again lately. I think it's because this week, I was contacted by an old and dear friend I've missed terribly (anyone remember Lady Starfish? 25 pts for you if you do). She was my best friend for years. Even when she moved to Tennessee, we stayed close. Then one day, she didn't return my call. I waited a couple weeks, called again, and that call was not returned, either. I am pretty good at taking a hint, so I admitted defeat: the friendship is over. A few tears in my pillow, and I moved on. I tried not to take it personally. She is the first to admit that she's a crappy friend. This was about 2 years ago.

Every so often, I would think about her, and even try and call her. But to no avail. After a while, I realized I may not ever be able to get in touch with her again: she probably changed her phone number to avoid her psycho ex-husband, she changes jobs a lot and she got re-married to a guy whose last name I don't know. So I basically gave up.

So imagine my surprise when she called me the other day!

Well, she sort of called me. You know how if you hit the wrong button on your phone, you can accidentally call someone? Somehow, she did that to me. I was so excited. But when I picked up, all I could hear was a car radio. She must have been driving somewhere, and the phone was on the seat next to her. I could hear the radio loud and clear, and even hear her rolling the window up and down. But she could not hear me yelling her name. So I gave up. And hung up. And was very sad. So close, but so far. If only...

Today, the rollercoaster friendship started back up again. I got a text message from her, telling me she misses me and is going out of town but wants to catch up on Monday! She apologized for being gone so long! Yay! My friend is back! She must have seen that she accidentally called me.

But I am wary. I am gun-shy. I'm wondering if we can even be close friends again. It's not that I'm not aware that friendships can fluctuate or even wither away. But it is painful, sometimes. She's one of my favorite people, so for her to jump in and out makes me feel...disposable. B-list. Back burner. And it hurts. I think I am going to have to say something about this, when we talk on Monday. Oh, who are we kidding. I KNOW I will say something. I have a big mouth and I think out loud. So we will see. Right now, I am expecting her to not answer her phone on Monday......experience makes you a pessimist. *sigh*

I swear, it's like dating a guy or something. My emotions right now are the same as when an old ex-boyfriend would call me and want to get back together. I have all these questions, and old memories, and a longing to have that person in my life again. But at the same time, didn't we already try this? How can I trust them again? How do I know this will be worth my emotional and time investment? Do I only give it a half-assed try, in order to protect myself? Or should I settle in for the time being, grateful for every moment? Maybe I should keep up some walls for a while. It's only fair, since I've been put on the back burner all this time.

Right now, I am wary. But excited.

Also this week, I have been dealing with the flip side of this situation. There's a girl I used to be friends with. She's very nice, but not very fun. And she makes (what are, in my opinion) stupid decisions. She has a tendency to be negative. A wet blanket. An Eeyore. Looking back, I am surprised I could even tolerate being around her for as long as I was. But when your schedules mesh well, and you can't really come up with a bad reason to stop being someone's find yourself sort of stuck with them....

Until you can't take it anymore and realize you'd rather just be alone. Which is what happened to me about 2 years ago. So I faded away. I didn't always return calls, and if I did, I cut them short. I cancelled plans, or always had some kind of an excuse. I was hoping this would do the trick -- she would get the hint and move on.

Only, she hasn't. About every 6 months, I will get an email or a phone call. I don't return them, of course. I thought she was done, until she called me. And emailed me. And text messaged me. All in the same day. That day is today.

She is having a big graduation party and wants me to go. While I applaud her achievement, I have ZERO desire to go to the party. She will corner me and expect an explanation for my long absence. Or worse, act like it never happened. The other girls from that "group" will also be there. I have also blown them off for the same reasons. The food might be good, but the party will be lame. It will be awkward, at best. I know everyone will want to know "where I've been" because I'm a "stranger". Which, if you are a woman, you know is just a thin veil for, "WTF? I thought you were my friend!" The best thing I can hope for is that they are all pissed at me, and will refuse to speak to me. This would actually be the best thing to happen, if I go. But do I want to go to a party like that? Um, no.

And yet, I cannot bring myself to reply to any of her attempts at contacting me. What do I say?? I can't go to your party, which isn't until mid-December? Congratulations on working your ass off for the last 3 years, but I can't make it? I don't want to be your friend anymore? Please stop calling me? I'd love to, but I have to clean my house that day?

Any of these replies will either hurt her feelings or open the door for further contact. Neither of which are viable options, from what I can see.

The thought of talking to her fills me with dread and guilt. At the same time, I am even growing a little irritated at her inability to just let sleeping dogs lie. Get. The. Hint. You know?

It's so funny, because I NEVER had these feelings when I dumped a boyfriend. I felt relief. I was happy to move on. If they called me, my attitude was more along the lines of, "WTF do you want?" rather than, "Shit. I am an asshole." -- which is how I feel right now, staring at my phone and its voicemail message from Miss Eeyore.

It's a million times more difficult to blow off a friend than a boyfriend. I can't figure out why. You'd think it'd be worse with the guy -- after all, you have probably seen each other naked. There's an intimacy there. But for some reason, loyalty seems to trump compatibility in friendships. It's sort of the other way around when romance is involved. Look at all the men who have friends from childhood, and despite their obvious differences, they still hang out. Guys don't seem to care. It's like loyalty is the #1 rule. Even if the guy is a lame-o. I don't get this. You can call me selfish, but I think life is too short to spend it with people who bore the shit out of you.

Perhaps it's confusing, because I don't hate her guts or anything. She's still on my myspace friends list. I just don't want to be an active friend to her. If I run into her in the grocery store, fine. Let's have a friendly chat. Catch up. But I do not want to hang out with her over a meal or even a drink. I don't miss her or regret ending the friendship.

And I don't think there's any way to tell someone that without hurting their feelings. So my phone stays where it is, next to me on my desk.

It's so strange, being on both sides of the same coin at the same time. I am excited! No, wait. I'm an asshole. I can't wait to catch up! Why won't you leave me alone? Please remember to call me! Ugh, stop calling me!

With Miss Eeyore, I feel guilt and shame. And empathy. Which only makes the guilt worse. I know exactly how this must make her feel. The confusion. The pain.
With Lady Starfish, I have trust issues. I am hurt. I am resentful. Yet understanding. Because I have been blowing someone off for 2 years, myself. I also worry that I am her Miss Eeyore, and I have finally browbeaten her into calling me.

Is this karma at work? Some surreal metaphor? Is the universe trying to teach me something?

Ugh. Friendships are hard. What should I do?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Genealogics Anonymous

OMG. I need help, you guys. I am not exaggerating when I say that just about every waking minute of every day for the last week or so has involved me talking about genealogy, researching genealogy or thinking about genealogy.

MJ is about to kill me she is so sick of me talking about it.

CN caved in to my nagging, and is now letting me research his family, too.

To make it even worse, gives you a free 14 day trial, so I'm trying to milk every last free minute out of them.

I have found relatives in Oklahoma, Seattle, Chicago, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, NYC, Kansas, St. Louis, Wisconsin, Virginia, upstate New York and Connecticut.

I have found the following weird first names: Karona, Gerhard, Aloysius, Cornelia, Herbert, Velvet, Elisha, Hepzebah, Bertha, Adelaide, Jerusha, Augustus, Eleazer, Ephraim, Jabez, Dorcas, Larvina, Hezekiah, Ulysses, Isolde, Chamberlain, Mercy, Ruke, Ebenezer, Asaph, Huldah, Prince, Waitstill, Celestine, too many Gertrudes to count and my favorite name so far: Bartimus.

I have found Revolutionary War heroes, Civil War casualties, steamboat operators, inventors, someone who went to court with Henry Ford, professors, dentists, judges, lawyers, real estate agents, oil company managers, doctors, bookstore owners, hardware salesmen, railroad engineers, preachers, and of course, lots and lots and LOTS of farmers.

I have, according to, traced my family back to the 1380s (!!) in England. Obviously, there's no way to prove the records are correct, but then again, there's probably no way to disprove them, either.

Every once in a while, I stumble upon cool family stories and photos that other genies haves submitted to or one of the other websites I'm using. Which is basically like crack to me. I will spare you these stories for now. Because telling them will only fan the flames. I am dealing with a serious addiction! Don't believe me?

These are the signs of an addiction:

Loss of interest in things that were important before.
Long, unexplained absences.
Decrease in performance at work or school.
Wanting to participate in addictive activity at all times of the day.
Increased desire for more of the activity.
Participating in the activity alone for long periods of time.
High tolerance for participating in the activity.
Preoccupation or craving.
Continued use.
Withdrawl symptoms.
Finding an excuse for doing it.

I'm even annoying myself at this point. I am not interested in going out, working out, reading a book or watching tv. For me, it's All Genie, All the Time. What if I can't stop? What if I turn into a shriveled up, little old lady genealogist who cannot hold normal conversations, because she constantly asks if you're referring to the Iowa McCrackens or the Minnesota McCrackens? ? Genealogy is pretty addictive, because there's always one. more. person. to. find.

Everyone has a mother and a father. And most people have siblings. It could go on forever.

I (obviously) haven't done much work, haven't gone to the gym, haven't cleaned my house...I haven't done much of anything, including blog reading. I am going to try and go on detox here this week, so I need your support. I think that in baby steps, I can make it out ok and come back to the world of the living.

Hi, my name is Virginia. And I'm a genealogy addict.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Old Family Photo

My mom's cousin emailed this photo to me the other day, but it was in a pdf format, so I couldn't blog it. But thanks to my reader, Debbie, now I can! Thanks, Debbie, for converting this to a jpeg for me! :)

Alright, this photo, from approximately 1905, shows the Wald family. Peter Wald, the first one, came over from Baden, Germany in the 1860s and originally settled in Illinois. Then, he went to Missouri, where the family's been ever since. Peter Wald married a woman named Barbara Hoffman, and they ended up having 13 kids (!!!), 9 of whom lived to adulthood. That's what this photo is! Only Peter is not in it, because he was dead by 1905.

I won't bore you with all the names, but the guy standing up in the back, on the very far left, is my great-grandpa, Thomas George Wald. The old lady sitting down is my great-great-grandma, Barbara Hoffman Wald. There is one extra man, if you're counting, and that's because one is a son-in-law (guy on far right). Check out all the mustaches!!! Whoa.

Doesn't my great-great-grandma look like your stereotypical stern, never-smiles German hausfrau? LOL I love it! Not exactly who you'd want to sit next to on a cross-country flight, huh? Well, I guess we can all see where my mom gets it from....LOL

Anyway, I have told you stories about Great Grandpa Thomas before. He was kind of a jerk, actually. Now that I see what he and his mom looked like, it kind of makes sense....

Thomas, my jerky great-gpa, married Mary Ellen Vater and had 7 kids, one of whom was my grandma Virginia. But that's another story for another day.

If you are groaning about my boring genealogy stuff, you are not alone. CN is ready for me to get a new project, too. LOL

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Love Savannah

I just realized I haven't posted in a while. Oops!

In a nutshell, I have been busy with my family genealogy project and taking a trip to one of my favorite places, Savannah, GA.

To be more specific...

I have been emailing with my mother's cousin, who as it turns out, is the "keeper" of the family history on my mother's side. This part of my family were German immigrants living in Illinois and Missouri beginning in the 1860s. So she has emailed me TONS of stuff, and it turns out that my great-great-grandpa fathered THIRTEEN children. Wowza. She also emailed me a pdf file of a photo of the family, taken around 1905, which is SO FREAKING COOL, I have been staring at it all day. I wanted to post it here to share, but it's a pdf file, which Blogger does not support, and I can't figure out how to save it any other way. Anyway, here's the cool part: my mom's cousin (Debbie) is going to be mailing me a family history book she has put together!!! I can't wait for the UPS truck. It is seriously like Christmas for me.

I won't bore you with all the family history bits of info I have learned today, because I've probably already bored you enough. I know MJ is sick of me talking about it. After a lengthy and overly-excited text message about all of this to her, I received a one-word reply. Hmmm. Not exactly the reply I was hoping for.

"I need to find a genealogy buddy, dont' I?" I asked her.

"Yes. Please." was her reply, if I remember correctly.

So enough about that. I am quickly becoming aware of how genealogy can bore some people. If you want more, let me know. "Genies" can talk about it all day, you know. :)

I will now move this post in an entirely different direction, to a topic most people really enjoy: travel. I had to go to Savannah this past weekend for a conference. Oh, woe is me. ;) Since CN and I never really did anything for our one year anniversary, I decided to take him with me so we could sorta celebrate. I have funny CN stories to share, but today, I want to give you a review of what it's like to visit Savannah.

OMFG we had the best time. This was the 2nd time we had been to Savannah. CN went about 8 years ago for their huge annual St. Patty's Day festival, and I went about 3 years ago for another conference. It was so much more fun to go with someone -- last time, I had to eat and explore alone. I was too worried about getting lost to do much exploring at all that time. This seriously impacted my dining experiences. This time was much better!

We drove down on Thursday and had lunch at Belford's. Holy cow was that a fantastic lunch: crab cakes and a kobe beef burger topped with brie and carmelized onions. I was wondering why the crab cakes were so expensive, until I took a bite to find that they were 100% crab meat and covered in a super duper yummy lemony-garlic sauce. Mmmmm!!!

This was just the first of many delicious meals. We also ate at Lady & Sons, which is Paula Deen's restaurant. Although it is a tourist trap and overpriced, it does have the BEST fried chicken I have ever put in my mouth. I think they are battered in a mixture of flour and crack. So if you ever go, just get a big plate of fried chicken. Skip the rest. You will be glad you did.

Also on our culinary tour of Savannah: fantastic Thai at Ruan Thai on Broughton Street, and excellent Italian at Corleone's (I highly recommend the baked beef tortellini in marinara sauce).

We really didn't have a bad meal the whole time. Even a dive bar we stopped in had great fish and chips. You really can't go wrong in Savannah. And all the people are so friendly! Everyone wanted to know where we were from and what we were looking to do while in town -- where else does THAT happen??

All throughout the downtown/historic area, nestled between neighborhood parks and along Broughton Street, there are lots of really cool home decor stores, galleries and boutiques. I went to many of these stores. Let me tell you about my favorites. Kilwin's makes some of the best fudge I have ever had in my life -- toasted coconut with chocolate swirled into it. Holy cow, it was a flavor explosion of joy in my mouth. I still can't believe it's a chain. Red Clover, Bleu Belle and James Gunn had really cool (expensive!!) clothes and a very friendly staff. Zia's had amazing handmade jewelry. But by far, my favorite stores were the home decor stores: The Paris Market, which sold lots of vintage housewares and French imports and DC2 Designs, which reminded me of a Z Gallerie. But by far, my absolute favorite was called @ Home Vintage General Store. Cute stationery, office supplies, cookbooks, linens, baby gifts, picture frames, sewing notions and other decorative household goods, all with a vintage 1950s flair. Half the stuff in there WAS vintage -- board games, school suppiles, sewing stuff, etc. CN had to drag me out of there. I would get back in my car right now, just to drive down and visit this store again.

Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in America, and since CN and I are both big ghost story fans, a ghost tour was obligatory. We went on this tour, and our guide was a great story teller, as well as very knowledgeable about Savannah and the homes he was describing to us. He had even been inside and interviewed a resident of my favorite haunted house of the tour. It is located on East Charlton St. Here's a photo I found on Google Earth:

Do you see the big trash bin in front of it? That wasn't there when I saw the house, but it was probably there recently, because it is being renovated. Why is it being renovated? Because they cannot get anyone to live in it, so they are trying to spruce it up! Which is quite odd, because it's in a gorgeous and old neighborhood in Savannah's historic district. It's practically next door to one of Savannah's most prominent landmarks -- the Hamilton-Turner house (which is also haunted). You might recognize the Hamilton-Turner house from the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. So why can't they get anyone to live in it? Because there's a poltergeist there! It opens the cabinets in the kitchen, moves the furniture in the living room and re-arranges the pictures on the wall. Anyway, the last people to live there left very suddenly, after only being there for less than a year. They were so freaked out, they didn't even take their furniture with them!!! It took them a year to work up the courage to come back for their stuff. That was in 1996. It's been vacant ever since. The house was listed at around $200k, the last time it was on the market. This is a total steal. If you're willing to live in a supposedly haunted house....where an old lady died in a bathtub....which may have been a suicide, because the woman had been talking to the ghost for many years...eek!!

And if you know anything about ghosts, you know that all renovations do is stir up more ghost activity, usually of the angry and violent kind. They probably should not be messing around in there, if you ask me. :)

Anyway, when the guide was telling us about this house, I got chills up my leg. Then, if we wanted, we could climb the steps and peer in the little window next to the front door (not visible in the photo above). Of course, I was all about this. But when I looked inside, I got an uber-creepy feeling and turned right around! This house totally gave me the creeps. Which only made me want to go back, of course!

But it will have to wait until next time, along with untested restaurants and unexplored shops. I can't wait until I can go to Savannah again.

The pervasive and excellent cuisine and shopping, combined with a laid-back and creative people (courtesy of the large art student population) and spooky atmosphere (Spanish moss, huge oak trees, witchcraft and haunted antebellum mansions have a tendency to create that) resulted in CN and I agreeing that Savannah is far, FAR cooler than Charleston.

Seriously, Charleston is the snobby, less-cool cousin of Savannah. Yes, that is how I would explain the differences in a nutshell. If you need a vacation recommendation, this one gets 5 stars from me!