Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

An intern at work passed away unexpectedly this weekend. I didn’t know him or work directly with him, but I know what his family is going through and it brought to mind my own experiences with grief and loss. The people who reached out in sympathy and support… and the people who did not.


People seem to have a difficult time nowadays comiserating with a friend or co-worker when they’ve lost a loved one. They tell themselves they don’t want to be a bother, that bringing it up will cause further pain. They talk themselves out of going to the viewing, or the funeral, or the memorial service because they didn’t really know the person who passed away, and that surely such a thing is only for immediate friends and family of the deceased.

All of that is nonsense.

While the viewing, funeral, and memorial service are for paying your respects to the deceased, they are also for paying your respects to the survivors. With this death, your friend or co-worker has one less person in the world who cares about them and that hurts. Most of the joys in life are about human connections and the people you love and who love you, so when one of those connections end there’s a huge hole that cannot be refilled. If you reach out to support them in this difficult time, with some kind words or better yet your presence at one of the services, you reaffirm your own connection with them and let them know you care about them. You’re still there.

Life is a wonderful gift, but pain and grief are the price of admission. Friendship and compassion can help make the highs even higher while making the lows easier to bear. Don’t talk yourself out of reaching out to a connection in your life in their time of loss. Let them know that while they may have lost someone, there are still people in the world who care and you’re one of them.

What do you think?

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About two weeks back I was feeling pretty down, and wrote about it here (Feeling Charlie Brown).  I was feeling particularly low about the lack of opportunities for socializing in my life, and while I can certainly entertain myself quite well most of the time, I do have a side of me that craves the kind of human interaction that involves being around people you like being around, who also like being around you.  It’s something that I think a lot of people take for granted, but I can testify there can be paths life takes you down that leaves you with a dearth of those opportunities.

I mean, take the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival that travels around the East Coast and made a stop in Richmond this past weekend.  I’ve written about it here before, and every time I thought about the festival, it just sounded like a helluva good time.  Who wouldn’t want to go?!  Well, apparently the vast majority of my friends, which just left me perplexed, on top of being bummed.

Thank goodness for friend and fellow blogger beautifulmess7, who rode to my rescue!  Even though she had plans with her family for late afternoon, she agreed that a Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival sounded like a helluva good time and said she’d love to go with me if I didn’t mind getting back in time for her to make family gathering.  The event was open from 2 – 6pm, but I figured if we got there at 2ish and were taking shots (err… samples) of bourbon with some frequency that a couple hours should be plenty of time if we didn’t want to be crawling ourselves out of there.


I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  The event was just as fun as I’d hoped it would be, and beautifulmess7 was the perfect partner-in-crime to enjoy it with.  She said it was a lot like wine tasting events, though I suspect a slightly different crowd was here for the bourbon.  I wouldn’t say it was rowdy, but it was definitely lively!

There were a ton of bourbons to sample, and beautifulmess7 ran around and tried each booth right beside me.  Most ranged from decent to delicious, though we did encounter a couple stinkers that actually forced us to dump them out.  There was even a token Vodka booth which felt a little like a fly in the ointment, but my liberal sense of inclusion prevented me from getting too offended by its presence.


This certainly seemed like an odd pairing, but… we love dark chocolate and we love bacon… two great tastes that go great together… maybe?  The very first time it hits your taste buds it’s odd… but it quickly grows on you and by the time we left I made sure to pick up a bag.


Early on there was apparently a place you could get your glass dipped in wax like they do with Maker’s Mark bourbon (see the glasses in the pic above) but we didn’t find out about it until they’d stopped doing it.  We also heard about some sort of clear bourbon that Jim Beam was featuring, that was apparently selling for quite the premium, but we were assured that it just tasted like regular ol’ Jim Beam.  When we went by the Jim Beam booth they’d run out of it.


I bought this late in the day when I had a good buzz going and my silly-buying-inhibitions were low.  Just seemed like a funny shotglass that I had to own.

The bourbons I recall being particularly yummy:  High West Double Rye (High West makes bourbon out of Utah!), Buffalo Trace Distillery Small Batch, Maker’s Mark (of course), and Knob Creek Rye.  There were others that were good too, but those made an impression through the buzz that crept up on me.  Maybe beautifulmess7 can chime in with some of her faves in the comments?


These guys had a fun booth with a wheel you could spin for silly little prizes.  Their bourbon however was mediocre.

I have to say it was so nice to have beautifulmess7 there with me.  She was fun, we chatted and laughed the whole time as we waited in line, circulated around, or sat for a bit listening to the live music.  She was more than willing to sample everything with me, and she easily struck up conversations with other festival-goers.  As it got late in the afternoon and we made our way to leave, I could tell she was up for staying longer if she hadn’t had other plans.

We took a taxi ride home with a hugely entertaining cabbie, who was from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and had us both craving seafood by the time he dropped us off.  I got beautifulmess7 a big glass of water and we sat in the AC and cooled off a bit in my living room and chatted while she made sure she was okay for driving.  It was just delightful talking about all sorts of things, a perfect cap to a really nice day.

To add to such a nice weekend, I’d been able to get some bonus time with my kids the night before.  My sister and her kids were coming through town and staying with my step-mom for a couple days, and it had been a really long time since our kids had had “cousin-time” together (she has a daughter and son too, and they’re all around the same ages).  It wasn’t my weekend with the kids, but their mom agreed to let me pick them up and stay the night over at my step-mom’s house.  We had a great time catching up, and I taught my niece and nephew to play Settlers of Cataan with my kids, and helped my 7 year old nephew win the first game.  He was hooked!

So last night before heading to bed, I was just feeling really great and put this up on my Facebook page before letting all the busy-ness and bourbon carry me off to slumber…


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Paradigm Shift

Sorry I’ve been away for a while… My father passed away August 19 and it rocked my world in quite a few different ways.  There was the expected– the mourning of missed opportunities, the would-ofs and should-ofs.  Without going too deep into it now, my relationship with my Dad was a rocky one with some real low points and long stretches of time without too much contact between us.  Luckily, we had some great connections shortly before he passed and, while I mourn not being able to build upon that as I had hoped and planned, I’m glad that we had at least begun to rebuild.


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So Saturday I went to my friend Jess’s wedding and had a great time.  I definitely needed a joyous occasion to bask in love and new beginnings.  Some of you may remember I wrote that when I sent back my RSVP I impulsively checked off “+1” even though I don’t have a significant other and didn’t have any prospects for a date.  I did it as a way of opening myself up to the universe and the possibility of meeting someone in the intervening two months that I could ask to accompany me to the wedding.

Well, *chuckle* the universe did NOT deliver.  Sure, I can shoulder some of the blame, I could have desperately asked every woman I ran across out for dates but it’s not like my life offers too many possibilities in that regard.  There were a couple possibilities that hit my radar that I pursued a little bit but neither panned out.  But that’s okay—this wedding wasn’t about me, it was about Jess and her fiancé and I was determined to soak up the good vibrations. 

It started off a little comedic, with me pulling out all my stunt-driving techniques to get through the city streets and into downtown by 4pm… and I nabbed a parking spot on the street about 7 minutes after 4pm and hoped that the wedding was running a little behind and/or there would be a way I could slide in without disturbing things.  I meekly snuck inside and find out that the wedding actually starts at 5pm.  Okay, whew! (more…)

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I was sad to hear about Nora Ephron’s passing recently.  I can’t honestly say I was a huge fan of hers or anything, but the woman did some fantastic writing over the years, including the script for one of my all-time favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally…

I was in my early 20s when that film came out, and my love life history was barely existent, and what little there was of it was pretty much a shambles.  Starting in middle-school, very nearly all my crushes and girls I’d fallen head-over-heels in love where all… friends.  All my guy friends constantly begged me to stop it, telling me that there is a primal truth– that men and women can’t be friends AND more than friends.  In fact, men and women can’t really be friends at all because there’s always going to be “the sex thing” that gets in the way.

I couldn’t help it though… I’d fall in love with some of my female friends and wanted both love and friendship.

The concept of course was a non-starter with the girls in high school, but I did manage to make it work a few times once I went to college.  Still, while all my guy friends were racking up countless dates and girlfriends over the years, most of my time was spent alone, usually pining away for another lady friend who had put me squarely in The Friend Zone.

Then I saw the movie When Harry Met Sally… and I was like YESYES!  (Much like Sally in the diner).  Not only can men and women be friends, but that friendship can sometimes bloom into something more.  Even if it was just a movie, it was validating to me, proof that I wasn’t fundamentally broken, waiting for something that just doesn’t exist (even if it takes decades like Harry and Sally did).

In the movie, I loved Harry’s final pitch to Sally that they should be together:

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night.”

This reminds me of the post I wrote recently (The Good Stuff), and it’s definitely something to hope for.  When a love is grounded in friendship, you develop that affection for your partner in their entirety, things that you might find annoying in someone who was just a friend (roommate) or just a lover.

Thank you Nora Ephron for bringing characters to director Rob Reiner and actors Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, characters that spoke to my heart and told me that what I wanted most in the world was really not asking too much.

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The throw-down Saturday was a success!  I was a little worried going into the home stretch because a lot of people who had seemed to be leaning heavily towards coming to the party started bailing on me in the days leading up to the event, citing other things they had to do despite me having planned this thing three months ago in an effort to get “dibs” first for June 23.  It’s frustrating to me that I’m just not on very many people’s radar as part of their social scene, despite being a single guy willing and able to do stuff for two years now and making a serious effort to reach out and reconnect with friends (as I wrote about not long ago, She’d Want to DO Stuff).

Regardless of the light turnout though, the 10 or so people who did come by really showed their warmth, kindness and consideration that truly made me happy to have them as friends.  One couple had some obligations out of town, but still came by for an hour or so before they had to leave, and helped with preparing the food before we chilled out and talked a bit.  I really appreciated them making the time, it was awesome to see them.  Another couple had plans later in the evening, but were enjoying the party too much to leave and cancelled their other engagement.  My BFF ended up staying a lot longer than she originally intended.  As a host, it pleased me to no end to have people want to stay and party on.

There was one woman in particular I had hopes would come by—someone I used to date a long time ago, we’d reconnected through Facebook, both of us are divorced with kids.  She did come by… but brought along a male friend who I’m pretty sure is much more than friends even though I didn’t see any PDAs between them.  Seemed like a super-nice guy who is hopefully treating her well.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really disappointed, but in a way it snapped me out of a fantasy I’d entertained that we might have been able to rekindle something.  I blew it with her a long time ago, and I certainly can’t expect a second chance.  But she could have easily just blown off the party and spent time with her fella doing something else, so coming by showed me that she values our friendship and that really meant a lot to me.  They stayed quite late, and she even got me really tore up fixing us Loch Ness Monster shots, which made the remaining evening a pleasant blur.

WOOSH! My feisty grill

I had a decent spread of food—grilled veggies, turkey burgers, hot dogs, grilled tempeh, homemade hummus and crackers, homemade salsa and corn chips.  My BFF brought some homemade brownies that were quickly demolished.  My beverage of choice for the evening was Lynchburg Lemonade:  bourbon, triple sec, a sprinkle of sweet and sour mix, topped off with Diet Sprite.  Was a light summery drink that didn’t fill me up and set up a nice buzz to cruise on for the night… until the Loch Ness Monster shots hammered me.  You make those with melon liquor, Jagermeister, and irish crème.  Despite my hatred for Jager, the combination actually tasted quite good.

I woke up around 6am starving, parched, and with my head pounding.  I got up, rustled up some leftover party food, drank a big thing of Gatorade and washed down some Advil, and then went back to bed until noon, when I woke up feeling much better, just a little rough around the edges.  Nothing was broken, no holes in the walls, and everyone seemed to have had a great time so that most definitely goes down as a success in my book.  But the best thing for me was reconnecting with the folks who came by, hopefully deepening the friendship and opening up more opportunities for getting together down the road.  As someone who’s struggled with loneliness and desperately has been trying to climb out of that social void, these good friends reached down and offered me a lifeline.  It’s good to know I’m not alone!

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The response to my guest blog over at Simply Solo (In Defense of the Beta Man) along with some things I read on a couple blogs recently got me thinking about “The Friend Zone.”  You know, that place men talk about hating being put by the women in their lives, like it’s some dread purgatory from which there is no escape.

I don’t think it’s always like that, or that simple.  Let’s talk about The Friend Zone.  [NOTE:  Much of what I’m writing here is assuming that the male/female friends in question aren’t married to or significantly involved with other people.  That changes the dynamics!]

Sure, for some (alpha) men and their relationships with women, there’s no worse fate than to be put into the FZ.  For them, women aren’t friends, they’re prizes to be won and the prize should include some sort of sexual contact.  If you’ve been put in the FZ, then there’s no chance of sexual contact and so there is no prize.  The Friend Zone is the polar opposite of the end zone, game over man!

For beta men, as I talked about in my blog post, spending time with a woman he cares about is the prize.  Sure, would he like to end the night with a roll in the hay?  Of course, he’s still a man!  A woman’s body holds endless fascination for a man and we’d like nothing better than to be given the chance to explore it.  But a beta man is often interested in a woman for a lot more reasons than just sex, so being in the FZ means still getting to spend time with the woman.  90% of what you want is still a very good deal, right?


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