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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heartbreak & Joy via Facebook

I know that over the last couple of years I have vehemently voiced my displeasure with the mass exodus of blogger friends to Facebook. I dug my heels in for as long as I could, but found myself a bit lonely in the Blogosphere. Longing for the company of like-minded people once again, I gave in. Probably, much to the displeasure of the majority of my offspring. Kids, no matter what age, really don't much care for the company of their parents on Facebook.

There is still so much about Facebook that I dislike and probably always will. First and foremost is that I even feel the draw to be a part of that community. It makes me feel even more needy than I did in what I now call the "simple life" of the Blogosphere. Also, it is so fast-paced, that much is missed. The "leisurely" pace of the humble blog is a joy of the past. I loved having my coffee and sitting down to "visit". Blogs made you feel that somewhere, out there, someone was really listening and paying attention. It was like a conversation from afar. It felt good, and heartwarming, and even if the subject of someone's post wasn't a "warm fuzzy", you still felt like you were actually WITH a friend. Clearly, not many people seem to feel the same way I do, because blogs go untouched and unvisited for months at a time. I am very much guilty of this. Blogs have become that "Dead Mall" that I wrote about a few months ago. Replaced by the non-stop, ever-scrolling madness that is Facebook, and now Google +.

It isn't a new phenomenon of course, but it is one that carries with it a great deal of emotion. I've learned that I care TOO DAMN MUCH. I have also watched those around me and the level of fervor that these social networks elicit. Without trying to or meaning to, you can cause an enormous amount of hurt. I've learned the hard way. I measure and weigh every word that begins in my brain, goes through my heart, runs into my fingers to my keyboard, and ends on this page. I do my very best to keep a kind of Hippocratic Oath of the Internet; "First; do no harm." Especially as it pertains to family. It is sometimes, unfortunate for me on both ends of the spectrum because not everyone practices this AND, as I have been told numerous times, I am TOO sensitive. I take things TOO personally. As much care as I put in, I am not often the recipient of the same amount of care. People whom you were once very close to in the blog world, pretend that they don't know you in the Facebook world. Where you were once a welcomed visitor to their blogs, you now go to visit only to find they have closed it. I understand the need for privacy, I really do. But if you ask to join their reader list, and they do not respond, then what are you to think? What did I do? How did I offend? Did I even do anything at all? I'm learning to cope with that and it IS a daily process.

Something happened this week that really brought all of this to bear. It really made me think on this Facebook thing. I have already "weaned" myself from a few groups on Facebook, knowing that whether people mean to or not, they cause pain. Or to be more succinct, they are oblivious to how their words and actions hurt. I am trying to come to grips with the fact that, as my kids often remind me, that this isn't about me. But so many times, I wonder, where are people's hearts? Where are their minds? I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is really another forum for people to emotionally bully people and make others feel isolated. I almost believe it to be evil from its inception. Yes, perhaps I am being a bit dramatic, but aside from having the ability to keep in contact with family far away, I find myself wondering why I feel the need or want to belong. That's really the bottom line. A sense of belonging. But to what end?

On Monday, friends of ours became grandparents for the very first time. They didn't know. Until my friend's sister called her to congratulate her. She asked what her sister was congratulating her for, to which her sister replied; "The baby. I saw the pictures on Facebook." My friend doesn't have a Facebook account, so she didn't know that her daughter had given birth a month early. She was devastated. No phone call from her daughter or son-in-law. Yet they had enough time and put in enough effort to post on Facebook.
I honestly cannot stop thinking about it. If one of my children ever did that to me, that would be the ultimate heartbreak.

It is a fine line we walk in the social network. Right now, for this reason, and so many others, I feel a little shaky on the tightwire and I'm not really sure I want to continue.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

You Got THAT Right!

The card says: Nothing says "f you" to a bad day better than a giant bunch of sunflowers. My Averie rocks.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Kiwi Tea Party in Heaven

The Burrows Girls - 1946: Val 20, Joy 24, Athalie 23, and Gran (Phyllis Marie)

Charlie got a call from his sister today. She was calling with some sad family news. Their cousin had phoned from New Zealand to let them know that their Aunty Val had passed away. Aunty Val was the baby of the Burrows girls. Charlie's mum's younger sister. She was 85.

In the 31 years I've been with Charlie, I only had the opportunity to have the pleasure of her company a few times on those occassions she would come to the U.S. to visit. But each time left an impression on me that I will never forget. I called her a spitfire. She was a natural teacher; both in life and career. She was funny as hell and had an easy, contagious laugh. She had a happy, friendly demeanor and never passed up the opportunity to enjoy a teachable moment. Above all, my most cherished memory of Aunty Val is that she made me feel that my choice to be an at-home mom was by far the most important job in the world. Not everyone made me feel that way. As a teacher, she would thank me, and say that she could always tell the children who had a parent home with them from the kids who went to full-time daycare. She thanked me for MY sacrifice, which would make me tear up. Then she'd hug me and say;

"Oh Luv, keep your pecker up. I know it's a right hard job. But you're dandy at it. Look at these precious little sausages you and Charlie are raising. Just marvelous!"

She doted on us; clucking about with the kids and making them giggle. She teased us about our "yankee" accents, and would point to an object and exclaim; "What's that?" Just so that she could giggle at how we pronounced it. She and Charlie's mum would sing their childhood songs and dance around the living room. She loved to read to the kids and would be especially enthusiastic about THEM reading to her. Every year, for their birthdays, she would send children's books by Kiwi authors and bring New Zealand alive for Averie, Caris, and Bryson. Every November, we would get our Christmas package, which she had shipped, by slow boat in October, because it was cheaper and she could afford a bigger box that way. All of her gifts were handmade with so much love you could actually feel it.

Charlie has three sisters. Of the four of the children in his family, he is the only one who never made it over to New Zealand to visit. There was never any money for such a big trip. We kept hoping that we'd get there before...well, before this. So, this is especially poignant for Charlie. For both of us.

Aunty Val was the last of the Burrows girls. The baby. I imagine that right now, there's quite a lovely Kiwi tea party going on in heaven. They're all together again. And Gran's pouring.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm Tired

And not in a fabulous Madeline Kahn kind of way.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Brain Fart With A Lasting "Scent"

At Christmas, Averie mentioned that she asked for a Kindle, which her boyfriend was happy to buy for her. I had long been toying with the idea of "crossing over" into the e-book world. But I have been one of those "haters". I love books. I love the feel of them, the scent of them, the weight of them on my chest when I fall asleep reading and they plop down there. I'm sure I cited all of these things because truly, I jealously wanted one. But I knew that it would be a frivolous expense. An unnecessary luxury. A desire, not a need.

Averie had a good reason to want one. She HAS to read as part of her job and carrying around stacks of books and scripts is just not practical OR healthy. I, however, had no true good reason, other than that I am a bit tired of the book clutter and dust gathering on the MANY bookshelves in my bedroom and garage. Every once in awhile, when we would have the opportunity to travel, I would wish that I could decide on just ONE of the books I was reading so that my bag wasn't so damn heavy. Still, with all my famous author friends having books published, I can hardly ask them to sign my Kindle. Am I right FARB and Ricker? Yeah. Exactly.

My anti-ebook campaign lasted exactly from Christmas, when I first held Averie's Kindle in my hands, to Mother's Day, when my husband steered me from the Best Buy mobile phones (where my phone was being rebooted) over to their electronic book display. Yes, I drooled a little. I coveted. I imagined the ability to read my smutty, Victorian romances without guilt, embarrassment, or worrying about covering the scantily clad vixens and Fabios on the cover. Sure, sure. It's okay to walk around proudly showing off that you're reading Tina Fey's "Bossypants", Michael Palin's "The Python Years", or FARB's "Straight Lies". But I certainly don't want people knowing that I enjoy the thought of having my voluptuous bosom released from the bondage of my whalebone corset whilst being ravaged in a field of clover by some dashing Colonel Brandon. Actually, the truth is that I just don't want to be bothered while I'm being bothered. And so, rescued by my own personal knight; Sir Charles, I happily left the store with a brand new Kindle and BONUS!...a Kindle cover as well. So sue me, take away my library card, and call me a traitor. I don't really care anymore. I can be both an e-booker AND a book lover. It can happen.

Even though we live just a few blocks from Best Buy, I cannot wait and once in the car, I begin tearing through the packaging on my new passport to adventures. I am ooo-ing and ahhh-ing like a child at Christmas. Yeah, kinda like Averie did when she opened HER Kindle. I'm holding it up and showing it to Charlie, he's driving and smiling, content in knowing that I am thrilled with my gift. I unwrap the cover and slide the Kindle into it, running my hands over the sensuous texture, taking in the scent of new leather. The whole experience is almost magically erotic. Then, I notice it and squeal with excitement. There, on the cover, a little elastic band with attached tab! Well, those Amazon folk have thought of EVERYTHING!

"Honey, look! A bookmark! They've even given me a bookmark!"

Charlie turns toward me and momentarily cocks his head with a combined look of half "You're joking, right?" and half "Honey, PLEASE tell me you're joking!" He doesn't say a word, he just raises his eyebrows, smiles, and turns back toward his driving. I'm dumbfounded by his lack of enthusiasm, but non-plussed, I return my attention to my Kindle cover. I close the pretty cover over the ebook and happily pull the elastic bookmark over the cover where it rests perfectly into the grove on the front, holding it closed.

"Wow! Look at that! The bookmark holds the.....OH...uh...."

That's when my husband can't hold it in anymore and starts laughing so hard, he misses the fact that the light turned green and the guy behind us honks.

"Oh, shut up and drive."

That was three months ago. Now, every night, when I'm done reading and I close my Kindle, Charlie says; "Don't forget to use your bookmark so you don't lose your place, Honey."

"Oh, shut up and turn off the light."