Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Ali

You probably saw the news yesterday that the writer known as "Dear Abby," Pauline Phillips died at the age of 94.

As legend goes: she was my 5th cousin. This should come as no surprise to anyone since everybody knows I love telling other people what to do, disguised as "advice" because it's much more palatable.

I read her column as a kid for several years before ever learning, via my grandmother, that I was related to her. "Abby's" mother was my great-grandmother, Ida May's 1st cousin's daughter. Let's just go with "Ali's 5th cousin, OK? I don't think even THEY ever met. This was a really fortunate thing for Abby, as my great-grandmother was not a very nice person from what I'm told (I edited that, what I originally wrote was just one word starting with a "B.") God rest her soul???

Abby's column and the column of her sister Ann Landers ran in my local paper right next to the funnies, which I read almost every day. As I got older, the funnies took less time to read so I read their columns afterward. I rarely understood the content of people's personal questions, but I was eager to read them anyway to see if I can learn some scoop about being a grown-up that my parents sheltered me from. I think what I really liked was the ridiculous aliases people gave themselves.

A few years ago, after starting my blog, my husband suggested naming my blog "Dear Ali" as a joke because every single time anyone mentioned "Dear Abby" I'd throw in the fact that I'm related to journalistic greatness.

On a whim and unwilling to spend one cent on, I sent out a Facebook message to my mother and her cousins to verify the legend. Once confirmed by a bunch of people who had simply heard the same story I had, none of which are genealogists it led into a colorful discussion about how Wikipedia sucks according to a 9-year-old, how the correct spellings of Russian last names are spelled with a "Y" and not an "I" or they'd be Polish and how my Great Aunt Harriette wrote them both several times and they never wrote back.

Most importantly, there was this little gem of a story from one of my second cousins (who shall remain nameless.) "Grandmom" is my great-grandmother in this story.

This discussion reminded me of a story that Grandmom and my mother always told. They went to a family reunion for Grandmom's mother's side of the family in Phillipsburg, PA, near Penn State, where she lived for some of her childhood before they moved to West Philly. A man came up to her and said hello Ida. She said hello, which cousin are you? He said I'm not your cousin, I'm your brother. One of the two long lost brothers, one was a kleptomaniac, I think the other was crazy too.

So there you have it:  I'm related to Dear Abby and a kleptomaniac (and I think bootleggers, but that has nothing to do with this story). Please tell me you didn't think I was going to say something profound...

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Number Between 12 and 14

A little-known fact about Ali: I'm extremely, weirdly, annoyingly superstitious.

I'm an avid knock-on-wooder, an under-ladder non-walker, I never step on a crack or dare open an umbrella inside and the time I broke a mirror I started to cry. I'd bet my husband doesn't even realize this. 

Therefore I think it goes without saying that the number 13 freaks me out. In fact, I'm a bit OCD about 13. I will cut up an extra piece of hot dog for the kids if I notice there are 13 pieces. I make sure the sink runs for 14 seconds, never just 13 (because I count everything like that in my head). If a receipe calls for my cookies to bake for 12-14 minutes...well, they just get crispy. Yes, I'm a whackadoodle. You knew this. 

So with that confession out of the way, I'll point out that we're nearly two weeks into 2013 and I still cringe a little bit writing the date on things. Not as badly as when it was June 6, 2006. I should have just stayed in bed all day. I might also add that I'm cringing because the only thing I've really written the year on so far have been a few checks and I hate paying for stuff. Everything should be free for me because I'm special.

2012 was just "meh" to be honest. It had it's share of unbelievable drama...believe me, but loads of happy and fun moments. So in all, the good kicked the bad's buttocks.

I'm proud to say that I made two New Year's resolutions and actually kept them. I kept them because they didn't involve any will power or self control. They were to read all seven Harry Potter books (I had read the first five and couldn't find time to move on once I had Justin - that jerk) and the other was to watch the entire series of LOST from beginning to end (I had watched religiously until Natalie was born and I had to give it up cold turkey), which I did from August to November LIKE A CHAMP!

You might notice a pattern: Ali liked things. Ali had interests. Ali had kids and they screwed it up. Ali finally got back to liking things after 4 years.

So to YOU, year 2013 MMXIII if I want to get all fancy. Go easy on me.

This year's resolutions:
  • Fix my blog header so I don't look like such a slacker.
  • Curse less (see my reference to "buttocks" above. I did some editing)
  • Teach my husband to use my camera so there are actually pictures of ME this year.
  • Start making my kids do chores because they're getting too spoiled and this house is a pigsty.
  • Tone my flabby upper arms. Just ewwww. 
  • Revive my blog because I miss it.

Wishing you all a very prosperous MMXIII - This is a good solution to my problem. These are letters, not numbers.