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I’ve started this post about four times. I kept trying to find a way to tie the topic matter to travel, and frankly, I couldn’t. It has nothing to do with travel.

Instead, this post has everything to do with me. Or, more specifically, my mom.

See, she’s just discovered Facebook.

Since joining, she immediately friended one of my ex-boyfriends, posted half a dozen links about the existence of extra-terrestrial life, and called me every five minutes for days on end, asking me if I had seen her recent status updates and what I thought of her new profile picture.

The result is awkward, yet somehow endearing. To my mom, the internet is a new and strange place. She’s been an immigrant before, and now she’s a digital immigrant, to boot. She’s traveling in a strange new world, and only vaguely understands internet etiquette. She says things on Facebook that I wouldn’t in a million years consider posting.

And yet, there’s nothing wrong with that. Because when you explore new lands, there’s no right or wrong. It’s kind of like travel (HOLY CRAP, I AM MANAGING TO TIE THIS POST TO TRAVEL). You may not know all the customs. You may do things that other people find strange, or weird. But as long as you’re open-minded, willing to make friends, and your heart is in the right place?

Things will be just fine.

So, without further ado, some crazy/delightful ways my mom has used Facebook, and a few faux pas she’s committed.

1. Here are three posts from her in a row. Tell me if you see a pattern.

MomBelievesInAliens

Did you find the pattern? That’s right: each post starts with a consonant.

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The Fourth of July just passed, and as my husband and I stood watching fireworks with a couple of friends, I got to thinking a bit too heavily about what it means to be an American.

No, I wasn’t drunk. Nor had I ingested any sort of chemical that would cause me to wax poetic over my own cultural identity. But when you’re surrounded by folks who’s grandparents or parents or great-grandparents hail from vastly different places, it’s a strange and interesting thing to think that we all fit under the same big star-spangled umbrella. It’s a warm and happy thought, actually (provided you don’t think about the plight of Native Americans. Then, the warm and happy feeling dissipates pretty quickly and wonder if heading to the casino will assuage your guilt. It won’t).

My thoughts were made more complex when I asked my husband why he considered me “Italian.” For the record, I don’t, nor have I ever, described myself this way. I generally say, “My family’s Italian” (when I’m not saying, simply, “My family’s nuts.”) But I describe myself as an American. I was born here. I grew up here. And yet Rand will, on ocassion, say, “My wife is Italian.” (more…)

We’ve already established that the double-L in Icelandic actually makes a “t-l-l” sound, so it seems unreasonable that Flickr would make this claim …

Now you know how to greet people in Icelandic! Um, no. No, I dont.

"Now you know how to greet people in Icelandic!" Um, no. No, I don't.

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Sorry, Flickr. But I actually don’t even know what half of those characters are. So saying I now know how to greet people in Icelandic is far-fetched, to say the least. Plus, based on my experiences as of late, I’ve found that if someone thinks you know even one or two expressions in a language, they assume you are fluent. I am guilty of this as well (see: the time I started prattling on to a girl who told me her family was from Napoli, and who, to our mutual embarrassment, later explained that she didn’t actually speak a word of Italian). So I can imagine myself typing this Icelandic expression at the beginning of an email, only to get a reply which I not only don’t understand, but which includes characters unsupported by my computer.

So how about we tweak this to say, “Now you theorectically know what it looks like when someone is trying to greet you in Icelandic via email.”

Not as catchy, but hey – it’s honest.

I can’t take his money … I can’t print my own money … I have to work for money … Why don’t I just lay down and die? — Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
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Hold on ... this seems like a good time to hit on the groom.

Hold on ... this seems like a good time to hit on the groom.

I’ve loads to tell you. I have a few more posts about Scotland I need to get out of my system, a couple on San Diego, and at least a half dozen on New Orleans (which might be one of my new favorite cities). Right now the trips are racking up faster than I can blog about them – and I’m well aware I shouldn’t complain. Blah, blah, blah, boo-hoo for me because my life is awesome.

But keep one thing in mind: I am a neurotic spazz. Several weeks ago, I had the sort of exchange with one of Rand’s colleagues that make you want to crawl into a cave, and never, ever come back. It was entirely unintentional, but without meaning to, I inadvertantly might have said that I presumed the guy didn’t wear the same size underwear as Rand, because he was clearly bigger than him.

I could explain more about the circumstances and the context, but really, I doubt it would make things better. I’m basing this on the fact that when I tried explaining myself in the moment, after having seen Rand et al’s faces, things only got worse. (more…)

I’m finally (kind of, sort of) over the Colts’ loss a few weeks ago that I think I can finally talk about the Superbowl.

And I promise I’ll make only one catty comment about the Saints. Maybe two.

Some of Rand’s colleagues were over from the U.K. and joined us, along with a handful of our friends, to watch the Superbowl. And over the course of the game, we discovered a couple of things …

  • If you aren’t an American, football may be boring to you. Or confusing. Or pointless. Or really, really violent. Thankfully, after decades of it being part of our culture, we have become blissfully desensitized to this.
  • Understanding the object of the game only gets you so far. It’s one thing to know that the team needs to move the ball in certain direction. it’s another altogether to understand the rules, the logic behind downs (is there any?), and what, exactly, some of the penalties mean.
  • Don’t try and explain the scoring convention. People will just look at you like you are nuts. (“Wait … what’s the reasoning behind the ‘extra point’ again?” Here’s the thing: no one knows). (more…)

It’s the Tuesday after the Superbowl. It is a day that holds a special place in my heart. Because on the Tuesday after the Superbowl, 2007, this happened:

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The other day we were hanging out with some friends – some American, some not, and we realized that none of us were really sure what countries are included in the phrase “United Kingdom”. Nor did we know what’s a part of “Great Britain.” England, we pretty much figured out (they’re those wussy guys who tried to tax us, right?).

The point is, along with which colors indicates positive and negative charges on a pair of jumper cables, these are things that we all should probably know, but don’t (For the record, red is positive and black is negative). I figured it was best to set the record straight (for myself and others) before we actually head out Glasgow and London next week. So while our British reader (Hi, Will!) sits back and cringes, the rest of you should pay attention, because we might all learn something. (more…)