Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

A Wimpy Post About Friendship

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I always found it interesting that there are some things you can ask in polite company, such as “What do you do for a living?” and some things you can’t, such as “How much do you make?”

If I said, “I really need to get laid,” every one of you would chime in yelling, “Go for it!”  But imagine I said, “I’m looking to make new friends.”   Wouldn’t that make me sound desperate?

For several years now, Sophia has been my best friend.  She still is.  But I feel like expanding my horizons.

Finding good friends has been a difficult job post-college.  When I need to discuss something important, I usually turn to old friends back in New York.  I would be completely miserable without these important friends that I’ve had since grade school.  They’re more important to me than most of my relatives.

I’ve made several good friends since coming to Los Angeles, but most of them are in the entertainment business — and these people don’t always make the most reliable of friends.  When every newbie writer/director/comedian/musician gets off the plane at LAX for the first time, they should be given a t-shirt that reads “Self-absorbed,” much like they hand out leis in Hawaii.  I love my friends from film school, but sometimes I wonder if we can talk about anything other than screenwriting.

Getting married created a lot of upheaval of friendships for both Sophia and I.  Some of my friends didn’t like Sophia’s politics.  Some of Sophia’s friends didn’t think I was good marriage material.  These friends became casualties of our nuptials.  It’s easy to say that you will remain friends with someone despite his feelings about your spouse, but it is very difficult to make this into a reality.

Sophia and I started hanging out with other married couples.  But there were problems here, too.  Sophia is the type of woman who likes to hang out with the guys.  I’m a guy who likes to hang out with the women.  Unfortunately, after dinner, many couples still split up gender-wise, just like they did in our parents’ era.  The women gossip in the kitchen, the men talk about sports and the stock market in the living room.  And Sophia and I both hated being stuck with our gender.  Yeah, I tried to play golf with a group of husbands, but it really wasn’t me.

To make it worse, it was almost impossible to become a close friend with another married woman.  I really hit it off with Joy, who was one of the wives – just as friends.  We both were English majors and met a couple of times at a coffee shop to talk about books.  Sophia had no problem with this, but it still felt like we were cheating on our spouses.  Sophia and I went out frequently with Joy and Mark, but Sophia would usually end up talking with Joy, while I was stuck with her Mark, whose main interest was tax software.

Marriage also affects your relationships with old friends.  Suddenly, you’re not as “there” for your friends as you used to be.  I can only imagine how much more complicated it gets when you have children. It’s not that I haven’t complained about other friends once they got married.  I have a friend whose wife always answers the phone when I call.   I like his wife, but I don’t always want to talk to her for twenty minutes about the kids’ potty training before I get to speak to my friend.  Sometimes, I’m so talked out after my conversation with her that I don’t want to speak to my friend anymore.

My separation with Sophia has caused even more problems with some friends.  Whose side do our friends take?  Fortunately, Sophia and I get along well enough to still go out with our couple friends.  But I can imagine how the divorces of other couples can destroy friendships as well as a family.

So, where can I find new friends?  Bloggers, perhaps?

The biggest problem with becoming friends with other bloggers is that you’re already in an awkward position.  You know too much about each other, even before you even meet.  Recently I went to a LA blogger meet-up, where I finally got to meet some fellow bloggers. But, over the last few months, I’ve exchanged personal details with my blogging pals through our writing, and our face-to-face meeting could never match that intensity.  In writing, we can write about whatever we want.  In person, there are social constraints. Maybe if I actually brought my laptop with me and we just sent emails back and forth across the bar — I would have been more comfortable.

How do you online daters do it?  Isn’t it weird writing back and forth to each other, impressing each other, flirting with each other, learning about each other (sometimes even having phone sex) — and then, after all that, actually meeting in person.  What’s left to talk about – the weather?

So, I’m officially in the market for new friends.  Some of you might make good friends, but the concept is a little scary.  I don’t mind my mother reading my blog.  But do I really want a close friend who reads my blog every day?

So, be forewarned.  If I do become your real friend, I’m immediately blocking your IP address from my blog.

53 Comments

  1. Hey I already enjoyed our first IM chat tonight… and you being a fellow fan of BB and all…. I knew instantly we’d get fast friends…..Thankfully when I moved back to the prairie 7 years old this was my home base…I had a zillion cousins and childhood friends who never ever left…..to hook up with again. Dating back home has been a diff. story. I hate bars. End of story. But when I lived in the cities…I was all alone. It was lonely and I felt alone. No one wanted me single thirty something trying to join their already established groups of friends. So I did what any other single chick might do. I joined the YMCA and the trainers became my friends. Then I went home to a dark lonely apartment. In a way, I was grateful my dad died. It brought me back “home” and back to my childhood friends. I’m still single but I still have hope someone is out there for me.

  2. I think I am on the prowl for new friends myself – I moved away from all my pals, and now I’m stuck in a city where the average iq is 65, and there are no prospects at all. Bleck.

  3. First and foremost, remove the creepy mouthless puppet from your post. Then move on to new friends. It’s absolutely true that making new friends is incredibly difficult after a certain age or point in your life. I think you must start/continue doing things you love alone and meet other people who are doing those things, too? Ah yes, the deep wisdom of Megarita…no, no, don’t thank me!

  4. Then I don’t want to be your friend. Sorry, but your blog is that important to me.

    Nah, just kidding. When you get with blogger buddies in the real world, just tell the stories that were too long, too sort, or too blue for the blog.

    Come to Austin. I’ll be your best friend.

  5. as you get older you realize your old friends are your true friends. they are
    the ones who are there when you are up and down.

  6. You are so Jewish Neil – it’s scary!

    But seriously – I went through the same thing after returning to Israel from NY – all my best friends were married and we had nothing in common. So I found a bunch of rollerblading pals and that was fun for a while. But temporary.

    If you want something lasting Neil – you need to look for friends that are into ETERNITY – that is the strongest connection 2 people can have in this world.

    And if you really want to have the bonding experience of your life (with males – sorry!) go check out our event in the Catskills next month. After a couple of hours you will feel closer to the people there than to your oldest and dearest friends.

  7. I’m always in the market for new friends. Too bad I’m not in LA. But I could hook you up with my friend Josh who is in LA. He’s a laff riot.

    I find the best way for me to make new friends is to really invest in my old friendships. Then I always end up meeting their friends, and their friends in turn.

    However, this works for me as I never let acquaintances die – I save every email address and phone number and generally keep up with everyone I’ve ever met, practically. So I always stay in touch with acquaintances, thinking that perhaps someday in the future I will need them as a friend. And I quite often do.

    Wow, this is an interesting self-evaluation. I might blog about this. Thanks, Neil!

  8. we have been living here since 2001 and have no friends as of yet (no, we are nice people) but it’s just not finding anyone we ‘click’ with. I guess the older we get the more we want our close friends to be more like us

  9. I’ve gone on a friend making spree in the last year, making a truly concerted effort to branch out and let new faces in. The results of all my hard work? Two people. Really. I am picky as hell about friends.

    I’ve tried Friendster and MySpace, although most of the people I met through there live so far away I will likely never meet them.

    You bring up an interesting point about friends reading your blog. My closest friends read mine. Is it weird? No. The only time it’s ever gotten complicated was the in the sex blog where I was writing about having fantasies about one of my female friends, and I know she reads it. That was awkward, but ok.

    But the fact of the matter is that what I blog is the real me. And the fact that my friends ENJOY reading all the stuff I write really thrills me. (“They like me, they really LIKE me!”)

    Sex blogging is more difficult to have your friends read, I’ll tell you that. I have one friend who reads every little thing I post, and then she hangs out with us. I wonder how that is for her to know what me and Jack do behind closed doors, and then see us acting all socially acceptable in public.

    One big difference: my mom does NOT read my blog. I bitch about her too much.

    As far as on line dating goes, as long as your willing to put your real self out there (and hopefully they are, too) you can’t be bored when you meet. If you find them interesting enough in e-mail, how exciting must they be in the flesh?

    It doesn’t work when people present a facade. I met one guy from IM once, and that was a sad state of affairs. Blech.

  10. ps) This post was not “wimpy”, my dear. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  11. I given up altogether…the only people I know in New York are a handful of ex-boyfriends, how much fun could that be? I’m still working on relocating all my California friends. I even bought an air mattress for their comfort.

  12. Now I find that when I speak with my old friends on the phone we have nothing to talk about because they’ve read every detail of my life on my blog. Luckily my slowly forming english crowd don’t give a crap about my blog.

  13. Didn’t I just post about this same exact topic? I feel ya Neil. I’m in the same boat. It’s so hard to make new friends as adults because everyone has their own thing going on.

  14. Wimpy? Don’t denigrate yourself, N. Why it is more difficult to make friends once we’re adults? And coupledom can complicate the situation.

    On-line dating can be intense and, sometimes, disappointing, from what I’ve heard.

    I’m potentially going to have a lot more “aquaintances” reading my blog as of today, which is making me rather nervous (big article in the paper on Asheville bloggers–arrggghhh!).

    Gosh, N., I have lots more to say about this–in my disjointed, not enough coffee yet, way. But I think I’ll check back later. V. intriguing post.

  15. I don’t have any friends since i’ve moved down south. i “know” people but don’t have any close friends, if the distinction makes sense. i’ve always been pretty much a self-contained unit and get by with a few very tight buddies, people i “click” with as moviequill mentioned.

    i don’t really get social stuff. i’m not awkward socially, find it easy to “fit in,” i just don’t get what passes for social chatter. of course, my parents tell me i didn’t talk until i was four so maybe that explains a lot.

  16. I don’t have many personal friends, I’ve actually made more from blogging. You’re so right to that you already spill most of your intimate details on your blog, that when you actually meet–what is left? I might meet a couple of bloggers, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to meet most of them. The safe distance is still there.
    I’m also the same in the marriage aspect as that I want to hang outside with the men and drink beer–not hang out in the kitchen with the other women and dry dishes drinking coffee.

  17. In that case I don’t want to be your friend. 🙂

  18. Why Can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends?

    Great post.

  19. Are you in the market for a stalker?

  20. Eddo — that was the original title, but I figured the really young ones might not get the reference.

    Leese — are you up for the job?

    Josia — always making it harder for me! Now I need to find friends who are into Eternity? Here in Los Angeles, we only focus on one blockbuster film at a time.

    ACG — I’m so out of the loop. You’re the mod of one local tribe! Why is that so funny to me?

  21. Re: Friends reading blogs
    That’s why I started an anonymous blog. Let’s me express myself and stuff without worrying about my friends reading it.
    Now there are a couple of very close friends who do know it and read it occassionally. And it seems another one of my friend’s discovered it and figured out it was me (even though I don’t use anyone’s real names). Because some stuff I wrote about on guy could have really caused trouble for him if more of our friends knew about it, I took anything hinky offline, told him about the blog and basicly said “anything you do involving me moving forward is fair game”.
    I have even kept a distance from other blogger.. when I get or send personal emails (even the flirty ones), I don’t use my real name, just ACG.
    Would I ever meet someone thru blogging? There are probably a couple I would.

    Re: Making new friends
    Someone mentioned Friendster and MySpace. Tribe.net has been pretty cool. I am the mod of one local tribe and have organized a couple of Meet&Greets for the tribe. I made some really good friends that way.

  22. This post is especially true in L.A. I think. People here drive to work alone, drive home alone, there is no central “hang out” kind of area. I mean, I generally hang out in the Glendale and sometimes Silverlake area, my friend, Nicole hangs out in an entirely different area. It is a big effort to connect and find a middle ground to meet. How did we meet originally? Through a writers’ group I was co-running. Then she and I became business partners and began our own writers’ group and href=”http://www.lawritersgroup.com”>website. The trick now is to maintain the light-hearted friendship and still move forward with our business with a practical, get things done mentality. We’ve been lucky and have been able to continue the delicate balance.

    One of my best friends is the daughter of an ex-lover and was the maid of honor at my 2d wedding. I also have male friends who are ex-lovers and the new husband is a pretty secure guy so it’s not an issue – one of them was even invited to the wedding and made people create art for a wonderful scrapbook that is now on my coffee table. (He is also a member of my writers’ group.)

    I guess you could say alot of my friends are writers. Going to USC has opened my world up to more people and almost all of them are at least 10 years younger than I am – that presents certain challenges as well. (Trying not to feel old is one of them.)

    Wow, this is a long comment but I guess your post made me take stock of the friendship pool. I think you can never have too many friends and you should always have one or two close by who you can really talk to …finding them is indeed the trick. Recently, a close friend from high school moved here from NY to continue her successful acting career (yes, she made it to Broadway) and so she and I hang out at least once a week which is cool. I guess I’ve been lucky but the truth is I moved here in the late-80s and didn’t really make any friend connections until the mid-90s. Scary.

    Oh, and when Carl and I hang with friends, I’m the same way about men/women but Carl will talk to anyone and most of our couple friends are exactly the same. We never do the gender division thing.

  23. as a veteran internet dater, it is really a bad idea to share too much information through email/IM before meeting face to face. it just makes it really awkward when you don’t click with them face to face. i think making friends via the internet might not be so strange when you come to see one another in person.

    as for finding new friends, i ask myself that same thing…but as a singleton i may have it easier since i don’t have the complications of being married (like you shared). it seems that becoming a joiner helps, like doing things you enjoy and meeting people through those activities.

  24. Making friends as an adult is excruciatingly difficult, especially in a closed shtetl like Los Angeles. I marvel at how I can just hurl my 10-year-old daughter at any kid we come in contact with and they are instant friends. Why can’t adults make “play dates” with each other with that kind of ease?

    About friends reading my blog, I don’t know which makes me more nuts, the friends who do read it, or the friends who don’t. (Why aren’t they reading it? Why aren’t they interested in what I have to say? How DARE they not read it!)

    I often wonder as I sit here at Farmers Market or Susina, my two daily haunts, surrounded by people furiously writing on their computers, if any of these anonymous folks are the bloggers that I’m reading at that moment.

    But in the end you have something much more valuable than actual friends—tons of people who COMMENT on your blog! I am so jealous.

    P.S. I want to hear more about your meeting with your fellow bloggers. Was it awkward and weird? Details please!

  25. Oh, I should add that one of the ways we’ve solved/avoided the gender couple issue is that alot of our friends are gay so I often get to hang out with the guys…and a few are female couples so he gets to hang with the chicks…that helps round things out for us.

    I just realized that I was complaining about Nic being in a whole other area of town but she’s only in Hollywood…still it’s always a 20-25 minute drive which of course is excrutiating in LA.

  26. Tangent: bravo, B.Maria, I too prefer “lover” over “boyfriend”, no false pretenses.

  27. Most people who read my blog are friends with whom I rarely keep in e-mail or phone contact, but we leave each other the occasional comment to stay in touch. I hope that strangers who read my blog find me interesting but I fear that I wouldn’t seem as smart or bohemian in person.

  28. Danny — I wrote this post at Farmer’s Market yesterday! On a notepad, though. I love the onion rolls at the Hungarian bakery. And blueberries – $1.99!

    It was exciting meeting other bloggers… but….

    Imagine if we ran into each other yesterday at Farmer’s Market. We don’t really know each other from Adam. Or do we? I know your job, your wife and daughter’s name, your parent’s name, what part of town you live in, your religion, etc.

    Here’s a mediocre attempt at an analogy about the experience — It’s like I was drunk in a bar, and so were you, and we met, and we went home to your place and had sex, being so drunk we thought the other was a woman, then we spent the rest of the night talking about every little detail of our lives, and then the next morning we realized what we had just done — and now we had to say hello to each other for the first time. I think the second meeting will be a little more comfortable now that the ice is broken. Maybe not… after this “friendship” post…

  29. Your analogy’s out, Neil: if you really were as drunk as you describe you wouldn’t remember anything in the morning.
    Whereas bloggers have this strange idea of keeping archives.
    [see, Rachel – here’s another reason I don’t blog]
    I do leave marks comments everywhere, though. I wouldn’t want to meet some of the bloggers I regularly read; one became my friend (I even went to visit him in MA, 4hrs on the bus), few I would meet gladly if they were ever in town, only two were(severe) disappointments in person: not in appearance but in conversation and their state of mind.

    But to call them friends? Terminology glitch, Neil: what you describe I’d call “internet buddy”, friend is somebody who’ll lie for me in court. Or babysit my kids indefinitely (hypotetically speaking).

  30. I’m not looking for new friends. I don’t even have time to spend with the ones I already have. I don’t call my old friends in NY or LA because I despise talking on the phone.

    And yet, I’ve made some very interesting friendships online, and there are people that I email or blog with everyday, sometimes multiple times a day.

    I suspect if I actually spent any face-to-face time with them, the relationship would sour rapidly.

  31. It’s funny that some couples go through the awkward courtship of what is essentially “dating” other couples. Glad to know that misery isn’t reserved only for us single folks. It’s also rather strange that finding new friends can be as challenging as finding a mate. As we get older, we often get pickier. Most of my closest friends are close friends by sheer virtue of knowing them for so long. However, I have made a few new friends over the last few years through other friends and even online. It’s all about finding places and things to do where you can come into contact with like-minded folks that share similar interests, hobbies, etc. It’s up to you to find the best forum for that. For some, it may be meeting up with fellow bloggers at a pub. For others, it might be volunteering at the local animal shelter, joining a writer’s group and protesting the war. You’re a pretty witty and interesting guy both online and in person, so I know you can find some cool, like-minded folks if you put your mind to it. You just have to find the right venue.

  32. Somehow I don’t think on-line friendships count the same as face to face. Maybe I’m out of line (or out of on-line) but the on-line friendships seem to be about what you agree on intellectually and how well you express it. Face to face has old-fashioned chemistry and an emotional bond that defies how well you’re expressing yourself at any given moment.

  33. I am a native Angeleno and have never had trouble making friends here. I think that in large part it is because I have always been involved in different groups.

    My anonymity on the blog has been quite useful. I am able to speak about things that I might not decide to share with others.

    But there are people whose blogs I read that I think would make good friends and I have considered trying to develop those friendships.

    I have come to the conclusion right or wrong that if the friendship is meant to be it will flower. It may take some time for it to develop, but I expect that it will.

  34. Hi Neil,

    On my brain list of things to blog about:

    http://www.lapeopleconnection.com/

    It’s a great organization, it’s not a dating organization (although, you know, life happens), and it’s full of really cool people getting together to do stuff.

  35. one reason you may not have too many friends in calif. is that your phone is never on so no one can call you.

  36. The problem I have is many of my friends already read my blog. They tell me that it’s great because they can keep up with what’s going on in my life. Unfortunately, this means they no longer feel the need to call or email or see me as much because they do know what’s going on in my life and feel like we talk ALL THE TIME. I try to remind them that since they don’t have blogs I don’t know what’s going on with them and would like a little update occasionally.

    I suppose the only solution is for everyone to have blogs and never leave our houses again.

    Oh, and a lot of my friends are from church. No matter how mixed my feelings are about my religion at times, it’s a great place to meet people.

  37. My problem has been the opposite; nearly all of my friends are married. If you and I didn’t live at opposite ends of the state, I’d swear that potty training conversation with your friends’ wife took place with one of my friends.

    During my youth, church may have been a great place to meet new friends, but so might AA meetings and you’re not going to find me there either.

  38. I can speak on the online dating issue. When meeting people online, extreme caution is required – not necessarily because there are crazy people out there (and there are), but because of the reason you allude to. We have ideas in our heads of who the person is based on the things they have written, and more importantly, on our own past relationships. They might give us some of their ingredients to make the batter, but without any real context, the shape of the cake pan is ours.

    What I have learned is that if you limit the online relationship development and move it into a coffee shop or a bar, two things happen: first, you avoid the problem discussed above, and second, even if the person is wrong for you, there is by far less of a let-down than there would have been.

    Now, whether this applies to finding friends is another story, but I think it does.

  39. I don’t know if I am comfortable with the idea of you and JJ becoming BFF.

  40. Tatyanya’s just jealous because you were having sex with me in your analogy and not her. Ha, I would never say something that obnoxious in real life, maybe my blogging identity isn’t the real me, after all!

    Neil, I never even knew that bakery was Hungarian until yesterday when I was sitting next to it and some guy was telling his friend about it. Was that you? The guy with the onion crumbs on his shirt and blue stains around his lips? You’re probably sitting three feet from me RIGHT NOW…too freaking weird. You’re not part of that Paul Mazursky crowd, are you?

  41. Thanks, all.

    Pants — AA meetings? I heard about that. A reason to start drinking.

    Brooke — Jealous?

    Danny — I would never sit on that side of the Farmer’s Market where someone would mistake me for an unemployed screenwriter. I hang out on the other side, with the “Price is Right” crowd.

  42. Maybe we could start our own cult.

  43. I thought that I posted a comment to this, but making friends is such a strange process. I miss making friends on the basis of both liking the color orange or not liking pickles…The good old days…

  44. sizzle and I were just talking about how all the LA bloggers met up and we felt left out…neil, come to santa cruz…we will be your friends!

  45. It’s funny how eerily small my social circle has become and how wide my blogger circle has grown. I’m not sure if the two are mutually exclusive.

    Here’s the run down:

    I visit about 20 blogs daily. Multiple times a day if I’m looking for something to procrastinate with.

    Number of phone calls I get in a day: 1. Usually it’s James, calling to chat as he drives home. To the house we share. They are sometimes the longest conversations we’ll have all night.

    Number of calls I’ll make in a day: 1. To my mother. Or my sister. Which ever has left a message during the nine seconds I left my phone unattended.

    Number of emails I’ll get in a day that aren’t sales/spam/updates about comments on my blog: 2. One from my best friend in high school who just moved to Arizona, the other from my stepmom or sister, which ever one didn’t call my phone first.

    Sometimes I’ll log in to IM and chat with my other best friend from high school, or we’ll send one-liner emails back and forth all day, if I’m not busy with other projects.

    Generally, I “hang out” with James’ sister and his mother. Usually we run errands while the men work on stuff outside, or I hang out and play with his sister’s baby while they sew their quilts. I’m not kidding. They’re cool women, really they are, with incredibly wicked senses of humor, but I’m not sure if I’d have chosen them to be in my “social circle” were they not related to my boyfriend, and really I’m just killing time until we’re ready to make dinner.

    Dinners with his family, though, a riot. Really and truly the highlight of most of my weeks. Incredibly great food, conversations chocked with humor, and glimpses of how his neice is growing in leaps in bounds. They are awesome, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.

    Being a temp and a sub means I don’t get to be in one workplace long enough to really make new friends. I’m sure there are some really great people out there I might enjoy talking with in the lunch room, but it’s rare that I’ll find someone I’d be interested in meeting up with after work or on a weekend.

    Weekends are for me to do nothing. Seriously. I’ve done the club kid thing, I’ve done the hippie stoner thing, I’ve done the frat boy beer blast thing. None of those things excite me any more. I’m nearly 30 and I’ve just grown past it all. I’d rather hang out with a small handful of people and enjoy good conversation, sometimes with some beer or wine, sometimes with coffee and desserts, than go to a party any day.

    Parties seem like obligations now. Is that sad, or what?

    And now I’ll stop hogging up your comments area, lest you start blocking me from your blog.

    *Wink*

  46. Ok… I can’t read 46 comments. So if I repeat any ideas, sorry! 🙂

    Hey, why can’t bloggers be friends? I say it’s okay to go for both. Why is it so wrong to know ppl thru their blogs – then know them in real life? I think it could be okay. I feel like many of my blogger friends are really a part of my life. (OMG – Do I sound crazy now?!) Seriously, though. I think of my blogger friends (You included, Neil… and you better not block my IP address!) as a kind of real friend in my life.

    I say stretch your limits. Go for it. When you’re looking for new things, sometimes you need to go to unusual lengths or be creative in your approach.

    BTW, there’s a blogger group here in Cleveland. But I’ve never been. Maybe I should broaden my horizon and go. Only problem – I don’t read other cleveland blogs!

  47. I feel you! It’s so hard as we get older to make new friends. City and suburban living both have their unique challenges to it, too. good luck!

  48. Mo – everyone wants to feel connected. The problem with blogfriends that make it difficult to be real life friends is bloggers will seldom if ever meet and if they do it’s usually just once or twice. That’s simply not enough person to person contact to really get to know someone much beyond their blog personality. I wrote about this very issue a couple weeks ago and I’m still pretty much standing by it.

  49. Thanks for the shout out! Been busy this week, so sorry it’s taken me a bit. See you again on Sunday!

  50. I like your comments about being friends with other married people and feeling guilty about it even though you aren’t interested in them as more than friends.
    Good luck meeting more people. It’s very hard when you have life transitions.
    I like your flag football idea!

  51. Neil – I really enjoyed your story. Everyone can use new friends and I hope that you will include me on that list.

    Remember: A friend only asks for your time, Not your money.

    Good luck! 🙂

  52. Hello, I have nipped over from Amanda’s.
    Lovely post, hit the nail on the head in several parts and then some!

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