Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What has become of us?

So, I mentioned before that I've decided to curtail my Facebook usage during Lent in order to replace that wasted time with more meaningful interactions with family and friends.  I decided that logging on to Facebook one time a day for approximately five minutes to upload some pics, check a few status updates, etc. was a reasonable amount of time spent on the great time waster.  Before going "off-line" I changed my notification settings so that I would still receive emails with FB messages, comments posted directly to my page, and comments on my pictures and/or status updates.  However, I would no longer receive updates in my inbox for things like comments on things I'd commented on.  My reasoning was that messages to my FB inbox, comments on my wall, comments on my status updates were akin to someone sending me an email.  They are people directly contacting me.  So, I can read them in my email like I would any other email, but to respond, I have to either a.) email them (if I know their address), b.) call and/or text them (if I have their number), or c.) wait a day to respond.

What I'm finding, now three weeks into my Lenten sacrifice, is that I'm not missing interaction with my friends so much.  I'm still seeing their pics when I log in for my five minutes.  I'm still corresponding with them by email.  In fact, I talking to them on the phone and texting more now.  As far as that goes, it's been fairly easy to adjust to in my first 21 days.

What is interesting, is what is harder to adjust to: Not being able to tell everyone what I'm doing and/or what I'm feeling and/or thinking all of the time.  It's amazing how my mind works in status updates these days.  Last night was my final night volunteering at the winter homeless shelter and as I'm driving to the church I'm thinking of my status update "Last night of the IWS emergency shelter.  It's been a long cold winter, and I'm proud to know I helped make some people's lives easier."  When the drunk pregnant teenage girl came in my thought was "The smoking pregnant women here don't bother me nearly as much as the obviously drunk ones."  Leaving the shelter I was so tired, so when I got home, I popped an ambien and thought: "Just took an ambien.  Hope to be in dreamland very soon.  Tomorrow comes bright and early"  I feel COMPELLED to share these tidbits of my life.  Why?  The first one, maybe to brag a little.  Give myself a virtual slap on the back, knowing that others will probably give me an atta-girl also for my "good deed."  The second, to judge?  To passive aggressively show that I'm a much better person because I would never have drunk or smoke during my pregnancy.  The third, just to complain about my mundane routine.

I've have impulses now and again to update something I just have to share via my Ping account, which updates my FB and twitter at the same time (I have also given up twitter as a by-product).  It's not technically logging onto FB, so that isn't cheating, right?  Wrong!  I have to fight the urge by instead emailing or calling a friend who I think might be interested in what I have to say.  Or better yet, just keep the thought to myself!  (What a concept!)  And then, if it is still so important to share, I can share it during the next morning's log in (all but once, I've forgotten by the next morning).

My point is, I think that we compulsive FB users are addicted to over-sharing.  We:

  • list the mundane details of our life "Just finished grocery shopping.  Now waiting in line at the post office.  Ugh, gotta make it home in time for American Idol."
  • share TMI "Wish this stomach bug would go away.  I threw up twice already this morning.  I don't think I can ever eat spaghetti again."  (Thanks for that, now neither can I.)  
  • air our dirty laundry "My lying cheating ex is now saying he wants a paternity test, because he doesn't think the baby is his.  How dare he!  Considering all the sluts he was sleeping with while he was supposedly with me."
  • brag on ourselves "Finished day 75 of my P90X, now off to drink a protein shake."
  • make grandiose emotional declarations for no reason "My husband is the best husband ever.  I love him sooooo much."
The list goes on and on.  And really, does anyone care?  I mean, I'm glad that I have reconnected with that guy I used to sit next to in Chemistry class in 10th grade.  He was nice.  But I'm not really interested that he got a 120 on bowling last night.  He's alive, he's happy, he has a job, a pretty wife, and cute kids.  That's really where my interest wains off...see you at the next reunion. And somethings I just don't WANT to know about people! I liked you just fine acquaintance of mine until I read you spouting off your militant conspiracy ideas.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE reading and sharing this information with my good friends.  But out of 341 (all of whom I do know in real life in some manner), there are only about 20, maybe 25 that I really care about whether or not their child just poo-pooed on the potty for the first time.

Why have that many friends then?  Well, first of all, I don't really.  I have taken to "hiding" friends in mass, so I'm only actually seeing a small number of my "friends."  (So, if you are someone who posts a lot of TMI or Farmville updates, I'm sorry if your goldfish died and I didn't express my condolences, but I hid you from my Feed a long time ago.)  But the other thing, I feel guilty when someone I know/knew in real life friends me.  I feel like I have to accept them.  Then I give them about 10 status updates or so before I decide to let them stay on my NewsFeed or disappear into the hidden friend zone.  What are the most sure fire ways to be exiled from my newsfeed...prothlesizing, radical political rants, being a Debbie-downer, Farmville/Mafia/Vampire, discussing bodily functions (although I do give passes for children's potty training stories and or milestones) and much much more.

Then there is knowing when someone has hidden you.  You know that person who you know in real life who comments on all of your mutual friends pictures and status updates, but never on yours, got the ax.  If they ask how you got so tan when you just came back from a vacation to Florida, which you've had countdowns on your FB page for 2 weeks leading up to the trip, updates on your page during the trip, and even photos already up of your trip, yea...they took a vacation from your profile a long time ago.

The weird thing is, it actually kind of hurts your feelings, okay maybe not yours, but it does mine.  Rationally, I know that I hide a lot of people, but when I realize that someone I haven't been hiding, someone I've obviously deemed interesting enough and worthy for me to read about their mundane life, is hiding me.  It does smart to know that you did something on their list of offenses to not make the cut.  Or maybe you are just not interesting enough for them?  It all goes back to our desire to share.  We want our voices to be heard, and we want to make sure someone is listening to us.  To somehow validate it.

What do I do when I realize someone has most likely hidden me?  I hide them.  Yea, it's probably pretty childish.  Immature.  But hey, no one is perfect, and I never claimed to be.  I feel like if they don't care to keep up with what is going on in my life, then why on god's good earth should I spend part of my five minutes a day reading over theirs.  I just keep whittling my news feed down, and whittling it down,  and eventually, I'll have few enough actual friends that getting on FB just once a day for a few minutes might be a reality that lasts way past April 24.

To read some really funny examples of oversharing, visit

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


So, this has been my morning so far...

1st Thing 2 did not want to wake up this morning, so I dressed him in his sleep (actually, this was probably the best/easiest part of my morning).

2nd I spent about 20 min trying to find the rotten milk smell in the house.  Didn't find it.  But I think I've narrowed it down to two rooms.  I know what I'm doing tonight.  Ugh!

3rd Got into a fight with Thing 1 because he asked for o.j. with his waffles, but while I was dressing Thing 2 he went in the fridge and got out the orange kool-aid.  But instead of letting him play with the two liquids (they like to pour them back and forth in cups, usually ending when something is spilled), I poured his glass of untouched o.j. back into the container (don't judge!) and poured him a cup of orange kool-aid instead.  At which point he started screaming, crying, throwing himself on the ground as if I'd beat him and screaming that he wanted orange juice.  I felt terrible and frustrated because I was just trying to give him what he wanted.  I hugged him, got him to calm down and explained that the only reason I took away his o.j. in the first place was because he said he wanted koolaid.  He was sniffling and mumbling "yea" with tear stained cheeks.  I put both in front of him and asked "which one do you want?"  "Orange-choose," pointing to the o.j.  UGH!!

4th Boys didn't want to put on coats (fast forward to when they were outside, complaining about how cold their ears and hands were).

5th At 8:15 am, I was at the door.  On time, unbelievably despite the morning, and had my hands full with a package to mail, my purse, my lunch box, two coats (see 4 above), and my Green Monster smoothie I have every morning (think bright green shake consistency drink).  And I spilled my smoothie!!  All over me!  (jacket! pants! shoes!) The living room floor!  The couch!  My purse!  My package!  My lunch box!  The only thing spared was the boys' coats.  I stood there yelling every cuss word I'd ever heard.  Then I calmly said "Boys, would you please get mommy a towel?"  They stood still watching me with wide eyes.  "Please, someone go get me a towel."  No movement.  "Thing 1.  Thing 2.  Go get mommy a towel, please."  Finally, Thing 1 went and got me a kitchen towel.  I spent the next 30 minutes cleaning up the shake.  The floor was still slightly sticky after two mops.  So much for being on time this morning.  UGH!!!

6th I get to work and get on the elevator crammed with people.  I say the customary "Hit 7 please".  I see the young college student in her pajamas holding her expensive coffee hit a button, so I assume she knows her numbers and stick my nose in the paper.  I look up when we stop on 6.  I tuck my newspaper underneath my arm, preparing for my floor next.  But wait, then we go all the way up to 10!  SHE DIDN'T PRESS MY BUTTON.  Ugh.  So I have to ride all the way up to 15.  Stopping I swear on every floor on the way up.  As the elevator clears, I make my way to the side with the panel.  I PRESS 7.  Re-open my newspaper and settle in for the ride up and back down.  When I feel we are starting to go down again, I close my newspaper and look up, just in time to see 8, 7, 6.  WTF????  Apparently if you hit 7 on the way up, it clears once you get to the top??!?!  So I had to ride it all the way down to the ground level.  Then all the way back up to the top.  At 9:15 am, height of use, which means it was stopping just about every other floor.

7th I check my email.  The public library sends me an email that I owe $24.99 for a DVD we rented 3 weeks ago.  For some reason it didn't recognize my renewal last week (though it did the other DVDs I renewed at the same time).  On top of that, it was due back on Saturday, and we returned the case...without the DVD inside.  $24.99 for a crappy movie about fish that they boys watched exactly one time.  I sent back an email saying I thought this was incorrect.  Then I forwarded it all to Superman and asked him to figure it out...I just can't deal with it this morning.

Yes, we have our health, a warm roof over our head, blah-blah-yada-yada-yada...but some mornings just make you wonder why the hell you got out of bed.

I just sent my boss an email that I will be taking Thursday off as a personal day.  I need some quiet time with a glass of no-no-juice and a hot bath.

Who am I kidding?  I'll spend the day searching for the freaking source of the rotten milk smell!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Confessions of a Facebook Addict

Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I did not grow up in a religious household.  My father is a lapsed Catholic and my mother is a staunch atheist.  I did go to church occasionally, with friends or with my grandma, but it was not something expected or encouraged by my parents.  Growing up in the south, I was certainly exposed to a lot of religion.  Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network's headquarters is in my hometown, just about 15 miles from the house I grew up in.  I've even been in the studio audience of a filming of the 700 Club (with my grandma) and an episode of Big Brother Jake (a school field trip).

When I was younger, I liked going to church.  Mostly because I liked the feeling of belonging to something.  Being a Navy brat, we never lived near extended family. It was just my parents, my brother, and me.  But on Sundays, when you went to church, it felt like a big family reunion.  There were dozens upon dozens of wrinkled women who smelled like butterscotch hugging you and their gray-haired male companions flashing their big dentured smiles and calling you affectionate names.  To someone who lost three out of four grandparents before she was 10 years old, I gladly welcomed these friendly seniors as my surrogate grandparents.  Similarly, the Sunday School classes were teeming with the cousins I never knew.

But as I grew up, and began to think more about the real reasons why people go to church, I found myself coming to the realization that I was just not a "Christian."  I didn't believe all of the things I was told a Christian had to believe, and furthermore, I found myself not liking most of the self-proclaimed Christians that I met.  I found most of them to be judgmental of others (Christians and non-Christians), hypocritical, and lacking compassion.  Of course I still had Christian friends, but much like the bumper sticker says to "Love the sinner, hate the sin," I had chosen to "Love the person, hate the faith-group."  Okay, so hate is a strong word, more like dislike and seriously mistrust.

So, how did this person come to be the woman who brings her kids to church every Sunday, attends a Sunday school class, and is even practicing a sacrifice for Lent this season?  The answer is...I found a church that truly accepts me for who I am.  First United Church of Bloomington is unlike any other church I've ever attended.  It welcomes everyone.  Everyone.  All brand of Christianity...Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Quakers.  Muslims.  Jews.  Atheist.  Anyone and everyone interested in a spiritual discussion about faith, serving God, and caring for our fellow man.

Since we've been attending FUCB, I have learned a lot about pure compassion.  And about selflessly helping and giving to others.  And while I'm still not ready to be baptized or change my Facebook status to "Christian," I am truly enjoying being a part of this faith community and learning more about how to be a better person and more fully serve God and my fellow mankind.

Which brings me to Lent.  In our church, they don't mandate that you "give something up for Lent."  In fact, the message I got was more about the importance of using this time to think about your spirituality and meditate on God, whether you give something up in order to focus more on it or not is your own decision.  Superman, a Christian from way back, poked me in Sunday's service and whispered "I'm giving up self-denial," as he does every year.  But, I decided to take it a bit more seriously.

To me, who still sees herself as more of a deist than a Christian, God is the creator.  Someone or something that created the whole universe, and we are all God's children.  And I feel the best way I can honor and serve that creator is to focus on fostering positive relationships with the people in my life.  And while chocolate might not be good for my waist line, I don't feel like it hinders my relationship with others.  But because I still feel the need to "give something up," I chose to give up Facebook.  Okay, not completely give it up, but give up my addiction to it.

Facebook gets a bad rep.  There are an ever rising number of articles and blogs out there about the dangerous and negative effects of our current Facebook culture: 10 Ways Facebook Can Ruin Your Life

But Facebook itself is not a bad thing.  For someone like me who has moved a lot and lives hundreds of miles away from most of my friends and family, Facebook is a savior for helping me stay connected with people.  When planning my high school class's 10 year reunion, Facebook and Myspace (may it rest in peace) were instrumental in locating old classmates, and we had a great turnout because of that.  When a close friend of mine from high school passed away unexpectedly this past summer, the news spread quickly and many who might not have otherwise even heard of his passing were able to attend the funeral and pay their respects.  (In contrast, a few years earlier, when a friend of mine from college passed, it was nearly 4 months later before most of his college buddies even heard.)

The problem I've found is that #1 I spend too much time ON Facebook: browsing, reading, commenting, uploading...just wasting time.  And #2 It has become my main mode of communication. When I used to pick up the phone and talk to my friend, now I'll just leave her a short message on her Wall.  In one way Facebook helps us keep better connected with people, but in another way, it keeps us from having meaningful communication with them....

So for the next 39 days, I will be taking all the extra time I would normally spend browsing, reading, commenting, etc and put it towards being more productive and have more meaningful interactions with my family.  And when I need to contact someone, I will either type out an actual email (not an abbreviated wall posting) or pick up the phone and actually talk to them.

And for those who are wondering, I opted not to give it up completely, because there are people that I communicate with only through Facebook (I don't even have their phone number or email address), so I will allow myself 5 minutes every morning to check my account.

One day in, I would say that while it has been hard not to log in (I thought about asking Superman to change my password so I couldn't, but then I decided I had to use my own will power for it to really count), I have already seen a difference in my quality of communication.  Yes, I've had to use some investigative work to find some emails and phone numbers, but I was able to do it, and successfully communicate with people without my Facecrack!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Child Proof My Aunt Fanny!

Monday evening, Thing2 woke up at about 11 pm coughing, crying, and acting otherwise pretty puny.  We spent about an hour trying to comfort him back to sleep before I gave up and took him to the couch,  propped him up with some pillows, and turned on Thomas the Train.  I figured that if he had a stuffed up nose (which he violently resisted me suctioning) and an earache, that the best thing to do was let him try to fall asleep sitting up.  Which he finally did around 2:30 am.

When he finally woke up around 9 am the next morning, he was still stuffy, coughing lightly, and telling me his ear hurt.  So, I put some drops in his ear and gave him 1 tsp of Children's Ibuprofen.  Then my baby looks up at me with his big sad hazel eyes and says "Mommy, I want Polar Express DBD."  Now, I am one of those people who abhors Christmas movies outside of Thanksgiving to New Years, so for the last two months every time they have asked for this movie I've let them know that it will come back at Thanksgiving.  But on this day, I looked at my pitiful little buddy and said "okay," then went down in the basement and spent 15 minutes digging through Christmas totes until I had procured the slim 8X6 box.

I poured us some orange juice, popped some popcorn, then popped the movie in the player.  And even though it was March 1, I enjoyed watching that Christmas movie for the sheer fact that it made Thing2 smile.

After the movie ended, I got up for a potty break.  I could hear Thing2 moving around in the kitchen and thought "good, he's feeling better."  Coming out of the bathroom, I see my smiling boy walking down the hallway towards me, holding an empty bottle of Children's Ibuprofen, and proudly proclaiming "Look Mommy, it's all gone."

Now, I will admit, I remained fairly calm, as I knew the bottle was mostly empty.  I grabbed one of our phones, which all have the number for poison control right on them, thanks to a handy package of stickers and magnets they sent us a year or so ago. (For free!)

Immediately Joanne asked how much he had ingested.  I knew it couldn't have been much, but since those bottles are deceiving, I decided to fill it up with water to approximately how much I thought was left and then measure that out.  To my surprise, it was as much as 6 tsps!  Holy moly!  A dose for a 90 lb child is only 3 tsps (Thing2 weighs 31).  I felt my heart quicken.  I was waiting for her to say "take him straight to the hospital."

But she didn't.  To my great relief, she said "he's going to be fine."  She said that he might get a little groggy, and would probably take a big nap in about an hour.  That I should tickle his feet every 15 minutes or so while he is sleeping it off to watch for reaction.  She'd call me back in about two hours to check on him.

I was relieved, but still angry at myself.  How had I let this happen.  I had left the bottle on the kitchen window sill.  But I know those boys can climb to anything they want.  But the lid was child proof, right?  I called my little imp over and handed him the empty bottle with the lid fastened tightly, and said "open this."  In less than 20 seconds, he had it opened and upturned in his mouth, spiking it down to the ground when he found it void of the sweet sticky substance he was hoping for. Child Proof My Aunt Fanny!!

Luckily, Thing2 really did have no side effects.  He never even got groggy.  By the time Joanne called back at 1 pm to check on him, I was silently praying for a nap.  Because I was exhausted.

The moral(s) of the story:  Don't trust child proof locks. Always keep the number for Poison Control where you can find it quickly.  It's okay to watch Christmas movies in March, if it makes your kid feel better when he is sick.  And if you want to cure your kid's ear infection, give him 6x his dosage of pain killer!