Thursday, January 30, 2014

Facebook Sabbatical

A couple things are going on in my brain that lead me here.

1. I read Dave Eggers' new book: The Circle. 

2. I hear stories about people feeling lonelier because of Facebook. I feel it myself sometimes.

3. I am trying to head in a new direction.  I think the Universe might be trying to push me.

I'll explain.

1. Dave Eggers who I love so much, I wrote a 13 page love letter to Tad which doubled as a book review of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and mailed it to said author.  I haven't heard back yet. But I'm waiting.  John Denver wrote me back.  Madeline L'Engele never did.  I'll take those odds.  I'm very hopeful.  ANYWAY.  His newest book, The Circle, is basically about what could happen if we let our online lives take over our real lives.  And it is scary.  You know me. I'm ON Facebook.  I don't just check in. I'm ON there.  And I think I'm a bit addicted.  Like any addict, I'm like "Yeah, man, I can quit anytime..... can't I?"

2. People have said things either to me or to someone else (who told me) that convey that they see my FB posts and sometimes feel like their life/relationship, etc. does not measure up to mine.   Believe me. I feel the same way too. We all look at each other's amazing vacation photos or partners' romantic gestures or beautiful and smart and well-fed/well-adjusted children and wonder...what can I do better?  I love FB because I love people.  I am an extrovert to the extreme.  I feed off the energy of others and it makes me feel good and alive.  I like using FB to feed into that energy, to share things and be shared with among friends both near and far away.  It's a great tool.  And much of the time, I just really enjoy it.  But the other side of that coin, for me, is that feeling of not measuring up.  Or the feeling of being left out.  Seeing people who have publicly shared time spent together or had a dinner party or just shared some lovely experience or sentiment is great.  Yay friendship and love!  But sometimes we look at those pictures and post and we and feel left out, uninvited, like we don't belong somehow.  I get this sense (most likely from growing up in an alcohol induced party a lot of the time or being an oddball in my schooling years--mostly likely both) that I need to be part of everything or else I might just not exist for people.  And then I want to yell "I EXIST! I'M HERE!!!  INVITE ME OVER! :)  Actually I should do that. It might be amusing.  That takes me back to #1.  That's sort of what happens in The Circle.  If you don't have your online presence, you don't exist.  And if you don't conduct it properly, you hurt people.  I can't have that. I'm working (which will bring me to #3) on being more present in each moment that I'm in and FB doesn't really help me do that at all.  It's an addiction.  And a time sucker.  And it makes me feel good some of the time. And it makes me feel bad some of the time.  Like cigarettes.

3. I am moving in a new direction in my career.  I am now suddenly not just a youth specialist but I am working towards my certification as a sexuality educator. And I do this work for youth with disabilities because these are two areas about which I feel passionate.  I'm turning a corner and I like how it feels.  I want to be more present, like I said above. I want to go out and feel good that I'm out (as opposed to bad that I'm not with my kids) and then I want to be home and be glad that I'm home with my family (as opposed to out with others). I want to start paying attention to my need for creativity.  I am writing a book and I want to WORK on it.  And instead every night, I peruse FB.  I watch TV. I do other things too; I talk to Tad. I knit and sew.  But I am trying to remove some distractions.  I miss my guitar.  I miss singing.  So I'm going to try to spend more time doing those things.  And then just paying attention to the world... like the sunrise this morning. Did you see it? It was delightful. And playing a game with my kids.  And being around the people who happen to be around me. 

I have this terrible urge to be everywhere.  To do everything at once.  Which makes me a great multi-tasker.  But I know, I know....that's not a good thing, they say.  So I'm going to try and be a better single-tasker. 

Tonight is a Black Moon.  And a Super Moon!  That means it's the second New Moon in one month and it will appear much bigger in the sky.  The Black Moon represents new beginnings.  So tonight I'm going to bundle my kids up after dinner, and we'll go out and look at it.  And talk about something new we want to do. 

And in light of me wanting change. And presence. And to experience my current experiences.  I am going to take a one-month sabbatical from Facebook.  To see how it feels to not check in on that venue. 

I'm going to blog. And I'm going to WRITE!  And hang out with people.  And you probably have my email address or my phone number or both if you need me. 

I want to feel even more alive.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I have not blogged in a while, I noticed.

It is really freaking cold outside and I do not like the cold.  It means that at night I'm bundled up and can't move my arms away from my sides to do anything creative really.

When I get into a car I have to scream, until I'm warmer.  Some people do not enjoy that so much.  My children are not really big fans.  Of the cold scream.

I don't like the feeling of instantly freezing mucous membranes upon leaving the house.  Or how the floor under my sock clad feet feels like it actually has a layer of ice on it. Or how, when I open the shower door in the morning, I feel like I need a hat and mittens before I get in.

I wonder often, in January, why do I still live in Wisconsin?  But I know why.  Because in March or April or May (probably several times of all three months) it will get beautiful outside and people will seem hysterically happy.  I like that. I like it a lot.  It's enough to stay here.  You can't have an up without a down.

But I will say, that on Monday, I stayed home and we had twelve hours of original Nintendo, homemade lentil soup, homemade chocolate cake, my favorite combination snack: bacon, pears and cheese, and several different crafty type projects to do and friends over.  And a space heater on all day.  That was a pretty nice way to spend a freakishly wintery winter day.

And I shouldn't complain. It's up to 17 degrees right now!  It's practically a heat wave. 

Stay warm out there, readers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Awkwardness Alternatives

You know that moment when you and another person are walking towards one another and you're really pretty far away from each other when you've already acknowledged the other person by a wave or a smile or one of those cool nods.   You know the nod I mean? When someone doesn't really change their facial expression from 'coolly detached' and then they just give you one, slight let you know they saw you...

I could never do those cool nods.  When I see someone and they do the cool nod thing, I've usually already enthusiastically waved with both hands or said "Oh hiiiiiiii!!!" in a completely uncool way.  I'm pretty hopeless with cool nonchalance.  I'm the opposite of nonchalant.  I might be one of the most chalant people I know.

ANYWAY.  So when you are far away from someone and approaching them. And you've already acknowledged each other...and then you still have all this time where you're walking toward each other and it gets a little awkward... Usually one or both parties kind of look away and maybe look back again with a smile as you actually pass.  But it's awkward! 

It just happened with my coworker and I went back to her cubicle to let her know that I recognized that it was awkward.  We both smiled and then kind of looked away until we'd passed each other. And I told her I was working on some alternatives to that situation.  So I better do it.

So here are five things you can do in the "already said hi, but still approaching each other situation":

1. You could bring something to read with you wherever you go so it just never happens. Then when you're approaching someone you could move the book or paper away from your face at the last minute and then just go "OH! HI! I didn't see you there!"

2. You could study your fingernails with the same finish as the above.  But this seems like a cop out to me.

3. You could twirl around like a ballerina and hope that person gets weirded out and goes in another direction.

4. You could wave your hand in front of your face frantically and say "Whoah! Don't come this way! It STINKS over here!" And again, hope they change routes.

5. You could think of a question or story ahead of time so that when you see someone in the distance, you can just start talking loudly and get quieter and quieter until you get closer.  "Oh I'm so glad I see you! I have a question! I was wondering if you used the copy machine today! When I did everything was on purple paper! PURPLE PAPER! Can you imagine?  Well, I had to start my copies all over...." And you just keep going until you've passed each other.

Good luck to you. And if anyone out there wants to give me cool, nonchalant nod greeting lessons, I'll take 'em.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Do you believe in love?

Look. I get it. Marriage is hard work.  There is no such thing as happily ever after.  No movie ever shows you what happens after that fireworks laden, sunset kiss.  What happens is this:

Budgeting your finances, deciding who's doing the dishes, silently cursing your partner because they can never, ever close the box of cereal properly, arguing about the way someone said something and what it meant, sighing in frustration because the person who used to listen, rapt, to your every word is zoning out on the football game or Facebook or whatever they zone out on.  And if you have kids, or aging parents or pets then there's more.  Arguments about philosophies, splitting of duties, nasty diapers and blankets full of vomit. There are moments when you want to get in your car and drive away and never come back. 

I'm painting a pretty bleak picture, aren't I?

And so are so many others who write about love and relationships.  I have read so many articles and books, stressing the fact that there is no happily ever after and that marriage is hard work.  And I agree with that.  But I have something else to say:

Love is real. 

Love is real, dammit!

Romantic, outside yourself, sweep you off your feet, breathtaking love is real.  It does exist. And for all these writers and philosophizers about love to say that it doesn't...  That those beginning feelings are simply lust and that they fade away....  That negates the experience I have and the experience other people have.

Just because someone hasn't experienced God, is not a good reason to tell everyone that there's not a God.

And just because someone hasn't experienced falling in love, is not a good reason to say that it doesn't exist.

Today I read this article about five ways to secure your "happyish ever after" and I decided to make my own list.

Five ways to be with the one you love/love the one you're with.

1. LOVE YOUR SELF.  I'll say it again. Love yourself love yourself love yourself. 
Honestly. If you love, respect, accept, and are true to yourself... you will have all the above reality of life with a partner...but you will also really and truly and deep down, be happy.  (How to do that?  Well, I have some ideas but I'm pretty sure much of the whole human race is trying to figure that one out)

2. Find someone who LOVES HIM/HER/THEIR SELF. Seriously, if you are true to you and you can find someone who is also true to them?  You will find that life can be pretty awesome at times.  Sometimes it'll feel awesome a lot of the time and sometimes it will feel awesome just some of the time. Which brings me to:

3.  There's no happily ever after BUT there are natural ups and downs and loop-de-loops that occur in every relationship.  Sometimes you will look at your partner and think that you are so lucky to be with that person and you will just want to plant kisses all over their face.  Or at least the first part.  And sometimes you will look at your partner and think "Shut. The. Fuck. Up.. or I will scream!"  You will love each other, like each other, admire each other, be envious of each other and despise each other in turns. And if you can be real about that?  You'll have some wonderful opportunities for connection and understanding.

4.  Sex is natural and lovely and weird and messy.   All of it.  Sex within a relationship is as different and varied as the two (or more) people having it. Sex, just like marriage, takes work. You have to communicate your needs and listen to the needs of your partner(s) and you have to let go and be vulnerable.  And it turns out, the more you enjoy yourself, the more your partner will enjoy sex with you.   It's okay to want to, to not want to, and in all its varieties and forms and long as it is consensual (definitely wanted by all involved), unexploited, honest, and mutually pleasurable. If those ingredients are there... YAY!  But that takes all kinds of communication.

5. Yeah, Marriage is an institution.  It's also a contract. And so are all kinds of other partnerships too.  So make sure that as you grow as a person and the person you're with grows as a person, that you check in and re-think the terms of your contract.    Make sure that ten years later, you have fully communicated your needs, wants and desires to your partner and you've allowed them to communicate theirs. Your contract terms will have changed.  Let that person KNOW that!  Because the partnership/marriage/relationship is one thing.  But LOVE is another.  And if you have it, I believe it does not go away.  It changes and fades and intensifies and ebbs and flows.  But it is possible not to fall out of love. 

That big beyond you love.  The kind in the books and the movies.  And I know, those books and movies don't paint an accurate picture of what the lifetime of a relationship is like.  But they were written and made because somebody felt those feelings.  Of love. Real love.  I believe in it.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

H Enormous.

Just before Christmas, after a big snow, we decided to take the kids sledding.  Once loaded into the minivan, and pulling out of the garage, we realized the snow drifts were so high we couldn't get down the alleyway.  So we decided to walk.   But it was blowy and freezy and suddenly we'd been walking for an hour and weren't even halfway there!  So I decided to run back home and get the van in hopes that the alley had been cleared. 
It had not.
But my neighbor was snow blowing his portion of it and I started shoveling my portion of it. He came to help me and once we had it clear, I texted Tad.  I tried to text him.  Snowblowed! I'm coming.
The auto correct changed it to:
H Enormous!  I'm coming!
Tad texted back:
H Enormous.
The next day when I was trying to text him "Checking out!" while I was at Sentry and he was waiting outside with the kids in the parking lot, he texted back "H Enormous!"
I love auto correct.
Today, I was texting him while exercising and an oft texted phrase I use is "hee hee hee".  LOL is just not something I'm willing to type.  I never type acronyms unless they're made up by me like IJLYK (I'm just letting you know) or WJF! (Whatever, jerkface!)  So "hee hee hee" is my LOL.  Anyway, Hee hee, often autocorrects to Hee her which calls to mind the braying of a donkey and always makes me laugh.  Here's today's autocorrect issues I had with Tad.

Have a great blowy and freezy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year

Every year on New Year's Eve, my usual desire for parties and excitement gives way to another desire:  To be home.  With just my family. 

Every New Year's Eve, we make a cheese platter and pour bubbly apple juice into fancy glasses and put on New Year's hats and leis and crowns and toast to all the great things that happened during the year, to reflect on all the hard things that we went through that year and to be proud of all our year's accomplishments.

Then we take a series of crazy family photos and countdown to the New Year in England at 6:00 p.m.

Coen and Lucy are in bed by their usual bedtime (This was the first year that Coen was miffed about not staying up until Midnight.  That's going to have to change pretty soon I suppose.) and Tad and I pull the dining room table into the living room where it's warmest and the Christmas tree is still aglow, and we re-read love letters from when we were first together and living apart for a year--I in Estonia and he in Milwaukee. 

And then we have our own review of the year. 

I love New Years Eve.  And the winter holidays in general.   But the world starts again tomorrow.  Sort of.  Well, Monday will come regardless of how cold it is....

So welcome back to the world to me and any of you who also need welcoming.