Friendly Encounters

It’s All About Me, Isn’t It?

August 18th, 2012 : No Comments »

Mebook Message From Phoebe to Crystal
P would like to add you as a friend on Mebook. To confirm P as a friend, click Add or Ignore.

Mebook Message From Crystal to Phoebe
Just set up my Mebook account, and already have 59 friends, including old high school boyfriend. Apparently, it’s no longer just for teens. Occurs to me this may be perfect way to keep up with family and friends in KC, and let them know when I’ve had a chance to update my blog. You can link to it at www.fascinatingifonlytomyself/

Current City:Washington, DC
Hometown: Kansas City
Relationship Status: Married
No. of days till start at new law firm: 49
Motto: There’s no place like home

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Posted in Chapter One, Friendly Encounters, Technologically Speaking

Is the new slow cooker really an old crock?

January 8th, 2014 : No Comments »


I wonder how many other mature adults have been lured by the simplicity of the “new” slow cooker? Shiny stainless steel and updated recipes sent me over the moon for mine. I immediately prepared chorizo stew, asparagus risotto and asian short ribs before deciding to conquer asian pho. My teen son and four friends feasted happily on my hours long concoction. I was feeling rather ebullient and even a little smug– who needs Pho 14 now bitches? When bragging about this accomplishment to a native east coast neighbor, however, my bubble was promptly burst. I was reminded that no one outside of the midwest considers any form of slow cooking virtuous, tasty or chic. I snapped a photo of my soup and a picture of my beautiful pot and was rewarded with the query, “Was that passed down from your midwestern grandmother?” After reassuring myself the relationship could be spared, and deleting said neighbor from my contact list, I retired to my bed to finish the quilt I am making for a baby shower. If only I could shake the feeling that you can take a girl out of the midwest but never a crock pot from her hands. I worry that I will soon be told my cookie exchange parties are a sign of age (and midwestern heritage) too. Ah well, perhaps curmudgeon is trending in DC?


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Posted in DC, DC Diary, Family Values, Food and Drink, Friendly Encounters

Surely it was him, not me

January 24th, 2014 : No Comments »

Seems it’s rather more difficult than I imagined to hire a caregiver for my father, Phoebe. Yesterday, I met a lovely woman, Louisa, who came more highly praised than a DC private school child. My dear sweet father (that’s the one who showed up yesterday anyway) was well-attired, polite and only mildly feeble. Louisa was charmed, if I may say so myself. I even, ahem, showed her our video clip to add a certain, “Je ne sais quoi” to our DC street cred.  It was with much alarm and surprise that I discovered, late last night, that she chose another family over us. She claimed they had a greater need and wanted to “stay in touch.” Felt much like one of my college break-ups in which my boyfriend claimed, “It’s me, not you,” when indeed we both knew it was the opposite. Next time, dear Phoebe, there will be no “dressing up” of the old goat. Full bipap (look it up rookies) and no teeth will rule the day. Didn’t bother dad at all, btw. His only comment, “She wasn’t good lookin’ enough anyway.” My midwestern sensibility will not allow myself to entertain the notion that he may have acted in an untoward fashion when my back was turned. Denial is the root of family bliss, after all.



Posted in DC Diary, Domestic Bliss, Friendly Encounters, Medical Madness, Oldest Swingers in Town

What I still don’t know in my 40s

March 3rd, 2014 : No Comments »



Dear Phoebe,

I read a brilliant op-ed in the NY Times yesterday which had a wonderful list of what we know now that we may not have known a decade ago. I was thrilled to see I had mastered a couple of items on the list, including who not to invite to lunch. Ok, well, let’s just say I understand that notion now but am still slightly flummoxed when it’s time to obey this commandment.

Let’s say, for instance, you have a perfectly lovely relationship with a woman in exercise class. One day the rapport is so good–how did she notice you had worked to correct the angle of your thigh when doing 700 leg lifts, after all–that you casually suggest meeting for lunch at the new ramen place. She seems receptive but as the day approaches you realize with great dread that you will have little to discuss. Her children are  younger and less likely to be nabbed by police, her marriage far more satisfactory based on her exclamations of loving kindness for her partner, and her career happily discarded for hearth and home in way that makes you wonder, more than occasionally, if she has the Stepford chip implant.

Perhaps your scheduled lunch is the same day as the shared exercise. You smile happily and remind her of your commitment because this is what people in their 40s do no matter secret concerns.  She mentions one of her toddlers is under the weather and rescheduling might be best. You are secretly thrilled–you’ve now not only discarded a potentially difficult hour but now have a little free time–but also disappointed. Is it possible she was as desperate to avoid the occasion as you?

It seems no matter how hard I try I cannot escape the feeling I had in high school when I wasn’t chosen to run with the popular clique. Which, by the way, affirms another rule: there’s no such thing as a grown up. Surely, though, it’s all about flinging oneself into the moment and presenting with confidence (felt or not). Which is why, Phoebe, I decided to assume the dear woman was telling the truth (or had a fear of carbs that I certainly couldn’t tolerate). Oh, and I will never reschedule that lunch. I count this as progress.



Dear Crystal,

I too was struck by the brilliance of Pamela Druckerman’s article in The New York Times, although I too seem to have missed out on some of her hard won wisdom.

Your point about suggesting lunch with someone with whom we have little in common is well-taken, but I would go one further and suggest that I still don’t know how to divest myself of certain ill-inspired friendships, long after we have grown apart. No matter how studiously I neglect said friend’s birthday or ignore her emails and texts, inevitably I will run into her in the park one day and find myself making plans for dinner, then steeling myself for the inevitable fight with hubby, who dislikes said friend’s boorishly-behaved husband as much as I do. For those of us who have trouble with boundaries, even in our forties, I sometimes think only an out of state move – or death – will clear the cobwebs of such friendships out of our lives.

Here’s a short summary of some other life skills I have yet to master:

1) How to use the TV remote;

2) How to make peace with those last 5 – OK, make that 10 – extra lbs;

3) How to get in the right lane of Dupont Circle, so I can get off it when I need to;

4) How not to care when I find out on Facebook that I didn’t get invited to what I thought was a reasonably good friend’s birthday party;

5) How to follow instructions correctly when I’m baking.

Maybe all these issues will miraculously resolve themselves by the time we’re fifty?






Posted in DC Diary, Exercise Induced Bliss, Friendly Encounters

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