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Keeping it real online.

thYesterday I read a long, painful and moving essay on the LoveLifeEat blog called “When you can’t be the person the Internet wants you to be.” It affected me so much that I wrote to its author, Felicia Sullivan.

Short form: I told her that writing about the dark places in her life make her honest, not self-indulgent.

I also said that her words matter. By daring to tell the truth about life, i.e., that sometimes it is horrible, she has helped and will help an unknowable number of people.

Some readers will be bolstered by the fact that they aren’t the only ones dealing with depression, unemployment, the loss of a parent, a difficult relationships with the surviving parent, the search for meaning. I’d bet my next freelance paycheck that her essay encouraged some readers to examine their own dark places and get help for them.

What a refreshing change from the everything-is-awesome drumbeat that makes up so much of the Internet. So many blogs resemble a never-ending, humblebragging stream of fake Christmas letters: Look at me! Look at me and my perfect life!!!

Riiiight.

 


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My frugal Valentine.

thThe other day I awakened to the sound of a vacuum cleaner, but the noise wasn’t quite right. It sounded a bit muffled, and why would DF be vacuuming anyway? We have a robot to do that.

Maybe he was dust-busting around the fireplace insert, which he sometimes does when he cleans out the ashes. Whatever. Because I was zonked on cold medicine, I went back to sleep instead of getting up to check. Later that day I found out that he was getting his ears lowered, i.e., using the Flowbee in the basement.

The sound of a man cutting his own hair…Now that’s frugal sexy. He’s been self-saloning for decades, saving who knows how much money. This is just one of the reasons I find him devastatingly attractive.

Newer readers who aren’t clear on DF’s backstory should check out “Midlife love rocks! (Ask me how I know),” the post that introduced him back on Valentine’s Day 2013. We’re still together and still entirely stupid about each other.

 


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Yesterday I saw a funny letter reproduced online, purportedly written by a St. Louis guy who decided not to lend his 6-year-old son $20 to buy something.

He created a logo – Dad Savings and Loan: Because Apparently I Look Like I’m Made of Money – and explained why the loan had been declined. Among other things, the child had “insufficient funds and a history of not doing (his) chores.”

In addition, “over $80 has been spent on discretionary entertainment expenses since Christmas…an unsustainable amount of expenditure, and we cannot further compound the problem by financially assisting with (further) debt at this point.”

Dad-poses-as-bank-to-reject-loan-for-20

Classic! And it touched a particular nerve with me. Here’s why.

 


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thRecently we had DF’s granddaughter over for about six hours. Midway through the visit I heard this conversation coming from the living room:

“You don’t have a TV.”

“That’s right,” DF replied.

“I want you to have a TV,” said Rose, who recently turned three.

“I don’t want a TV.”

“I want to watch TV,” she clarified.

“If you want a TV, you buy it,” DF replied.

Rose laughed merrily. “Noooo, Opa, you buy it.”

“We don’t need a TV here,” DF said.

A few seconds later Rose had forgotten about our household’s screenless state, being more interested in playing with a few ornaments from my tabletop Christmas tree.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics re-drew its recommendations on very young children and screen time. Back in 2011 the AAP had suggested no screen time at all before age two, and no more than two hours per day for kids older than that. Right around that time the first iPad appeared.

 


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thFor at least 17 years I’ve been picking up change and saving it until Thanksgiving, at which point I donate it to the Food Bank of Alaska.

This year’s count-up was late, on purpose. I decided to wait until January because giving tends to slow way down right after the holidays. (Apparently people are hungry only from Thanksgiving until Christmas.)

Here’s what I accumulated between last November and yesterday:

  • 21 quarters
  • 62 dimes
  • 25 nickels
  • 157 pennies

A typical year’s take is usually no more than $20 and no less than $12, so $14.27 isn’t too bad. Notably absent this year was any denomination of paper money, which could mean that people are being more careful with their cash. Or maybe it means that another scavenger got there first.

 


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