Cocoa and a Blog

About 15 people were coming and going outside my apartment complex late this afternoon while I was scraping off my car after a huge winter storm that seemed to dump about 12- 16 inches of snow on my area (central Illinois).  I saw people driving by in cars, a guy walking a cute poodle in a pink sweater, a yellow taxicab, a man taking out the trash, and a guy in glasses but no hat or sweater (which would be quite cold).  I had been wondering how the world was coping with the winter storm that affected so many states in the U.S., causing what seemed like the world to stop.  Today, a plethora of schools and businesses were closed in my area, as well as a long list of churches yesterday, including the two I attend.  Since I had been snowbound in my apartment all day Sunday, as well as sick on Saturday, I actually hadn’t been outside of my apartment since I got home from work this past Friday.  Since surprisingly my boss actually closed the main office that I work at, my adventure as a hermit continued today….and I must say that I am so grateful for electricity, heat, and Netflix.

Now I am inside my apartment enjoying some warm cocoa and writing this blog.  The day has flown.  Winter is most assuredly upon us.  The snow is pure and white.  It is a new year, and I have hope for this new year to be beautiful.

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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! 🙂

Sad and Interesting is the Order of the Day

Days can be thematic sometimes. Today, sad and interesting appeared to be the order of the day. It was a long day, and I got home after 9 pm. As I was parking, I was inspired by a new song that I heard on the radio on my favorite radio station, Air1. It was by Britt Nicole, who I find very inspiring and talented. (Side note: I actually got to volunteer at her concert with radio promotions for Air1 Radio several years ago when she performed a concert in my area). Well, I loved her new song with Lecrae, and I was inspired to get on Myspace, which I don’t do much at all these days, but I still like it for the music and for reminiscing. Anyways, I was stopped by “the new myspace”, saying not only had myspace changed, but that my current browser was not supported to login. All I wanted to do was add the song to my profile as #1 song, but I had to go through the steps to get a new browser to meet my goal. So, I added Mozilla Firefox as a browser, which truth be told, I should have done ages ago, since I hear it is an excellent browser. Funny how when you can’t do something you want to do that takes “two seconds”, it is quite annoying to be slowed down with technical delays. Anybody else agree?

So, after getting my new browser, I tried to login and got stopped by the “new myspace.” Of course, I had to agree to the privacy policies, video policy, and other various policies before proceeding. I also noticed that it APPEARS that unless you are a MEMBER of myspace (i.e. the NEW myspace, not the classic myspace), you CANNOT listen to music! You can only search for music. Why would anyone want to search for music but not listen to it? Sometimes I used to listen to music in my old myspace player without logging in. This probably sounds funny, but I would listen to my playlist when I didn’t realy care or need to login, and when I didn’t care to be tracked for every song I played. Anyways, so, unless I am missing something, it appears the new myspace is EXCLUSIVE for members ONLY to listen to music, which I find sad and, well, exclusionary. I like music being free and for the people. And, don’t quote me on this without double-checking, but I believe that when I tried to check out Spotify app for music numerous months ago (which my friend raved about), I couldn’t login in because I don’t have a Facebook account. I don’t think that is very fair.

I am a person who does not like to sign something or click accept when I have not read something, especially when terms say that I have read terms, etcetera. Granted, I don’t like reading 40 page terms verbatim, but I try to pay attention to privacy policies and rules. But, I got tired of reading and really ONLY WANTED ONE SONG. It is already late, so I decided to table the new myspace for another day and make sure I am reading when I am less tired. Here is the super sad other thing that I want to comment on- when I was clicking about how the new myspace is different than the classic myspace, it said some things will not carry over in the new experience- things like blogs and comments. That makes me so sad! I always considered my old myspace like a digital record or journal as part of my life- so many happy memories are tied up there, plus blogs that I never saved that were before I was on wordpress. I think I also lost some of my poetry which I may have only had a digital copy of, which of course, I did not save. It is too late now, but I wish I knew more about archiving and stuff that seems taught more in librarian circles. Sometimes it feels like I a babe in the woods, but it is sad once it is too late to do things maybe you should have done, but didn’t think something would be totally taken away from you. I was never warned by myspace by e-mail with the changes, and I knew there was a newer version, but I didn’t use it a ton recently. Still, I don’t think they promoted the switch with a deadline, and I don’t think they publicized what people would lose until it was lost. Maybe I am wrong, and I not trying to speak something untrue, but with so much of our identities wrapped up in the digital realm, I wonder how many people would be upset if their Facebook profile got wiped out, or how would they feel if Linked In pulled the plug? We are all vulnerable.

Once I decided to pass on the new myspace (for tonight anyway), I got on Air1 Radio (www.air1.com) to stream the mixology live. Of course, I got distracted by their home page with “trending now” news headlines. Here is the one that caught my eye. It is about new Lego figurines being more grumpy than in previous years. I think that is interesting, but sort of sad. Here is the article:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/11/18904238-do-legos-need-anger-management-figurines-grumpier-than-ever-study-says?lite

Also, an article I was reading earlier in the day was in the Chronicle of Higher Education about privacy, law, and government. It was highly thought-provoking and troubling. If you are interested in privacy laws, logical arguments, or freedom, then I definitely recommend it. It fits my theme of the day- sad, yet interesting.

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/

Blog on the Run

Here is an experiment to see how good the WordPress app on my iPhone works to write and post a blog post in a time-efficient manner. We’ll see. For some reason my WordPress app likes to crash, and so it has not been as cool as I hoped it would be. Plus, I am on my lunch break from work, and I went out to eat actually. Yay! I get tired of being diligent and always packing my lunch. I try so hard to be a good budgeter but life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and honestly sometimes you just need to go out to eat.

So, in honor of where’s Waldo, where am I?  Here is a pop quiz. (See if you pass).
Where is Julie???
A. Taco Bell
B. Chick-fil-a at a food court
C. Little Asian place down the street from my office
D. None of the above

Alright, I will answer the quiz at the end but gotta watch my time. So, yesterday I was thinking about how I really missed being a kid.  Life can get mundane, ok that is true. I was thinking about that great cartoon The Jetsons.  I want a dog named Astro. And a robot maid- seriously that is cool!  In all of our technological  progress, we are not flying around in cars yet. That would be interesting. Yay, deep thoughts. 🙂

I remember when I was a kid how exciting it was to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  I would wake up super early on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons.  We had cable when I was little, and I thought the Cartoon Network was awesome.  Here is a question for anyone reading this- what was your favorite cartoon growing up? Mine was Scooby Doo, but The Jetsons were cool, too.

The other thing I have been missing was when I was a kid and my family would always go to this amusement park in Iowa every summer and have the best time. We would ride roller coasters and go on bumper cars and have a blast. At the end of the day we would always end up in the Bingo parlor (that sold fudge) and we would camp out and play Bingo.  It was great.  Oh, my family would always play against each other in those fun horse race games (the kind where you roll mini-golf type balls into holes in order to move your horse or where you shoot a water gun into the clown’s mouth to increase and pop a balloon, which moves your horse.  Skee-ball was fun, too.  I lost tons of money playing Skee-ball.  I miss that!

Ok, well gotta go. Answer to the pop quiz: A. Taco Bell (It would have been B. Chick-fil-a, but I changed my mind at the last minute.  Also, the little Asian place is closed for maintenance for 1-3 weeks, from what the sign on their door said yesterday.

P.S. Alright, I am really trying to be better with my grammar and actually edit my writing these days…and I couldn’t resist going back and also adding some cute pics of The Jetsons.  Now, I really want to watch that classic cartoon.  Gotta love old school, it is still cool! 🙂

Things That Annoy Me

Author’s Editorial Note:

This post was originally titled “Things I Hate”, but now every time I look at that title it does not jive with me, so I have made an editorial adjustment.  Hate is a very strong word, and actually it is a word that I am seldom inclined to use.  I am aware, however, that I definitely overuse the word “love”, but that is in specific cases, such as the “I love Starbucks” type…seriously our English language does NOT do justice to the many facets of love that exist (Greek is much better for that), and I am not one that wants to cheapen the word love in its purest form.  Maybe I am more of a lover than a fighter, too (a.k.a. my disconnect with the word hate and preference for the word love).  Finally, there is the fact that we should love one another (whether you think about God or the Beatles for inspiration), and in my life I want to focus more on the good than the bad.  Thus, without further ado, here are “Things that Annoy Me.”

1. Utilization of the Internet for what seems like personal character assassination and slander. (Note: Character shredding in person is also bad, as well as behind a person’s back).  Bullying is the classic example, but I am being far more broad than that.  The internet is an amazing tool, but I prefer when it is used to edify instead of tear down.

2. Facebook being used for engagement news sharing BEFORE the engaged person’s best friends (or family) are even told.  This is especially bad if the best friends and family are NEVER told, and Facebook is utilized in order to take the place of heartfelt, caring phone calls or other personal correspondence.  If people who are NOT on Facebook DO care to hear directly that their close friends or family members are engaged, then this is particularly bad.

3. Facebook being used for funeral and visitation information, when no other type of personal correspondence is utilized.  This one hits close to home this past week.

4. Misunderstandings.  This is one of the reasons that my MySpace account was changed and is currently private.  Also, I hate it when people have pieces of a puzzle, but they are missing crucial pieces (of course, I am being figurative).  However, I find it grossly unfair when people fill in the blanks with incorrect (and thus false) assumptions.  This seems to happen a lot in life.

5. I get annoyed when people assume things based on a category that someone happens to fit in.  For instance, if someone thinks that since I am a Christian, then I am also a Republican, then they would be wrong.  Or, if someone things that because I am a feminist, then I hate men, that would also be wrong.  I think that our society does this all the time (re: incorrectly assume things about categories of people).  Actually, I have many beliefs that do not always co-exist together, and anyone who takes the time to get to know me will realize that.

6. I am disappointed when people are too busy for things and people who really matter.

7. I get annoyed when people break their word and are unreliable.  A few of my friends that I have been friends with for many years fall into this category.  I finally realized that I deserve people in my inner circle who respect me and are people who I can count on in both good times and in bad (whether I am having surgery or they just want to get a relaxing cup of coffee….a close friend should be counted on to be there for either occasion.  Life is more than just good times, and some people are fun friends but not “thick and thin” friends, the latter of which are more meaningful to me at this point in my life).

Unfortunately, when I had surgery last summer, several key friends in my life were not there for me at all or broke their word to me.  I have tried to work on myself to stop dwelling on some of the friend hurts from that time period (and a major one right before that) that really wounded me and were quite painful.  On a BRIGHTER note, some other people stood out to me that I did not expect- some I barely knew at all or I was just on an acquaintance level with (i.e. the mail carrier at my job who asked me how I was doing {after my surgery}, or someone in passing who took the time to listen to me on a down day and was there when I started to cry….that small kind act made the day better and was definitely encouraging…..you remember stuff like that).  Then there was my newer friend, Tisha, from my church, who gave me a sweet surgery pack complete with amazing chocolate and a cute gift bag in my favorite color.  Kindness always stands out to me, and I appreciate it, as well as reliability and people who are friends in any weather (so to speak) in this sometimes roller coaster of life that we all go through. 

8. Lack of grace.

9. Cussing.  Maybe I don’t HATE it, but I am definitely not a fan.  My Mom used Coast soap in order to wash my mouth out when I went through a cussing spell around the age of 15.  That horrible taste just does not leave your mouth.  I still remember that punishment, and it helped me with my foul mouth. (Please note that I am NOT recommending that any parents do that…..not by any means).

Also, in terms of cussing, in PARTICULAR, I hate the “B” word being used toward women and girls.  Many people seem to accept that word as being ethically and morally acceptable (or perhaps people accept that word as being justified,  utilizing “the ends justify the means” type of argument).  Also, I understand that some women use that term for empowerment, as other terms have been used by victimized and oppressed groups in order to reclaim the language.  I am not trying to be the language police, BUT I will say that I previously worked for a year as a legal advocate for abused women.  Every single women was called that word by her abuser…every single one….and, of course, we as women get socialized to think that we “deserve” to be called that, somehow.  (Author’s note: Please note that I am not saying that everyone who ever utters the “B” word is abusive or an abuser.  But, that word can be very unkind and derogatory, and that is something to think about).  Language (written or spoken) is powerful and can be really edifying and encouraging, or it can rip another down and be incredibly harmful.  I am no saint, but I try to use encouraging language, and I also try to apologize when I have been wrong.

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, “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” 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?

A Shout Out to My Friend Christie!!!

I am attempting to try the QuickPress posting option for the first time as I sit here sipping my Cafe Escapes Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa with immense enjoyment of the fact that I am off work today. I have a Keurig Elite Brewer, and while I am a HUGE Starbucks fan, I think that $4 or $5 for a drink there is a TAD expensive. Honestly, I like being able to brew my own cappuccinos, cocoas, and the like. Although, I must say, after I got the Keurig, I realized I really do not like coffee that much. It is more the chocolate type drinks that I love, such as mochas and hot cocoas.  I am also a fan of french vanilla and caramel cappuccinos, and one of my all-time favorite drinks is the double chocolate chip frappuchino at Starbucks (too bad I can’t make that myself!)  However, now that my local Wal-Mart carries the Grove Square brand for Keurig K-Kup Brewers, I am a much happier camper. Maybe I should have gotten a Tassimo brewer that brews more speciality drinks, but I got the Keurig Brewer. All is good. Does anyone else out in our blogosphere world have a Keurig (or Tassimo)? What is your favorite drink? Or what is your favorite Starbucks drink, if you are a Starbucks fan like me???

I love my Keurig Brewer!!!

Anyways, yes, SATURDAYS OFF WORK are one of my GREAT PLEASURES in life. After years of working two jobs and often working 6 days a week (and barely being able to get off work for friend weddings), I have such a grateful heart that I work a Monday-Friday job presently. Anyone who has even worked retail or has struggled to get by financially will understand what I am talking about.

So, I have been semi-uninspired of late to write, although I did enter a writing contest which was cool. That was interesting because you had to write a short story based on a photograph found in a specific Flicker pool. That probably was the hardest part for me, because I have never wrote that way before.  I guess I usually am inspired more from my personal life than from random photographs. But it was a good writing exercise and it is good to be writing.  (Writing is a goal for me in 2012, although my book has been on hiatus since I have been blogging and doing other pursuits as of late).

Today, the actual purpose of my post, which of course I am just getting to now, is that I want to give a SHOUT OUT to my friend Christie. She is really amazingly cool, and we have known each other for AGES. Yes, we are both in our seventies. Just kidding! (Side note: although, sometimes I am amazed when I think about how fast life flies by, and I feel it definitely seems to fly faster the older one gets). So, my good friend Christie is totally new to WordPress, and you should check out her first blog posting. I am really excited (actually, I am the one that convinced her to be on Word Press), and I want to get the word out about her blog.  I enjoy promotional communications, and it is always important to be supportive of your friends, you know?

Here is a link to Christie’s blog:
http://lostmyboots.wordpress.com/

I think you will appreciate Christie’s blog if you like Christian thoughts, a quirky sense of humor, and/or writings on life and the speed bumps along the way. She is also a talented singer (and plays guitar, as well), and her brother is producing off-beat films after graduating from film school in California.

Happy Saturday everybody!!!