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I say just give it up.
I say just give it up.

Would you give up your bag at gunpoint?

Summer, unfortunately, brings a swell of street crime, including shootings. Knock on wood, I have not been robbed or mugged at gunpoint, so whenever I hear that a victim gets injured after refusing to give up a backpack or purse to someone with a weapon, I get really judgmental.

To me, whatever is inside a purse or backpack is not worth a life or a limb. It’s not even worth a principle. I understand the perspective that "by giving in" you feel like you’re allowing crime to continue, but you don’t really have a choice. One way or another, the bag is going to be taken, with or without bullets.

Also, mid-robbery is no time to "man up" or mouth off when someone’s threatening to end your life. Just give the a-holes what they want and thank your freaking lucky stars that you get to go to work the next day.

Forever is a long haul.
Forever is a long haul.

The Long Haul Forum

A few months ago, a girlfriend and I started talking about relationships -- surprise, surprise -- and we realized that both of us had been in a relationship for more than a decade. We noted that, although divorce groups and singles’ groups exist, there aren’t many -- or any -- groups that support people in very-long-term relationships.

So we started one.

It’s called The Long Haul Forum and we have only met once, but plan to meet a few times a year. My friend and I invited 12 women, all of whom have been in a relationship for at least a decade. A part of me thought women would find this scary or too touchy-feely or just not worth their time, but every single woman responded to the invite with enthusiasm. In fact, 11 of the 12 women showed up, and the only reason the one didn’t make it was because her babysitter bailed.

The challenging part was finding the right location. A public space -- like a bar -- didn’t seem private enough, and we didn’t want to hold the gathering in our home because having a spouse and / or kids hanging around would obviously affect the depth of conversation.

However, the purpose of the forum was not to bitch or vent, rather to thoughtfully and honestly discuss issues that affect committed couples -- in our case, all of whom have children -- and to try to make sense of the issues. At the very least, we hoped we would realize we were not alone in some of our thoughts.

We started the session with an agreement that anything  said inside the circle would not be repeated. Ever. To anyone. Of course, sharing personal information is always a leap of faith, even when you trust everyone.

The group was pretty open and many of the women shared their joys and challenges of long-term partnership. I pre-wrote about 10 questions, all of them very direct, and because the conversations were so charged, we only got to about half of them. We quickly realized that The Long Haul Forum was not a place for polite exchang…

Cottages and iPhones shouldn't mix, but mine did.
Cottages and iPhones shouldn't mix, but mine did.

Attempting to unplug Up North

Last week, my family and I spent a few days in a cottage about 15 miles from Rhinelander. It was my first "Up North" vacation which was long overdue considering I lived in this state my entire life and heard dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people mention their plans to trek to those parts. Apparently, going Up North is one of the activities we Wisconsinites do best, after playing Sheepshead and par-boiling brats.

Anyway, in honor of this rural pilgrimage and because I had not left the grind of my daily life in a couple of years, I decided to try to totally disconnect from the rest of the world by leaving my laptop at home. Plus, I actually thought that being deep in the North Woods would compromise my iPhone service and untangle me from its trappings.

Silly me.

Turns out, even though the unincorporated town sported more loons than human beings, my iPhone remained four-bars strong. Determined to unplug, I turned it off for the first day, and although I had fun munching meat sticks and letting minnows nibble on my ankles, I occasionally craved cyber communication. However, I held strong and flew through a tweet-free day.

The next afternoon, however, I uploaded a photo or three to Facebook and then, while sitting around a fire during the early evening, I simultaneously roasted a pink marshmallow while reading my work e-mail.

"I’m throwing that thing in the lake," my husband said.

The sheer thought of my shiny black lifeline plummeting to the bottom of the deep, dark lake was almost more than I could imagine. In my mind, I saw myself diving in after it, as if it were a diamond broach or a newborn mewing kitten.

I don’t know what has happened to me or when I became such a techie. In college, I stubbornly banged away on old Underwood typewriters instead of word processors, and just this winter I claimed I didn’t want an iPhone.

Finally, I turned it off until the drive home -- but by "drive home" I mean I updated my status…

The Zippo application is free. Which is a good thing, because who would actually pay for a cyber lighter?
The Zippo application is free. Which is a good thing, because who would actually pay for a cyber lighter?

Stupid iPhone tricks

I’ve had my iPhone for a few weeks now, but only within the last few days did I start to download a few silly applications like the Zippo lighter (looking forward to the next time someone asks me for a light) and the light saber (Nobody tell my sons about this.) I also downloaded Google Earth.

Now, I’m curious about other -- preferably free -- iPhone applications. There are so many that I find it a bit overwhelming, and I don’t really have the the time to peruse ‘em all. So, you got any suggestions for awesome, time-sucking iPhone apps?