Yesterday my mom gave me an early Christmas gift in the form of a new cell phone. After spending the last two and a half years using a phone very similar to this one,

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the very basic phone, regarding which people have asked, “Oh, is that one of those pre-paid telephones?”, I have moved on to greener, er, redder pastures:

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I got a Razr. And it annoys the helsinki out of me that it’s called a Razr and not a Razor. Now, I am not one to be romanced by status symbols of the phone world. Little Nokia served me well with a few glitches, like never accepting my voicemail password the first time I typed it in, or shutting off randomly when I pushed the number “2.” It had no fancy ring tones, no photograph capabilities, no froo-froo, and no bling-bling. But it could text message. And I could talk on it. I had many-an important conversation on that telephone. I wonder how many hours it has experienced the suppleness of my cheek…. more than any human, that’s for certain.

I got the Razr because it was free. My mom bought one through Alltel’s Christmas deal for $20.00 and got mine free for purchasing hers. If she hadn’t, I’d probably still be living it up with Little Nokia. When Mom gave me the phone, I was initially very excited because all of the fantastic features. I love the fact that it is a flip phone and that it slides so nicely into my purse. I can hear people better on it, and it fits against my face better. Little Nokia made me feel like I was holding a bar of soap against my ear. I was so excited about the new phone that I didn’t even think about one terribly sentimental thing… until D called last night.

And the phone just rang. Like normal. Like, without his ring tone.

The new ring tone on the Razr was a smooth, jazzy, suave ring tone, a Robert Redford kind of ring tone with a twist of the young Sean Connery, and not the tinny da dun da dundun duuuuun Little Drummer Boy tone that has made me jump up and run to the phone with bells on my toes each time it has rung for the past year and a half. D had no idea. He doesn’t have a ring tone for me on his phone, and last night was the first time I told him about it:

Ann: I’m really sad. I didn’t realize that your call yesterday would be the last time I would hear that ring tone.

D: What did it sound like?

Ann sings out a sweet little melody on a series of da’s.

D: And what does the new one sound like?

Ann: Ba DAAAAAAAA, BA DADADADA… I can’t believe you’ve never heard the ring tone I have for you. To me, it’s such an intrinsic part of who you are, ever since I started getting to know you.

D: Wow, I didn’t know that.

Ann: I don’t know if I can be in this relationship anymore.

Obviously since D and I have been dating long-distance since, well, ever, we’ve spent a lot of time talking on the phone. In fact, the first time I met D I felt really shy around him. He called me the next day after our initial meeting, and everything was normal and great on the phone, because that is how I was used to him. I wasn’t ready to handle the real-person D, in all his manly glory. And sometimes I still feel a little shy around him the first time I see him after a particularly long separation.

So, how exactly do two people sustain a relationship over the phone?

That’s a good question. Heh.

I don’t know. This is a question many people have asked when quizzing me about whether or not long-distance dating really works. And all I can really say is that, so far, it has worked for us. D and I have an advantage because we’ve never lived close to one another. The phone relationship is all we’ve ever known; therefore, we only sometimes miss the in-person relationship where we get together a few evenings a week and on weekends and see each other on a regular basis. The telephone, though frustrating at times, has always been a bridge between us. It’s true that I like him more every time I see him, and I look forward to my big move to California with rampant rejoicing, but for now, we’ve been fine on the phone. And here are a few reasons I think it’s worked out for us*:

1.) We are both articulate. We know how to explain our feelings pretty well and have extensive enough vocabularies to express what we’re thinking. Sometimes, when we’ve been fighting, I will anticipate my future feelings, and tell him that the next time I talk to him on the phone, I will probably be mad at him again. I don’t know why I do this — perhaps I want to prepare him, or perhaps it’s my apology ahead of time for anything mean I might say.

When you have to communicate predominately via telephone, it’s important to be really clear about what you’re thinking or feeling. When a boyfriend or girlfriend can’t read your body language because he or she can only hear your voice, it’s even harder to decipher what’s going on in your head. I say this especially to girls because we tend to have this ridiculous idea in our heads that if our boyfriends really cared about us, they could be thoughtful enough to read our minds and then explain our thoughts back to us in Swahili. Forget it. Give they guy a break. If you’re mad, tell him why. And just the same, if you’re really glad to be his girlfriend or really impressed, tell him why. The same goes for you, fellas. Just be clear, capiche?

2.) We make each other laugh. A lot. And often. Even when we’re mad at each other.

3.) We have similar taste in music, film, and literature. That alone gives us LOTS to talk about.

4.) We are both good listeners. My closest friends are the ones who listen as much as they talk. And when I say listen, I mean that they hear and remember and care about what I tell them. This is an important quality for my friends to have in relationship to me because I am a strong introvert, and I listen more than I speak. I feel loved when people listen to me the way that I listen to them. Listening builds trust. One of the things that first impressed me about D was his capacity for not just listening to what I was telling him, but for comprehending it and then asking me about it later. I strive to be that type of person in our relationship as well. Listening skills are vital in a long-distance relationship.

5.) We are both good talkers. It has taken me a long time to become a good talker. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I realized that I didn’t have to wait for people to ask me questions before telling them things. You mean I can just interject my own thoughts into a conversation without being asked for them? NO WAY!

Way.

I’m a much more confident person since I realized this. Now people actually think I’m kind of funny instead of being stuck up.

The other day I even accused a stranger of making a fat joke against me. And then we had a funny conversation about how we do the same thing to our significant others. It was great. She didn’t even have to ask me, “Do you think I am making a fat joke against you right now?” And I didn’t have to reply, “Yes, I think you are making a fat joke against me, Ha, Ha, Ha.” Instead, I just had to say, “Is that a fat joke?” And we laughed.

D is good at encouraging me to just talk. About random stuff. About nothing. I sometimes feel dumb telling people the stuff that goes on in my head (yes, even on the blog), but D is very affirming. I try to be the same for him.

Does anyone else have any ideas on how to make a telephone relationship work?

P.S. We’re supposed to get a blizzard this weekend. Six to ten inches of snow tomorrow. Sub-zero windchills. Yeah, baby.

* Note: Obviously all of these principles will benefit any relationship, whether close or far away. My point is that one reason D and I are still together is that we are very intentional about each of these five things. We can’t go out for coffee with a group of friends or go to a movie or sit and watch TV together, so we have to work hard with what we have.

A Little Break

November 29, 2007

Hi, y’all. I’m sorry, but today I’m taking a break from writing about the long-distance relationship. I’ll be back with more tomorrow. But for now, there’s this…

It’s snowing! A lot!

And I’ve been nominated for an oh-so prestigious award by my friend Sadie. Apparently, I am a recipient of the Subversive Blogger award, begun by some guy out in the blogosphere named Jake Bouma. Bouma explains the regulations of the Subversive Blogger award on his site.

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So, whom do I nominate? I have to nominate five people who are, as Bouma writes, “unsatisfied with the status quo, whether in church, politics, economics or any other power-laden institution, and they are searching for (and blogging about) what is new (or a “return to”) – even though it may be labeled as sacrilege, dangerous, or subversive.”

1. Lee Ella – Lee Ella is one of the best writers I’ve ever read. She has excellent taste in movies, music, and men, AND she has many interesting thoughts. Her fashion sense is hot.

2. Katy – Katy has fascinating posts about politics, religion, and life. She’s a smart, smart girl with a fantastic ideas and an excellent writing style.

3. Nicole – Nicole is smart and sassy. Her posts always make me laugh, and she’s a kick-alabaster writer. I love how Nicole is so excited about her passions and beliefs.

4. Devi – Devi is an excellent writer, and she always covers fascinating topics. I admire they way she writes about culture, politics, religion, and family.

5. Patty Kirk – She’s my favorite professor from college and wrote an excellent book called Confessions of an Amateur Believer. You should really visit her blog. Pretty much everything she writes is like a devotional to me. She is one of the most honest Christians I’ve ever met. And she’s an amazing writer. She taught me most of what I know about writing.

Edit: I forgot to add before that Sadie originally nominated me because of a cake I decorated that looked like a pair of French underwear, which I aptly named The French Ruffle. (Read the post by clicking The French Ruffle.) So, while all these other bloggers are writing about politics! religion! economics! and power-laden institutions!, I am writing about sexy pastries. I guess we all fight battles against the status quo in our own ways.

Mine is the most delicious.

Today’s installment is going to have to be quick because I’m a sick-y, and my head is pounding. Who knew that so much mucous could come out of one so polite and genteel as I? The illness gods have not granted my wish for that one really, really good nose-blow where everything comes out from deep inside, and afterward you can’t help but peek in the kleenex and say, “Yesssssss.”

Thankfully we had no fruit orders to go out today, so my co-workers and I didn’t have to work. Mom went shopping and asked if I wanted to come along, but I decided to spend the afternoon in my pajamas on the couch with the dog. It has proven to be a fantastic decision except that every time I get up to re-medicate, the dog has stolen my place on the couch.

For the most part, those who replied to the last post (and you can still reply if you’d like) said that they, too, believe that technology has made long-distance dating more rampant than it was twenty years ago. Some brought out the point, however, that times of war change the statistics. Quite logical. Perhaps one reason long-distance dating is more common today is because of the War In Iraq, all technology-speak aside. But World War II or World War I probably saw more situations of long-distance relationships just because so many more soldiers were involved.

The most difficult obstacle I’ve encountered in this whole D Dating Debacle is trust. Sure, it’s tough to go places without your boyfriend and to not know when you’ll see him again, but trust is a major hurdle. I have to trust that even though he hasn’t seen me in the past four months, he still likes me. I have to trust that he is, indeed, the good man that I think he is and that he won’t chase any skirts or capris (dear goodness, I hope not) or gaucho pants. It would be so easy for one of us to cheat, and no one would ever have to know about it.

I especially struggled with this in the beginning. Here I was dating this guy whom I had met only twice before he scooted off to California for his next year of school. When 9 p.m. rolled around and those free cell phone minutes began, I would often get worried if he didn’t call me. When 9:05 came, I would carry my phone around with me and start glancing at it every thirty seconds. 9:10 brought with it sweaty palms and glares of angst. 9:15 had me fuming. Why hasn’t he called yet? And then I would try to call him and get his voicemail, and the whole world would tumble, tumble, tumble: Who is he with? (My knees look particularly ugly today.) What is he doing? (I should probably consider working out a little more.) Where is he going? (I don’t just feel fat. I am fat. My hips are entirely too wide for the rest of my body.) WHY DOESN’T HE CALL? DOESN’T HE CARE ABOUT ME? AM I NOT A PRIORITY IN HIS LIFE? (He’s going to dump me because he thinks my thighs look like Dachshunds.)

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So, for a while, like a mother, I instated this spoken un-rule that we needed to check in with one another at 9 p.m. my time and 7 p.m. his time each evening. I used the excuse that I wanted to plan my evening around his call so I wouldn’t sit by the phone waiting for him, but I could still fit talking to him into my “busy” schedule. Yeah. My busy evening schedule of watching episodes of Mary Tyler Moore on DVD, snipping cute outfits out of magazines, and contributing to those sausage thighs with giant bowls of ice cream.

Now, on occasion, I would go out with L, or my roommate and friend AS, or friend AA for dinner or a movie or game-playing. On those nights, I was far less worried about what D was doing. In fact, 9 p.m. would roll around, and I wouldn’t even notice that we hadn’t checked in. Why? Because I was actually getting out and living my life.

Apparently I am a much more structured person than D is because the spoken un-rule started to drive him crazy. He called me on it, among other things, and we had a big fight of the worst kind: the Maybe We Should Break Up kind. So, I realized I needed to lighten up. If I had to speak to him each evening in order to feel like I could trust him, then I really didn’t trust him at all. I must note here that D has never done anything to make me doubt his trust. In fact, he is one of the most loyal people I know — loyal to his family and friends. All the worries resulted from my own inability to get beyond stuff that’s happened to me in the past. I have an abandonment complex which overpowered all the truth I knew about D. In my head I believed he would leave me, and if it was in my head, I was convinced it was how it was going to be.

I’m kind of dumb sometimes.

After D and I talked about all this, I knew that I had to let go. My fear of my own inadequacies was pushing him away from me. He felt like he had to choose between being with me and living his life. And if anyone starts feeling like that in a relationship, the wise thing to do is to contemplate whether or not you should be in it. I’ll never forget the beginning of that conversation, just how he said, “I feel like my needs aren’t being met,” and the four hours of talking/crying/yelling it out and the no-sleep-that-night that followed. The deep, hard sacrifices come with marriage and engagement. At this point, D shouldn’t have to choose me over his friends and his goals. I should come with his friends and with his goals. We are together at this point not because of need but because of choice. And sometimes perhaps there is more power in that logical, active choice than in a vulnerable, passive need. Any thoughts?

Those first few nights of not talking to him were agony. Thankfully L was visiting from San Francisco, and she and my other friends encouraged me and hugged me and helped me get over the little wounds in my heart. They also helped me stay busy because I’m such a homebody that my first tendency is to stay at home “reflecting” on situations when really what I am doing is drowning in the proverbial abyss of self-centeredness. Once I took time to be upset about it for a while I just needed to move on. I had to make the decision — the non-emotion-driven decision — to trust D. I had to list off all his fantastic characteristics and decide that they provided enough evidence for me to trust him. I had to stop taking my issues out on him. I had to let go of me.

Before we begin today’s installment, let me just note that I have a kleenex stuffed up in my nostrils, hanging down over my face. It is the only way to keep the drips in without rubbing the sore rims of my nostrils. I used a decongestant, and while my sinuses are now killing me, at least I can breathe air without stupidly hanging my mouth open. One nice thing about long-distance dating is that you never need to be worried that you gave your significant other that cold. Baby, I miss you and haven’t hugged you in nearly four months, but that cold? Yeah. Not from me. But since we’re on the subject, FROM WHOM DID YOU GET THAT COLD IF IT WASN’T FROM ME?

I’m excited about the response I’ve gotten on the first two posts. Not everyone is willing to comment on the actual blog, but via the blog and friends on Facebook and MySpace, I’ve gotten some interesting feedback. I’d like to share it with you:

SC, the artist formerly known as D’s roommate, wrote, “[…] I’ll give people tips on how easy close-distance relationship s are… you know… cause they’re really easy. Plus to make you even MORE jealous… I get to see your boyfriend all the time!!!”

SC, if I were a mean person, I’d be mad at you for rubbing in the fact that you get to see my boyfriend more than I do. If I were your English teacher, I’d tell you to use exclamation points more sparingly and to please, PLEASE stop dotting them with little hearts.

All that aside, let’s address the real issue here. Pointing out that long-distance relationships are hard does not diminish the fact that ALL relationships are hard. SC is quite right in his sarcasm. I find it interesting that when it comes to a close-distance relationship, most people will say, “Oh I really like such and such so I’ll date such and such.” When it comes to a long-distance relationship, most people will say, “Oh, I really like such and such, but I’m not going to get involved because such and such lives too far away.” I guess I’m more of an advocate of the idea that if you really like that person, you’ll at least be willing to try. I understand that many hurdles come up when one gets involved in a long-distance relationship, and a lot of trust is required, but as our fine heart-dotting friend has pointed out above, ALL relationships will have hurdles, and trust will always be required.

Jennifer had a comment on the last post: “[…] Do you think these tidbits of long-distance dating advice could help a relationship that stretches across an ocean and not just a country? And C. The Hornets have moved to New Orleans. I believe this happened somewhere around 2002.”

This comment made me laugh because Jennifer’s knowledge illustrates just how little I really know about sports. I knew a little bit in junior high because my brother convinced me to start collecting basketball cards so he could trade with me. But that was like 13 years ago. Thanks for the knowledge. And yes, I do think the advice could be helpful for any couple in a long-distance relationship. Brad commented after Jennifer, asserting that once the person is a plane ride away, it’s pretty much all the same. I think I disagree with you, Brad. It’s cheaper for me to fly to L.A. than it is for me to fly to Holland to visit my other boyfriend, Olen. So my relationship with D is stronger because I see him more often than I see Olen. And the whole cultural thing is just a little challenging. Olen wants me to wear wooden shoes, and I have to remind him to stop telling me what to wear.

For the most part, long-distance daters depend on the telephone. Telephoning could get a little more tricky with an overseas partner because it costs more money. I can’t tell you how many times I have praised God that I have free evening and weekend minutes on my cell phone. We definitely take advantage of those. Now I guess there are technology advances like Skype that could help the overseas relationship considerably. Also, the Internet is a great resource for keeping in touch, though if I had to choose between seeing D’s grammar and hearing his voice, I’d choose his voice every time.

Sometimes couples will put off talking about a serious issue because they’d rather do it in person. This may be a healthy thing for couples who see one another regularly, but for the long-distance dater, speaking face-to-face isn’t always feasible. The tendency is to hoard those important things that need voicing with the excuse of wanting to talk about them in person, when what you really need to do is to just say what you think/want/need/etc. Don’t save it up. Resentment will build and because you aren’t around for your significant other to read your body language, your parter may not have any idea that something is bothering you. Bad communication is frequently the root of the Break Up.

Another important thing I’ve learned is that I need to support D’s life, even if it is far away. One reason it took me over a year to decide to move to the L.A. area is because D didn’t want me to come if I was just coming for him. I have my own life and my own interests and my goals. It just so happens that my goals can happen in L.A., and that D is close by is a HUGE perk. If he broke up with me tonight, I would understandably be a little heartbroken, but I think I would still go. D is a great part of my life, but he’s not my life.

D could’ve come back to Arkansas during his summer break, and honestly part of me hoped that he would. But when he decided to stay in California to take a class and spend time with his friends out there, I convinced myself to be glad for him. I mean, what was he going to do in Arkansas? Sure, he could’ve hung out with me, but I had my own life and job and friends. It was a better decision for him and his goals.

Today I started wondering if long-distance dating has become more common than it was, oh, say, 20 years ago. We have the internet now and internet dating sites. With technology, long-distance daters have an advantage of daily contact. D and I play Scrabble together over the internet. We send each other interesting links. I post lolcat pictures on his MySpace even though he keeps threatening to delete them, but even when he says he will, he never does, so I keep posting them. I’d like to know your thoughts. That means you, lurkers who don’t identify yourselves. Is long-distance dating more common than it was 20 years ago?

If you’re hesitant to post your answer on the blog you can email me at ann [dot] clipperton [at] hotmail [dot] com.

P.S. It was six degrees in Minnesota today with wind chills plunging to sub-zero temperatures. I’m California dreamin’.

Before I pick up where we left off last night, I must inform you that this evening when I was changing out of my work jeans into more comfortable pants, I found a penny in my jeans. Not in the pocket–actually inside my jeans. I pulled them down slightly and the shiny copper glinted in the light of the bathroom. It was miraculous.

I have decided that God is answering my prayer for provision by making my body produce a 1988 American penny each and every day. By this time next year, I will be $3.65 richer.

Yesterday I started writing about a few principles that make long-distance relationships easier. You can read that post by scrolling down. I am too lazy to provide a link. Here is the second principle:

2.) Baby, I know that you’re over 1000 miles away, but let’s go to South America this afternoon.

Translation: Indulge in a little long-distance dating, as in going on dates even when you’re not even close to being in the same city.

D is a sap. For Valentine’s Day he took me on a date that was so romantic it almost made me vomit. The only problem was that he was in Hollywood and I was in Rogers, Arkansas. D, however, is a man with genius ideas, and he surprised me with a great little date. For the whole day, he left me sweet messages on my Facebook, MySpace, blog, and phone via voice message and text message. The messages would say things like, “Check your Facebook at 11:30,” etc., sending me on a virtual scavenger hunt. For the final message, he told me what we were doing. He went to Build-A-Bear in Hollywood, and I went to Build-A-Bear in Rogers, and we built bears for one another and mailed them to each other.

Build-A-Bear was a little bit of a let-down. In my idealism, I thought I was going to get to go in there and build this totally awesome custom-made bear with cooky eyes of my choosing and all kinds of different body parts… a Frankenbear. But I wasn’t thinking about the average American who can’t sew. I wasn’t thinking about a revenue-generating business. I wasn’t expecting the hundreds of deflated bear carcasses lying in their mass graves, just waiting to be stuffed through a tube on a reverse vacuum. The whole experience was significantly disturbing, but I got an awesome bear out of the deal and sent D and equally awesome bear. The clothes for the bears were far too expensive, so I dressed mine in a pair of underwear and a pink cowboy hat, and D’s wasn’t wearing any pants… ooh, la la. What may come across as suggestive is really just the plight of the money-less.

This whole scenario has become one of my favorite memories with D even though I wasn’t actually with him.  I also learned a lot about him through the adventure — about his creativity and ingenuity and thoughtfulness. And even though it was a bit over-the-top, I have to admit that I really, really like the bear he made for me.

Another evening was much more spontaneous. D had a copy of a book on the 1000 greatest films ever made. We decided to have a little healthy competition and read every single title of those films to see which one of us had seen more of them. D read them off as I wrote down tick marks on a sheet of paper to score, and in order to make it through the list quickly and efficiently, we had to say either yes or no unless we had an important comment or suggestion. No fluff. I was winning for a little while during the classic film, but D smoked me after we got through the ’50s or ’60s. Yes, it was a little bit ridiculous (1000 movie titles? Really? Yes, really, and it took a long time), but it was a great way to just hang out together. It was something we would have done if we lived close together and were hanging out at his apartment for an evening.

It is vital to a relationship to have some time to just spend together, not necessarily talking about anything fantastic or impressive. That is the rut that so many long-distance relationers fall into: All conversation must be meaningful and significant. While deep conversation and good communication are key, I honestly don’t think D and I would still be together if we didn’t take time to be flippant. To waste time. To be friends. This is not easy over the phone, but it is possible with a little ingenuity.

I have a problem.

Ideas always hit me a few hours after my bedtime.  I should’ve been drifting off into a peaceful oblivion exactly two hours and twenty-one minutes ago. Tomorrow morning will come far too early, met with a groggy Annifer fumbling for the alarm/cell phone beeping on the mound of clothing beside her bed. Annifer will want to sacrifice the preparation of a classic brown-bag lunch for fifteen more minutes of sleep, and if Annifer does not prepare said classic brown-bag lunch tomorrow morning, Annifer will have to forfeit her good, healthy food rights to those of a McDonalds meal costing too much money and contributing more calories than Annifer can politely accept.

My personal scheduling has always been a mess, laced with good intentions but fraught with failure. I’m really good at work. In a work environment, I have goals and deadlines and motivation and a schedule. That success is the very thing that makes me just want to kick back and do whatev as soon as I get home. And sometimes that whatev spins me in its web late into the night, especially on days or weekends when I haven’t gotten a lot of alone-time. Alone-time is a precious commodity for a girl like me, a girl full of creativity and nutty thoughts and too many ideas! to bring to reality. On nights like tonight, I like to sit in my room and forget about bedtime just to follow every tangent my mind pursues.

But for the sake of my physical and emotional health, it is important for me to be in bed by 1 a.m. The hour really should’ve been 11 p.m., but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about that now. If I were to go to bed now, I would be like those kids in high school who start running to class after the bell rings. My friend Amber and I used to make fun of these kids when we were in high school. “Why are they running?” we’d ask. If you’re already late, what does it matter? Take your time. Get a drink of water. Stop by and chat up the lunch ladies. Play some checkers. So, why should I go to bed now that I’m already up? I’m no idiot; You can’t fool me, Bed.

Earlier this evening I read the search engine terms that people have used to get directed to my blog. Several of them were regarding long-distance relationships. I also have friends who have asked me how D and I have made a long-distance relationship work for such a gosh. darn. long. time. The answer is that we have an open relationship. He dates who he wants to as long as I don’t have to hear about it, and I date who I want to as long as he doesn’t have to hear about it. We figured that if this is really meant to be, we’ll just keep coming back to each other. And in the mean time, what we don’t know won’t kill the kitten.

Really?! You might ask.
No, not really. I would answer.

All that gobble-de-gook was a lie, a lie, I tell you, A LIE!

If I ever found out that D was cheating on me, I’d rip his lips off, plain and simple. Try to kiss her now, I’d say, and he’d have his regrets with a side of filleted frown.

Friends have asked me before if I recommend long-distance dating, and honestly, it’s hard to say. Just like any relationship, the principles depend on the people. Long-distance dating in this period of my life, with this guy, has been quite successful so far. I’m not sure that it would have worked out at a different time or with a different person or even if D and I had lived in different places than California and Arkansas for the past year.  But what are the things that have worked for us? I’ve been thinking about a few significant things that I’d like to share with you. I am by no means an expert on dating. Most of the time I feel pretty stupid when it comes to all that stuff, but I do know a few things about good communication and how to make people in my life feel accepted, affirmed, and encouraged. And really, those things are foundations to making any relationship work. But there are some other good things…

1.) I know that you are a fun person, but if we talk for one more second on this phone about your stupid cat, I’m going to think you’re more than a little bit wacky, especially when you start meow-ing, and I’ll just assume that your entire apartment smells like poo.

Translation: Be creative in what you talk about.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love/loved my cat Francis and loved telling stories about her while she was still mine. She’s a riot. She’s a cat with dog-like tendencies, a cat who is not really a cat to cat-haters, because I can’t tell you how many people have told me, “I don’t normally like cats, and I still really don’t, but I really like that cat.” She’s a bundle of personality and sophistication. But since most of my relationship with D has consisted of speaking on the telephone, it gets pretty sickening when we talk about the same thing again and again and again and again.

The other day we started talking about sports. Neither of us play sports. In fact, I have a significant phobia ever since seventh grade when Coach Brewster screamed at me to Be a Pitt Bull, NOT A POODLE!!!! in basketball camp. Anyway, I was trying to get D to tell me the mascots of the Minnesota teams.

Ann: What’s the basketball team?
D: Um, let me think. The Hornets?”
Ann: No, that’s Charlotte, North Carolina.
D: Oh, um…
Ann: Aren’t you proud that I knew that?

“Why are we talking about sports?” he asked a few minutes later. At that point we had started trying to pretend that we actually knew something about sports. Notice that we weren’t just trying. We were trying to pretend. Even in our pretending we failed, much like Anne of Green Gables might fail in conversations about Halo. You know. The video game. The one that I just had to google to find out if that’s really what it’s called.

In the course of this relationship, I’ve found that in order to hold the interest of my long-distance boyfriend, the boyfriend who can kiss me only every three months if he’s lucky, I don’t have to think up a bunch of hokey questions to keep the conversation going. I just need to pursue my interests and be ready to tell him about it. And the same goes for him. I may not understand everything he tells me about what he’s learning in those graduate philosophy classes, but I sure am going to listen and let him teach me something new.

And sure, I don’t really understand what’s so fabulous about Star Trek, but if D loved it enough to WEAR A Star Trek  COSTUME TO SCHOOL IN FIFTH GRADE and JOIN A CERTIFIED Star Trek FAN CLUB, who am I to make fun of him? In order to make a long-distance relationship work, one must never make fun.

(More later. I’m going to bed.)

A Night In Scandinavia

November 25, 2007

Saturday night I drove to Omaha, Nebraska to visit my dear college friend AA. She drove up from Arkansas to visit her parents, and since she was only about a four-hour drive away, I decided to drive down and meet up with her. Also, her parents adopted my beloved kitten Francis, and I wanted to see Francis once again. Also, AA got a new puppy about three weeks ago, and one thing that AA and I have in common is love for the four-legged friends. I wanted to meet her sweet little Ellie dog.

AA’s parents opened up a Scandinavian gift shop a little over a year ago, and I got to see the store for the first time. AA and I had some good times there:

 

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Seeing Francis again was lovely, and as I had hoped, she remembered me. She came right up to me when I arrived and even let me hold her for a while. Saturday night, while Ellie was not in the room, she even came in and snuggled with me a little bit on my bed. It was precious. I am very happy that Francis has such a good home and a great big house in which to wreak havoc.

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BWOING! (Ellie the dog is coming)

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Friend AA and her sweet little Ellie

Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

November 23, 2007

Yesterday while on the telephone with D, he informed me that it was cold in California because it was 50 degrees, Fahrenheit. It was evening, so I in no way doubt the accuracy of his weather assertions, but I do doubt the assertion that 50 degrees is cold. It was 16 degrees here in Minnesota. Baby, it’s chilly — not quite as chilly as it will get here — but, just the same, chilly.

I admit that living in Arkansas for the past six years, before I moved home last month, has made me the weak little duckling. For the past six years, I’ve only spent about three weeks each year of the winter here in Minnesota, if even that, and it was generally at the mildest points. Plus, I was on Christmas vacation or only had a week of work off, or something, and I didn’t have to go outside if I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to experience what I like to call snot-freezin’ weather, and yes, I really do mean that sometimes it gets so cold that when you inhale sharply, your nose hairs get all stiff, and your snot freezes. It is quite the exhilarating sensation. When my brother and I were younger, we used to put booties and jackets on our dogs to let them go outside to poo. We made a doggie jacket out of an old jacket that belonged to our grandpa, and we called it the dogs’ Starter Jacket. I have a Starter Jacket of my own from seventh grade, a real one of the Phoenix Suns, and I am sometimes known to embarrassingly don that jacket to go outside here because the jacket is very warm. It is also very humiliating for a classy girl like me, but in the dead of winter around here, people don’t really care about humiliating — they only care about warm.

I have spent probably a fourth of my life wearing snow pants. One of my favorite feelings as a child was coming in from playing in the snow when all my snow clothes were soaking wet, only to peel off all those wet clothes, don my second set of warm, dry snow clothes, and run right back out again. We Clippertons were experienced and knew how to make this sensation especially enjoyable by setting out the dry clothes on the old fashioned heat radiator beforehand, so when we came in to change, the new clothes would be toasty. I remember exactly what it feels like to pull on those mittens, that sense of joyous relief, when the wet becomes dry and the cold becomes warm.

And even though it was 16 degrees yesterday, it was also a joyous day because I woke up to fat, white flakes falling from the hazy sky. We only got a dusting, a teaspoon dose that lingered in the corners of the streets and between the blades of grass, but still, it is coming. I can’t think of anything more fun right now than borrowing my mom’s snowmobiling suit from the 1970s and running out to the park in the cold and snow with my two-year-old niece, to brave the frozen snot, all for the sake of sliding down a hill on our butts over a piece of brightly colored, thin plastic.

Or, if we don’t have sleds around here anymore, we can use a snow shovel, because as an experienced Clipperton Snow Person, let me tell you, it works.

Thankful.

November 22, 2007

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The Extended Fam, Christmas 2005

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Mom and Me In New York, Summer 2006

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Dad, Christmas 2005

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Niece Lydia, November 2007 (Photo by sister-in-law Angela)

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Nephew Ezra, September 2007

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The Extended Fam Crammed Into Brother Alan’s Closet Office (Photo by Angela), October 2007

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Lydia and Her Mom, November 2007 (Photo from Angela)

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D and Me, the Floating Head, May 2007

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L and Me (June 2007)

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Friend AA and the Now Dearly Departed Kate, Faithful Dog and Loyal Friend, May 2007

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Friend AS At Her Birthday Party, April 2007

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Friends MW and MS

I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends and Family!

Subtarranean Homesick Blues

November 21, 2007

I just began writing a post about Superman, but given my state of mind after working a half day and then sitting in my mom’s massage chair for three rounds and then taking a long, gloooooooooooooooooooorious nap, this is all I’ve got for you:

Today at work while tossing thousands of bags of beef sticks in small cardboard boxes on an assembly line, I got to thinking about this music video, a favorite of mine. I saw it for the first time on a television screen at a restaurant on Biel Street in Memphis when I was on a weekend trip with a favorite college professor and a gaggle of my fellow terrific English majors. It’s Dylan. It makes me smile. Call me crazy, but I find the young Dylan very attractive. Here’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”: