Do You?

Do you believe in love?
Do you believe in marriage?
Do you think there is only one right person for you or many possibilities?
Have you ever had your heart broken?
What inspires you?
What are your dreams?
What places do you want to travel to in the future?
What do you want to do with your life?
What are your thoughts on God?
What are your spiritual beliefs?
What causes do you believe most strongly in?
What are your talents and strengths?
What are your spiritual gifts?
What do you like best about yourself?
What would you change about yourself?
What do you struggle with?
Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?
Do you believe in second chances?
What things make you angry?
Are you more task-oriented or people-oriented?
What is your family like?
Are you more comfortable with kids or pets?
What do you like to do for fun?
Do you always run early or late?
What genres of movies and types of books do you like best?
Who are your role models?
What is your preferred method of communication?
What is your primary love language?

Author’s note: I published this yesterday on my poemhunter poet page. It may not be poetry in a pure sense, but I was inspired to write a list of questions that seem especially helpful to ask in a romantic context. Some of these questions are also good for getting to know friends and family on a deeper level. Feel free to use and share these questions! ūüôā

The Almost Never-ending Story, Literally (Tax Return Lessons 101)

Am¬† I the only person in the world who has never heard of “Tax Literals” before?¬† I am a literal person, but I think that title leaves something to be desired.¬† Here is the chronological breakdown of my tax time saga (a.k.a. Tax Return Lessons 101):

1. I decide to again do my taxes myself this year. Perhaps I am still scarred from my bad experience at H&R Block several years ago, and how they misquoted me the amount that I would pay as a single person with a very easy return.

Form 1040A, 2005

Form 1040A, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. I gather my tax forms from the library, do a rough draft of my 1040A form, and get delayed in¬†finding and printing¬†the amount of interest I paid on qualified student loan payments.¬† I speculate about the IRS updating tax codes to be more fair to the tax payer.¬† I think it is 100% unfair that the 1098-E is not furnished by mail to individuals if the lender¬†doesn’t receive interest payments of $600 or more in a year.¬†¬†Plus, why is the Earned Income Credit (EIC) for people who work so vastly different for single people vs. people with children?¬† A single person doing a 1040A for 2012 must make less than $13, 980 (per 1040A, line 22, adjusted gross income or AGI), but a person having one child living with her or him can¬†make an AGI of less than $36, 920.¬† (Note: this is actually just step 1 to pass to see if a person qualifies for the Earned Income Credit).¬† Why the disparity?¬†¬†It seems the American tax code greatly favors people with children over single people on multiple levels.

3.  I file online using free fillable forms.  They are essentially the electronic version of paper federal tax forms, but they can enable you to get a much faster refund since you electronically file.

4.¬† I dislike how some of the free fillable forms are counterintuitive.¬† You can’t actually add your W-2’s when clicking on the upper tab to add forms,¬†because you¬†must click step 2 to do that.¬† In addition, (from what I can tell), you can’t move to step two by clicking “done with form” at the bottom of your 1040A, you have to click on the top “step 2” to¬†go to step 2.¬† This seems illogical to me, because if you are done with a form, then you should be able to click “done” and move on to the next step.¬† Plus, am¬†I the only one who noticed how when¬†a person¬†types in her information on her¬†W-2’s and uses the tab key, then it will jump numbers and not be perfectly chronological around the 12-20¬†fields?¬† I don’t like that filling out the W-2 seems to work backwards and out-of-order.

5.  I am happy to have my refund submitted electronically to the IRS after time spent surfing FAQs to answer e-file questions using free fillable forms.

English: Speech balloons. Question and Answer....

English: Speech balloons. Question and Answer. Icon for FAQ or Help. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.¬† What?!!!¬† My refund was rejected?¬† I have e-filed my own taxes for around 5 years, and that has never happened.¬†¬†Here is part of the e-mail to tell me of my refund rejection:¬†“To see a list of the most common reasons for a rejected return go to http://www.irs.gov/uac/Common-Free-File-Fillable-Forms-Problems¬†¬†¬†You will need to fix the issue in your return and e-file again. If you are unable to fix the issue you will have to print the return and file by mail.” (E-mail from customer_service@freefilefillableforms.com)

7.¬† Thus begins my search for why my refund was rejected.¬† I realize how”Tax Literals” seem to be at the root of my rejection problem.¬†Essentially, tax literal problems are caused by putting something into the small grey box areas on the tax return that does not belong. A person has to be instructed to place information in those areas.¬† Utilizing the link sent to me in my rejection e-mail about common tax problems, I link to the IRS website and find a¬†helpful link, the¬†FAQ document for Tax Literals.¬† However, I notice this IRONIC line¬†about tax literal information on the official IRS government¬†website.¬†¬†(Note: editing done to bold typographic error).

“In the example above, the rejection was caused by using an incorrect state abbreviation on Form W2-G and yopu would look on that form to correct the information.” (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/2012_4f_faqs.pdf)¬† (Free File Fillabe Forms FAQS and Limitations, February 28, 2013).

8.  I realize that line 7 (wages, etcetera) was where my mistake was made, so I fix the error and re-submit my tax return.

9.  Yay!  My return was accepted!  Is this the never-ending story, or what?  Finally, my tax return saga is over!

2012 Flashback (a.k.a. Personal Reflections on this Past Year)

How is 2012 quickly drawing to a close?  Yes, it is true what people say: the years go by faster and faster the older you get.  This past year was a mix of hardships and saying good-bye to several friends who left my area, as well as various events and activities that shaped the year for me.  This list is a personal reflection of the past year, rather than a list of current events or a political piece, with dates as close as possible to the real month of occurrence.  I enjoy reflecting on the past before starting a new year.  It is good to have new goals and aspirations.

January

  • I began blogging on WordPress.¬† Yay!
  • A mild winter in Illinois.¬†That’s¬†awesome because¬†I walked a 1/2 mile¬†each way to¬†work¬†due to the scarcity of close¬†parking at my job.

February

  • My birthday month.¬† Why does it feel like the last 5 years or so are gone in a blink?
  • I attended my second ever University of Illinois Basketball game.¬† It was a nice family time with my Dad, and Illinois beat Iowa, so that was exciting.

March

  • It was fun to co-coordinate a faculty/staff service outreach at my job.¬† We volunteered at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, a foodbank that helps provide food to hundreds of soup kitchens and food pantries in the central Illinois area.
  • I become the proud owner of a iPhone 4.¬† It is super cool, but dislikes when I try to use it as a PHONE from my apartment.¬†¬†However, the apps, being able to easily check and write e-mails, and the camera¬†are all¬†great features.
  • Winter Jam Tour at the Assembly Hall with my friend, Sabrina

April

  • My church purchases our own building after the building we rented¬†was damaged¬†by¬†a fire.¬† My church¬†had been¬†dislocated¬†to a hotel for around 3-4 months, so the purchase of our own building was exciting.

May

  • My friend Carolina moved to Arizona when her husband graduated and expediently got a great job.

June

  • Summer= swimming (in my attempt at fitness).
  • Around this time (ish), I become a poet who publishes on poemhunter.¬† I enjoy writing poetry, especially about love, heartache, and God/faith.

July

  • More swimming.¬† Summer seemed to go by at warp speed.¬† I did get to go see the New Amazing Spiderman on the Fourth of July.
  • I covered many job duties for my co-worker who was off work for 3 weeks due to an accident.¬† I also spent around 4 months (off and on)¬† for my co-worker typing forms, scanning forms, e-mailing people (some out of state, out of country, or no longer with my department), and playing Nancy Drew with solving discrepancies in legal check-outs of equipment loans, mostly for laptop.¬† This was to get forms for approxiately a few hundred pieces of equipment updated for legal check-out.
  • My co-worker¬†who was my¬†back-up was promoted, so¬†it was challenging¬†during the 6 weeks before her replacement was hired and started.

August

English: Script logo of the Chicago Bears

  • I took a min-vacation to see my family in my hometown area.¬†¬†We took a one day road trip¬†to see the Chicago Bears training camp at Olivet Nazarene University.
  • My friend Amy moved out-of-state in order to complete her degree in Art.

September

  • I spend around $300 on an oil change and new brakes¬†when I am told that my brakes are 95% gone.¬† I am glad this was found before winter, but sad to try to figure out how to pay for that in my tight budget.
  • My friend Melissa moves to Champaign for a new job.¬† I was blessed by that fact, but I also got a $100 rent credit when I referred her to my apartment complex.¬† Yay!

October

  • ¬†After 2 years and approximately 3 months, I got into a close parking lot by my work building.¬† If you know the ordeals that I went through before this time, you will know why this was a HUGE positive for me (I even paid around $70/month for¬†a few months for¬†a private gravel lot in order to be able to get a break and actually get to places on time after work).
  • I join Pinterest and become semi-addicted.
  • My first ever 5K!¬† My friend Melissa encouraged me to do it.¬† I¬†am not a runner, but I loved walking the 5K.¬† ¬†It was a fantastic¬†experience.
  • I voted for my clerical union contract.¬† We had been without a contract for 14 or 15 months which was pretty discouraging, in spite of my union’s persistent¬†negotiations.

November

  • I paid off my 5 year loan on my 2006 Ford Taurus!¬† Woohoo!
  • The Woodfield Mall bus trip that I was attending with my Mom got cancelled, but all was not lost when¬†my Mom¬†visited me and we spent the weekend shopping¬†at a outlet mall and many great local places.
  • My first laptop that I have ever personally ordered was stolen when FedEx left it unsigned for outside of my apartment the day after Thanksgiving.

December

  • Old-Fashioned Christmas at my church.¬† I got to go on a horse and carriage ride!¬† It was amazing!
  • I bought a new laptop¬† after my laptop that I ordered online was stolen.
  • E-mail day of action that I participated in (off work time, of course) since my signed union contract giving all clericals a small raise and pay-back¬†got stalled¬†by my University when¬†there was no real follow-through¬†and months of stalemate.¬† Justice is important.¬† I will note that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can¬†locate information that can be quite discouraging,¬†such as discovering that “snack bar attendant” and “helper-kitchen”¬†earned more¬†pay than I did, until recently.
  • I reach over 100 likes¬†on my WordPress blog.¬† Yes, sometimes I¬†am addicted to my Stats!
  • Christmas with my family, after a two-day delay when my car would not start, got jumped twice, and eventually resulted in me paying $420 for a new alternator and serpentine belt.
  • My first ever pedicure, that was at a spa with my Mom, twin sister, and niece,¬† It was part of my Christmas gift from my Mom.¬† It was amazing!

Flashback- Me (on left) and my twin sister, Jody (on right), when we were little

Love Quotes (Take Two)

I must confess that I started to look up some love quotes for this post, and I meant to type www.brainyquote.com, but instead I typed www.brainyquote.quote.  YEAH.  I am really weary and my eyes are feeling very tired, but still I had to laugh at the irony of that mistake.  Sometimes all you can do is laugh at yourself, you know?

So, here are more love quotes gleaned from www.brainyquote.com. 

1. “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

~ Mother Teresa

2.”The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough is love.”

~ Henry Miller

3. “The quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love.”

~ Jean Racine

Au

Au (Photo credit: JohnGoode)

*** I must comment that I find this quote highly thought-provoking.  If you do not feel love, then you are indifferent and do not desire to quarrel.  You can disagree and quarrel when you are upset or hurt or frustrated in a love situation.  However, a desire for harmony versus strife may lead to less quarreling and more embracing of love in all forms.

4. “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”

~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

5. “There are never enough I Love You’s.”

~ Lenny Bruce

6. “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.”

~ Charles Morgan

7. “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

~ James A. Baldwin

8. “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”

~  Thomas Aquinas

9. “Love is a friendship set to music.”

~ Joseph Campbell

10. “Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

~ Barbara de Angelis

11. “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”

~ James A. Baldwin

12. “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

~ Robert Frost

Also,  I always appreciate the example of Jesus Christ and His view on love.  He was mistreated and spoken poorly about, yet he talked of turning the other cheek and offering forgiveness.  That view is often not shared in this world of offense and unkind words.  I am inspired by the life Jesus led, and I find Biblical verses on love and forgiveness to be helpful in trying to live life the way that I should.

Prettiest Poet and Big Booty: Best and Worst Search Terms

google_logo

google_logo (Photo credit: keso)

For awhile now I have been itching to write a blog post on the search terms that people use to find my blog. I think everyone, their brother, and their dog use Google as a search term engine, so as you might imagine, Google is a search engine that is often used when people stumble onto my blog. The sociological side of me is completely interested and fascinated by the various search terms that people have utilized to find me and my writing. Many search terms I totally see, some have left me scratching my head, others have made me smile, one made me cry, some are thought- provoking, and overall I find all of them just plain interesting. I could not rank them into a favorite order if I tried, and some great search terms will not even make this blog post, but I want to highlight some of the best and some of the worst search terms (in my subjective opinion, of course).

Best search terms:

1. “Complicated male female friendships“- Yes, who among us has not been there? I could perhaps write a book, but in no way will I ever claim to be an expert.

2. “desiring you quotes“- Sweet.

3. “cartoon hearts of burning love“- Graphic design meets a heart meets flaming passion, perhaps? Innovative and cool.

4.”how does god relate to puppies“- That one made me smile, and relates to my post about the Poky little puppy (a little Golden Book) and a spiritual devotion that I wrote.

5. “Quotes on love hearts“- many people have bounced onto my blog through looking up various search terms using “quotes” as a keyword. I did a post on “Love Quotes” that was one of my most popular posts, which this search term may relate to.

6. “famous poems on rejection“- I think that I like this one because it makes me feel like I am famous. LOL. Seriously, though, many people have ended up on my blog due to variations of the keyword “rejection”. I believe that religion, politics, and controversial topics often divide people, but rejection seems to be a unifying force and something that we have all faced in multiple areas, especially romantic relationships.

7. “poems on how much i miss you can’t live without you“- that one is one of my favorite search terms. I like the romance of it, the beauty, and the real and genuine emotion….it’s kind of like wearing your heart on your sleeve, so to speak. Although, in reality, I think that if the person whom you loved passed away, then you should still be able to carry on. Also, break-ups should not be the end of the world. Our hearts can ache for those we care about or love, and we miss them with great intensity when break-ups occur (or also in cases of unrequited love). I have always appreciated that wise saying that is oft-repeated (sorry, I don’t know who said it in order to credit them)- essentially paraphrased it goes something like, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you, it is meant to be. If not, then they were never really your’s to begin with.”

8. “Starbucks cookie crumble frappuccino semi healthy? This is a person after my own heart. I WISH that I could say it was semi healthy, you know with the cookies, and whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle….but who am I kidding? Gotta love chocolate though, and I am a fan of Starbucks. (Author’s note: actually, I realized after I posted this that chocolate drizzle is NOT actually on this frappuccino…..so maybe it really DOES qualify as “semi” healthy!)

* Note: “Starbucks promotion”, “Starbucks promotion 2012”, and similar terms were the SECOND most popular category of search terms leading people to my blog. A quick quantitative perusal shows that over 24 search terms involved some variation of the keyword Starbucks. I have wondered if other countries are doing Starbucks promotions right now, because that is one of my more popular search terms lately, and the U.S. promotion for 1/2 priced Starbucks frappuccinos ended a few months ago, so the prevalence of this search term constantly of late has me wondering why.

9. “mysterious makes me think“- one of my absolute favorites.

10. “cartoon network show family lived in space“- this one I like because it never mentions The Jetsons by name.

11. “love quotes for Jesus” and “bible quotes about strength and love“- I like the spiritual piece.

12. “Avengers starbucks“- This one made me wonder if the Avengers were signing autographs at Starbucks….who needs Comic Con? (Just kidding….and I am not sure if I got that title 100% right….but as a newer fan of X-Men/the Avengers/the Fantastic Four/other superheroes, I think that Comic Con would be pretty cool. Honestly, why did ONLY BOYS get the cool stuff when we were all younger?….I got to read about Archie trying to choose between Betty and Veronica romantically,while boys got to read about cool superheroes like Spiderman. I could easily digress at this point and delve into the topic of socialization and gender roles, but I will stay on track for the theme of this blog post.

13. “things people are thankful for“- this is always good to remember.

14. “Can man and woman be just friends?“- Society and all of us may always debate this one. Reminds me of #1 above.

15. “Staying faithful relationship quotes” and “Christian quotes about standing next to someone“- Faithfulness and relational support in good times and in bad is of utmost importance.

16. “hopeful quotes” and “beautiful quotes of sunshine“- I like flowery search terms.

17. “the jetsons shoes” and “the jetsons dog” (similar to search term #10). I loved the Jetsons cartoon when I was young, so I appreciate these search terms. I have thought recently about how Astro would be a great name for a dog that I would be happy to adopt in the future, especially if one day I am blessed with a family of my own.

18. “touch of love quotes“- I am a fan of love, but really just seem to crash and burn at it.

Extras (added 7/16/12)

19. “staying in love quotes“- A beautiful topic.

20. “tender heart“- I have always had a tender heart, so I appreciate this search term. Compassion is a quality that is of high value and is greatly needed in the world. Also, this search term makes me thing of the Tender Heart Carebear (yes, I am showing my age, and yes, if you have read this blog for long, then you likely have deduced that I am a kid at heart. And, finally, yes, I really am a nostalgia girl, and I love things from my childhood).

21. “love and devotion quotes” and “quotes of healing and strength“- Definitely cool.

A few more Extras (added 7/29/12)

22. “morning Bible quotes” ūüôā

23. “blossoming love quotes“- This makes me think of when love is first beginning and it comes alive like a blossoming flower.

24. “strength quotes for women”- It is always good to have strength and encouragement, especially in challenging times.

25. “prettiest poet“- This one made me smile, even though most likely it was not meant for me.

26. “sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest place quote“- This makes sense.

Worst search terms:

* Please note that many of these are just really sad search terms, so that is how they ended up categorized as “worst.” Technically though, very few of them are “worst”, but since I am a sensitive and emotional person, search terms that were really depressing and sad I chose to categorize as “worst.”

1. “being rejected by a girl i love quotationsThat is super sad. I feel for him. (I know how painful rejection is).

2. “living without desire quotes“- Interesting. Hmmm. I don’t think that is possible.

3. “deception quotes from the bible“- This one actually kind of bothered me that someone found my blog using this search term, and I don’t think I have written about deception quotes.

4. “big booty facebook” and “big booty“- I still remember the day that I saw this search term pop up in my Stats list. It made me go “What?!” I am sure that this person was disappointed when they linked to my post (“A Picture is Worth a A Thousand Words…or is it?”) and ended up reading about how my sister was concerned when I told her that I decided to get back on MySpace again.¬†¬†My sister¬†had commented¬†that MySpace is now¬†just one big booty call, so of course she knows I am not that kind of girl. ¬†My blog post was a sociological piece about¬†my recent experiences on MySpace.¬† It was also an observation about¬†what happened when I changed my MySpace picture to a family friendly picture with my nephew.¬† Also, my post was not¬†about Facebook, but¬†I¬†briefly mentioned how some of my friends had left MySpace for Facebook several years ago, but I still enjoyed MySpace.¬† I am sure that my post was not what the person was searching for when they typed in “big booty.”

*I must say that I NEVER would have thought of someone finding my blog with the search term “big booty”!!! Definitely got me to shake my head a bit.

5. “poems on male rejection“- Sad.

6. “emotional intimacy led to friendship“- While friendship is a beautiful gift to be treasured, I couldn’t help thinking that usually when people are emotionally intimate, it often leads to dating and romance. So, in the case of the person who wrote the search term, friendship may end up seeming like the booby prize.

7. “on being hurt by someone quotes“- Painful.

8. “Heartbreaking love poems“- I distinctly remember that this one was either my first or second search term ever for my blog which I started in January 2012. This one made me cry a tear (yes, if you know me, then you know I am a tender heart, and I cry sometimes). My first post has always been one of my most popular posts. It was about love, rejection, and poetry. I included a poem that I had written which was highly personal and vulnerable. To see a search term related to heartbreak was actually hard for me to see because that poem was so transparent and real, and that poem was a healing poem.

Extras (added 7/15/12):

9. “thanks for the love rejection

10. “happy hour girl

11.”quotes arrogance man

A few more extras (added 7/29/12). I will end my additions to this list with these last few search terms, because I don’t think that anyone wants to read a never-ending story type of list.

12. “racy quotes

13. “quotes about falling out of love

14. “you don’t deserve my tears love quotes

15. “emotional and touchy quotes

16. “girls that mistreat man quotes

P.S. I am not putting this last group in the best or worst category. My quantitative biggest category is “unknown search terms” or “other search terms“, which sometimes also comes up as “encrypted search terms.” Currently unknown search terms total 50, and they surpass runners-up Starbucks search terms and rejection topics search terms. I am curious what all the unknown search terms are, but since they are unknown then it is a mystery.

Just call me the Starbucks Promotion Girl (a.k.a. Now that’s my kind of Happy Hour, Frappuccino Style)

You can just call me the Starbucks Promotion Girl.  I absolutely LOVE Starbucks.

Here are some of the vast number of ways I am a fan of Starbucks:

1.¬† I register my Starbucks gift cards.¬† I love the Starbucks gift card free rewards program, and I am on the green star level currently where¬†added syrups are FREE (If my middle name wasn’t Anne, then I think that it would be free.¬† LOL).

2.  My family knows that if they buy me a gift card for Christmas or my birthday, then one of the top gift cards is ALWAYS Starbucks.  I recently had a first for me- I reloaded my Starbucks gift card, because over time I had burned through the 3 or 4 gift cards that I had (like I said, everyone knows that I love Starbucks).  I reloaded the gift card with some money that I had gotten back on my tax return.  Strategically budgetted in, of course.  That is my financial situation, honestly, but all is well.

3.¬† Last week, I went with my friend to this Working Women’s Expo in my city where thousands of women attended.¬† I was largely going to find out about cool businesses and things in my area…..plus hopefully get some cool free stuff, too.¬† Beside playing a fun plinko game (that reminded me of the Price is Right), I also played a game at a dental table where¬†you throw the ring toss on the toothbrush.¬† And, I missed all 3 times.¬† Very disappointing, but I am so glad that I found a new dentist, which is the reason that I went over to the table.¬† Anyways, the nice girl took sympathy on me, whipped out a prize, and it was a $5 Starbucks gift card.¬† That¬†was a beautiful surprise!

Starbucks

Starbucks (Photo credit: Ivana Di Carlo)

4.  When I meet with friends, we often go to Starbucks.  Second, a Starbucks drive-through is close to where I live, which is quite dangerous for me, especially on my way home from work.  Third, at my old job, we used to sometimes have Saturday night Starbucks runs (since Starbucks was right down the street) where we would take employee orders, then one staff member would run out on a break and get all of us Starbucks. It was super fun, all of us were fans of Starbucks, and it made having to work Saturday nights (for the group of us that consistently had to work Saturday nights) much more fun.

5.  One day, I think that it would be cool to own stock in Starbucks.  In the future, when I have more disposeable income, it would be nice to invest in stocks and do more financial stewardship and investment.

6.¬† When I think of Heaven, one thing that I have pondered is what while Heaven be like?¬† It is so hard for the human mind to comprehend, you know.¬† I want to see my name written in the book¬†of life.¬†¬†I want to meet Jesus, and hear¬†those words of honor “well done, my good and faithful servant.”¬† And, on a much less spiritual note, I have wondered random things about Heaven,¬†like what we¬†will do when we are not worshipping….i.e. will we do cool stuff, like fly?¬† I totally want to meet the saints of old, like Esther and Joshua, and I will be honored to meet people that I never got a chance to meet on earth, like Mother Teresa, who I would have loved to have met before she died.¬† And, I have wondered if we will eat in Heaven.¬† But, the Bible mentions eating around a table, so I think we will eat in Heaven.¬† So, one small slice of Heaven for me would be my own little Starbucks where everything is FREE.¬†¬†Yeah, that would be super cool!

7.  I have the Starbucks app on my semi-new iPhone.  I believe that it is one of only five apps that I have downloaded so far.  It is in a select group of the best of the best of my favorite things.  I find the app quite helpful when you are looking for nutritional content of their drinks and food, when you are travelling and need to know where a Starbucks is, and hours of operation for Starbucks.  They even have this cool feature for the technically hip crowd where you do not have to actually FIND your Starbucks gift card to pay, but where you just scan the code for it.  Kind of cool.  My friend told me about that, and it seems quite convenient.

8.¬† Thus, as you can see, I LOVE STARBUCKS!¬†!!¬† They should pay¬†me to do promotion work for them,¬†I would be¬†quite passionate¬†at it.¬† I find it FUNNY how I think I am going to write a short and sweet blog (for once), and this piece¬†seemed to be¬†the perfect one for that.¬† But,¬†then somehow short and sweet turns into¬†elaborate and detailed.¬† ūüôā

Some Last ThoughtsI would be remiss if I ended this blog and forgot to tell you that Starbucks¬†is having a Half-Price¬†Happy Hour Frappuccino Promotion beginning May 4, 2012¬†and lasting until May 13, 2012.¬†¬†It is only from 3-5 pm.¬† That is definitely my kind of Happy Hour, and the only one that I am intested in,¬†truth be told.¬† I tried to copy the code from the Starbucks website for their fun and hip video for this spectacular promotion.¬† The video¬†showed the diversity of their frappuccinos, and it is a fun little clip.¬† For some reason, their code for the video didn’t work when you copy it, and¬†also if you try to¬†embed it to Word Press, then Starbucks asks for your blog and your password (which seems like a security issue to me, but I have never claimed to be a tech genius….but maybe I am missing something with the whole embed/post videos thing).¬† Anyways, check out the video on¬†Starbucks official¬†website if you have 30 seconds:

http://www.starbucks.com/

P.S.  Starbucks very recently debuted a new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino that is quite good.  It has chocolate whipped cream and cookie crumbs.  Today, my thoughtful and cool co-worker, Molly, went on her lunch break and came back with 2 Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccinos.  She bought one for me in order to bless me, which was so sweet.  Neither of us were feeling that great today, so it made the day better and brighter.  Random acts of kindess are cool.  Here is a picture of the new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino (Courtesy of the Starbucks Official Website):

One final note.

I am excited to be off work on a vacation day tomorrow.¬† Yay for having a three day weekend!¬† I have¬†a list of home stuff to catch up on, but I also organized a friend group that is going to see a matinee showing of¬†Marvel’s The Avengers tomorrow.¬† I have been eagerly waiting to go see The Avengers for months now, and this weekend it is opening in the American movie market.¬†¬†It is supposed to be THE Blockbuster of the summer, and it has been smashing world records in the overseas market left and right, from what I hear (according to TheWrap.com and other internet sites).¬† I definitely like superhero movies (and action movies in general), and I am completely inspired¬†by examples of bravery and courage in film and in life.¬† But, then of course,¬†sometime between 3-5 pm,¬†I plan to¬†go to Starbucks for the Happy Hour.¬† Woohoo!!!

Can Women and Men just be Friends?: Dating and The Age-Old Question

Can men and women just be friends?¬† That is a question that many writers, singers, and infinitely countless number of women and men and boys and girls have pondered through the ages.¬† It is the quintessential age-old question.¬† I, too, have pondered this question over the years, and my interest in gender studies and my own personal experiences in the murky waters that can be male and female friendship has led me to examine this subject one again.¬† Also, I have noticed that of all my blog postings, the most popular one¬†is my first post on Word Press, “Love, rejection, and poetry (a.k.a. a heart, a wall, and vulnerability)”.¬† I have¬†observed that there is an wide interest in the topic of rejection judging by the many google searches where people end up on my blog when they are¬†looking for topics¬†such¬†as “love rejection poems”, “heartbreaking love poems”, “rejection poetry”, and “famous poems on rejection” (I didn’t realize that I was famous).¬† If you are interested in reading my post on love and rejection, then feel free to link to it here: https://julieannesmith.wordpress.com/2012/01/

Today I was reading an article in the Daily Illini online¬†written by Tanya Trivedi on 4/24/12 entitled “Just friends or hidden desires: Cross-gender friendships not clear-cut.”¬† I found the article to be thought-provoking and well-written, and it caused me to re-visit this topic, ponder my personal experiences, and take action to write a blog post.¬† Trivedi begins her article with a quote from Oscar Wilde and then she poses some interesting questions.¬† Here is an excerpt:

“Centuries ago, Oscar Wilde said, ‚ÄúBetween men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.‚ÄĚ Can his perception of friendships between males and females still ring true in regards to sprouting relationships in the 21st century? Perhaps love, passion, enmity or worship is lurking under the illusory layer of what we think of as friendship.”

(Quoted from http://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/04/just_friends_or_hidden_desires_crossgender_friendships_not_clear_cut)

Look deeper in to your friends personality

Look deeper in to your friends personality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My experiences in the vastly murky waters of male/female friendships (and relationships) has not always been a pleasant one.¬† Hence, some of my poetry.¬† I am definitely not a huge dater, and I actually have only dated a¬†small number of¬†guys in my life.¬† There is a long list of reasons for that, but I am sure no one here wants to read a book.¬† However, to give a “Julie’s condensed version”, I would say some of the reasons are:

1. My parent’s divorce scarred me, and I have various fears related to love.¬† I am greatly troubled by the vast number of marriages that end¬†in divorce, and how it seems (for reasons that I do not understand) that people can have longer relationships¬†with their favorite sweater than a committed, lasting, and¬†emotionally healthy and stable¬†marriage.¬† Pardon my bluntness.

2. I am quite independent, and I have never been one to “need a man” to be happy.¬† Sometimes it seems to me that many women¬†let ¬†their own emotional contentedness and happiness with their life rest on the fact of whether or not they have a boyfriend (or husband).¬† I would like to think that has never been me.

3.  I am not a fan of internet dating.  I prefer to know a guy in person.  However, with the current rise of internet dating, sometimes it seems that I am the only one not really desiring to run out and do e-harmony or Match.com.  Almost every wedding that I have attended in the last 5 years came about as the result of internet dating.  Am I missing out?  Personally, I do not think so.

4. I keep busy with my friends, family, interests, church, and (previously) my educational degrees that I attained.

5. Financial limitations, perhaps??? I was unemployed after the two companies that I worked for both closed during the Recession, and no way was my focus on dating.¬† Also, these days, while I am a feminist, I still think that it is beautiful for a guy to treat a¬†girl very special on a date, as well as¬†to pay, especially if you are first dating and the guy has initiated the date.¬† Call me sexist if you want to, but honestly I like that tradition and think it is quite noble and honorable.¬† However, often times¬†both parties¬†wish to date but do not have¬†any money.¬† Dating doesn’t really need to involve much money, and creative and free alternatives can also be done.¬†Personally, I am quite content with pizza (which you can cook at home) and a relaxing movie, but it can be nice to go out, too.¬† (Good conversation is always free, might I add).¬† However, if I am left to fend for myself and pay my own way (as some guys seem to prefer), then honestly I would much rather be able to afford to pay my rent and have paper towels than to go to a nice dinner at Texas Roadhouse.¬† Dating is not a necessity, but I will not go so far as to say¬†dating is a luxury, either.¬† I also think that there are economic factors in dating that have been overlooked and heretofore have not been the focus of Sociological studies about dating.

6. I strongly prefer being friends with women to being friends with men, with a few exceptions over the years.  Those exceptions are typically  the husbands of my close female friends (or my Dad or brother), however some other exceptions that I have made over the years have led to pain and heartache, causing me to being even MORE apt to prefer friendship with women rather than men.  My heart has been hurt enough over my lifetime.  Finally, it can be hard to safeguard your heart and still be open to romantic love, which I desire.

7.¬† Ok, ok, maybe I am writing a book here.¬† So, I will end this list with the fact that I am picky.¬† Also, often the guys that I would enjoy dating do not clearly initiate, most guys seem gun-shy about using the D-word (author’s side note: which I understand, because none of us like rejection…but I totally agree with a quote from the movie When in Rome: “the passion is in the risk” or “the beauty is in the risk”), and I can be shy when I like a guy.¬† And, as far as being picky, I think that it is important to have an emotional connection with a guy that you would date, as well as a physical attraction.¬† Also, I would enjoy some common spiritual beliefs, however I have had it both ways in dating, and honestly I found it challenging both ways but for different reasons.¬† Finally, two of the¬†qualities that I find most endearing in a guy are seldom found together: boldness and gentleness.¬† I¬†desire to be treated tenderly and gently, and guys that have a gentle and caring personality are very attractive to me.¬† However, I also enjoy bold guys who are leaders, highly verbal, and “Joshua” type men (meaning Joshua from the Bible).¬† If I ever find a guy who has both qualities, that may be the perfect guy for me.

As far as men and women just being friends, I am coming to realize that I cannot do that topic justice in one blog post.¬† I will say that it is a hotly debated topic, and in my personal experience some guys that I used to be friends with have acted like they no longer wanted to be my friend after they asked me out, and I verbally told them that I did not feel that same way about them.¬† No one wants to hear “I just think of you as a friend”, but sometimes that is the truth and there is¬†no romantic spark¬†whatsoever.¬† I would rather be honest, but I never want to hurt anyone.¬† I remember a guy friend in college who I suspected liked me, but I had a boyfriend.¬† Almost immediately after my boyfriend and I broke up, there was an instance where the three of us were eating lunch together.¬†¬†We went to part ways¬†and my ex left first.¬† My guy friend at that point took the opportunity to kiss me on the forehead while I was¬†standing there shocked and stunned, and he said, “I can do that now since you are single.”¬† UH, NO!¬† Sometimes stuff like that makes me frustrated, and at times it feels like male/female friendships (and relationships) are like buried landmines in a vast field where you walk across¬†the field¬†and¬†do your best¬†to escape without major damage to life and limb.¬† Alright, I am being dramatic.¬† It is nowhere near that complicated or harmful, but male/female friendships are challenging and pose unique issues for everyone involved.

How about you?  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on male/female friendships.  Do you find them challenging?  How do you safeguard yourself from being hurt?  Do you even think men and women can be friends, or is it a lost cause and we are all fooling ourselves?