This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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Let’s FIGHT! Well, maybe just argue. Just disagree? Please?

I accepted that NaBloPoMo challenge for BlogHer, right? A post a day for 30 days. I’ve already accepted that I won’t have 1500 words on an important topic expressing my strongly held belief in succinct and eloquent prose every single day. Obviously I’ve posted some pretty random and off-the-cuff stuff since beginning this challenge. But today is Sunday and I was hoping I would come up with something fabulous. Not so much. I was thisclose to heading over to BlogHer or WordPress to look for some generic writing prompt. I may do that, yet, but today I’ve got something I want to spout off about. It isn’t really important, and I’m sure it won’t be eloquent prose, but here’s a strongly held belief of mine. How about some stuff that makes me CRAZY?

First up, folks who use the phrase, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Why can’t we just argue? What’s so bad about disagreeing on some important topic? I don’t mean that we should all just fight and feud all the time, but why can’t we engage in civilized, even heated, disagreements and remain friends? I know it’s human nature to be drawn toward groups of people who agree with our own deeply held personal convictions, but shouldn’t we look to see what other people believe, too? And if I feel my belief strongly, and you feel yours strongly, doesn’t it stand to reason that the discussion might be a little loud, or slightly heated? Name calling and unfair fights are always rude, but what’s wrong with me saying, “Hey, that doesn’t make sense to me and here’s why…” Why does that have to be offensive?

Today I posted a blog of a friend’s sister-in-law on Facebook. (This blog is HYSTERICAL and you should totally read everything the blogger has put up. It’s called Cats with Knives and it’s brilliant.) The post I put on Facebook was this one about the nurse from Maine who was quarantined in New Jersey over the Ebola thing. She perfectly expresses what I’ve been thinking for weeks but have been unable to work myself up to post about. I might have tried to be a wee bit nicer about some of my phrasing, but she nailed it. Nailed it, I say! But here’s the thing, one of my friends on Facebook, Jared, disagreed. And he said so, with a well written and calm explanation of why he disagreed. And then I disagreed with him, and I rattled off a response that maybe wasn’t quite as patient, but still followed all the rules of fair engagement. But then I got to worrying that maybe I’d picked a fight with the guy. I mean, we’re Facebook friends, but really we’re just acquaintances from church with kids about the same age. I don’t want to make Jared mad at me over a disagreement about a nurse multiple states away. It’s not like either he or I have any real say in the immediate formulation of the policies that will affect this issue. So, I posted that I was sorry for phrasing things like it might start a fight, but he responded and said he saw my point but still disagreed, then a few words about why, and I responded to that, and he responded, and we agreed that each had a point but we disagreed and yada yada. Guess what. Still friends. How ’bout that? We never came to some great mutual solution, just a simple acknowledgement that we see the other’s point, but we don’t agree. All of this notable namely because of its novelty. It just doesn’t seem to be the way things usually go down!

argument-clipartSo many folks are afraid to discuss anything, so too often we follow that basic human instinct to stick with those who agree with us and never disagree with anyone publicly. We watch FOXNews or MSNBC and only socialize with viewers of the same extreme. Our views get more and more extreme and we don’t let anyone question them. If we post something on social media indicating our views on some subject, we either post it for a select audience, or if someone disagrees, suddenly it’s a fight and BAM, UNFRIEND! I’ve posted before about my thoughts on unfriending. I have to say that since I wrote this post, my views on that have evolved a bit, not so much on this topic, though. If you unfriend someone for simply disagreeing with you, that’s just sad! Now, unfriending someone for being a big jerk and calling names or generally disagreeing in a rude manner, well, that’s different, but just because you disagree? Not so much.

But what about in real life? It’s worse there, isn’t it? No discussion of politics or religion. Ever. Why? Well, as one husband of a friend once explained to me, because we might disagree and if we disagree someone always goes away angry. WHAT? Someone ALWAYS goes away angry? Well, that’s just what makes me so angry, isn’t it? Just because I believe deeply in a God who created me and everything I see and he believes that I’m a soft-headed fool for accepting such nonsense doesn’t mean one or both of us MUST go away angry. We could, for instance, be respectful of the other’s position and only try to explain our own without denigrating the position of the other. Just a thought, but maybe I won’t tell him that he’s going to burn in hell, and he could maybe not say that my faith is pure foolishness. I’ve had this discussion with people. I KNOW it’s possible. If I don’t assume that the only outcome acceptable is his complete conversion to Christianity and he doesn’t assume that he’s failed to make his case if I don’t denounce the God I’ve worshiped all my life, than we might actually learn something about the other person. But he won’t have that conversation, and that makes me sad.

I’m thankful for a handful of really wonderful friends who are willing to disagree with me. In fact, I consider it a minimum qualification for being more than an acquaintance. If you can’t tell me you think I’m wrong, listen to why I think you’re wrong, and still want to have coffee with me next week, than maybe we really shouldn’t be more than acquaintances. Maybe we can’t be. I mean, if you really get to know someone, you’re going to disagree about SOMETHING, right? Most likely. The idea isn’t to agree on all things. The idea is to be respectful of the person you disagree with. Honestly, my Facebook disagreement today moved Jared from acquaintance to friend, in my mind. He apologized for derailing my post, which made me laugh. No, don’t keep quiet, Jared! Please keep talking, at least to folks like me who appreciate a good disagreement. You were thoughtful and respectful and that is so refreshing.

As for all you fine folks who agree with me on stuff, well, obviously I love you, too. I mean, you guys are brilliant. We’ve found stuff to fight about, haven’t we? Well, I’m sure we will. Except you, Mike Neason. We’ve got a good run going, 25 years of no disagreements. Wouldn’t want to ruin that.

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Heroin happens, even here

I really should be working on my last week of class stuff, but as I’d hoped, once I started writing, I can’t stop. And this morning, someone sent me something I want to share. But first, some other thoughts, and some background.

We bought this house in May 2009. Though both my husband and I were drawn to a bit more urban setting, the best schools we could afford, with the most house, were here in Worthington. And since our oldest child would be starting kindergarten in the fall, we were thrilled to find a house in our price range with some of the upgrades it needed, walking distance from shopping and restaurants, not to mention the elementary school, with wonderful neighbors and mature trees. I had never had the experience of moving into a home that I loved with no expiration date on my stay. We would live here for an indeterminate period, a long period. The kids would grow up here. I remember joking that I would never move again. We probably will, but that’s a post for another day.

We were so happy. We loved this place. The spot, the schools, the neighborhood, all of it. We thought it was the perfect American dream we were living. Then one morning in September we looked out the window and saw several police cars parked across the street and many officers in bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets. There didn’t seem to be a high degree of alarm among the officers, so we watched. Eventually they left and we didn’t find out what was going on until we watched the evening news. In the morning, the Columbus Dispatch ran the story with the headline: “13 caught in heroin sweep.” One of those kids lived across the street from us.

Bubble POPPED!

Reality!

There is HEROIN IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! And not just “in our neighborhood” like out there, somewhere, close, but vague. It’s ACROSS THE STREET!

I didn’t panic. I really didn’t. I mean, this kid was out of high school. There was no reason for this incident to affect my children. After all, it wasn’t like they found it in the elementary school, right? But it’s awful damned close to home. I could see into the bedroom window of someone who was doing, possibly distributing, heroin. Now, let’s be clear, it’s not like I’ve never been exposed to people doing heroin. It’s not like I have no experience with drugs and the people who use them. But not like this, not since I became a mother. This is different. No part of me felt sorry for the kid who got busted. No part of me thought, “What a shame they got caught” like I might have 15 years earlier if I’d read about someone caught with a joint. No way. This time all I could think about were this kid’s parents.

I am a fact finder by nature, I guess. Some might call it stalker, but we quibble about language. I wanted to find out about these folks. I hadn’t met them, yet, despite living across the street for four months by then. I looked them up on the tax auditor’s website and found out that they’d lived there for over a decade. They’d probably moved here to put their kids into the good schools we’d moved here for. They’re just parents. How heartbroken they must have been that this was happening. What did they feel like?

I lost some sleep worrying about these parents. I kept imagining myself in their position. I don’t know how you get there, but I knew that despite my best efforts and hours of praying, it could happen. I could find myself in just the same position. I was absolutely sure that at no time had those parents across the street thought to themselves, “Oh, we’ll just let this one thing go and if it leads our kid to get involved in heroin, it will probably be okay.”

But after a while, when there were no more news stories about heroin in our specific neighborhood, just vague rumors about it’s existence in the city, the whole thing got pushed to the back of my mind. Not forgotten. Never forgotten. It’s such a frightening thought, too frightening to really dwell on all the time. So we got back to the business of raising kids who would hopefully avoid such a thing. Kids who would be properly scared of the prospect. Kids who would be smart and strong and capable of pushing back against such evils. But we were not under any illusion that such evils were far away, that they don’t still lurk way too close for comfort.

Then a few months ago a friend “introduced” me to another mom on Facebook. I’d seen her also commenting on our mutual friend’s posts, but didn’t think much of it. One day this mutual friend just posted and tagged us both and said something like, “Here, you two should be friends. You are the same brand of cool.” Well, this particular friend’s opinion is good enough for me, so I had a new friend. You know how you just click with someone right away? Well, that’s how it was with this friend. After a few months, we decided to meet in person for coffee.

When we met, we ended up talking for a few hours, and only because we both had other places to be did the conversation end. But most of the conversation was around the things she told me that were not posted on Facebook. There are lots of blogs and such out there about how we all use Facebook differently, but most of us don’t put our worst stuff up there. We don’t put the stuff that makes us too vulnerable to judgement, to others seeing that life isn’t at least sometimes Pinterest-worthy. Her son was recovering from using heroin.

I was floored. She seemed so, I don’t know, so normal. Like me. So much like a mom making all the same decisions I would make. Like she’d probably approached the subject of drugs with her kids in much the same way that I was. But there it was. A mom whose kid was using heroin. She’d found it in his bedroom. She’d FOUND it! It’s not like she suspected and ignored her own red flag. She’d FOUND it.

Again I found myself realizing that it wasn’t just about making the right parenting choices, whatever those might be. Raising kids is anything but an exact science. Despite all the best intentions, and informed decisions, it had happen to this mother’s son. It could happen to mine.

So, I listened to her tale, and I made many mental notes. I was in awe of the strength she showed in the way she’d handled it and in the way she told her story. Later I went home and digested it all further. I prayed that if it were ever my kid, I would do many of the same things she’d done. First of all, she didn’t bust him, accept his apology with a promise that it would never happen again, and then forget about it. She got his butt into treatment RIGHT THEN. She went through several months of advocating for her kid because there is no good system in place to take care of him. I’m sure it was no picnic for the kid, but I still can’t see it from his perspective. I can only see it from his mother’s eyes.

In the months since, my new friend and I have met again and we’ve continued to communicate regularly. I have encouraged her to start the blog she talks about, but she isn’t ready to do it, yet. But this morning she sent me something she’d written. She’s not ready to out her son, nor does she want to tell his story. This is what she felt and I want to share some of her feelings. I’m betting there are other parents out there who have thought about these things. So, I share this as a bit of hope. Yes, she’s just like me, and many other moms and dads out there. Middle class, good family, involved parent who “kept open the lines of communication.” But it still happened. And here’s how she felt.

Six months.

I am six months out from a day I thought I would not live through. It was the day we found heroin in our son’s room and had to confront him. This day was terrifying, sad, frustrating and a new beginning.

So how does a seemingly normal family respond when you find a substance like heroin in your child’s room? Well:

It makes you question everything you believed in.

It makes you doubt any remote possibility that you were a good parent, because at this point, you pretty much know it was an epic parenting fail.

You long for the days when your child was an infant or toddler and you wish you would have enjoyed them more.

You learn how to live with the terrifying realization that heroin takes many lives and your child’s could be one of them.

You wonder every time your child leaves the house if you will see them alive again. You learn that this struggle is their struggle and you need to focus on you.

You realize you must try to rely on a relationship with a higher power that you now completely wonder if there really is such a thing.

You are also angry because you know this should not be happening but you can’t change or stop it. The pain you know your child is living with, is almost unbearable for you to feel or think about.

You are scared.

You realize your child, whom you have loved with all your heart, is in for a life long struggle and challenge that seems insurmountable to you.

You become keenly aware of every heroin death and it sits like a cinder block on your chest. It is not the life you planned or wanted, but it is now your life.

Come on NEW BEGINNING!! My life came to a halt December 6, 2013. I was afraid. I felt like a failure. But as things evolved, I dug deep and my strength kept our family afloat. As the dust settled, my strength was not needed and I was not sure what to do, but I thought I was okay: I wasn’t. I became sick. Sick with fear, sick with worry.

A friend gave me a gift. She stopped me and took a chance that I could hear her truth. She told me to stop. Stop being paralyzed by my fear. She told me to stop being afraid, afraid to live and afraid to make decisions.

You see, my fear for a long time has been my guide. It was making my decisions for me. I was not in control of my own destiny and I was unable to be myself. The heroin and the fear was defining a new me. I was becoming someone I did not want to be.

Everything felt bad. I took her truth and I am working every day to let go of the fear, turn it over to my higher power and live: live life and be grateful. Live life and stop being afraid and letting the fear guide me into despair. I am grateful for my new friend who took that chance on me and told me to let go of my fear. This is my new beginning.

My son, he has a new beginning too: six months clean. But, that is his story to tell. What I can share is that he is working hard every day and he is happy – and for this, I am incredibly grateful.


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A Facebook Rant (but not about what you think)

What you don't know is that I only took the picture to get them to stop throwing their matching hats into the air and squealing.

What you don’t know is that I only took the picture to get them to stop throwing their matching hats into the air and squealing at high pitch.

I’ve read a lot of blog entries and other articles and postings in the last year about “Facebook reality.” Facebook reality differs from actual reality in that you completely control the message, right? Most parents’ Facebook reality is that their children are adorable, their house is always clean, they play lots of family-time games with their children, dinner is always healthy, the TV is extremely limited. You get the picture. Their actual reality may or may not bear any resemblance to the image projected on social media. Moms might be the worst perpetrators of this revisionist posting trend. I know I’m guilty of it sometimes. I don’t mind telling you and all my Facebook friends, that my bathrooms get dirty, my children watch too much TV, and often their dinner is peanut butter and honey with potato chips or hot dogs and pretzels. But I post those perfectly adorable pictures of the kids doing something perfectly adorable, cooperating sweetly, sleeping peacefully, creating artfully, without telling you that I was just screaming and tearing at my hair moments before. Some of us share more of the actual reality than others, but few of us put it all out there.

And, frankly, none of this is shocking or abnormal or unhealthy in anyway, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve written before about how different people approach the social media thing differently. Here, for instance, I showed an adorable picture but maybe shared a bit too much. Over or under sharing might be part of the projected Facebook reality, but if you meet me at a cocktail party you’re not going to get the actual reality of my life, either.

To me, that’s what social media, especially Facebook, is all about. It’s like one big social event that never quite ends. Sometimes it’s a football game, sometimes it’s a cocktail party, sometimes it’s a parenting support group, sometimes it’s a worship service. It’s whatever you make it, determined by what you let others see, which friends you accept, and which you move to “restricted” or some other list. Some people worry about trying to “keep up” with all the things their friends post, but it’s my belief that they should just let that go. You can’t know what was said at the party before you showed up. You might get a recap from a friend, but thanks to Facebook’s complicated “most recent” algorithm, you won’t know everything.  And really, that’s OKAY!

facebook profile screenshot (1)That all brings me to my rant. Unfriending. Maybe we don’t see this act of aggression the same way. Maybe I’m missing something I should know, and if I am, please enlighten me. Sure, it’s totally your right to unfriend whoever the hell you feel like unfriending. It’s your page, your life, your business. But I see it kind of like walking away from a person you don’t like every time they walk up to the group you’re talking with at a party. Sure, you can do it, but you look like an jerk. At a party I’m much more likely to stop interacting in the conversation as animatedly, and then excuse myself politely when the opportunity arises. The Facebook equivalent is to move the person to my “restricted profile” list, or maybe just “acquaintances.” I see less of them, and they only see what I want them to see of me. I’ve excused myself from the conversation without looking like an ass. Life and Facebook can already be messy. Why make it messier by pointing out to anyone that you just don’t like them. What good comes of it? Do they suddenly change their behavior because they find out they’ve offended you? Not likely, right? I mean, most likely it will cause bad feelings for the other person whether they express them or not. If you’re just trying to cause bad feelings, well, fine. Unfriend me, too, while you’re at it. I’ll get over it but I don’t need friends who want to live like that.

Don’t give me a privacy rant, either. Your stuff is out there. If you don’t want it out there, don’t put it out there. If you don’t want anyone but your best friends who you trust implicitly to see it, invite them over for a slideshow, or just email it. But know that once you email it, it’s out there, too. You are, and have always been, completely in charge of what information you want to post. If someone else posts things about you, that’s a whole different problem, and not one I’m speaking to at the moment.

It’s 2014, folks. If you don’t have a Facebook account, that’s your right, but to those of us at the party, it’s as if you are hiding under a table. If you have an account, linked to an email you read, but you don’t use it, well, that’s like coming to the party and standing in the corner. Some of my best friends are corner standers, and that’s cool, but hiding under the table, if you’re under the age of 50 is a bit on the anti-social side. Of course then there are the cases like my brother, who has a Facebook account, but not under his real name, so he’s hiding under the table but peeking out from under the tablecloth. That’s a whole different ball of issues, but since I don’t want him dissecting mine on the internet, I guess I’ll leave him be, even if I do slip him a cookie once in a while. (And by that, I mean that I pass along your greetings, those of you who know him and tell me to say “hi” for you.)

So that’s my rant for today. I know a lot of people don’t see it that way, but I won’t kick you off my friend list for it.

 


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“Too much of a good thing” or “Time keeps on ticking, ticking…”

I just read a friend’s Facebook status that got me thinking. She posted, in part, “It’s been the loveliest of holiday seasons, but I’m excessed out. Welcoming January and austerity in all things.” Hadn’t thought of it until then, but that’s exactly how I feel.

raw-veggie-and-hummus1If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the last few months you know that I adore the holidays. From Halloween right through to Epiphany, I just love it all. The anticipation of November, the chaos and parties of December, even this last week of the year that feels a little like limbo. I love it. I’m really excited about New Year’s Eve and the fun we’ll have with neighbors tomorrow night. But something about my friend’s status knocked me out. I AM ready for some austerity. I am craving simplicity in lots of ways. I want simple foods like toast and raw veggies. I want to drink water, maybe juices. I want to wear nothing but pajamas or jeans and sneakers for a week straight. I want to go to church and worship with predictable, liturgical services.

I wonder why we do this. Is it a human thing, or something our modern culture has taken to the next level? We don’t have to feast to increase our fat reserves while the food is plentiful, before the long bleak winter. I have had such a wonderful Christmas season, but I’m ready for there not to be any cookies or chocolates on my kitchen counter. I’m ready to have simple meals that clean up quickly and let me just sit with the kids. School will resume for me soon enough, too, and I’ll be missing that mental down time.

Competitive Hat Stackers Party, complete with trash talking

Competitive Hat Stackers Party, complete with trash talking

Not that we haven’t enjoyed some simple pleasures over the last few weeks. There have been lots of board games played. The grown ups watched all of the first season of “House of Cards.” (I highly recommend it! Kevin Spacey is phenomenally bad!) I’ve experimented with cooking some of the venison from my husband’s successful hunt back in November. Several mornings I got to actually sleep in without getting up just because a kid was awake. I scraped a few things off our plates this season so we wouldn’t be too stressed, and it worked, but it’s still, well, excessive. Despite our best efforts, the kids haven’t slept quite as much as they should. Meals have been irregular, and usually consist of at least 50% cookies. The house is a wreck, every room strewn with leftover bits of wrapping paper and ribbon. There are shrink wrapped boxes of science experiments and LEGO kits, shirt boxes with tissue paper still inside, and the tree is dropping needles on top of it all. Christmas just seems tired.

This is why I have to live where there are seasons. I was so excited for this season and now I’m excited for it to be over. I will enjoy winter for a bit longer, hoping for more snow with each weather forecast, and then I’ll be done with that, and ready for spring. I’ll watch for green shoots and blooms and enjoy having the windows open, then I’ll hate putting the air conditioner on but will revel in taking the kids to the pool each day of the heat. I’ll be SO ready for fall to arrive and the kids to go back to school. I NEED this constant change and turnover. I can’t say why, but I do. I need lots of external stimuli to give me constant feedback on the progression of time. And looking back over the past, particularly since my children were born, knowing what season it was has helped me place so many memories on the timeline. I can remember that Girlie was just about two when she said that funny thing that one time when everyone laughed because it was really cold out, lots of snow. And Middle Bird was just about three when he got so dirty that one time and dirtied up everything because he wearing shorts, but long sleeves, so it must have been spring, not far from his late March birthday.

Time and it’s passage is becoming a recurring theme for me, huh?

 


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Some Thoughts On Shopping

We’re hurdling headlong into the holidays, and, man, do I have stuff to say! Right!? I mean, I know all you out there who actually know me in real life (no comments about how nobody else is reading, please) are just shocked that I have opinions on stuff, AND that I’m willing to actually speak them out loud. Try to settle down. I’ll wait while you allow this foreign concept of Bird with opinions to sink in. HA! I crack myself up.

I’m reading my Facebook feed and there’s feed and there’s just so much to have opinions about! And some of it I might even be right about. Though (and this part might actually shock you) I am willing to admit that I might be wrong. Probably not, and you’ll have to convince me, but maybe, so go ahead and tell me if you think I am. Let’s just keep it off Facebook. That seems smart these days, no?

I have opinions on some stuff that just don’t amount to much. I mean, I’m not going to try to convince you one way or another here. Just spout. Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. I keep seeing this stuff on my feed. No, I don’t have a problem with these ideas, but it just all seems so self-righteous to post them on your wall. And I know that the folks whose walls I swiped them from are good people who mean well. I know that they feel these things strongly and truly feel that they are helping to make our country a better place by reposting these. And I also know, or hope I’m right, that they will follow through and actually buy local when they can and stay out of retail on Thanksgiving day. This isn’t about an opportunity to judge. But I can’t do it. I can’t just post it and not comment at length. I’ll put them here instead and ramble for a while about the ideas they represent, okay?

1455046_10151990479314255_799574030_n1379721_310997639040818_1215215804_nWAR ON THANKSGIVING?  Really? I’m pretty sure the retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving are not trying to eliminate this holiday. Rather, they NEED there to be a Thanksgiving to mark the all out craziness that is the “holiday shopping season.” It’s true that they didn’t use to open their doors on Thanksgiving. It’s true that the season used to begin the day AFTER Thanksgiving, but I’ll get to the Black Friday thing in a minute. For now, let’s just unpack the whole open on Thanksgiving thing. So, now that shopping on Thanksgiving IS a thing, now that millions of dollars will be changing hands that day, now that the shoppers are there, you really want more retailers to look at that money and just say no. You want them to just turn down their share of those dollars because it’s the right thing to do? Yes, you say, that’s exactly it. Well, okay, fine. I am totally on board with believing in people to do the right thing for the right reason, even if it costs them financially. It’s sort of like non-compulsory charitable giving. We can count on people to do the right thing, so we don’t need use tax dollars to pay for quite so many of the things some people need because we can count on people and private organizations to do the right thing for the right reasons, right? Hmm. Seems like we’ve disagreed on that before.

1375056_10153305787625538_5380466_nThen there’s this one. It’s not a bad idea. I have no beef with the idea of buying locally. In fact, I think it’s great if my local businesses get some business out of it. There’s a wonderful new bakery in downtown Worthington and you should totally check them out. Sassafras Bakery has gotten rave revues and I hope it thrives, but come on. A pie is like, $30. I don’t think that’s over priced for what you get. After all, someone lovingly prepared this pie from fine fresh ingredients just for you. I’ll bet it’s the best pie you can find in town. But if I decide to find money in the budget for pie that my aunt didn’t make, I’m gonna pick up one from the Kroger bakery for $8. Will it be as good? Probably not, but I’ll still have another $22 to spend on the boxed cereal and non-organic milk. Do I WANT to that local bakery to do well? Hell yeah. (At least a little bit because it’s in the building that used to hold the stationery shop where I ordered my wedding invitations, but I’m sometimes a bit irrational like that.) I want them to thrive. I hope they pay their employees well. I hope people feel all that wonderful, homey, community love every time they walk in the door. I’m thinking I need to stop by for a cookie and a cup of coffee today. (I have some time since the Baby Bird is going to Grandma’s.) But I can’t local businesses are very often much more expensive. Not because they want to be, but because of the economic issues involved. I get that. It’s complicated, but that doesn’t mean I have more disposable income. As for gifts? Yeah, I’ll likely look for smaller (possibly higher priced) items. I would rather give a lovely pair of handknitted gloves for the same price as a whole set of mass produced winter gear. But I can’t be guilted into not buying the more reasonably priced fleece gloves for my three kids because I would go broke buying them ALL handknits and meanwhile their hands are cold.

And then there’s the whole chaos of Black Friday. I know some of you love it. Some of you will set your alarm clocks for the middle of the night and then you’ll go out in your pajamas and delight in the whirlwind race of elbows and ramming shopping carts to get the two 60″ TVs that are for sale for $50. But it just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Not because I don’t like to shop. I do. It may be my most favorite past time. But not that day. The joy has been completely sucked out of it for me that day. I like to browse, to pick things up, to imagine buying it, owning it or giving it, to picture using it or how I might wrap it. I love scanning the entire department for the item that will catch my attention and call me to further investigate. I like to imagine the person receiving the item. I need to do all that to make a purchase decision. On Black Friday, none of that is possible. I don’t mind if it’s busy. I love feeling like I’m sharing all that experience with lots of other folks out because they have loved ones to buy for. I just don’t want to be knocked down at any point in the process. I don’t want to purchase anything because the sale will run out in eight seconds or because if I don’t the lady behind me will get it and that ain’t right because I got up earlier and I deserve it and GET OUT OF MY WAY!

I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving because I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t ever want to forget for one second how lucky I am. Not only will I be gathered with my family in a warm, safe place, but there will be more food than we know what to do with. We will all of us eat until it gets boring. It will be completely unnecessary to eat the food we will consume that day. Totally unhealthy, and perhaps even unsafe. Some of us will drink a little too much. No one will worry too much about where we will sleep that night. We will all enjoy the luxury of our own pompous idea that we somehow need all the excess of that celebration. That will keep me way too busy to bother with shopping on Thanksgiving. My children will never wonder if mom is going shopping on the fourth Thursday of November and hopefully, it will never occur to them to go. The day after we will look for something light to eat, and revel in the bonus day off that Daddy gets. We’ll probably have some other family obligation to see to. We will stay as far away from retailers as possible because shopping just isn’t fun that day. Except, wait, that’s not true. We will have a party on Saturday, so I will have to go to the grocery on Black Friday. Let’s hope Kroger isn’t giving away iPods or selling too many super cheap TVs. For those two days we won’t participate in the chaos. If other folks do, well, than they do. I’m grateful none of my loved ones work in retail these days, but if they did and had to miss Thanksgiving, we’d probably celebrate around their schedule in some way and remember to mention their employment in our prayers of thanksgiving.

I’ve also got opinions of UGGs and the revelation that they are made of sheep skin (uh, okay), engineering toys for girls, the governor of Oklahoma, the mayor of Toronto, and a whole bunch of other political tidbits. I guess none of them are all that astounding, though. I better post this for now. Stay tuned for a general life update in then next day or two.


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More social media procrastinating

It seems that my most effective tool for procrastinating on school assignments is social media. I’ve recently picked up playing on Twitter again. I use it to follow all sorts of library and archive organizations, about six teenage girls who are cousins, nieces, or friends of them, and a few college and high school friends. Mostly, I keep the college and high school friends to Facebook, though, because, well, I’m over 30. Seems the kids don’t hang on Facebook much, now that a bunch of us middle-aged folks (read: parents) have taken over. Nevermind that I joined Facebook when the earlier mentioned crop of young ladies from my family were entering middle school. Yes, they came into MY world, as far as I’m concerned. But yeah, I know I jumped into a younger world there, and whatever, I get it. I’m old, they aren’t, and now they hang out on Twitter.

So, anyway, I’ve been tweeting. Look for me there. I’m very boring.

But I have this new hobby on Facebook. Before I go into all the creepy stalker details, I should remind you of a few details of my story. So, I was born in Ohio, went to elementary school in North Carolina, moved to Georgia in middle school, and went to college in South Carolina. A few years after graduating, and bouncing back and forth between Georgia and South Carolina, I decided to pack it up and move to Ohio. Lots of extended family here, right? And I just felt a pull to come “home” even though I hadn’t lived here since I was four. All of that is just to tell you that I thought of all of these places as very distinct periods in my life. I had entirely separate groups of friends in each place, right? Well, sort of. I had friends through church in Georgia who knew a few friends from college. I went to a Lutheran school, that wasn’t too shocking. There had been youth gatherings, and meet-ups at the regional church camp in North Carolina, Lutheridge. Then some of my friends met other people I knew when we got old enough to be counselors. A little more overlap. Nothing major.

Then in 2007, I joined Facebook, as did a whole bunch of my mid-30s peers. I found a few more connections. Degrees of separation, I guess. I found out my pastor’s son from Georgia had once dated my pastor’s daughter from North Carolina. There was even a picture of them together on Facebook. Neat. Now, I differ from some people in my approach to social media. If I ever knew you, you can friend me, and I might friend you. I’m not picky. It is so easy to move someone to the “acquaintance” list, or just leave them off the accepted list. I follow the “if I wouldn’t want it on a billboard” approach to posting, and so I like having a large friends list. Besides, how else could I keep up with who YOU know, or who you friends know?

So, this brings me to my new hobby. I love to browse the friends lists of my friends looking for one and two degrees of separations that we didn’t know existed.

I know, it’s a tad creepy. I’m sorry. It’s really just a way for me to kill time when I should be doing homework, but at the same time, it’s fascinating. Turns out, a neighbor from when we first moved to North Carolina (I was FOUR!) later moved from that town to another and lived near a girl I’d later go to college with in South Carolina, and none of us would make the connection until Facebook. I’ve got friends from high school who are just one degree removed from friends from college, and even one friend I recently made here in Ohio, though she did her undergraduate work in Georgia. And another mom in the neighborhood grew up in a town north of here where my mother’s father’s family is from. Just discovered a couple one-degree connections there after friending a cousin at the family reunion today.

Now, don’t get all weirded out. Somewhere out there, some guy who had a crush on you in high school is blowing up your Facebook snapshots to some incredible magnification to see if you still have that one tiny mole under your chin. I have not reached that level of stalkerdom, yet. I just like to find the connections.


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That one thing

I like social media for all the reasons you’d expect me, too.  I’m not just extroverted, but I obsessively crave interaction, at least until I’ve had enough.  Facebook and the like, are perfect for me.  I can dive right in, comment on one friend’s dinner, another’s choice of outfit for date night, wish a college pal happy birthday, peek at a high school acquaintance’s newborn grandchild (yes, that’s right), see who is moving where, who has a new job, who is going back to school, whatever.  I never worry that I’m intruding because this stuff was put out there, right?  If you post it for me to see, I get to see it.  It’s a really nice arrangement.  I post stuff for your to see and I hope you’ll comment, or “like” or maybe even repost.  Every post tells you a little something about me, and though I try to be mindful of what I’m saying about myself with each post, I don’t overly obsess about it.  Just like in real life, I don’t worry too much about the impression I’m making beyond making an effort to be nice to everyone and not be offensive.  I’m honest and authentic, though, I’m sure some think a bit loud mouthed.  But you know where I’m coming from, right?

My husband, on the other hand, has a completely different approach to socializing, and thus to social media.  He has a few trusted friends who really know who he is and how he ticks.  He posts very infrequently on Facebook, and I’m pretty sure he’s never set up a Twitter or Instagram account.  The thought of taking pictures of what he is eating for dinner or his new shoes nearly disgusts him.  We are just very different in that way.  So, I try to be respectful of our differences.  I have this blog, but I never use his name here, though if you know me, you obviously know his name.  I post pictures of the kids, but not standing out in front of our house or near the street number.  I won’t tell you in advance that we will be out of the house at any given time.  He does tend to take things to a whole other level, though.  He closes the back blinds when we watch TV at night so that the neighbors behind us don’t know we’re watching TV, or what we’re watching.  I’m just not that funny about stuff.

photo (2)So, when I post this picture, you will know what?  That my toddler gets bathed?  That we have slippery tub requiring a mat in the bottom?  That I like to let him play a little before I dump water on his head and soap him up?  That’s not the intrusion, I guess.  I just wanted to take a shot of that happy face and post it on Facebook, via Instagram.  So, I did.  But now I’m going to tell you that one thing about today.  That one thing that took it to a whole other level of parenting ickiness.  This sweet, cherub-faced darling got up on all fours just seconds after this picture was taken, looked me in the eye and said, “Sorry, Mommy.”  Then he pooped in the bathtub.

Yup, in nine plus years of parenting, this has never happened, and actually, I was sort of proud of that.  Yeah, we’ve had some diaper disasters, both kid designed and accidental, but never has one of my kids pooped in the tub.  I was sure it would happen someday when the big kids were little, but then after this kid turned two I quit worrying.  Now that he has enough awareness to go hide in a corner to do the deed, even if he can’t seem to go to the actual potty, it never occurred to me that I should worry about this.  And to make matters worse, I panicked and attempted to scoop it up, but missed and ended up smearing it on the bottom, causing me to have to remove the child from the tub, leave him screaming in the cold while I drained, scrubbed, rinsed, and refilled the tub.  Yes, a good time was had by all.

I’m having a drink now.