Friday, July 23, 2010

Reasons Why I Should Divorce Facebook (But I Probably Won't)

OK, so I will be the bad guy and say what I am sure many of us are thinking about Facebook. I, for one, admit, that I have this love/hate, addictionto/disgustwith Facebook. At the same time I am both annoyed by it and magnetically sucked into it.

So, here are some reasons, in no particular order, why I should divorce Facebook (but I probably won't):

10. Annoying Attention Seekers: These can be both positive and negative, but their status updates scream, "Everyone! Hey Everyone! Yoo -hooo! Look at me!"

It could be positive attention, sounding like: "My husband wastes so much money! I got flowers again for the 10th day in a row! (heart). I wish he wouldn't spend so much on me!" I mean, come on - what is the purpose of this? We are all smarter than that!

Or, it could be negative attention and sound something like this: "Why doesn't anything in my life ever go right? I must be cursed because my life just could not get any worse." I legitimately feel badly for this person, but what is the purpose of putting it on Facebook for everyone to see? Calling a good friend might be a better option? Now, this leads me to my next point:

9. Obligatory Commenting: Now that I have seen these above-mentioned posts (or birthdays or whatever), I usually feel obligated to comment. Even though that person might not know I have seen it, I know I have seen it - and I feel the pressure to say something. This can also be applied to people who comment on your wall or send you messages. Now typically, people who comment and whose comments we see are people we have 'friended' - but sometimes the source of this problem is this:

8. Awkward Friend Requests: Someone found you. And you didn't necessarily want to be found. What do you do with that??? Do you become friends with them out of obligation? Decline? Ignore? I admit, I usually take the cowardly way out and just do nothing. I don't accept, ignore, or decline; I just keep the request hanging out there in cyber FB. But honestly, I don't really want to invite anyone into my personal world that I am not comfortable having in there. Not that I am hiding anything, but you just never know. And as a teacher, I get a LOT of friend request from kids in my school that I do not even know. Don't want to hurt their feelings, but sorry...

7. Useless Minutia:

Status update - "Hey, I am going out for a run!"
30 minutes later: "What a great run! Now I gotta feed the dog!"
4 minutes later: " Junior is such a cute pup! I'm so lucky to have him!"
2 minutes later: "Going to make myself an egg-white omelet."

Do we really need to know about every.single.detail of a person's life in minute-by-minute intervals? Can I just say what most of us are thinking : "Who cares!!!!!!"( Is that mean???)

6. 700 Pictures of the Family Vacation: I am all for sharing pictures, but is it necessary to include every.single.shot. from Disney World? Do you think people are really going to look at all 700? Just a few of the highlights will suffice. Which leads me to my next point, which is even more annoying:

5. Endless Array of Self-Portraits: I mean, what are we doing here? If not for everyone to look at us, why - not only just take a thousand shots - but post them??? Does everyone need to see every picture a person has ever taken of him/herself? With every slight variation possible? 'Here's one of me with my head to the right, smiling.' 'Here is one of me with my head to the left, smiling.' 'Here's one of me with my chin tilted up, just slightly...' etc, etc, etc. The one that drives me crazy: that pucker-face-bad-girl-pout-with-slanted-peace-sign-across-the-chest-look. Don't mean to offend anyone, but grrrrrr!! I can understand if you are a teenager- maybe even a college student- but you are 45!!!!

4. Obsessive Profile Picture Changes: I don't understand why people change their profile pictures every other day. Have you really changed that much? I am fine with updating pictures in your album, but does everyone need to see a new picture of you every day?

3. Colossial Time Waster: Enough said. I am so guilty of this. My night usually goes something like this: "OK, it is 9:38 pm. I am only going to stay on Facebook until 9:45" (it has be an easily-rounded time, of course). And, typically, one page leads to another... and then I am saying, "OK, just until 10pm. I'll give myself 15 more minutes and then that's it!" Repeat this process several times through out the day, and I am frightened to see how much time I've wasted.

2. Creepers: These people just seem to know too much about people's lives. It's true, there are some people I've accepted as friends that I probably would have preferred not to, but it seemed harmless at the time. However, there are some people that sort of have this creepy-stalker-quality to them and based on conversation (or messages) with them at later points, it just seems they were a little too interested... In their defense, yes - I put it out there, and I accepted the friend request but...OK, fine, this one is probably my own fault, then.

1. Too Much Information: This could be in wall posts or pictures - but some details of life should really just be kept private - or at least only revealed to those who know us best. Some things are just better left unsaid - and some pictures (both mental and actual) are better left unseen by the outside world. I would say my students are guilty of this alot. Did you forget that you have teachers as friends? Did you really want your teachers to see that? Or know that? Especially when you are soliciting answers for tomorrow's homework. And more often than not, seeing my students' - both current and former - FB page has made me sad at some of the directions they have taken.

So, these are reasons why I should divorce FB. So, why don't I? Well, even though I have been guilty of some (or all) of these at times, maybe I'm a little nosy? Don't want to be out of the loop? And honestly, I do like it to keep in touch with far-away-friends - and close-by ones who I can't keep in touch with the way I'd like to.

I have even been able to re-connect with some old friends I never would have otherwise. I actually just had an ice-cream date with my best friend from 3rd grade who found me on FB. Hadn't seen her in about 25 years. And that was awesome.

It's nice to be able to keep up with people. I like being able to message my sister here and there through out the day and know some of the little details of her and my nieces. Sometimes some posts are thought-provoking. And sometimes it is a very fast, effective way to communicate quickly and to a lot of people.

And sometimes, I think God can use us to encourage or pray for some of those posts we see, annoying or not. And sometimes, someone will post a thought or a verse that we really needed to hear.

The downside is ...well...all of the above... And sometimes, it can take the place of real, face-to-face relationships with these people - or even the people who are actually in our lives because we are consumed with FB.

Overall, my biggest complaint is the narcissicism it can breed. Sometimes, I feel like people use FB to just scream, "LOOK AT ME!!!!" The sad thing is that I feel like that is so indicative of our culture. We are so self-obsessed. Me, me, me. As much as I loathe it, I sometimes find myself getting swept into that current and guilty of some of the same things I hate.

If anything, FB sometimes forces me to keep it real with myself. Katie, be careful not to look at the speck in my FB friend's eye while I have a big, fat plank in my own (yes, I even did that pucker-bad-girl-pose with some of my students a few years ago, now that I think about it).

Maybe I should re-read my own list and I'll get back to you later...

PS - Don't forget that today is New Friend Friday at my sister's page- The Girl Creative!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Year Ago, It All Started...

So, this weekend, James and I celebrated our 'engagement anniversary.' (For the record, James says we can only celebrate it this year. He says he cannot be responsible to remember more than one anniversary date.)

On July 18, 2009, we got engaged (full story here) and so it all began.

And since then, it has been a 12-month whirlwind (you can read about that here).

Our engagement day was actually one of our happiest - we got engaged at Montauk Point at sunrise.

It had been my hope that maybe we could go back for the weekend, but money, time and energy prevented it. Part of me wanted to push and make it happen (I am all about making memories), but the practical side won out.

But we had a great day...went out for breakfast (like we did the morning we got engaged), did a little shopping, ran a few errands (James got glasses! He looks like a such a wonderfully smart and handsome nerd! lol...He can't wait to bring them to work and use the pseudo-intelligent look to his advantage! He is the ultimate spin-master and can use anything to his advantage.)

And our night was topped off by seeing the L.I. Philharmonic in the park - VIP tickets and all (well, that just means better parking and sitting close up. In chairs. And being able to use the luxury trailer porter-potties, which, actually, were really nice. And you know how frequently I am in need of a good place to pee. Couldn't just go in the woods this time.)

Well, we actually just spread our blanket in the corner anyway, and...

with some great music...

and good friends...

a little wine-cheese-and-crackers by moonlight ....

and a top-of-the-line-fireworks show....

we celebrated our engagement.
It was cool to look back and see all that has transpired in the past 12 months. I am definitely one of those annoying people who frequently says things like, "This time last year, we were...." 'This time last year...we just got engaged. And now, just a year later, the wedding is behind us, we bought a house, and we have been married for 4 months now. Who would have thought last summer, that this time, just a year later, we would be married for 4 month, the wedding would be behind us and we would have bought a house???'

Back then, it was all just so nebulous and vague. There was no way we could have predicted how the year would unfold. But in retrospect, God just put the pieces in place in a way we could have never planned if we tried.

So, in the only year that I get to celebrate my engagement...we made the most of it. And it definitely feels different now that we are married, and not just dating. And not just engaged. I've reflected on this before, but our relationship just seems more real, more solid, more substantial and tangible. Like we are a solidified team. Committed. A family. Part of each other. Marriage does that.

And we actually went down to Great South Bay and stayed there til the sun came up (even though I hate staying up late!). In all honesty, it was kind of a deep night in the way of sharing. Not all of it easy...but it was good. Because, like it is supposed to do - I think it brought us closer. More of the nitty-gritty-talking-things-through that people should do in relationships to keep it honest, real and intimate. And although I don't think it was really tied up neatly with a bow by the morning, it felt good to do it. And I am glad we did. And I know it makes us stronger.

The cherry on top was that we saw this enormous sun rising as we drove home. I mean it was huge!!! Took up the whole horizon and it was this crazy mix of pink and orange both at the same time (Camera batteries were dead. #$%$#%^&!!) But I said to James this was the sunrise we should have gotten on our engagement morning (we got engaged at sunrise but it was a cloudy actual sun).

I sort of thought it was kind of symbolic in the way that there will always be new beginnings in relationships, fresh starts and new things to come. It's always a new day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Camping Part 4: The Final Episode

After sleep finally found us, we got up pretty early because we had a 9am date with the kayak people. As I went to the jeep, I saw the neighbors up and about...I tried to look normal and have a natural smile on my face, but all in all, I just avoided eye contact. I had no animosity, really, (no, really) towards them, but I just thought it best to steer clear altogether.

We had a great 4th of July kayaking down the Delaware Water Gap. Picture perfect, so I'll just let the pictures tell the story:

Here we are before we start our 4th of July Kayak Trip (about 8 miles or so)

That's my man! I love this picture of him!

The guide had told us to stay to the right of the island because it was too shallow on the left.
Guess who just had to go left???

I didn't go left, so I busied myself on the island by taking a pee break (of course)
and taking pictures of myself while I waited for him.

Some sights along the way:

Nice 4th of July Surprise for those on the water!

A bald eagle! On 4th of July! Perfect!

Dingman's Bridge, right by the campground. Almost there.
And I was just about done by this point.

So, this was Sunday. We were both off for July 5th, and James was off for July 6th as well. All weekend he had been trying to convince me to call my two summer jobs (both of which I was starting my summer hours on the 6th) to see if I could skip Tues. I was sort of on the fence - at least about calling and asking - but once we got the new neighbors, James sort of lost his enthusiasm for the extra day.

Checkout was noon the next day, but he was hoping we could go for a hike in the morning and then check out later on on Monday, so we could use the showers.

After kayaking, we stopped at the general store to find out about it. Now, I was waiting in the car and James went in. After a few minutes of waiting, a guy wearing a 'Staff' T-shirt came storming out, spewed more than a few choice words, got into the camp van, slammed the door and sped off, leaving the trail of dust behind him. All I was thinking was, 'Oh my gosh...what did James do???'

Then,another younger guy came out next and went over to the girl who had been standing outside with her dog. I heard him say:

"Yeah, that guy who was on the other side of that tent was talking to the owners about the people who came last night. Turns out they aren't even allowed to be here. They never registered or paid."

OK, so that explained the angry guy.

The girl said, "See? I told you we should have said something about them! We are too easy!"

Well, it turned out the young couple were actually from site 3, the other people unfortunate enough to be on the opposite side of our new neighbors. In just another minute, James walked out and I grilled him: "What just happened in there?"

"Well, I was asking about us staying the extra half day, seeing if anyone was registered to be in our site tomorrow night. I told them that we had contemplated staying another day, but we weren't crazy about our new neighbors. The guy had a weird look on his face and said, 'What new neighbors?' I told him, 'The people who showed up late last night at site 4...with all the cackling and yelping.' The guy said, 'There is nobody registered to be at site 4. That site is empty.' So I said, 'Well, it's not empty now.'

And that was where I saw the angry staffer storm out. So....after all the upset the night before, those people had snuck in without paying or registering????? After the shock of their audacity sunk in, their stupidity soon followed.

I mean, if you are going to sneak in someplace, wouldn't you try to be as inconspicuous and quiet as possible???? Why would you draw unneeded attention to yourself??? Maybe they had done this before and no one had ever found out???

I told James about the guy I had seen leaving, and then about the young guy and girl and what they had said. James later told me that when he went to talk to the girls the night before, he heard someone from site 3 unzip their tent window - I guess to watch and listen. Apparently, we weren't the only ones disturbed.

So, when we got back to our site, we had missed the altercation, but our neighbors at site 4 were soon to be our neighbors no more. They were packing up- I guess they got the boot. I kind of felt bad, but then, I didn't. They had done something dishonest - and disturbed the honest, paying people while doing it. That's what happens.

And we hadn't turned them in on purpose. We were just looking to see if we could stay an extra day. James didn't intentionally get them in trouble; but it was a good idea for the owners to know that some of their guests (well, freeloaders) were disturbing other (paying) guests.

Besides our adventures with our neighbors, we had another bit of excitement: we saw a bear! Well, James did. He has eyes like a hawk and can see anything. I grabbed my camera, which has a killer zoom, and this is what I got:
I know it looks like a brown blur, but I promise! It was a bear!

In a returned state of peace and serenity, we finished out our last night grilling steaks after a long day on the water, hanging out by the fire and listening to music on our CD player with all 8 C batteries. I even pushed myself to stay up as late as James was - which was sometime around 3 am (and I hate staying up late!).

The next morning, we got up after sleeping in a little, packed up camp and headed home. Here is our friend at Dingman's Toll Bridge. This was really how they took the toll! She did not look happy.

So, all in all, I'd say a successful first camping trip. With all of the bumps, upsets, and unexpected disturbances, we still love each other - and actually - we still like each other. And we'd do it again. And honestly, I think it served us well. Not only did it give us time to just hang out uninterrupted and doing some things we love, we had lots of time to talk and contemplate, which we don't always have the luxury of. I felt like we were closer for the experience.

So if camping really tests the strength of a marriage, I think we are off to a pretty decent start.

{PS - Be sure to visit the Girl Creative for New Friend Friday. Buttons on right :) }

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Camping Part 3: Sharing Spaces

If you have been tracking our camping adventures both here and here, I left with our desperate quest for coffee, which, thankyoudingmangeneralstore, we had in our systems soon enough without incident.

After a morning of settling in, we decided to bike the trails a bit...of course we got lost, which seems to be our M.O. After trying to scout around to find the trail again (why don't they mark those things???), trekking across the dried up riverbed (with no bridge) and taking a pee break (it was getting annoying that James could pee whenever he wanted to, so the heck with it - we were camping), we somehow found the park ranger station, where the park ranger informed us that we had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the ranger fitness trail.

After a short detour to the Visitor's Center for a short nature walk to the waterfalls, we biked back without incident again and by this time, we were ready to shower and head to Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos to see the pre-4th-of-July fireworks.

Dingman's Waterfall (not my picture).

Fortuitously enough we made it to the showers just in time, as it seemed most of the campground was heading to Shawnee as well.

OK, let me insert here - showers. Facilities weren't too bad, but there were only two bathhouses - each with two toilets and two showers for women. Now, there were over 100 campsites. And 4 showers???? Obviously a man came up with that design. So you can appreciate my luck having gotten to the showers before the rush. So, I got out and saw this woman and a family of about 9 kids all standing there, just staring at me when I walked out. My eyes were as big as half-dollars when I walked out of the shower, saw the crowd and gave them this crooked, awkward half-smile. Kinda awkward for everyone, I think. That I was not expecting to see that was an understatement. Fortuitous indeed.

At Shawnee was a sort of festival before the celebration, but we got the inside scoop that the parking lot was actually the better place to watch the fireworks. And you could beat some of the crowd out of the parking lot.

Just as it was getting close to show-time, I said to James, "I have to pee." (This was becoming a bad habit).

"Go in the woods."(This also was becoming a bad habit.)

"James, we are in civilization now. I just can't keep peeing wherever and whenever I want to. Not everyone here just came from the woods."

"Wait til the fireworks start. No one will even notice. "

Well, it seemed reasonable, so I agreed. Sure, I would probably need to be retrained when we got home, that I just couldn't pee wherever I wanted to, but hey, we were where we were.

Finally the lights went out and I made my move. Sandwiched between two cars, I went to the edge of the woods and crouched. Then all of the sudden - after I started, I heard, "Would every one please rise for 'The Star-Spangled Banner'."

Oh my gosh. No, he did not just say that! Crap! I am peeing during the national anthem! That is so disrespectful!!!

James turned and glared at me, and I just shrugged and gave him a look that said, 'This was your idea!'

What could I do?? I was past the point of no return. Then there was this silent pause, and all you could hear was the pee hitting the leaves. Loudly. James turned and gave me this look as if to say, 'Shhhhh!' But there was nothing I could do! All the sudden, James started to kick the gravel and to cough really loud. Finally, the singing started and I could hear James singing. Loudly - but this time, on purpose.

Finally, I got done and James said to me, 'I can't believe you peed during the Star-Spangled Banner."


Well, the show was great and we didn't get caught behind too many bad drivers (i.e. everyone else) on the way home, but we were looking forward to relaxing around the fire and getting to bed early because we were kayaking the next day.

This is a small sampling of our fireworks show.

(I had to put her in because my sister and I used to do this every 4th of July!)

So, we got back and were relieved to see that site 4, the site next to ours was still empty. We had set up our tent as sort of a barrier to site 4, and the other side was just the woods and our band of Asian friends just beyond the woods. It seemed like we would have the privacy we wanted. This is sort of the set-up. Picture the tent to James' left, almost right in front of the picnic table:

This is our tent, blocking site 4.

Well, we were chilling out around the fire....probably around 11pm, and all the sudden I saw lights through our tent and heard the slamming of car doors.

"Hon, looks like site 4 is taken."

Immediately, I could see that James was getting distracted, tense, and irritated that we had been invaded. Well, it was late, and I was sure they would be quiet and courteous.

Then this silence-shattering-cackling pierced our serenity. We just looked at each other in disbelief. Was she for real???

It got worse. First of all, it was all girls. Enough said. Then, full-volume voices, laughing, giggling, cackling, shrieking, yelping, screeching...and a car alarm that went off every.single.time they went into the car to unload another piece of equipment. And the laughter that followed it.

Didn't they know about the quiet hours at the campground? Which had actually passed over an hour before? Didn't they realize they had neighbors? Or there were little kids sleeping near by?

Now, this was the icing on the cake for James who had been patient with our little Asian children-neighbors playing games right near our site well past dark (he got it - they are kids camping and having some innocent fun); James, who had been slightly less patient with the French-speaking Arab guys who decided they wanted to lay right next to my jeep, on our site, and talk and watch the stars together? (Which, in response, James just stood near our jeep and stared at them until they left. I mean, go lay on your own site! I don't get it!)

So already bear-like when his serenity is interrupted, this was, as I said, the proverbial icing on the cake. Now, I am typically non-confrontational, but this was ridiculous. Absolutely no respect for the rules of the campground or the people nearby. Or at least no understanding of it.

"Go say something to them!"

And James, who is definitely not-non-confrontational, didn't need much coaxing.

"Just be nice to them!"

Well, James was composed enough that I couldn't hear what he said to them, which was a good thing. So he came back and I said, 'So what did you say????'

"I just said, 'Ladies, I understand that you just got here. That it is dark and you have to set up. But do ya think you could do it without all the screeching and yelping???? I know you may not have known this since you probably didn't get a chance to check in, but there are quiet hours here.' "

"Did you really say that???

"Yeah, I said that. They just looked at me and then were like, 'Oh, Ok. Ok."

In retrospect, I don't know if we had the most Christ-like attitude or response. Maybe we should have offered to help them. Maybe I should have been more sympathetic, since we were in a similar predicament the night before. But honestly, even with our frustration, we didn't inflict it on our neighbors. And they definitely didn't sound frustrated.

I kinda felt bad, but then, not really.

So, they did lower their voices...until I heard them on a cell phone - well, more like a Nextel because I could hear the whole conversation (well, sort of, they weren't fully speaking English). And they were giving directions for someone else to come to their site. Are you kidding? How many of them were there???

Unfortunately, even all the lowered voices didn't resolve the problem of the car alarm. I mean it - seriously, every.five.minutes.

Finally - and actually thankfully - we decided to call it a night. This was getting unbearable.

"Where is the Tylenol PM? I'm taking that and Nyquil. I wanna be knocked out."

We got into bed and finally, all seemed quiet. Only faint whispering and movement. It seemed too good to be true.

Unfortunately, it was.


"I'll turn that car alarm off myself..." James said as he started getting out of bed.

"Lay down, baby. Here, take my earplugs...that will help."

He stopped for a minute and was actually assessing which was the lesser of the evils: smashing their car or taking the chance that if he died in his sleep, he would be found wearing hot pink earplugs.

He wisely decided that, quite accurately and contrary to all appearances, the hot pink earplugs were actually the manliest choice.

And thankfully, we have no more recollection of what else happened that night because we were fortunate enough that sleep finally found us.

More adventures to come...(Wait til you hear the rest of the story with our new neighbors!!!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Camping: Part 2 - The Next Morning

Picking up where I left off from the last post, I decided to call it a night while James listened to his I-pod. Sometime in the middle of the, I heard this singing. Loud singing. Oh geez, James had I-pod on and was singing...sorta loudly...

I thought it might only be for a song...but then, it just kept going. I started getting stressed and anxious; our spot was secluded, but the neighbors weren't that far.

I was getting so antsy and worried that I finally dragged myself off the air mattress, out of the protection of my covers, and into the chilly morning air (It was probably about 55-60 degrees. In July).

I fumbled around to get myself out from the tent.

Ziiiip, ziiiiip.

My contacts were out, so I couldn't see more than a few inches in front of me. Being too lazy to find flip-flips to actually step out and talk to James, I stuck my head out of the zipper and sort of whispered...loudly, 'Honey, you are singing kind of loud!'

I couldn't tell if he heard me or acknowledged it...because I couldn't see anything. So, just in case, I repeated myself: "Honey, you are singing kinda loud! We have neighbors."

I didn't really wait for a response - one, because I couldn't see; two, because I couldn't hear (earplugs). So I zipped myself back in and tried to go back to sleep. At this point, I'm freezing, tired, cranky....

James joined me a little later, and we slept in. I found out later that he never heard me; he just filled in what he didn't hear: he thought I said that I was mad that he was up late and that I wanted him to come to bed (Not the case at all, actually - just concerned about the neighbors; I'm pretty used to his nocturnal ways).

Well, in his classic self-redemptive way, he used this marital miscommunication to capitalize on a fortuitous comedy opportunity and developed it into this "demon-woman" routine.

"So, I hear this angry 'zip, zip' - and then this demon woman comes out of the tent.{Insert claws, scary demon snarl and scary demon face here} She comes out with this crazy hair and angry look and she hisses, 'Kkkkkkkkk' and then she turns around and 'zip, zip'. Back she goes into her lair..." he said with this self-satisfied chuckle.

Anyway, he seemed pretty impressed with himself and his joke and kept going. And going. And repeating it. And gave himself a good laugh. Every time. Several times. Over and over.

Obviously, that image didn't go over well with me and he stopped. Finally. Demon-woman...pleeeease!!! He has not even come close to seeing demon-woman from me!

Finally, mid-morning and groggy, we got up. I didn't really know the lay of the land yet, and I really had to pee.

"Just go in the woods," James said.

Now, I have been on many missions trips and have had to pee in the craziest foreign 'bathrooms' (I use that word loosely), so I wasn't opposed to this. But I could kind of hear voices around us, and I didn't know just how close our neighbors actually were.

Well, I went to the most private corner of our circle and dropped 'em. Just as I finished my business, I heard these voices getting dangerously close. Then, around the bend, this little band of Asian children appeared. What the.....???

Turned out they were at the group area of the campground which was right next to us,and they were exploring a dried-up riverbed that ran right behind our site. Well, let me tell you, if they had been about 15 seconds earlier, they would have discovered way more than I am sure they were looking for.

At the same time, James went to set up the little propane burner to make some coffee. "All I want is a cup of coffee." And I am feeling good right now: we have coffee, we have a camping coffee pot.

Well, James went to set up the burner... and...the propane container didn't fit.

"Is this the one that goes with this stove?"

"Well, it was near it in the store."

"Did you ask anyone?"

"Well....there was no one around to ask. I was kind of in a rush. I didn't know there was more than one kind."


"All I wanted was a cup of coffee...."

OK, nix the home-brewed coffee. We knew the general store on the grounds had fresh coffee, so the general store to the rescue (several times that weekend, actually. I owe them a lot, including my marital cohesiveness for the weekend).

Well, in spite of our rough beginning, once we set up our tent and our area, got the batteries, the right propane, the wood for the fire and our cure-all - coffee, we started to settle into a rhythm for the weekend..

More adventures to come...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Camping: The Real Test of a Marriage's Strength (Part 1)

Or, so I have been told. And maybe experienced....just a little.

So we had decided a while ago to go camping for 4th of July weekend. Initially, we were going to a local park, only about 30 minutes from our house. But with the heatwave and all, James thought it would be better to go where there might be some water nearby. Fine by me.

Well, we lost about $50 by not going to the original park (Suffolk County is so lame in how they set this system up but that's another story), but we took the loss and headed to the Delaware Water Gap.

Now, I've been camping several times and love it, but I have never been the one to be in charge of the trip - you know, packing up all the gear, buying everything we need, etc.

I had a pretty extensive list and I kept my pad handy every time another thought crossed my mind. James threw a few reminders my way, so I thought I really had my bases covered. So while James was at work on Friday, I was running all over L.I. buying the essentials. I mean, I had nothing. A few old flashlights, some paper plates, bug spray, but that was about it.

So, I got the tent (this great 9-man tent James had seen that he loved - I was so glad I found it), the air mattress (I cannot do hard ground), a pump, the lantern, the propane stove, propane, the table grill, the coffee pot, batteries...all what I thought were the essentials. Then food. Then packing up. I felt this fun, wifely excitement getting all of this for our first camping trip together. But I did feel a little nervous...hoping I wouldn't forget anything.

We actually made great time and hit minimal traffic, which is unusual getting off Long Island on a regular day, let alone a holiday weekend. But I knew James just wanted to get there, and all of the bad drivers (i.e. everyone else) were making him a little edgey.

We arrived to our spot about 10pm... and that was when the "fun" began.

We had this great spot that was surrounded by woods, so we loved the seclusion. But we realized that we couldn't pull the car right up to the spot...and therefore, no light. We started lugging our gear to the spot, and I was digging through everything to find the lantern and praying I brought the right amount of batteries. Ok, success. So I did my best to shine the headlights on our spot, and the lantern provided some extra light.

"Where are the other lanterns?"

"Other lanterns?"


"I only bought one."

I soon realized that all of the other flashlights I had dug up to bring with us (I'm so cheap - why buy new ones when we have them?) were either not working or severely inadequate. And I can see James' frustration starting to build.

And then I pulled out the tent that he has to set up. In the dark. With minimal light. For the first time. After a long day of work. And a three-hour drive.

Now, the idea of a 9 person tent seemed awesome while I was in the store that broad an air-conditioned civilization. As the reality set in that it was dark, late, and the first time James had even seen this more complex tent, let alone set it up - well, maybe it wasn't such a great idea? In his delicate way, James off-handedly suggested that a quick 2-man pop-up might have been better, given the circumstances? Point noted.

Well, it's what we had and I was sure we'd love it once we were in it...we couldn't exactly pack up and go home. So, like a good husband, James set out to set it up, and he said, "OK, where's the hammer?"

Oh, crap. Hammer?

"I didn't bring a hammer. I'm so sorry, honey. I didn't even think of a hammer."


Oh gosh, this isn't good. So, ingenious that he is, we found a small boulder near by which would have to do...but it didn't. It cracked one of the plastic buckles. So, we ended up digging up part of my car jack to do the trick.

While he was doing that, I thought it best to remove myself from the scenario and let him figure it out, so I went to go get some wood. And I am praying the whole time, "Jesus, give him strength, give him wisdom, help him to figure this out without problems..."

I came back and saw the tent starting to take shape and felt relieved, but still thought it wise to make myself scarce. So, I did the best I could to be helpful, unload the car and stay out of his way.

To his credit, he did amazingly, which I knew he would. I could tell he was super-frustrated, but he handled it great and the tent came together. After an hour and a half.

Considering the circumstances, not too bad.

At about 1am or so, I was wrecked, and he was all wired. I decided to crash, and he just wanted to stay up, unwind, sit by the fire and listen to some music.

Music. The CD player. I knew I bought batteries. Where were they????

Thankfully, I found the package and as James is putting them in, he asked, "Where's the other package?"

"Other package?"

"Yeah, it takes 8 batteries. There's only 4 here. Did you look to see how many you needed?"

"I looked to see that we needed C batteries... I didn't count."


"Maybe you could listen to your I-pod instead?"


I've heard in camping that when you encounter a bear, it is best to slip away quietly, unnoticed....

"OK, goodnight, honey...I'll see you in the morning..."

Stay tuned for the next episode. But here are some pics from our weekend homestead and the beautiful tent James set: