Follow Me Down the Rabbit Hole

from Flickr user Smath.
from Flickr user Smath.

This morning, I got knocked on the chest by equal parts nostalgia, outrage, and WTFship. It was the sort of morning where spending an hour on Facebook made me feel like a more informed citizen and reminded me how big the world is. Sometimes, facebook is good like that.

First, let’s talk two icons from my childhood/pre-early teen years: Monica Lewinsky writes about her affair with Clinton + Rob Lowe’s moving essay about sending his older son off to college.

Two sentences from the tiny amount that’s available from the Lewinsky piece without subscribing to Vanity Fair really got my feminist hackles up. 1) Lewinsky saying she regrets it, but that it was consensual. Fine, fine. BUT WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO SAY IT?? If it were a male intern + a female president, we’d be way angry at the female president and talking about what a stud the intern was. I don’t remember a single person saying “shame on President Clinton.” I remember lots and lots of people slut shaming a very young female intern. 2) Lewinsky says she heard Mrs. Clinton blamed herself for the affair because she was “being emotionally distant.” Women blaming themselves for the bad behavior of men (and men blaming women for the bad behavior of men) is a huge part of the reason I need feminism. <– Rage, Nostalgia, WTF?

The Lowe essay? I wept. Just read it. <— WTF. And a little bit of nostalgia.

And then, THIS BULLSHIT. A whiny white boy from Princeton “checking” his privilege. This is thematically relevant because I was young + dumb and clueless (even if I was intellectually apt, as he clearly is) like this kid around the same time Lewinsky + Lowe were pretty omnipresent in the news/entertainment/network TV world. I also would’ve once pulled a stunt such as this: misunderstanding the entire point + then using my stunning awareness of multiple meanings of words to take “check your privilege” to mean “examine the history of your privilege, then act like an indignant asshole” I am sure I also participated in slut shaming Lewinsky at the time. I am ashamed. <— WTF + nostalgia over being young and stupid once, too.

And then the lovely open letter followup from a saner, more reasonable, less Fox-News-Informed voice. <— relief.

And this video, while clever and entertaining, filled me with rage. Ignore the year-ago date and spend 1.5 minutes of your time. I watched it with Child leaning over my shoulder, and she asked me “what is that all about?” While I was explaining it to her, saying it out loud with words that I made with my vocal cords and tongue and teeth, I got so. Friggin. Angry. <— WTF.

Anybody else refreshingly enraged by Facebook rabbit holes recently?

Running Makes Me a Better Writer; I Bet It Would Work For You, Too.

From Flickr user Robin McConnell
From Flickr user Robin McConnell

I used to feel outright hostile toward fitness/body progress shared on social media.*

So I asked myself why.

All I could come up with was dumb fear that:

a) I will be judged when I backslide,

b) I will be judged because I am still chubby, even though I exercise,

c)I will become one of those one-gong bangers and ONLY post about fitness.

Here is why I have decided to change.

a) Fuck people who judge.

b) see letter a.

c) Why would I ever worry about that? I am far too interesting with too many pursuits and obsessions to limit myself to posting about fitness.

In case you are also loathe to mention progress on social media, I encourage you to adopt a self-restricting policy: I allow myself one weekly post (on Facebook only) about fitness, typically after my first running workout of the week, and typically discussing my amazement that I continue to make progress and it ain’t even that ouchy.

This one had twenty-five likes + a half dozen comments
This one had twenty-five likes + a half dozen comments


All the exercise bloggers and google searches you can imagine will tell you that exercise helps you sleep better.

That is truth.

I get good rest, and I require fewer hours of it, then I wake up with beautiful, fully-formed thoughts happening in my head, which often, eventually, make it to the page.

Running between 1.5 and 2 hours each week with increasing intensity has, in the first five weeks alone, given me back more energy and a more whole sense of wellness than two years of more Zumba than that (even though I still love Zumba and go when I am not feeling too shin-splinty/muscle achy).

More energy means I do things–even dumb small things like bending over and picking up a sock, or putting shoes in the closet or doing the dishes instead of sitting round thinking about how I’m too bushed to do those things. My body feels better, so I am more efficient which means, you guessed it, more time for writing.

And also more food. I love food.

Running is trusting your body.

Writing is trusting your mind.

This is a symbiotic relationship, and weekly practice helps me extend that self-trust to other areas which is a thing I struggle with.

Getting sweaty reduces stress.

Reducing stress reduces anxiety.

Lower anxiety means fewer excuses about why I am not writing, fewer minutes wasted fighting with my inner critic.

And sharing about it on Facebook means I get support and kudos from friends. I hear their stories about running which helps keep me going. I remember that my friend who runs the NY Marathon told me she didn’t lose a bit of weight for six months after she started running, that another friend started with Couch to 5K three years ago and now runs triathlons. And then, people share with me things like this, to which I shall submit before summer’s end. And this, which gave me laughs and warmed me from my bellybutton to my nose, twice.

Also, the most helpful thing I’ve ever found on reddit is the running subreddit. LOADS of good info and experiences.

What about you? Do you run? Do you post about fitness on Facebook? What do you think of all this?

*I’m still not sure about the weight loss progress bathroom mirror selfies, ugh.

I Made a Terrible Mistake.

From Flickr User DonkeyHotey (OMG I will die of the clever.)

I am not good at paying attention to politics.

I am annoyed and saddened by the limitations of the scope of the rhetoric.

I am convinced that my vote simply doesn’t matter (though I show up at the polls, just in case), and that rich people are totally in charge of this country, whatever histrionic of republic in which we choose to believe we participate.

And since I’m reasonably certain that unless I get 1% rich (and when I do, boy oh, look out white dudes), I can affect no change, even if I experience wild success in American Letters, I’ll still be a woman, I’ll still be a kooky arty liberal (by appearances, though I am an anarchist/libertarian in my soul), and I would seriously prefer to spend my energy and intellect on more spiritually/culturally rewarding pursuits.

Despite all of this, I could not control myself when the very tippy top of my Facebook News Feed said, “Wanky McWank Pants and 10 other friends like Mitt Romney.”

So I posted the following status update:

So facebook just told me that several of my friends *who will remain unnamed out of respect for their freedom of speech* “liked” Mitt Romney. For a fleeting moment, I considered unfriending every single one of them.

In my mind, I was being flip. I was pointing out the beauty of our illusion of freedom of speech.

When I re-read my status update, I was maybe a little chagrined to realize that, to Romney fans (i.e., humans without critical thinking skills), my status update would be offensive.

But my chagrin was short lived. It was quickly followed by a belly-sinking sense of my own doofus-like state. I should’ve kept my typing fingers still.

I pride myself in staying out of political discussions. I try to maintain a professional attitude and presence in social media. Like to as I might, I do NOT talk smack about people (except for fans of Mitt, apparently), and I do not make personal statements about my relationships, friends and relatives with whose actions/behavior I disagree, or my innermost feelings, dark as they may be.

This Me, of whom you get a sense on my blog, is about 70% persona. People who know me in life can identify the differences between the Me who writes here and the Me who lives in a place and does mundane things like put on socks and go up and down staircases.

I think that any writer would tell you that she inhabits a more perfect self, or a less perfect one, depending on the scenario, when she writes anything.

I think this is why people publish the letters that writers write to people and each other. We are never simply sharing the news. We are always spinning.

This post is supposed to be confessional. I think I lost a “friend” over the facebook status. Based on his ranting, I’m not sure I mind, but I would like to hope that that above-quoted status will be the last thing of a political nature that I personally write on Facebook. Henceforth, I shall only share news articles and comment on other people’s political statuses.

Anybody care to share Facebook rules to live by?

Friday’s a Dumb Day to Blog.

I love this plant. It looks like a space plant. I do not know what it is. I took this picture at the residency in Wilkes Barre.

It’s not like anybody’s hanging out on the internet to kill time at work.  They’re all doing all the stuff they didn’t do while they were hanging out online earlier in the week.

Also, Friday’s becoming my catch-up day.

Also, I recently read an article about not-Friday being a bomb-ass day to post stuff on Facebook and Twitter.

So I’m thinking about making my blog schedule Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and changing my posts from uploading very early in the morning (usually between 6-7:30 EST) to later in the afternoon (3:00 EST).

I’m also going to be out of town the next two weeks, so my posting schedule might get wonky anyhow.  I’m going to try to share cool pictures and happenings, but I also begin grad classes, participate in a Major Family Wedding, and engage in the usual poverty-battling activities.

I’m not complaining.  I choose to live like this.  It’s the best way to be a reasonable mom for now.  There will be plenty of time for capitalist ambition.

But if you live in the tri-county area, you should consider taking my Writing Workshops at Penn College in the Workforce Development and Continuing Education program.  They are unbelievably inexpensive, and they will be loads of fun, plus open, welcoming, liberal, and kind.

Why I Love Facebook, After All.

From Flickr User SeanMacEntee

I was not an early adopter of social media.

I didn’t have a MySpace until Facebook was already a thing.  My MySpace account was under the name of my Misanthropic Internet Doppleganger, Georgette Magillacuddy.  If we were friends in college, you might’ve heard me tell people (men) that was my name at bars.

I thought social media was stupid and time-consuming and–like Television–threatened to rob me of all of my proper thinking muscles if I let it.

My friend Sharon talked me into getting a Facebook.  She also showed me Project Runway.  I was on board with Project Runway immediately.

And, yes. I am aware of the way in which Facebook is collecting information about me in order to be able to sell demographic info to companies who will try to sell things to me, but frankly, I’d prefer smart marketing than stupid marketing. I do not like watching ads about sports equipment or hearing aids. If I liked sports or was hard of hearing, I would.  Sure, the way in which it’s not a terribly far leap between April the demographic and April the person is a touch scary.  But all new developments in technology are a touch scary.

I still think Facebook could rob me of my thinking muscles.  But I figured out how to block users and apps, so now, If somebody posts only sentimental quotations and quips about Christ, I say, “Please, Facebook.  Don’t show me any more of that.”  I also ask it not to show me stuff from Farmville or Sims or any of the games.

Facebook can be a benevolent master.

It can also be a sneaky time-suck.

But as with every other guilty (and lately gleeful) pleasure, we have to exercise self-control.  I have a policy where I shut Facebook down after every time I check in on it.  I used to let it up all the time.  But whenever I do that, I get nothing done.

As recently as eighteen months ago, I still professed to being confused about Facebook.  I remember being kind of stymied when one of the smartest people I know, my friend, mentor, and fellow-freelancer, Katney B., said, “I totally get it, and I love it.”

But first when I sold cell phones, and then when I went full time as a freelancer, and it occurred to me that Facebook could be my ally.

Ah ha!  A practical use for Facebook.  Potential generation of capital.  And so I began to tinker in earnest, and without guilt.  That bit was huge for me.  I have to give myself permission to do things that are enjoyable, or things that I view as unproductive.

And in so doing, I started to get it. I could check in on people about whom I am curious, but have no need or desire to spend hours in conversation with.  People for whose success I am hopeful.  And people whose work I admire.  And if I am feeling particularly nosy, I can know what the weather is like where they are, and I know if they switch jobs or cities or S.O.s.

And in the last few months or year, I’ve re-connected with some people in my past who I missed!  Two of my dearest friends ever and I now swap emails outside of Facebook. Child and I made a sweet visit to NYC via a Facebook connection with a friend from long ago.

Since I’ve been blogging and building myself a business of my thinking and writing muscles, I’ve loved the way Facebook allows me to show my work to 541 of the people with whom I’ve become acquainted along the way, personally, casually, professionally.  It’s even safe to be friends with ex lovers.

I have Facebook friends who are fellow writers, authors I admire, literary journals.  And in a couple of instances, the literary journals have reminded me to submit to them.  Now I belong to the group Submission Bombers.  If you’re a writer, check it out.

People who live where I do invite me to cool stuff.  People who have kids post pictures, so they don’t have to email them to me.  I appreciate that.

And while it’s utterly practically meaningless to the business, I enjoy being able to go click the big thumbs up on businesses I live near, or whose owners I know, or places I’ve been that are cool.  I like that I can categorize myself as “person who likes The Nightmare Before Christmas or Mad Men,” even if it does mean that Facebook will tell other people to sell me 60s vintage shoes or vaguely creepy stop-motion movies.

And this is kind of weird, but I get a little competitive about the number of friends I have.  I view it as an absurd measure of success, especially since the second most traffic on my blog is drummed up through facebook.  

So what about you?  What do you love about facebook? Or do you hate it?

The Trouble With Social Media

  1. It ignites my native napping abilities, but somehow keeps me awake: sleep posting–like drunk posting–is never good.
  2. Whenever I get going on Twitter, it sucks me in like a vortex.  I spend more hours than when I’m spying on the popular girls from high school on Facebook.  But I learn stuff, so I don’t stop.
  3. I feel like Big Brother is spying on me, even though Twitter is the only way I’ll probably ever be in the Library of Congress.
  4. It gives me such a volume of questions about the nature of friendship that I get heartburn.
  5. I know I should be writing.
  6. I wish I were writing.
  7. I know that using Facebook and Twitter and Google+ will help me get people to read my book, once I’m done writing it around my Social Media schedule.
  8. I have Pinterest and Tumblr accounts that I don’t use.  I feel guilty about that like about the aunts I don’t visit.
  9. I have books I should be reading.
  10. I subscribe to a number of marvelous publications, and even when I convince myself that my brain cells will benefit from a few hours off the internet, I think about what I will say in my blog about what I am reading.
  11. I love my blog like I love eating.  The good news: My blog doesn’t have calories.
  12. There is an unending chain of links on any blog post.  Like a treasure hunt with tiny knowledge treasures at every stop.
  13. Facebook tells on me for reading ridiculous articles about Snooki or Zooey Deschanel.
  14. I feel like I must get all the free web surfing I can before the government wrecks it up with laws like SOPA and PIPA.

Dead Babies 3

Found on facebook & privately emailed to me by a good friend (someone who is, like me, not fond of the whole status repost culture):

“A DADDY isn’t defined as the man who makes the child, but rather the man who extends his hands and time to help with the child’s raising and his heart to love the child through anything!!!! BLOOD doesn’t always make you a DADDY. Being a DADDY comes from the heart… any fool can make a baby, it takes a man to raise a child!”

So in my relationship with my (truly remarkable) partner, I think that buying our house is kind of analogous to getting married.  Hitched up.  We are hitched, together, to our mortgage, to our wet basement, to our attic that has piles of potential.  To our one bathroom, and hand-me-down curtains, and shelves and shelves of books.

And he is genuinely a swell stand-in dad.  We’re still kind of rogered up over semantics.  Pearl, in her highly literal stage of development, has opted not to call him dad, but that’s probably better. While he would absolutely stand for it, he probably prefers the more literal conception of his relationship to Pearl, too.  She calls him his first name, and occasionally “my dad.”

But he’s just so native as a father.  He knows and thinks to do and say stuff that just doesn’t occur to me.  Probably, without him, Child’s manners would be much worse.  She’s totally a sweet kid, but she’s also an only kid, so the world starting and stopping at her whim is an idea to which she is pleasantly accustomed.   Fella demands that she say please and thank you, and his insistence spurs my participation.

Child tells him she loves him, and he says it back.  They hug and cuddle and play.  She watches him play video games, and he helps her learn stuff.  They are sweet together.

Fella and I are people who’ve had our share of inconsiderate, inconsistent, unpleasant friends, lovers, partners.  As such, we’ve been really guarded in the development of our relationship.  My mother would probably cite this guardedness as the reason we are not married, but we agree (mostly) that at this point, marriage is (mostly) unnecessary.  It’s not like we’d file our taxes together anyhow.

Since we bought the house, we have both relaxed somewhat.  I have felt more free to express grumpiness.  He has stopped putting down the toilet seat.  He is more free and liberal with spending his time as he wishes.

I have taken greater pride and effort in the tidiness of our abode, because I feel like it’s going to be mine for a little longer than usual.  My totally unjustified, and usually minor, sense that he is in some way disloyal to me has gone away.  He seems to have stopped believing that I will just disappear one day, too.  We talk about tomorrow, five, and ten years.  Our next house, retirement, etc etc.

His brother’s wife and their kid think of Child as a cousin and me as an aunt.  I find myself thinking of his folks as in-laws, and it certainly felt that way when they came over for dinner last night.  Child was a very responsible and conscientious older cousin.  His mom and dad think our house is neat, and they seemed to be proud.  I hope they are.

Of course there’s still, and always, the possibility that we’ll break up.  It seems less like a foregone conclusion now.  And whenever we joke about it, Child gets up in arms.  She says, “But I don’t want you to break up!”  She loves her life, our house, and her new school.  She is becoming her own person and I am proud of her, of my partner, of our life.