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welcome to facebook, mom! …now please read the fine print

15 Mar

Dear Mom,

How’s the weather there? It was nice & sunny here today. How’s Dad? And the cat? Good, good. Glad to hear it.

Down to business: I see you’ve taken the interwebs by the horns and rustled yourself up a shiny, new Facebook account. Congratulations! Although, you won’t mind my asking how that’s possible, since you’ve previously decried Facebook as the downfall of humanity no fewer than 7,213 times… will you?

No? Good. Didn’t think so.

Now that you’re here, your head is no doubt spinning from all the excitement. Bells, whistles, new toys… It’s like Vegas! On your laptop! And I’m honestly flattered that sending me a friend request (we kids call it “friending,” by the way) was among the very first things you did after establishing your account. It warmed my heart to see your name — of all people’s! — on my screen. Banishing your long-time Facebook fears and tracking down your daughter, all in one day?

They grow up so fast…

Before I can click “accept” on that request, though, there are a few ground rules we need to set. You understand, right? I just need to make sure we’re on the same page & you know what lies ahead. So just read & initial each of the following, and then sign on the dotted line. We’ll be swapping “OMG!”s in no time!

I, Ang’s Mom, do solemnly attest that by “friending” my daughter, I agree to abide by the following:

1. I will not comment on my daughter’s language. Let’s face it, Mom. Your daughter swears like a goddamn sailor and everyone knows it — including you. This is the point in life where you just need to accept that fact. No, it doesn’t make people think you’re a bad parent. And your daughter doesn’t particularly care what it makes other people think about her. The ones who matter simply know that two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and your daughter — well, she took the one with the most F-bombs.

2. I will not fret — online or off — about my daughter’s Facebook etiquette. Your daughter lives in the digital age. She knows all about the Big Bad Bogeyman of Big Brother watching her every online move. She knows that Facebook is a bottomless pit of data-mining and she’s made peace with it. So if she sometimes posts during work or uses a Diet Coke bong illustration as her profile pic, you just have to live and let live.

3. I understand that, upon learning I have a Facebook page, my daughter’s friends may randomly try to friend me. If they are successful, they may subsequently tag me in photos or posts or “poke” me.

3a. I promise not to call my daughter at work and ask her what it means every time one of the aforementioned things happens.

4. I will not yell at my daughter for photos of me she may have previously posted on Facebook. Even if they’re photos involving Guitar Hero. Strictly hypothetically, of course.

5. I will not post things on my daughter’s Facebook if they actually merit a phone or email discussion… Once I figure out how to post on walls, that is. There’s obviously a time and a place for different types of discussion. And if the question is “Have you had a chance to dump the bodies yet?” or “How’s that rash doing?” — let’s be honest, Facebook probably isn’t the right forum for such details. Besides, your daughter enjoys the unique tone & cadence of your emails, and she’d genuinely hate to stop receiving those.

6. I will not play FarmVille. I mean it, young lady. If one of your fellow teachers asks you to try FarmVille, you just politely say “No, thank you” and walk away. It doesn’t matter if all of your friends are doing it. If all of your Facebook friends told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it? (If so, we need to have a serious chat about the definition of “hypocrisy.”) If you’re worried that saying “no” will make your peers think you’re uncool, you can just blame it on me. I’ve got big shoulders.

And last, but — sweet Jesus! — not least:

7. I will remember not to take my daughter’s humor too seriously. The awesome part about Facebook is the ability to stay more up-to-date on the lives of your friends and non-ponytailed children. (Until he breaks down and joins the social network, Trucker Dan will have to remain an enigma.) The sometimes less awesome part about Facebook is… the ability to stay more up-to-date on the lives of your friends and non-ponytailed children. Facebook statuses — not unlike blog posts — offer snapshots of what’s on a person’s mind in a given moment. Sometimes those snapshots are happy and light and fluffy and hilarious. Other times they’re sad, or upsetting, or bizarre, or nonsensical, or confusing, or irresponsible, or idiotic (see: FarmVille). It stands to reason that any of those emotions could be driven by any of the people we know — including our families.

It also stands to reason that your “all the world’s a stage” daughter will amuse herself by finding words to ramble about all of it. You can hardly blame her for that, right? God knows you all give her enough fodder.

In summary: Increased communication = good. Personal boundaries = also good. Sense of humor = mandatory. If it helps, just think of this as conditioning for when the times comes to write the memoir… You know, the one in which you want your name changed…

…And there you have it. Bases? Covered. See how easy that was?

Welcome to the social network, Mom. I love you. I’m excited to watch you get your online legs under you. And I promise not to reveal the locations of any of your dead bodies… Just as long as you play by the rules.

Now put on a helmet and go challenge your son to a game of WordTwist, will you? He’s been killing me at that damn game for years.


holy hiatus, batman!

9 Sep

Saturday afternoon, while the entire family watched the absurdity that is the original Batman: The Movie. . .

ADAM: “Is the Riddler aware that he has visible panty lines?”


Hello, world. I’ve missed you.

that’s because fozzie’s not wearing his hat

4 Jun

I’m re-posting this from a few years back, when I kept a blog at MySpace that exactly five people read. It’s three years later, so the birthday being celebrated is n0w 28 and the fiancée is now my sister-in-law, Claire. I’ve also updated the photo (taken this weekend) but the rest of it is almost word-for-word what I’d write today.


Originally published June 4, 2007

My baby brother is 25 today.

If you hadn’t figured it out, he’s the furred one in the photo above — that’s him making the creepy face, um, pretty much always. Although we’re the two most lookalike of the Barnaby sibs (especially our identical eyes), his commitment to this bonkers facial hair (as well as his aversion to taming the Barnaby eyebrows) at least ensures we don’t completely look like fraternal twins.

Dan and I were staying with my grandparents when he was born, and my grandma came upstairs that morning (at 6, I was SO super cool to be able to sleep upstairs all by myself) to tell me about my new brother. When she said they’d named him ‘Adam,’ I thought that was probably just about the dumbest name I’d ever heard. How ridiculous would that sound on the Christmas cards? “Liz, Tony, Angela, Danny & Adam” ?

Clearly they had lost their minds. How would he ever fit in?

The day they brought him home I wrote in my diary: “Adam came home from the hospital today. He is little.” (My powers of observation were dizzying, truly.) From then on, he’s been my baby brother. . . Even though we fought to the death the entire time we were growing up: I once pushed him off a chair in the middle of our family’s favorite Chinese restaurant because he was being, well, himself at age 6. (I’m pretty sure that’s why they still remember us 20 years later.) And even though we still fight to the death now: Last summer, we didn’t speak for half a day after fighting over a game of Scrabble. (He was mad because I was using all the triple word squares on the board.) All of this is no doubt because we’re so damned similar — stubborn and sarcastic and defensive and ridiculously competitive and attention whores at heart.

When we’d fight, my mother would warn me to watch my back, telling me that someday he’d be bigger and stronger than me. I laughed, of course – it seemed inconceivable he’d ever grow up that much. And yet. . .

Somewhere along the line, he outgrew airplane rides (though never my demand for water piggyback rides in the lake, which always end with my dumb ass getting dunked and coughing up water).

Somewhere along the line, he became 6 feet tall. . . and started shaving. . . and became a writer. . . and went to college. . . and fell in love. . . and (god help us) got engaged.

Somewhere along the line, he grew up. Not enough to stop deliberately showing his asscrack when he leaves a room (that’s crazy talk), but enough to truly impress the hell out of me with his maturity about important shit.

Somewhere along the line, he moved to Maryland with his now-fiancée, whom I love dearly. . . and whom I try not to give too much grief for getting a job way out there.

Somewhere along the line, he became one of the smartest, funniest (if still gassiest) people I’ve ever met.

Somewhere along the line, I got so lucky as to have not just one awesome brother, but two.

Somewhere along the line, “Angela, Dan(ny) & Adam” became the only way it ever could have made sense.

Happy birthday, Oam. I miss the hell out of you — and I’m the one on the right.

tylenol cold is my new best friend

9 Mar

Things I have learned in the past 24 hours at Casa Parental:

  • Breathing through two drip-free nostrils is something we often take for granted in daily life.
  • LOST is “a ridiculous show” but The Marriage Ref is “really funny” and something I should consider watching.
  • Craig Ferguson “needs to start wearing undershirts.”
  • Writing a column while cracked-out on cold meds makes for some interesting next-day proofreading.
  • I will turn 34 in 10 days. I have owned a car for 12 years. Despite both of these facts, my parents still feel it necessary to offer a tutorial on using the remote lock feature.
  • It’s really sunny at 8am.
  • Even when a box of Lipton soup mix is visibly yellowing and features ca. 1989 packaging, it’s still “probably just fine” as long as there’s no discernible expiration date:

And finally…

  • When this exchange begins to make sense — TWIGGY: “GrrrOOWWmmeOWWRL!” LIZ: “Yes, you’re right… that’s very true.” — it’s time to get out of the house for a bit.

Hello, Library.

the anton files

5 Mar

Sneaking this in under the wire…

"Barnaby men as Barnaby boys" by Katie, June 2008

My Dad turned 61 today.

This photo, in addition to perfectly, candidly capturing the essence of my father and brothers, is my favorite present-day representation of my father: vital, outdoors, genuinely laughing, proud as hell for his newly married youngest child (Oam, center).

Every time I see this picture, I’m reminded of my dad’s laugh — two parts refined British, one part Ernie from Sesame Street — and the way it causes his eyes to crinkle up so he looks like he’s sharing a secret with you. It brings to mind his impish sense of humor, evidenced by his love of old SNL, Blazing Saddles, Seinfeld, and the fact that in all my 33 years on this earth, he has never once sat through a kissing scene on television without making farting noises.

Seeing Anton mid-laugh reminds me of the way he saves random bits of TV he thinks you’ll find funny on the DVR for 3 months until you’re home next, and how ridiculously proud of himself he is when these bits elicit a giggle. You don’t have the words in that moment to tell him that, yes, you’re entertained by the humor of Craig Ferguson or Steve Martin or the antics of Chumlee on Pawn Stars, but more importantly, you’re amused and touched by his display of affection… Because you’ve come to understand that he loves with humor the way your mother loves with random worrying, and that television is his preferred method of connection with others.

When I was home at Christmas, he worked himself up into such a laughing fit that tears began to pour from his eyes and he had to remove his glasses while he wiped them away with a handkerchief and caught his breath. It took him several minutes to regain composure, and even then he was chuckling under his breath. If you held a gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you what we had seen or said that was so funny. It didn’t matter; What I remember is his glee.

This year, I’m lucky enough to get to see my parents the day after Anton’s birthday. Spending a (carless) week in my childhood home is never without its stresses, but knowing it will also be peppered with opportunities to glimpse my father as carefree as he is in the above photo makes it all worthwhile. I hope he finds need to break out the handkerchief once again.

Happy birthday, Dad.