Tell Me Something Good

Easter weekend, I wanted to post my mom’s Easter cake recipe on Facebook. The cake is coconut, angel food cake, some sort of custard… utterly yummy. I haven’t made it for decades, so I rifled my recipe box, hoping to find it. No such luck, but I did find something else I’d been searching for.

My mom bought me a horse when I was twelve–a grand, Thelwell slug of a beast, whom I loved dearly. We kept him on my godparents’ farm, way down the valley, and for several years, I got to spend most weekends and summers on his back (and my godparents’ couch). The oldest daughter in that family was a year my senior, and we were great friends. We rode together, made hay, played piano duets. I’ve never had many friends, but the friends I have are good friends. Jeanne was a very good friend.

Way led onto way, though, and we lost touch. Our parents are no longer extant, decades have gone by, and I know at some point, Jeanne married. I couldn’t recall her married name. Couldn’t recall where she’d moved to, couldn’t find any thread to follow back to re-establish the connection.

Except… in the recipe box, where the Easter cake recipe should have been was a scrap of paper with Jeanne’s married name on it. I looked her up on Facebook, and lo, we’re back in touch.

Finding an old friend is wonderful, and this is the second person from my distant past whom I’ve found on FB. Generally, I’ve been furious with FB in recent months. The whole notion of selling our privacy to the highest bidder and obscuring those transactions, policing the third party apps inadequately, allowing leaks that are only disclosed under political pressure…. because profit is mightier than privacy? GRRRR.

But then… FB helped me find two old friends. FB isn’t all bad. Maybe we can keep the good and have less of the bad?

This week, I also took a roadtrip down to eastern Tennessee, where I was privileged to participate in a terrific writing seminar. I love me a roadtrip, I do not love me paying taxes every April. The whole way to this gathering, though, I was rolling along on interstates. I was delighting in the flower plantings that are starting to bloom along the roadways, I was pleased to see several bridges getting new decking. None of that would be possible, except that thee and me pay our fair share.

Maybe taxes aren’t all bad?

In a climate where we’re encouraged to be polarized, divided, and close-minded, I am pondering the benefits of ambiguity. At some point in recent years, an assumption has trickled into my thinking–that I must decide whether everything is either all bad or all good–and those are my only options.

Very little is all good or all bad. That makes life more complicated, but I’d rather that life be more complicated, than that I become blind to reality.

Can you give a grudging nod to some benefit from paying taxes? To Facebook? To any generally irksome aspect of life that nonetheless isn’t all bad? To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of Marquesses at the Masquerade–c’mon Tuesday!



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20 comments on “Tell Me Something Good

  1. I have never joined Facebook and have no desire to do so. However, I do know that it is good for keeping up with faraway family members and friends. My nearby relatives and friends who are on Facebook do share their info with me. And I do get a little annoyed when some author giveaway is only offered through Facebook. But not enough to sign up.

    As for taxes, I have always felt that they are necessary. There are some things that I think are unfair about what is taxed or how we are taxed, but I have never thought of taxes as an evil thing. We are a society, and there are somethings we should all be paying for.

    • I have relatives who are NOT on FB, and oddly enough, they are the ones who are most conscientious about calling occasionally. I much prefer talking on the phone to seeing a post of somebody’s dessert, but a dessert pic is better than nothing at all (especially if it’s a picture of Mom’s coconut Easter cake).

  2. Ah, Facebook – I love you and I hate you. I’ve been able to connect with long lost school friends and distant family members, and that’s great. BUT – aside from the disturbing selling of private information, it makes me so angry that Facebook decides what I should and shouldn’t see, and who should and shouldn’t see my posts. If I follow or friend certain people and pages, and indicate I want to see their posts, then I WANT TO SEE THEIR POSTS! And for Facebook to ask you to pay to boost your own posts, grrrr! And every day I dutifully change my selection to indicate that I want to see the posts in date/time order, and every day it defaults back to “most important posts first.” Of course, that’s what Facebook considers important. Yet, I never would have been able to connect with those long ago friends and family without it, so I’ll continue using it until a better alternative comes along.

    • I think we had a better alternative in many cases–meeting in person, emailing, talking on the phone, texting, sending a real letter… but FB is here for now. I love being able to connect with readers there, but as you say, FB makes it a complicated, expensive proposition to connect with people beyond the first orbital that FB chooses for me. Really expensive.

  3. TAXES yes we have to pay them I know but it will always be a bug bear thing that we can add to our moan list.It won’t go away it will just bounce back next year and forever.I’m old and do not work anymore so I don’t pay tax from earning but If I had a holiday home or lived a more luxurious life I would pay a lot of extra tax .Recently a new tax was introduced in England,a sugar tax.Hopefully to help people reduce their eating drinking habits this has to be good.But I do feel this country and its governments are quick to tax people’s hobbies like sports theatre . Music lots of things are now taxed heavily and people are limited to what they can enjoy and afford.Families are hit hard and day outings for families a pricey business.But all said and done I would not want to live anywhere else.

    • If the sugar tax works, you can bet we’ll see it elsewhere. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but the data is pretty convincing that sugar isn’t good for us. I guess the reasoning is: If you eat more sugar, you’re more of a burden on the health care system, so you should pay more taxes?

  4. Life is messy. Issues like the recent Facebook news will drive people into fake names, profiles and VPNs, which will create different problems. Drive people to decide between eating and paying taxes, and there is no question what they will attempt.

    Personally, I hate the tyranny of eating and eating well. It involves clothes, hair, grocery stores, a lot of chopping and then the waste of the stuff that wasn’t eaten in time. I have reason to believe my mother is living on Cinnamon Toast Crunch and ice cream some of the time, and I get it.

    • There are people in my family with eating disorders, and when you’ve had to live like Food Is An Issue, you see how the word tyranny can be appropriate. Between avoiding the bad stuff, avoiding the good stuff that’s overly abundant, preparing what you do buy, managing portions, managing leftovers, managing money so you can manage food… it’s awful. The 12-step programs are no help, because they define sobriety as abstinence, and you can’t abstain from eating for very long. I would not wish the curse of disordered eating on my worst enemy.

  5. Taxes are something that I am NOT able to find any good in but FB, I can!

    I was pulled, kicking and screaming, into getting a FB account for my chamber choir in 2013. I don’t use my whole name (my middle and my maiden) because I kinda hate FB. After getting the personal page, I was able to create one for my chamber choir (The Midwest Motet Society—like us—ya know you’re curious!)and its been good for the most part.

    At first, I had no friends. Then I had my BFF from High School (she knows my middle name and I know hers!), then another two from HS and then a elementary school classmate. My BFF from grad school and one of my students when I was a grad assistant….and a few weeks ago, a woman composer I admire asked to be my friend YES! It’s been a good experience for the most part but I almost never post anything, I just comment on their stuff. I DO post and share on my MMS page and if it helps my choir, I’ll do it.

    It is nice to catch up with people I normally only send a Christmas card to and see what’s happening in their lives. When you stop and think about it, these are people who were important to me during various times in my life and am happy again feel connected.

    I think, like anything else, if you understand how to use something such as FB as a tool for good, it will be good. If you let it control you, you will be controlled. It tough to make that decision but when you are able, it’s okay! 🙂

    • I’ve liked the MMS page!
      And yes, intention matters. A lot. I have to frequently remind myself, though, that we had meaningful life and people sold adequate numbers of books before FB. If FB goes away, we’ll manage just fine. (But please don’t take my blog!)

  6. Maybe it is because I have school-aged children, but I don’t mind taxes for education one bit. Having lived in countries with horrible infrastructure, rudimentary education with fees, and skeletal first responder services, taxes are not something I mind.

    FB on the other hand, is something I will never embrace.

    • I’m the same way about public education. It’s a cornerstone of a functional society and necessary if democracy is to work. I’m also happy to pay for libraries, particularly the one in my county seat that’s the closest thing we have to a daytime cold weather shelter and cooling station. The bulk of our adult literacy classes are at the library too, and I cannot imagine how hard it is to be an adult who can’t read.

  7. I’m still half asleep this morning and not able to form complete sentances I think so simple lists are going to have to do:

    Benefits of taxes: Schools; infrastructure – roads, libraries, local parks; state and national parks. To list a few. The arguement could be made that all of these entities that benefit deserve more than they receive – but I’m not going to go down that political rabbit hole.

    FB: connecting with friends and family; easy communication with friends and family; groups of like minded individuals (various romance based groups for example); and the occasional event. These are the ONLY things keeping me from ditching the entire FB thing – though as a friend discovered, the app will still be installed as bloatware on most phones and tablets.

    As for the current polarization of the nation, most of the people I know don’t fall entirely on either end of the spectrum. They may have ‘extreeme’ beliefs on an issue or 2, but on many/most issues they fall somewhere in between.

    • I have enjoyed so many state, local, and national parks, all of my life. You’re right–they are a great reason to pay taxes. “Bloatware” is a new term to me, but it doesn’t need defining. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. I’m on facebook to see what’s going on – with authors & their books, with local news, with politics, with friends. But I never post personal pictures (full disclosure partially because I don’t have the technology savvy to know how to do that easily), but also I’m leery of sharing to much. So for me, while I don’t think FB should have let access to peoples data without consideration, I also think we need to accept some personal responsibilities & control ourselves and also recognize this technology is a new & growing frontier for any controls & laws.

    As far as taxes go – I don’t mind paying my share if it’s spent wisely & frugally – it’s the excesses I have issue with. I think many of us take for granted the good things that are done by government (as you said roads & bridges) but I think we could do better (Flint water crises, many children’s issues, etc) – we just have to keep trying.

    • Agree! We have to keep trying. Rome wasn’t built in a day, or a century, and problems worth solving take time. The conflict resolution pros say however long it took you to get into a problem, it will probably take you that long to get out of it, so pace yourself for the long haul.
      A cheery bunch, those conflict weenies.

  9. So yesterday, my husband and I had a fight about dirty dishes, that afternoon I met a girlfriend for coffee. I was still fuming, my girlfriend said she saw both sides of the issue. She recommended a compromise. I was not happy about this. I went home and told my husband, ” I am too busy to do any cleaning Monday-Friday, but I am willing to clean for 4 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. If there are any specific tasks you want me to do, just put a note on the refrigerator.” He said that was okay, but I did do two loads of dishes yesterday and there is less tension in the house. I just wanted to be right and for my girlfriend to agree with me. This being an adult thing is not fun.

  10. A number of years ago I went to a rally in DC and saw a great sign someone had that really summed up for me a good attitude about taxes. It said: “Taxes suck but they pay for stuff.” Many people want all of the benefits and services that taxes pay for, but don’t want to foot the bill. I especially don’t have patience with people who don’t want to support public education because they don’t have kids in school anymore. There are things that need to be done for the greater good of society like education, infrastructure repairs, police and fire protection, etc. Those things take money and thus taxes.

  11. As a government employee, I kind of like your tax dollars. It’s nice to have a salary doing work that I love and that allows me to pay my taxes. I live in the UK, so I see much higher taxes and very different priorities for government spending. I look around any developed country, and I’m thankful for so many government services like roads. Even the internet came out of DARPA research, funded with taxpayer dollars. As for FB, I pretty much enjoy the good of reaching out to people and puffing my ego with pretty pictures. As for privacy, I gave that up long ago when I found out the Chinese hacked OPM and all of my personal data. (Stuff so Uncle Sam can investigate my background.) I’m not sure what they’re doing with it, but I just figure that I no longer have any privacy. My three year free credit monitoring runs out this year. The negative that I keep trying to view positively is weather. My photos from April in the US are mostly of snow. I was looking forward to spring showers and sunshine and an daffy or two or an azalea in Virginia. But all this weather does help the cycle of sowing, growing, and harvesting.