Monthly Archives: November 2011

BFF Quiz! (Part Four)

Alright, this is the second-to-last batch of questions for the “Do You Know Your Best Friend” quiz. Can you believe that Sara and I spent an entire weekend taking this? I gotta tell you, it was so fun. I highly recommend bookmarking these installments and bringing them up when you and your bestie have a reunion weekend. You’ll test your knowledge, learn new random factoids, and get great laughs at how ridiculous some of the questions are.

In this batch, a few questions (specifically in the late 70s) get kind of annoying in their “yes, no, depends” answers. But still, it’s entertaining.

And, in case any of you would be willing to be best friends with me one day, let me give you some answers so we can pass this test down the line: I’ve never belonged to a fan club though I used to write to celebrities who I knew sent autographed pictures back (I had that book that told you who would respond), and I had a framed signed 8×10 pic of Whoopi Goldberg in my bedroom growing up. I only get motion sickness when I read in the car. I bite my fingernails and I’ve recently learned to love olives.

See? We’re BFFs already!

Part four:

61. Has she ever belonged to a fan club? If so, whose?

62. What’s under her bed? a) clothes b) papers c) old toys d) just the floor

63. Would she rather baby-sit: a) a girl? b) a boy? c) either? d) neither?

64. Has she ever practiced yoga? a) Many times b) A few times c) Never

65. Does she experience motion sickness: a) In cars? b) In buses? c) On boats? d) Elsewhere? e) Nowhehere?

66. If she got love letters and then broke up with the writer, would she: a) Save the letters and reread them every so often? b) Put them in the trash and forget about them? c) Burn them and grind the ashes into the dirt with her heaviest boots? {The universal answer here is a, no? Don’t all girls do that? Wallowing in the past every now and then and all that?}

67. In case of an emergency evacuation, what two things at home–things, not people–would she want to take?

68. Has she ever? a) Played pool b) Had a crush on someone she never met? c) Fallen asleep in class?

69. Which of these statements will she agree with? a) “I have been best friends with a cheerleader.” b) “Guys who wear glasses can be real cute.” c) “I’ve never made a major decision I regretted.”

70. Is she a fingernail biter? a) She sometimes bites her nails. b) She bites them all the time. c) She used to bit them but quit. d) She never bites them.

71. Which does she prefer? a) Swimming b) Bicycling

72. Olives? She: a) Loves ’em b) Can take ’em or leave ’em c) Hates ’em

73. What’s her mother’s maiden name?

74. “I always get my best ideas in the shower.” She’ll say: a) “Me too!” b) “I never do.” c) “Well, maybe once in a while…”

75. How does she view her sleep habits? a) “I never get enough sleep.” b) “I don’t get enough during the week, but I usually catch up on weekends.” c) “I get all the sleep I need, thank you.”

76. “I’d be happy living with all antique furniture.” She’ll say: a) “Me too!” b) “I prefer new.” c) “Well, maybe some old, some new…”

77. “You never regret what you do, only what you don’t do.” She’ll say: a) “I totally agree.” b)”I can give you plenty of examples of the opposite.” d) “Well, there’s some truth to that.”

78. “I’ve never met a guy I can talk to the way I talk to girl friends.” She’ll say: a) “Me neither!” b) “I’ve had more than one guy friend I can really talk to.” c) “Well that’s probably right, but…”

79.  Has she ever thought of changing her name? (Ten bonus points if you can give at least one new name she’s chosen.): a) Never b) Long ago c) Recently. Name she chose is….

80. Rank these in the order she’d choose to attend them: a) Parade c) Circuse d) Horse Show e) Ballet

What’d you think of this batch? Easier? Harder? How are you and your best friend faring?

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MWF Seeking BFF, The Book: In A Town/Book Club Near You?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m really lucky to have readers that return to this blog every day. Or every week. Or once a month. However often you check in, thank you. I would totally give you a bear hug if I could.

The publication of MWF Seeking BFF, in its zippy little book form, is 40 days away. I can’t really wrap my head around it. Excited, nervous, terrified, anxious, thrilled. It’s all jumbled up in there.

As you can probably tell, I’m still figuring out how the whole book publication thing works. So instead of navigating totally on my own, I thought I’d reach out to you, my lovely readers, for some insight.

This informal weekend poll has two prongs:

Prong Number One: Would you be interested in coming to an MWF Seeking BFF reading or other book event in your town? Said gathering would probably involve me reading a quick passage from the book, and then doing a Q & A. Or, I could do a more BFF related event. A bring-your-bestie gathering. Or a make-new-friends fiesta. Or something with a much much less lame name than that.

If so, please comment below or email me and let me know where you live (just the city, I’m not asking for your home address or anything. I’m not creepy), and if there’s a specific bookstore you think would be a great fit. Bookstores usually expect a decent-sized turnout, so if you have friends who would join you for a reading, let me know! And, for real, no need to comment just to be nice if book readings aren’t your thing. I totally get it. Please only let me know if you really think you’d try to attend.

Prong Number Two: Are you interested in having me visit your book club? I love book clubs–I’ve met some of my favorite people through the two I’ve been in. So I’d be thrilled to visit yours–in person, via Skype, by phone. If your book club wants to read MWF Seeking BFF, then let’s talk about it! I could answer questions, chat about the writing process, expound on the hilarious absurdities that seemed to confront me at every friend-searching turn. (I’d also be happy to speak to women’s networking or empowerment groups.)

Please comment below or shoot me an email if you’d like me to join your book club for an author chat. And feel free to pass this offer along to your book clubby friends. I know lots of groups set their dates and pick their books way in advance.

Gauging interest will really help me plan for my book launch. Thanks so much! Did I mention you’re the best?

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Do You Ever Stop Looking?

When I was on my full-fledged BFF search, going on 52 dates in 52 weeks, people often asked me if I’d call off the hounds if I found The One. There were a few times when I considered it. I’d meet someone so fantastic and wonderful that I’d want to give up on everyone else and just dedicate all my time to that budding friendship.

And then I’d learn that she planned on moving.

Longtime readers of this blog know that when it comes to friends I believe in quality and quantity. Having one great friend is awesome and certainly a bajillion times better than none, but I wanted a handful.

Greedy? Maybe. But people move. Or they have babies and are suddenly less available. I really wanted a friendship safety net.

My major year of dating was in 2010. I made a good amount of buddies during those 12 months, and in the 10 months since, I’ve made another, maybe, five friends. My calendar is blessedly full.

So the question is: Does the time ever come to stop looking?

For me, the answer is no. I’ve trained myself to be a people-meeter. (I truly believe this. Being friendly and meeting new people is something I was once kind of bad at, and now I rock. Sorry, but I do. If you think you’re bad at being outgoing and talking to strangers, just force yourself to do it. Soon it’ll become second nature. I promise.) There might still be a lady soul mate out there for me.

But here’s a line that comes up a lot: I don’t have time for new friends.

Or: I have too many friends as it is.

Or: So, are you done yet?

As if I’m cooking a meatloaf rather than establishing lifelong connections, here.

I get it. Time is precious and people want to use it on their already existing friends. But it would seem so odd to me, at this point, to just be like “Enough! I deem the search over! Class dismissed!”

Have I shared here the story of the British journalist who met a guy with a one-in-one-out friend policy? He maintained only six friends at a time, and one day sent the journalist a note saying he had an opening. Would she be interested in being his friend?

Lovely, right?

In hopes of never becoming that British twit, I’ll keep looking, dating, and hanging with my new pals. Viva la amigos! But I’m wondering, have you ever consciously decided to stop looking for new friends? Ever decided your dance card was full?

 

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The Hard Facts: We Have Fewer Friends. What Else Is New?

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“[A new survey of] more than 2,000 adults from a national database and found that from 1985 to 2010, the number of truly close friends people cited has dropped — even though we’re socializing as much as ever. On average, participants listed 2.03 close friends in [the] survey. That number was down from about three in a 1985 study. ” (“More Facebook Friends, Fewer Real One” ; Yahoo! News; 11/7/2011″

In response to the question of how many people would you discuss “important matters with,” Cornell sociologist Matthew Brashears reports that “forty-eight percent of participants listed one close friend when asked, 18 percent listed two and 29 percent listed more. A little more than 4 percent didn’t list anyone.”

As far as I can tell, this particular finding isn’t that different from the 2006 report “Social Isolation in America,” which found that the number of friends people claim to feel close to dropped from three to two. People are just responding differently now because Facebook wasn’t the mammoth that it was back then. We didn’t have an average number of Facebook friends (130) to directly compare it to.

According to the report, what distinguishes these findings from the 2006 study is Brashears’ claim that while “modern discussion networks have decreased in size, which is consistent with other researchers’ findings… social isolation has not become more prevalent.” We have fewer super-close friends, but we’re not more lonely. So that’s good news.

Brashears says his study isn’t the next sign of the anti-social apocalypse. Yes, it seems that all researchers are always looking for another way to prove that America is becoming ruder, less social, more private, and so on. But Brashears told the Daily Mail that his study isn’t a cause for concern or a sign that we are more vulnerable than ever. People “are simply becoming more adept at deciding who they can trust to be a close confidant.”

Becoming a more discerning friend might be a good thing. Might. But you don’t want to get to that place where you’re so careful of who you trust that you suddenly don’t trust anyone. Slippery slope people. Slippery slope.

How many friends do you have that you can talk to about “important matters”? Do you find that you are becoming more careful of who you talk to about the important stuff?

{And thanks to Lauren for sending me this study on Twitter! If you ever come across interesting friend research, I’d be delighted if you’d share!}

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Do You Have a Nemesis?

As easily as I’ve been able to name my best friend at various phases of my life, so too have I been able to pinpoint my nemesis.

The title shifts as my life evolves. Nemeses have included (in no particular order): the deli worker near my office who was totally rude when I ordered my sandwiches; Matt’s ex-girlfriend; a woman who always spoke up—and went on uninterrupted for a full five minutes— just at the end of staff meetings in what seemed like a blatant attempt to make my ears bleed; a high school classmate who was BFF with my first real boyfriend and hated that I was in the picture; the woman who sat across from me in my first job and lobbed over passive-aggressive jabs because I was apparently much less literary; the lady at my tiny gym–no, it was a fitness room–who always turned the overhead music on full blast so I couldn’t hear the TV on my machine.

These were the Newmans to my Jerry. Plenty didn’t know that we were nemeses at all. I mean, I’m not about to tell the woman who puts together my sandwich everyday that her attitude isn’t appreciated. You know what else wouldn’t be appreciated? A spit sandwich.

My nemeses aren’t people I’ve fought with. If you saw us interact, you’d never know I’d named them Nemesis #1. They’re not even the people who’ve been meanest to me in my life. A couple of years ago someone told me I was stupid—yes, he actually used the word stupid—because I like How I Met Your Mother. According to him, the only people who enjoy Barney’s antics are “stupid people who think they’re smart.” He told me this after I told him it was one of my favorite shows. But he’s not my nemesis. He’s just mean. Nemeses are those people you see everyday and there’s an underlying, if not acknowledged, animosity. They make you want to shake your fist in the air and say “Ugh! Nemesis!” (Or is that just me?)

It’s ok if that animosity is only one-sided.

In fact, that’s funnier.

You know how love and hate aren’t really opposites, but two sides of the same coin? That’s how I feel about BFFs and nemeses. Both are sort of fun to have. They keep you on your toes. There have been plenty of times when people have asked me if I know some girl from college and I’d say, “Oh sure! She’s my nemesis!” as if I was declaring we were having a slumber party that Friday.

These days I seem to be nemesisless. Such is the burden of working from home. I don’t interact with anyone on a regular enough basis to have achieved nemesis levels.

Instead, I’ll live through you. Tell me, who is your nemesis? Come on, you know you’ve got one.

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Quiz! (Part Three): Do You Know Your BFF?

I know, you thought I forgot. You’ve been cursing me for two weeks because you couldn’t stand the suspense. I get it. I do. But fear not, the wait is over.

Part 3 of the BFF quiz is below. Please excuse the editor’s notes, but–shockingly, I’m sure–I had a few questions I had to run by you.

40. What usually wakes her up? a) An alarm clock b) A person c) A pet d) Her own natural clock

41. What kind of doodles does she make? a) Letters or words b) People or animals c) Lines or shapes d) Nothing—she’s not a toddler

42. She’d rather watch a movie: a) At home b) In a theater

43. Is there a song that always makes her sad? a) Yes, it’s [fill in the blank] b) Not really

44. Does she have a favorite motto or quote posted by her desk or embroidered on a pillow? a) Yes, it’s [fill in the blank] b) No

45. Which usually takes her longer? a) Getting ready to leave home in the morning b) Getting ready for bed at night {Editor’s note: Please advise… are there really people who take longer to get ready for bed than to leave the house?}

46. When it’s time to do the dishes, which does she prefer? a) Washing b) Drying c) Hiding

47. If she could take one item of clothing from your wardrobe, what would it be?

48. In a Chinese restaurant, she notices that the people at the next table are really enjoying their food. They don’t know what it is, and the waiter cant explain it in English. She’ll say: a) “I’ll have what they’re having.” b) “Chicken with walnuts, please.” {Editor’s note: Is there something racist about a question that assumes all Chinese restaurant waiters can’t speak English? This one doesn’t sit well.}

49. If someone passed out in front of her, would she: a) Run for help b) Yell to somebody  else to get help while she tried first aid? c) Look around for others to do something?

50. Does she pay attention to the weather forecast? a) Yes, at least once a day b) Only if she thinks the weather would have a big impact on her plans c) No, she doesn’t bother

51. What’s her favorite flower?

52. What part or feature of her body does she hate most?

53. What was the last board game she played?

54. Does she know her astrological sign? (Does she care?) a) Yes (and she thinks it really matters) b) Yes (but she isn’t into it) c) No (she couldn’t care less) {Editor’s Note: Are there people in the world who don’t even know their sign???]

55. Does her family have any pet names for her? a) Yes, it’s [fill in the blank] b) None that she’ll admit to

56. Does she have any family member or friend who is: a) A nurse? b) A musician? c) A carpenter? d) A government employee? e) A florist? f) A farmer?

57. How many stuffed animals does she own? a) None b) Just one c) Between two and five d) A lot e) Too many to count

58. In the past year, has she: a) Walked out of a bad movie? b) Cried in front of someone? c) Played a song or a whole CD more than twice in a row?

59. Does she think she looks more like her mother or her father?

60. Would she rather spend a couple of hours with someone eight years old or eighty?

So, what do you think of this batch? How’d you do? And is there anyone who wouldn’t opt to hide from dirty dishes?

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Let’s Hear It For The Boys

I don’t know what it is but male friendship is in the air this week. Two of my favorite shows had episodes that dealt with some serious man love.

First, on Modern Family Phil basically went inside my head and explained to Luke that it’s hard to make friends as an adult. “When you get older it all changes. Life gets in the way,” he says. “Yeah I have work friends, and your mom and I have couples friends, and there are college friends, but they’re scattered all over the country. It’s not the same as yelling out to your neighborhood buddies.”

So I’ve heard, Phil. So I’ve heard.

Then on Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I still watch it. Yes, I still love it) there was a funny subplot about Mark’s man-crush on Avery. It’s a serious bromance they have going. (The other day I heard someone use the term ‘sistah-mance.’ Thoughts? I don’t think it works.)

In general, I love watching male friendships develop because these guys who usually play it super cool turn into giddy little boys.

Like at the end of Modern Family, when Phil picks up a new friend while building his son a treehouse. The new friend squeals to his wife “The guy in the treehouse is cool!” With the excitement in his voice, he could have easily been an 8-year-old talking to his mom. Check out the clip here. (Ty Burrell so deserved that Emmy.)

Do you have any favorite TV clips about bromances? The episode of Seinfeld where he befriends Keith Hernandez is a classic. And I also love the How I Met Your Mother where Marshall and Lily have broken up so he picks up a brunch buddy. “This zucchini bread is ridonculous!”

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Is It Ever Too Late: The Aftermath

OMG. You guys. This happened.

You know how on Monday I blogged about the potential BFF who I was worried I’d missed the boat on? We both do the “let’s get together!” thing whenever we see each other, but then we drop the ball and don’t connect?

As I suspected, you all totally understood where I was coming from (thanks!) but then accurately told me to suck it up and just send an email.

Well. Along comes Tuesday, and I was so caught up in work that I didn’t have a chance to write to her yet. And then, in the early afternoon, she sent me an email. The gist of which read “let’s finally get together.” Crazy right??

So my first thought: I don’t believe in The Secret, but holy schnikes this is weird. I put it into the universe!

Second thought: She probably read the blog. How embarrassing. Slash awesome.

I emailed her back with a whole long “this is the weirdest thing ever, do you read my blog?” message, explaining that I’d just written about her, she’d been on my mind, and yes, let’s get dinner asap.

Turns out, she reads my blog and had read that post. But, she didn’t know it was about her! It simply reminded her that she wanted to reach out, so she did. And now we’re having dinner Wednesday.

Well, that was easy.

So after years of we-should-get-togethers, we are finally getting together. And it’s all thanks to this here blizzog.

What do you think? Does this make you want to send that email to your “we-should-get-together” friend? Turns out our friendship window was still wide open. Yours probably is too.

{In other exciting news: If you’d like a sneak peek of MWF Seeking BFF, check out this excerpt from Chapter 1! If you like it, you can pre-order a copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound or Powell’s. Pre-orders are a really big deal for a book’s sales, so thank you so so SO much.}

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The Hard Facts: A Lonely Night’s Sleep

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Loneliness is not only heartbreaking, it breaks up a normal night’s sleep, a new study shows … [According to a recent study] higher loneliness scores were linked to significantly higher levels of fragmented sleep.” (“How Lonely You Are May Impact How Well You Sleep, Research Says” ; ScienceDaily.com 11/01/2011)

Here’s what I find so interesting about this study. The researchers set out to see how loneliness affects sleep patterns, because we already know that it affects health in general, and sleep is a key behavior to staying healthy. What they found–here’s the interesting part–is that being lonely doesn’t affect the amount you sleep, it just breaks up your sleep. In other words, if you’re lonely, you can expect to wake up a bunch throughout the night.

The reserchers are also quick to point out that these lonely individuals were not socially isolated. There’s a difference. “‘Loneliness and social isolation are two distinct concepts,'[study author Lianne] Kurina said. ‘Loneliness reflects perceived social isolation or feelings of being an outcast, the often-painful discrepancy between a person’s desired and actual social relationships.'”

When I started my quest almost two years ago, I would have never admitted to loneliness. It sounded so depressing, and I would have never accepted that label. But looking at the definition above, I definitely identify. I had plenty of social connections–I had best friends everywhere, it seemed, other than Chicago–but I felt socially isolated because I didn’t have enough pals near by. I didn’t have the social relationships that I desired.

All that said, I’ve always slept like a log. As I recently told someone, “My favorite thing about myself is that I sleep soundly through the night. I never wake up.” It’s a strange favorite trait, but it is one thing I would never change. (I know, I know, all you mothers out there. Wait until you’re pregnant, you’re thinking. Ugh.) If anything, I sleep too soundly. Last night I slept a ridiculous 9.5 hours. Who does that? (I know, I know, high class problems.)

So, just your weekly reminder to go out there and make connections. Or stop to appreciate the connections you already have, so you can shake off those feelings of loneliness.

Your undereye bags will thank you.

Do your emotions–feelings of lonelines, or even anger, sadness, heartbreak–affect your sleep patterns? How?

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Is It Harder to Friend-Date or Man-Date?

Recently I was doing an interview about MWF Seeking BFF, the book (coming soon–December 20!–to a bookstore near you. Shameless plug. Whatever.) and the interviewer asked me “Would this work for a guy?”

What I thought she meant was: Would this type of search work for finding a boyfriend?

What she really meant was: Would a guy be able to do this type of search and find a friend?

I answered the wrong question, which was fine because she corrected me and we went on our way. But it launched a debate with a friend. Because my answer to the former question was basically: “I don’t know! This is the closest I’ve ever come to dating.”

As I’ve mentioned, Matt and I met freshman year of college. We went through our fair share of 19-year-old (and 20-year-old) drama before settling into a normal, healthy relationship, but I’ve done very little dating in my day. So I basically told the interviewer that to find anyone—best friend or boyfriend—you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs, so to speak.

But in one sense, I claimed, friend dating is much tougher. Because women aren’t embarrassed to announce they’re looking for a man. We’re still embarrassed to say we need more friends. So while dating etiquette and expectations are pretty universal, the friend-dating code of conduct isn’t quite so clear. It’s harder to establish a desired relationship when all parties aren’t on the same page.

When I told a friend about this misunderstanding, she told me, in not so many words, that I’m crazy to claim that friending might be the more difficult option. She’s single and much more experienced in matters of courtship.  She’s the man-dating expert, and I’m the friend-dating expert. We could start a service!

My pal’s argument: While you have to put yourself out there for both friends and romantic partners, the latter is more of a pressure cooker. There are sleepovers involved. Sleepovers alone amp up the fear factor. (I’ll give her that.) There’s more risk, she claimed. (I’m not so sure–friend breakups blow.)  Less pressure and less risk make a person act less crazy, and acting crazy is one of women’s greatest romantic undoings.

I see her point. I feel lucky to be out of the dating game. I would be horrific at it. Seriously. Some friends and I were talking about the dating game over the weekend and I mentioned how uncomfortable I’d be on a first date. Matt looked at me and said, “oh yeah, you’d be so awkward.” That’s love.

So, let me open the debate to you, readers. What’s harder: Finding a new BFF or finding a partner? It it tougher to friend-date or romance-date?

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