Monthly Archives: October 2013

If you can’t say something nice….

It started with John Gruden. Specifically, John Gruden’s bangs.

For those of you who “don’t do football,” this is John Gruden:

He is the former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in 2003 became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl. He is currently the color commentator for Monday Night Football on ESPN.

He has deeply goofy bangs.

A few weeks ago, we were watching Monday Night Football and I was getting irritated with Gruden’s commentary. I thought of a terrifically snarky comment, complete with a zinger reference to Gruden’s bangs, and grabbed my phone so I could share my dazzling wit with Facebook.

Then I stopped.

It wasn’t nice. And if it’s not nice, it doesn’t need to be broadcast.

Whether or not I think John Gruden is the most interesting commentator on ESPN, that’s his job and he gets paid way more than me to do it. And whether or not I like his hair, he has a Super Bowl ring and I have…. whatever the opposite of a Super Bowl ring is.

Facebook and other social media sites have made it far, far too easy to indulge in our penchant for snark and the witty take-down. But you know what? It’s unnecessary, mean, and – in most cases – not nearly as clever as we think.

It’s a very small step from ridiculing a public figure (like John Gruden or Miley Cyrus) to ridiculing people who we assume will never find out, like the woman in front of you in Publix who had the audacity to have 11 items in the express lane, or the fat man riding a tiny moped up Thomasville Road. It is another small step to ridiculing people you may or may not know, even if they do find out. And that’s called bullying.  And it’s all over the news.

Look, John Gruden has no idea who I am. He’s certainly not going to kill himself because I don’t like his bangs. But ridicule is a bad habit to develop, both because it acts as a cancer in individuals and because it snowballs in a group. We should be looking for the best in each other, instead of tearing each other down. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. I want people to look at Tyler and tell him that he has beautiful eyes and a sweet nature, not make fun of him because he has unruly hair and a messy desk. I want him to learn to appreciate others, and appreciate the differences between others.

And if I want him to do it, I have to do it myself. Do as I do, and all that.



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An Anniversary, and a Wedding

Last weekend we traveled to Newburyport, MA for the wedding of a college friend, Toby and his new bride, Jenna. Thursday was also our four-year anniversary.

Since we were flying out of Jacksonville early Friday morning, we drove over Thursday night for our anniversary dinner at bb’s Bar & Restaurant.


Jason did his homework – the traditional four-year anniversary gift is fruit, and the modern is appliances, so he got me a very nice citrus juicer which I have been coveting. Now I can JUICE ALL THE CITRUSY THINGS.

Friday we arrived in Boston around 9:30 a.m., so we took our time driving up to Newburyport. We stopped at Walden Pond and checked out a replica of Thoreau’s cabin:

Thoreau Cabin

We arrived in Newburyport in time for a late lunch (fried clams for me, fish & chips for Jason) at the Thirsty Whale.

Thirsty Whale


Friday afternoon was spend wandering around Newburyport, poking our heads in the little shops and walking along the river.






I also consumed a small dish of salted caramel heath bar gelato, but it was gone too quickly for pictures.

While in Newburyport, we stayed at the Garrison Inn, a boutique hotel on Brown Square. I found the hotel to be very charming and a bit quirky. They have a collection of teacups and saucers, and tea and biscuits are available in the lobby all day long. They also have champagne service, and an excellent complimentary breakfast.

Garrison Inn

Saturday morning started early with a 5k “fun” run planned by the groom. It took place in a beautiful park. Jason ran the whole thing, and I walked about a third of the course (thanks, right knee, for letting me down). After a shower and a bagel, we resumed exploring Newburyport, including the Maritime Museum.

Maritime Museum

This little gem is well worth the price of admission. We had a docent take us through personally, and she was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.

For an afternoon snack, we experienced the magic of the Pumpkin Whoopie at Chococoa Baking Company. They were amaaaaazing.


After our snack, it was time to get ready for the wedding!

My friends got married at the Willowdale Estate in Topsfield. They asked everyone for an “unplugged” ceremony, so we all turned off our cell phones. This was a lovely idea, and made the ceremony seem much more personal – something to be experienced rather than something to be recorded. Part of the ceremony was like a Quaker meeting, where the guests sat in silence and shared thoughts or well-wishes as they were moved.

I did not get up to speak, because I kept getting choked up. But if I had, I would have said:

Toby, you have always been my cheerleader. Whenever I have doubted myself – no matter how small the issue – you have unfailingly offered the right words of support and encouragement. You made me feel like not only would I survive whatever obstacle I was facing, but that I would totally kick its ass. But I’m not special – you do this for everyone. Everyone. I am humbled by your limitless ability to lift up those around you. It has meant more to me over the last 15 years than I can ever properly express. Thank you for being my friend. I am grateful to celebrate this day with you.

The couple exchanged vows in front of a screen made from origami cranes folded by the groom:


The reception featured a dessert table and candy bar:


The cake topper was delightfully non-traditional:


And Jason and I looked presentable:


Overall, I found that celebrating someone else’s wedding is a great way to mark your own anniversary, especially if the wedding just happens to take place in an adorable seaside town in New England.

Happy anniversary to us.



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One Hundred Thousand

October 7, 2013: Somewhere between Tallahassee and Pensacola, my car hit 100,000 miles.

Jason was kind enough to (pull over and) snap a picture, because he’d borrowed my car for the trip. My elderly CR-V gets better gas mileage than his even-more-elderly Volvo.


I remember the only other time I’ve seen a car roll over to 100,000 – it was my mom’s diesel Mercedes station wagon, which was later all jacked up when she filled it with unleaded gas. Oops.

My 2005 Honda CR-V is the first car I bought all by myself. I researched intensely, like I was planning to use the vehicle for a trip to the moon instead of the grocery store. I found the best price in a 100-mile radius on the model I wanted, and then I took a big ole cashier’s check to the dealership. Yes, I sweated a little when I handed it over. But 9 years and 100,000 miles later, it’s been a good trade. Aside from oil changes and brake jobs, the car has been very low-maintenance. I mean, duh. It’s a Honda.

It’s not a thrilling car. I just spent 20 minutes reviewing my photos from 2013 and I don’t have a single picture of it. But it gets me from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss, and I appreciate that.

Tyler has already called dibs on it when he turns 16.




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