So, a long time ago, a friend of mine mentioned a special project. I had bemoaned birthdays and getting older and blahblah, the usual, and he had done his best to cheer me, then he pointed me to the 40x365 project. The idea firmly planted in my head, and unlike many of the ideas that flit away over time, I decided I was going to save this very special project, and actually do it when I turned 40.
So here I am. Here we are. I’m 40. And I’m going to tell you about some of the people who have touched my life, sometimes for the better, sometimes not-so-much. I’ll spend the next 365 days - one year for those of you who are mathtarded - and in exactly 40 words, try to capture these people.
The big difference between the original project and mine is that I refuse to put the restriction of “only met in person” on my list because too many “online” acquaintances and friends have touched my life too deeply.
And… here we go. Wish me luck.
Full 365 on one page or click the category 40x365 to read them one at a time.
You didn’t always give me what I needed and I wasn’t always grateful for what you did. I realize now you gave what you had and loved me in spite of what I demanded. I love and miss you, Mom.
A once-in-a-lifetime friend who has weathered the storm that is me for almost the entirety of our same-aged daughters’ lives, Andrea is diplomatic, beautiful, brilliant, capable, and stronger than she knows. I need her more than she will ever know.
For such a hyper driven young man, Jason sure was socially lacking. I was glad to teach him about flirting and just letting stuff go. I’ll always wondered if the first Eagle Scout I knew lived the future he envisioned.
Libby is a magical little fae child. Her eyes sparkle with star shine and her heart is filled with such purity that I can’t help but be drawn to her. If her mama would let me, I’d steal her forever.
Paul was the first person I ever knew who openly identified as being gay. Even though I was a young teenager, knowing him was an opportunity to understand differences - and similarities - between people regardless of their sexual preferences.
Michelle’s meticulousness, attention to detail, and genuine kindness have kept her at top of the list for professionals with whom I do business. I only wish I had ever felt like I was good enough to initiate an actual friendship.
Brett was a unique and passionate man especially devoted to Scouting. I’ll never forget the last email he sent me just weeks before he died. The wise letter was laden with support and hope ended with the phrase, “F*CK Karrie.”
Tina knew how to manipulate people into doing what she wanted and she lied a LOT. When I would try to call her out on her lies, she’d turn things to make me look like I was the bad guy.
I’ve known plenty of religious folks, but Barb exemplified Christian behavior in every word she spoke and every action she took - without a sermon or explanation. We only worked together a short time, but I will remember her always.
I remember you as a beautiful fae creature who could not be touched. I was never any threat to your place in my dad’s life, but you still couldn’t welcome or accept me into your home or into your family.
I’ve always said it pretty plainly: Sabrina IS Scouting. More than that, she’s a good friend, a great mom, a dedicated wife, a problem solver, a giver, a teacher, and one of the most insightful people I’ve met in awhile.
I’ll always admire Erica’s creativity, organization, and dedication to her family, but my deepest appreciation stems from the thoughtfulness and care she has shown me personally over the years. She is my twin from another mother and friend for life.
Missy was one of the few girls I knew who could find a reason to smile regardless of circumstances and reminded me to do the same. Even though we will likely not meet again, I’m glad to have known her.
I’ve been a sort of surrogate mom to Kyle for some years now. Kyle’s conversation and thoughtfulness can be challenging, yet satisfying. We have a mutual respect and admiration that keeps us entangled through the ebb and flow of time.
When I went back to work and leave my babies behind, Aimee helped me keep my shit together. When I needed “family” nearby to visit, I mother henned her to annoyance. We’re so different, but the sameness scares us both.
Happy birthday, Aimee.
Drea has held my pieces together more than once and I’ve done the same for her. Though she prefers her hard shell, I love her for her melty insides. She’s tolerated my colorfulness - maybe loved me because of it.
(Side note: When I started to compile my list, I realized this was going to be tough since there were overlapping names - not just first names, but also first initials - and I didn’t want to use last names for privacy. So, I decided nicknames and/or aliases may end up being used. What does that mean for you? If you recognize what I’m writing and it’s flattering, then YES it’s about who you think it’s about and if it’s not flattering, then no, of course it’s not about that person.)
Happy birthday, lady.
Quiero que escribir este solamente en español. But it’s fine, since humor, joy, positive attitude, and a bright smile are lessons that can be shared in any language. Sarah taught all these in a time when I most needed them.
Tori and I started doing NYE predictions in middle school. A good friend these past 26 years, we have shared dreams, sorrows, laughter, vitriolic religious and political arguments, and innumerable inside jokes. Distances have separated us, but our friendship remains.
(I don’t feel like finding them all, but you can find some predictions from past years, here, here, and here. I stopped doing lists when I predicted the death of Mr. Rogers. Who wants that on their shoulders!?)
Happy New Year, y’all. Who knows, maybe I’ll write up some predictions later, after all. (I predict… not.)
NK2 isn’t my person, she’s Jenica’s person. They met before Jen could walk and have seen every major milestone since together, from preschool to puberty and everything in between. I’m grateful for all she has been for my baby girl.
What a little shit. I can usually find good in everyone, but this kid needs a slap upside the head and a kick in the pants. His purpose in the world is to make me appreciate my own kids more.
We’ve never had another neighbor who was so welcoming and warm. She was in the know with everyone and everything in the neighborhood. Of course, a chance meeting with her meant an hour of chatter - if we were lucky.
(image from Buttafingas.)
My first crush/kiss/horrifyingly embarrassing situation all surround a boy named Jason. The way his face turned as red as his hair and hid his freckles completely will always be one of my top best/worst memories.
I learned a lot from Becky.
1) Don’t host friends for free
2) Don’t do web design for friends (for free or otherwise)
3) Even poor people find money to waste and
4) Don’t breed more than you can feed
John was way out of my league, but for reasons I never will understand, he let me pursue him and in his own way, he pursued back. He was the first and only boy to ever break up with me.
Wade lived next door in his mom’s backyard in what we lovingly referred to as, “The Giant Bong.” Other than the green plumes of smoke and the crazy music blaring from his airstream trailer, he was a pretty decent neighbor.
Sweet, smart, charming, cunning, and manipulative - Shay has the best - and the worst - traits of each of her parents. She’s the type of person who will either soar through life’s skies unimpeded or crash land somewhere ugly.
Melanie may have been right all those years ago, but then, the skills I picked up when she thought I should have been “partying” have kept my hands, heart, and mind occupied all these years that I couldn’t have partied.
I lost all respect for Will when he taught me that it’s not just tween and teen girls who can become backstabbing little bitches. Will was the epitome of the vile, underhanded, low life villain of a teenage drama movie.
I’m sure Lori’s heart was in a good place, but her curiosity and intense need to know. I don’t miss her investigative tendencies and the way she liked to spread tales without fact checking, but I miss her outgoing nature.
When I knew Jeremy, he made a point of letting everyone know how much they should hang on his every word. I never have wished Jeremy ill, but I do hope that his reality matches up with his image, someday.
I forget sometimes that Mike’s the landlord and not a kindly great uncle who lets us rent his house. He’s generally easy going and willing to share his wisdom and expertise - which just happen to not include home maintenance.
Nate has been a friend for years. He (and his family) helped me through some rough holiday seasons. From RPGs to Scouting to life goals, we’ve discussed it all. We don’t talk much anymore, but he’ll always be a friend.
Happy birthday, Nate.
Some of my fondest memories are playing card and board games with my family. It used to be infuriating how often my cousin Chrissy would cheat, but those tales have now become amusing to retell. Now there is a lesson.
Outwardly, Rhonda is devoted to her husband, her kids, her job, and her religious beliefs. Inwardly, she is filled with hateful racism, sectarianism, and narrow minded bigotry. In the end, it was her hypocrisy that stopped the chance of friendship.
In a time in my life when I felt ignored, unheard, and misunderstood, Anne came through for me more than most. Even though she still wasn’t able to entirely give me what I needed, she did facilitate where she could.
No post I write will ever do justice to the insightful, creative, beautiful, powerful, unique, and inspirational woman that is Tirzah. Even though she’s not yet famous, I still love to brag, “I know her!” because she’s just that incredible.
Sorry I missed your birthday, woman. I saw it come and go and got too caught in my head to do anything about it. I should have just sent love your way, but felt intimidated. You deserved more than I could give. I feel privileged to be in the 40 club with you, anyway.
I respect the knowledge you have garnered and shared during your time, however, I’m more relevant and understand the modern Scouting program better than you do.
PS: I DO take my iphone hiking and “boomboxes” don’t exist anymore.
(Ted Lofland was my grandfather’s father - at least, the father that raised and adopted him.)
I only ever had only one grandpa - best grandpa anyone could ask for. He had a temper, but his tenaciousness in getting shit done was pretty amazing. After grandma passed, he was the rock that kept me from drowning.
We tried saving each other while we were both drowning. I’ll never know if we were good or bad for each other, but I’m still glad to have known Robert and grateful for the precious gifts he gave of himself.
I admired Donna even after she ruined the fairy tale of Santa for me. We didn’t grow up together. We were never close. I don’t think we ever will be close. Still, in some way we will always be sisters.
We don’t get to pick our family, but sometimes when we pick our friends we pick those who become family. Toni has been like a mom to me for many years. I am blessed to have her in my life.
I always imagine Lorry as a popular cheerleader with a bright smile and a perfect life, even though I know her life wasn’t perfect. Maybe that’s why I never really connected with her as a person or as a sister.
Jacob was a typical little boy who lived downstairs. I mostly only know his and his sister’s names because his drunken mother would scream at him on a regular basis. Jacob protected his sister when he wasn’t picking on her.
Hannah spent most of her time with her brother Jacob. She was bedraggled and often surly for such a little girl. Hannah seemed like possibility that would blossom. I hope Hannah resisted destiny and didn’t turn out like her mom.
Jackie killed herself. She moderated/ran/participated in many different support groups for depression, which is how I met her. Still she killed herself. Some say she didn’t want to get better, but I don’t think she liked being sick.
I was impressed when I first met Austin. He was responsible, intelligent, hard working. It’s not that Austin isn’t awesome in some ways, it’s just that there are two sides to every coin. I just didn’t learn that until later.
Emily’s family owned the summer cabin up the hill from my grandparents. I sometimes have dreams that I’m in an alternate life and live in Emily’s cozy cabin and that I’m just as sweet, cheerful, and lovely as Emily was.
Miss Vicky was a hoarder, a hypochondriac, a cheater, and a liar. In spite of all that and her manipulative nature, I usually liked her. Unfortunately, she only liked me when her daughter-in-law didn’t, or when she was scheming something.
Forty words is not enough to explain the boundless love I have for my daughter Jenica. She is sensitive, funny, sweet, graceful, tenacious, beautiful, bright, and full of amazing potential. Her inner light brightens my way on my darkest days.
From painting happy little clouds to being (repeatedly) WELCOME TO THE VAX to beatings at Keating to following Dog Girl’s adventures, Doug was my best friend, sister, husband, teacher, and fellow mischief maker. I couldn’t have survived WSC without him.
I don’t remember much, but Jonathon was sweet and likely grew up to be quite handsome. He was enough younger that his crush on me was gently - but definitively - dismissed. I hope fate brought him his Emily Joy.
I’m sorry for the mean things I said when you were diagnosed with diabetes. In part, I didn’t really understand the disease, but mostly I was just jealous of the attention you were getting and the things you had.
My friendship with Holly was one of my first and one of my most failed. I was so desperate to make a connection with her that I couldn’t be myself and wouldn’t give her space. That was a hard lesson.
Debby always seemed like someone who could be happy - or even should be happy - but wasn’t. She had a bright smile and eyes that would crinkle at the corners. I wish her more chances to shine like that.
Courtney is everything that a female Scout leader is supposed to be. She is enthusiastic, boisterous, creative, trained, dedicated, punctual, organized, obedient, and Godly. I’m sure the Boy Scouts of America are grateful for her donations of time and money.
Leanne used to make really poor choices. In spite of our best efforts to try to steer her course, she’d rarely, if ever, listen to us. She was definitely a poster child for what NOT to do with your life.
I loved you once and love you still, but I always knew I’d never be good enough for you. I’ll always look forward to walking that path not taken with you in some alternate reality when I am finally worthy.
I’ve never really been included as part of the “cool kids” until I met Christy. She was smart, funny, well read, well spoken, brave, generous and honest. People flocked around Christy like bees to honey and I was no exception.
It’s really hard not using the words “bunny boiler” when describing Rene. I considered changing names for his privacy and my safety, but his unique name may explain his creepy obsession and the inappropriate way he went about exploring it.
If ever I were stuck in the wilderness with someone, I’d want to be in the company of Jerry. He’s knowledgeable and capable, but also an interesting conversationalist. I could probably spend some time trapped without wanting to kill him.
Gentle, wise, intelligent, strong, clever, a brilliant writer, one of the most creative crafters I’ve known, a steadfast volunteer, independent, positive: my grandma was better than any other version of Barbie that ever existed. Happy Birthday, Grandma. I miss you.
My mom used to say, “I hope you have a kid JUST LIKE YOU!” Sebastian is just like me, only better - and worse. He’s harder to parent than even I was, but more brilliant, independent, and likely to succeed.
Happy 17th birthday, Baby Bastian.
Erica was the one person I envied most in the world. She was a genius, had perfect handwriting, was hilariously funny, had virtually perfect parents, and was genuinely nice. I’m so grateful to have once counted her as a friend.
I have had many pen pals over the years, but Landon was my favorite. Our conversations were thought provoking, insightful, enriching, and romantic, at times. I fell in love with him. I hope he found the man of his dreams.
I remember: truth or dare, your dad flipping Jason’s desk over, playing with your long hair, lectures about cloves, late night chats in your car, wishing you wouldn’t pressure me but enjoying your company, anyway.
Thanks for your friendship.
Ann was nice, but in that way you can’t really trust. Not that we thought she’d stab us in the back, exactly, just that we knew she’d abandon us - and she did. After meeting her mom, I understand why.
Whenever I need someone to sing, “Soft Kitty” or tell me a story or remind me I’m awesome or introduce me to new music or build an imaginary tree fort with me, I can always count on Matt. Happy birthday.
On paper, Kris seemed like a great fit for a partner in a long term project. How wrong I was. I’m grateful for the opportunity to first hand learn more about storming and how to navigate those dark, dangerous waters.
While there is nothing wrong with Jas, he is a constant reminder of why I don’t like volunteering with his age group and instead stick to younger (or older) youth. There really is no nice way to say, “you’re annoying.”
Though my relationship with Angela was brief, I am grateful for her kindness. In another world and in another setting, I think we could have been good friends. Instead, she was a good boss and I was a decent employee.
My memories of Aunt Bette hold an illusion of glamour and wealth, but her air of detachment was off putting. My great uncle loved her dearly and I admired him, so there must have been more there than I knew.
It’s hard writing about someone who, in a way, replaced someone else I love dearly. Char seems nice enough, if a bit pushy, but regardless of how much she tries to entwine herself, my heart will always know the truth.
Of all the Cub Scouts I ever oversaw, Dallas was by far the most interesting, which is saying a lot. Sweet and sensitive at times, other times completely in his own world and the rest of us were just scenery.
I know Sarah’s facade was a survival technique, but I hated it anyway and wished she could just be herself and not worry what everyone else thought. By the time she figured it out, it was pretty much too late.
It makes me sad that Tanya’s lack of experience and impulsiveness lead her to making choices that meant she put drugs and partying above my family in such a destructive way - even more sad at how it effected her family.
Sylvia is a great role model. She’s able to teach youth that one can still enjoy crocheting, wine tasting, bubble baths, manicures, and pretty clothes while still being perfectly competent and capable at hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing, lifting, and building,
With his quiet, sweet disposition, it would be nearly impossible for me not to like Eric. I often wish I had the opportunity to get to know him outside of our usual format to see a layer or two deeper.
Even though I genuinely liked Connie, I would not work with her again no matter how much you paid me. She was skilled and knowledgeable, but she was also lazy and unprofessional, making it a nightmare to work under her.
I don’t think many people thought of Bob as a good person. He did do several unintentional good things for me in a short span of months: helmetless motorcycle rides, San Pedro’s Cave, emotional glue, and a wildly different perspective.
I like to think that Teresa holds on to her iron control and keeps her nest in such perfect drill sergeant order because she’s really just fragile and afraid. I’m sure I’m just projecting. Whatever it is, it scares me.
The first “girl gamer” I ever met was Machelle. Her skillz at RPGs, board games, computer games, strategy games, mind games, and games of seduction have always been awe inspiring. I miss her a lot and wish we lived closer.
I defended Andy from guys who were bullying him. It may have caused him to lose “man points” but I don’t regret it. I can’t help but stand up for the underdog, especially when I have a crush on him.
Nancy was a regular at Dad’s restaurant. She did my parents’ taxes, too. She also cut hair for my brother, sister and I and she gave perms to grandma. She was family, so I guess we just didn’t know better.
Anyone with three, crazy, rowdy sons deserves kudos, in my opinion. Alicia wasn’t the kind of mom I wanted to be, nor did she have the life I wanted, but she held her shit together and was who she wanted.
Karen is one of the few folks from TDO’s family who was welcoming, kind, generous, friendly, and genuinely went out of her way to make me feel welcome, even if it was just for TDO’s sake. I am super grateful.
It wasn’t really you, it was me. I was jealous of your friendship with the person I had eyes on. I mean, true, you were kind of weird and annoying, but you also were just a typical boy. Sorry.
Jay is a prime example of exactly why I hold my online friends tightly to my heart. Her insight, patience, and kindness knows no bounds! Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I really do think of her as a kindred spirit.
I knew it was sort of impossible, but when we first met I had hoped that we were somehow related. I never did ask Jane if we were, but as time wore on I knew the answer in my heart.
For three and a half years, I wished Michelle and I could actually be friends, and not just have a professional relationship. Michelle was so kind, funny, and offered such amazing advice that friendship seemed inevitable. Sadly, not so much.
I really tried to be understanding of Kristi and set my personal feelings aside objectively. Sadly, my subjective opinion was quite spot on, in this case. Unfortunately, being right was at the tremendous expense of one of my best friends.
I thought Jenny and I would be best friends forever. I told her some of my deepest secrets and she shared some of her scariest thoughts and we seemed to be so tightly bonded that nothing could tear us apart.
If anyone got teased more than I did growing up for a last name, it was Ethan. I was never close to him growing up, but I am grateful to have reconnected as adults. Here’s hoping his dreams come true.
Jerry seems great. He loves his family and does his best. However, I never really knew him. I wasn’t raised with him. I’m glad he has been there for my sister as adults, but I doubt we’ll ever be close.
The best St. Patrick’s Day I ever had was spent with Chuck’s family. Through Chuck, I learned the meaning of “Irish Family” by the ways they stick together through thick and thin. I wish they would have adopted me forever!
I’ve spent more than two decades trying to break the ice with this one, but Lorry’s glacial temperament is impenetrable. It’s really no wonder her own son avoids her in his passive aggressive way. Frankly, I’m just done with her.
Lots of people were irritated by Jenny, and even though I understood why, she never tried my patience in quite the same way. In my typical co-dependent way, I just wanted to somehow save her. Life doesn’t work that way.
Jason’s was blue and mine was red. Someone once joked that he and I would make a good couple, and our reactions were the same, “No way!” Kudos to him for extrapolating that I was great, just not for him.
The saddest part about knowing Erica is that she genuinely doesn’t see herself as others do. She probably never will understand what a walking contradiction she is or how offensive her behavior can be. Good lesson: Practice what you preach.
When we first met, I was in awe of Amy. It was understandable why my best friends was best friends with her. I’m not sure if she changed or my perspective did, but by 21 she just seemed so limited.
Lynnette seemed like a magical fae creature rather than a living, breathing teen. The graceful way she’d practically float instead of walking, her artistic soul, and her bright smile ensorcelled many. I admired her enough to not even be jealous.
Outwardly, Mike seemed like the type to be perfectly content with his lot in life. And he must have been or he would have pursued more. Inwardly, a small part of him wished to be deeper, more intellectual.. more interesting.
Though we weren’t deeply connected or close friends, I did try to help when Debbie decided to go back to school. Even though she seemed happy, I saw her true potential. Hopefully, she was finally able to realize it herself.
Jim reminded me of TDO’s dad and I suspect that’s why TDO took all his passive aggressive anger out on him. Other than Jim being weirdly OCD and socially aloof/shy, I didn’t really have an issue with him, myself.
The kindness Lorry showed during our time as neighbors was pretty much like her Cool Whip cake toppings: sweet, but easily falling flat, unlikely to last, and pretty much without substance. Still, kindness is always worth sharing, regardless of flavor.
This Project 40x365 wouldn’t even exist without J. Michael. Artist, musician, writer… he is many things, but above all, he has been a friend and inspiration to me. Because of him, I’ll continue to work toward improvement instead of perfection.
Tamara is proof that off the rail teens can turn out just fine thank-you-very-much. I admire her tenacity, yes, but more than that, her creativity, conversation, and most importantly: her humor. She’s someone I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with again someday.
We were so different, but not in the ways people think. I was a “cute” teenage girl and Brett was a special needs teenage boy. He was helpful, honest, morally dignified, kindly funny, and eternally a good sport. I wasn’t.
My first love note was written for a young boy named Russell. I had a thing for cute little redhead boys, but he was also very kind, at least to me. He was pleased by my note. My dad wasn’t.
Our blogs grew up together with us. As Kristin found new toys and techniques, I often swiped them for my own. We laughed, cried, over shared, underwhelmed, and bonded as we journeyed through self discovery. Blog friends are real friends.
When I first met Su she seemed unusual, but I assumed it was just culturals differences. I didn’t realize then how very unstable and unhealthy she was. We all carry baggage, but not all of us fill ours with wine.
In spite of getting off on a wrong foot, Tanya and I managed to become friends. She eventually trusted me enough to share stories of her childhood. In some ways, she broke free of her past, but not in others.
No sorry will ever be enough, but I am sorry for how I treated Becky. She was a nice girl with some of the same trials and tribulations as the rest of us and a few extras. She deserved better.
Before email, before texting, even before word processing, I had a pen pal. Amy was not only my first, but one of my best. We haven’t written since I was Jenica’s age and recent attempts to find her have failed.
Connie was a friendly neighbor. She was amazing with her daughter, and even more amazing with her granddaughter, but most amazing with her great granddaughter. Practice makes perfect, I guess? I hope some of her awesome wears off on her granddaughter.
Robert is a good kid. It’s hard to believe I’ve watched him grow up from an awkward, socially inappropriate, annoying 4th grader to an awkward, socially inappropriate, annoying junior in high school. All things considered, he’s done alright for himself.
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve my cousin, Mike. He was funny, spiritual, musical, and inspiring. Anytime I hear, “Sunshine on my shoulders…” I think of Mike and smile. Unfortunately, life shot him in the knee with an arrow.
It’s amusing that I actually (mostly) only have kind words about Skarrie. She is organized, creative, knowledgeable, curious, thorough, and can even be thoughtful. Unfortunately, she also tends to be delusional, paranoid and has declared me her eternal arch nemesis.
My favorite WoW memories entail exploring the world and breaking the game with Craig. We’d find ways through invisible barriers, make impossible jumps, and even agro entire instances, all while discussing everything from music to movies to kids to colleges.
Kristy is important to my memories because she was so important to Devon’s. She was his first love and I really loved her, too. It’s unfortunate the way that their relationship played out, but I will always wish her well.
I believe Gina is the first person for whom I felt hate. From teasing to tricking, from shaming to shoving, I never could get away from her tormenting. Eventually, I realized it was because she was so jealous of me.
Whether he was taking photos at Day Camp, raking up debris for a service project, learning about a merit badge, organizing a troop activity, or even just cheering up a fellow Scout, Andrew has worked hard to do his best.
Bill lost his common sense and fell far from the code of ethics he promised to follow so long ago. It’s great that he loves his wife, but unfortunate that she pulls his strings. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even see it.