Archive for: August 2010

Topic: Imagine life without your cell phone, computer, iPod…

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

OK.  You could take my cell phone and I’d probably live…if I had a land line…which I don’t anymore because I live like a young person.

I could give up the instant gratification of being able to call someone the minute the thought of calling them entered my mind.

I could do without driving in my car and trying to find my ringing cell phone in my purse while making a turn in a busy intersection…because I WANT to know who’s calling me at that very moment.

I could live without not having to remember to turn down the volume on my phone while at the movies, concerts or the theater…and then forgetting to turn it back up later (and think I’m getting no calls).

I could give up the joy I get from picking the perfect “ring tune” for each important person in my life – which accurately “personifies” who they are to anyone within a 20 foot radius (since I always have to keep my volume on super high in order to hear it in my purse).

And, I could live without those short coded text messages that take me about 20 minutes to decipher.  Seriously, what the hell does LOL-LMFAO mean?

You could also take my Ipod and I wouldn’t die.  I like it.  But it’s not a big part of my life. I use it when I take long walks with the dog(s) or when I’m on the treadmill at the gym (which has happened maybe 2 times in the last year).  And, I do like to use it in my handy dandy portable speaker thing in my RV so I can listen to my “tunes” as I’m whipping up a four course meal on the road.

But the truth be told, I don’t upload new songs, so I listen to the same music over and over again which now makes me a typical old woman who only listens to music I know the words to.  (Proof…I had Ally load my iPod with songs she thought I’d like listening to…about 2 years ago, and I’m still perfectly satisfied listening to the hours of Carole King, Barbra Streisand and James Taylor songs she knew I’d know.)

But the computer…that’s a tough one.  I use it a lot.

I like email.  I like the convenience of keeping in touch with people from all aspects of my life without having to make a full blown commitment to keeping in touch.

I LIKE TYPING and I LOVE being able to type and edit by pushing a “delete” button to completely obliterate anything I don’t like (beats the old days of having to use “white out” while using my huge IBM Selectric typewriter!).

I love Excel spreadsheets (not for anything in particular…just because I can organize stuff easily).   And I love that it does math for me.

But mostly…I LOVE GOOGLE!

I use it to find out everything about anything.   It’s like my own personal information warehouse.  I ask it for information on everything from travel to recipes.  How to find the @#$@ batteries in my RV?  Where is my favorite Salsa Band playing?  How do I find the latest deals on cookware?  How do I start to knit?


So without my computer… I’d have to relearn how to use a public library.  And get a really big Encyclopedia and Dictionary.  And the latest version of the book “How Things Work.”

I’d have to find another way to have my morning coffee since I now turn on the computer, make my coffee, and then sit in front of the screen checking emails with a steaming cup of java warming my hands.

I’d have to learn how to write in cursive all over again, and I sucked at it the first time.

I’d have to learn new ways to keep in touch with all of the people in my life that doesn’t comprise of pushing the “forward” key to share a funny joke or story.

I’d have to learn how to do math again.

And, I’d be bored, and less creative, and messier.

But I guess I could do it.

I’m part of a generation of people who are completely addicted to instant notification and immediate gratification.  I entered high school right when technology was becoming popular with the masses.  Pagers were still in, but cell phones were making a break for it.

Being able to call your friends anytime of the day is a good thing.  Being able to be found anywhere is a good thing.  Being able to find an answer to any question at the click of a button is a GREAT thing.

And I’m no different than my peers: I’m totally addicted to that feeling.

I need to get a hold of people NOW, and if I can’t, I worry.

I spend a lot of time on my phone and my computer.  I check my email several times a day (though nobody really emails me).  I text my boyfriend and family, and I check Twitter (compulsively).  I have an iPhone, so all of this can be done anywhere, at anytime.

If I’m sitting somewhere (a doctor’s office, the bank, a restaurant) and there’s nothing going on, I’m on my phone.  I check the weather, talk to my mom (the woman loves to talk), play scrabble with my dad, and Facebook stalk my ex.

(You know you do it, too.)

All of my news comes from apps on my phone (USA Today, NY Times and, most often, Twitter), and since I’ve gotten my phone I have a far better grasp on current events around the world.

I have people all over the country who I consider my friends, even if most of our words have been exchanged in 140 characters or less.

I’ve got to be honest: thinking about NOT having my phone makes me uneasy.  And admitting that makes me even more uneasy.  Sure, I could “survive”, and maybe getting rid of it all would make me a better person or something, but I’ve been living with it all for so long that it’s hard to imagine.

Some days, I want to shut all of it down.  I want to hide my computer and trade in my precious phone.

I want to unplug.

But then (and this is how technology gets you) I think, well, it is nice having a phone that has my music on it… and a camera is nice… and if I’m taking these cool pictures it’s silly not to share them with friends and family on Facebook… and if I’m sharing it on there I should share it with 600-plus strangers on Twitter… and since I’m on Twitter I’ll just see what’s going on around town… AND SO ON.

It’s a vicious, vicious cycle.

But like I said… it’s addicting.

So I try to keep my compulsion to be connected in check.  I try to put the damn phone down and pick up a book (which, interestingly, is often on a Kindle…), go outside, interact with people outside of my computer.

I try to stop my compulsion to tell anybody and everybody anything and everything that happens to me or pops into my head.  My friends on Twitter and Facebook don’t need to know what I had for breakfast.  They don’t need to know that it’s a nice day out, or who I’m having tea with.  They don’t need to know how adorable my dogs are.

(LIE.  Everybody needs to know that:)


To say that I could give it all up means saying that I could give up a huge part of my identity.  My blog.  My friends on Twitter.  My incredible need to judge people on Facebook.

Could I live without all of these things (I am aware that these are all just things)?  Sure.

But would I want to?  Not so much.

(UPDATE: It’s 12:25 AM Monday morning and my phone and computer decided to become enemies and throw some sort of tantrum so I have spent the past hour screaming and crying and OHMYGOD I’m going to kill someone.  So it’s a little easier to imagine my life without it all now.  Maybe imagine isn’t the right word…  Fantasize?)

I’m not sure why this particular question (or any variation on the theme) seems to absolutely baffle most men…but it does, so I really appreciate receiving this topic from a man!

My typical question has always been, “Honey…do I look fat in this outfit?”  And I swear nothing has consistently sent my man into a complete panic quicker than those eight little words.

And I’ve really never understood why.

For years when I was married, I would ask the question and Brian (my ex) would visibly cringe and then daggers would seemingly fly from his eyeballs and he would mumble some kind of incomprehensible huff and walk away as if he considered the matter closed.  And I was left wondering if that meant I did or did not look fat in the outfit?  (Note: Never a good start to an evening out.)

These days, Matthew (my boyfriend) says that I’m simply not allowed to ask those types of questions.  He considers them to be:

“Loaded questions with absolutely no possible right answer in sight”, or

“Land mines waiting to blow up in his face”, or

“Evil, hateful attempts to send men into the fiery depths of hell.”

I think most men feel the same way.

But I disagree.

And so I’m grateful for the opportunity to give men the secret to providing the right answer…


We want reassurance.  We want to know that we look beautiful to you.  That no matter what we put on our bodies…you LOVE OUR ASSES in it!

The truth is that by the time I come to my man with any of these questions…I’ve pretty much made up my mind about what I’m going to wear and I’m just looking for a compliment when one isn’t forthcoming.

There.  I said it.  I’m fishing for compliments.

So for me, the correct answer to the question “Does my ass look fat in these jeans” is quite simply… ”HELL NO honey! Your ass is what makes those jeans look great!”

Oh and guys…none of that mumbling the words without looking at me bullshit.  I want you to turn around, look at me in those jeans, and say those words with absolute conviction.

Do it and I’ll be one happy puppy.

Now…there are times when I really do want my man’s opinion on an outfit.  Not a shallow compliment (see?  I’m admitting that I know that’s what I’m fishing for above), but his actual opinion on what looks good and what does not.  Take last week for example.  I tried on a dress I was going to wear for a family Bar Mitzvah in Miami over the weekend, and I really couldn’t make up my mind on the shoe/necklace/earring combination.  So I called Matthew upstairs and asked his opinion.

Wisely…he asked “Are you really asking my opinion or do you just want me to tell you how good you look?”  (Obviously the man is starting to know me).

“No honey, I’m giving you choices and I REALLY WANT YOUR OPINION.  I have this sexy black dress with a hot pink liner that peaks out as I walk or spin…so I want the whole look to be perfect!”

Cautiously he agreed to help.

So we started with the shoes…of which I was wearing two different styles on each foot.  I did the classic lift one shoe up at a time to showcase two very different black evening shoes and without hesitation he picked the one on the left (a lovely black satin shoe with crystal ankle straps).   Thank you very much Matthew.  That was perfect!

Then we moved onto the jewelry.  First, I tried on a large pink crystal necklace & a pair of delicate diamond-like earrings and he hesitated and asked if there were any other options.  He said it seemed unbalanced.  OK…we instantly stepped onto shaky ground as this was my first choice, but I was willing to work with him to get it “balanced.”  So I tried on option #2, a delicate diamond-like ball on a simple white gold-like chain with delicate (i.e. small) diamond-like earrings.   This time he thought it wasn’t enough.  In fact, he thought the delicate combination was a bit “too old” looking (quickly adding that I didn’t look old…but the jewelry made me look older – SMART man).

Clearly that wasn’t going to work, so we kept at it.  HE then suggested putting the large pink crystal necklace back on, but with a pair of larger dangling diamond-like earrings and WHALA!  It was perfect.

And I knew it was perfect because he stepped back and a huge smile came across his face and he said those magic words…”Babe, you look beautiful.”  And I knew he meant it.

But if I had pulled the whole thing off on my own, and uttered the question “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?”  I hope that he would turn and look at me, and without hesitation say “Babe, you look beautiful.”

And I think now he always will.

I think I’m pretty logical when it comes to this question.  I‘ve been known to ask it, or a variation of it, from time to time a lot.

The truth is that if I’m asking the question in the first place, I already know my ass looks too big or my dress is too tight or I’m wearing something that just doesn’t look good.

I’m actually OK with Mike telling me the truth.  Really, I am.

(Notice that I say “Mike”.  The situation that I’m referring to is when your loved one or someone you’re close to asks this question, not someone you don’t have a good or close relationship with.  If someone asks and they’re not a loved one who you have a good relationship with?  Lie.  It’s not worth the hurt/drama/crap.  And let’s face it: odds are that they’re fishing for a compliment anyway.  And if you’re the asshole who asks these questions of your friends/acquaintances/strangers (you know who you are), cut it out.  Please, stop making others feel uncomfortable with your “do I look fat?” or “how old do you think I am?” questions.)


I’d rather Mike tell me before I walk out of the house looking less than awesome.  If I ask it, I’m already thinking I should change, and his answer will usually just sway me one way or the other.

(Or his answer is irrelevant and I’ll do what I want anyway.)

Granted, if Mike ever looked at me and made a gagging sound or some horrid comment, I’d probably punch him in the throat.

Hell, even if he said a simple “yes” in response to the above question, I’d probably kick him in the knees…or at least cry a bit.

Thankfully for both of us, he’s very polite and tactful (and I’m not really that physically violent).

I say that the key here is to stay polite.  Go ahead and tell them the truth… nicely.

I’m a big fan of “that’s not the most flattering thing you could wear”.

Or “it looks nice, but not great”. 

Honestly, I appreciate that…

If I ask for his opinion.

Let me say that again, this time in all caps: IF I ASK FOR HIS OPINION.

If Mike just looked at me and said something negative about my outfit without my asking for his input… I’d probably cry.

This especially goes for people other than Mike.  If a girlfriend were to walk up to me and tell me my ass looked too big, without my asking her opinion, I’d have a problem with that.

If someone walked up to me on the street and said I didn’t look good – even if they said it politely and then gave me a few bucks and also handed me a brand new puppy – throat punching would be imminent.

So, only say something if you were asked your opinion.  Otherwise, keep quiet.

NOTE: be careful about the context.  If you’re loved one asks this question in reference to something that he or she has no choice but to wear (for example a bridesmaid dress or a work uniform), say they look awesome.  Say they look amazing.  Say they took your breath away. There’s nothing they can do about the situation, so don’t do anything to make it worse.

It’s also important to say that I never ask this question unless I truly want the answer. 

(No, really.)

If I ask it, I accept the response.  And I’m very clear about my intentions when I ask.

Before we left for Miami last week, I tried on the dress I was planning to wear and asked Mike for his honest opinion.  Mike looked at me, smiled, and said I looked great, BUT the dress didn’t look perfect.  He said that the fabric fell wrong in one place, but other than that I looked good.  I was already a little iffy about my dress, and let’s face, “good” wasn’t gonna cut it, so I changed into a different dress.  This time, he said I looked amazing.  He told me I looked fabulous.  He said he wouldn’t change a thing.

Without his honesty, I would have never tried on another dress, or felt nearly as confident.

I don’t ask these questions because I’m fishing for compliments, or looking for an ego boost.  When I was discussing this question with another woman (not my mother), she said she didn’t believe me.  She said that all women ask men these questions as a test or as a reason to hear how amazing they look. 

But I honestly don’t. Why?  Because the odds of that little test backfiring and resulting in a huge, horrible, messy argument just isn’t worth it to me.  In the beginning of our relationship I probably did play that game, but now?  I’ve learned my lesson.

If I want a compliment, I ask Mike how I look.  It’s simple, it’s to the point, and he always tells me I’m beautiful.

And a lot of times?  I don’t have to ask.

(I feel the need to point out that you have to figure out what your significant other is really saying when he or she asks these questions.  In discussing this topic with many women over the past week, it seems that my thoughts aren’t shared by many other ladies.  Maybe take another woman’s (<——-) advice?  At least to start with?  Because I’m not going to be responsible if you go tell your girlfriend/wife/friend-with-benefits that her ass totally looks huge and then scream “BUT ALLY THINKS I SHOULD BE HONEST!!!” while she’s beating you with her hair dryer.)

Topic: Thank You Notes

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I love receiving a handwritten thank you note.  It warms my heart to think that someone would take the time to sit down and write a personal sentiment, in a card, and put it in the mail…to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to feel any kind of yearning to do the same for others.  I have always failed miserably at writing Thank You Notes and, I believe, I have also failed at teaching my children to write them as well.

Clearly, I was a lousy parent.

Writing a Thank You Note is a classy thing to do.  It’s thoughtful and sweet.  It’s what my mother taught me was “the right thing to do.”    And, according to my mother, anyone who wasn’t raised in a barn knows that there are some basic situations when sending a handwritten Thank You Note is REQUIRED.

They are (for your reference) as follows:

1) Any gifts received from a grandparent.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

2) Any gifts received from relatives sent through the mail for birthdays or holidays.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

3) Any gifts received for Bar Mitzvahs (or other such cultural “coming of age” celebrations), Weddings and/or Showers and new baby gifts.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

Fortunately, (I thought) my kids always lived near their grandparents and were able to give them a huge hug and thank them directly for any gift they received.  So I didn’t “make” them write thank you notes to their grandparents (bad parent!).

And, my brother’s the only one who ever sent them gifts on holidays…so he probably thought they were raised in a barn, because I’m sure he never received a Thank You Note from either of them…EVER!

And alas, my kids never had those coming of age celebrations (at least none thus far, other than graduations from high school & college and I think, maybe, I hope, they wrote some Thank You Notes!?!) so they haven’t really been exposed to the absolute joy of writing hundreds of thank you notes to tons of people who gave them gifts (poor babies).

But gifts aren’t the only reason to write a Thank You Note (I’ve been told).

There are those really thoughtful people out there who exceed all Thank You Note expectations and write them as a lovely follow up to:

1) A job interview.

2) A lunch with a friend.

3) A dinner out with friends.

4) A nice conversation on the phone.

I hate those people.  They give the rest of us a bad name.  They make us look lazy.  They make us look like we were raised in a barn.

So for the record…in case you haven’t figured it out yet…I HATE writing Thank You Notes!

I hate trying to find a card cute enough to write on.  So I buy those stupid little pre-printed thank you cards in packages of 10 at the supermarket with blank innards that are anything but cute.

I hate trying to find the matching envelope that has been buried somewhere in the back of my desk drawer because invariably the cards have gotten separated from the envelopes in the package.

I hate my handwriting (or more accurately, my printing), so I’m actually embarrassed to have someone see how immature and ugly my penmanship is.  I know that anyone who sees it must think to themselves, “How has that woman gotten through life with that horrible handwriting!?!”

In fact, I hate the idea of writing Thank You Notes so much that I’ve totally talked myself into believing that a well crafted, hugely sentimental and well thought-out email more than qualifies as a perfectly valid form of saying “thank you” in lieu of the more formal handwritten Thank You Note.

Case in point (I swear!), as I was in the middle of writing this blog post, the doorbell rang and the postman dropped off a totally unexpected package from my boyfriends’ sister.  She sent me a present for no reason at all (literally…that’s what it said on the card).  OMG…how thoughtful was that!?!  Totally Thank You Note worthy.

And yet, I instantly thought to write an email to her expressing my joy at receiving and opening that unexpected package.  Not for an instant did I think to sit down and write her a note….not even when I’ve got “Thank You Notes” solidly on the brain!

Lazy?  Raised in a Barn?  How about…just damn efficient!

The polite part of me thinks that thank you notes are a great way to show your gratitude and should be written and sent by all.

The other part of me thinks they’re a silly waste of stationary.

As the sender of thank you notes, I feel kind of stupid.  I feel silly sending something that you’re just going to have sitting on your counter or stuck to your refrigerator until spring cleaning rolls around the following year. I have a hard time seeing the value in writing “Thank you Grandma for the 20 bucks for my birthday.  It was very thoughtful.  It was nice.  I bought lunch with it.  Love you!  Xoxoxo!”

When I sent out my thank you notes for graduation, I sort of felt like a fraud.  I was absolutely grateful, but my thank you cards didn’t really express that.

Because really?

How much does an obligatory thank you card really say?

And there’s the key word: obligatory.  The minute I’m expected to send one, I feel like all of the love and kindness gets sucked right out of it.

And the same goes for receiving one: the minute I get one because “it’s the right thing to do” and not because the person really wanted to thank me, it looses some of its charm.

(Side note: am I the only one who feels like I have to write a thank you note for the thank you notes I receive?)

The best thank you notes I’ve gotten have been thanking me for something I didn’t realize I had given.  My best friend once sent me a thank you note after her birthday.  First she said thanks for the book I’d gotten her (which was the right thing to do because it was Twilight and it’s awesome), but then she said how much she appreciated our friendship.  How much my being in her life meant to her.  THAT’S a thank you note that I want.  That’s the kind of thank you note that I’m happy to have on my fridge.  But I wouldn’t even call that a “thank you note”.  It was a letter that expressed her feelings, which meant so much to me.

I just feel there’s a better way, like sincerely thanking the person when they give you the gift.

Or calling and saying how much you love what they did for you.

Or sky writing.

Before you write a thank you note I think that you should ask yourself, “Why am I writing this?”  Then think if there’s a better way to show your gratitude.

And maybe that card is the best way (because sometimes it is), but maybe it’s not…

AND NOW, I can’t write about this without a rant of sorts:

I hate hate HATE when you go to a wedding or baby shower  (basically any gathering of women where a registry is involved) and they make you fill out an envelope so that the woman of honor can easily send you a thank you note.


It takes absolutely any thought and care out of it and I’d rather not have any part in it.  You have my address already since YOU SENT ME AN INVITE.  Do you know how disappointing it is to get a card in the mail with your own handwriting on it?  First, it freaks me out, like I’m getting a message from Past Ally for Future Ally (“Don’t drink the iced tea, Ally, it’s poison.”).  After I realize what it actually is I’m disappointed because I knew the damn thing was coming.

Just thank me for the thing you already knew you were getting (don’t get me started on registries) at the party, and we’ll call it even.

(End rant.)