Dear Social Media: Sometimes you really wear me out.

Life isn't a competition, but according to Facebook, I'm kicking your ass.

I like to talk. Given the chance, those who know me best will tell you that, in fact, I love it. Maybe more than anything. Except bread. God knows I’ll gladly give you a kid for a warm loaf of bread with honey butter. Add a Diet Coke to that order and you can have both my beautiful offspring.

But since My Space (remember that?), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Pinterest, Etsy, and countless other social media channels have entered my life and each taken a turn at being my primary diversionary obsession, I find that I am….tired.

For me, that’s a painful fact to reconcile…the idea of being tired of talking. In my world, that’s blasphemy.

However, the truth is that social media can be a little like a parasite eating away at my will to remain appropriate. There are so many venues to express myself and yet, I can’t escape the feeling that these channels are just countless new / additional places where I must be a pale version of myself.

The Internet, after all, is forever. And that means those of us who don’t get paid to get our freak on for the amusement of the World Wide Web must think before we speak (or write).  Bummer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media.  But too often, playing in the social sandbox feels a bit like being continually sized up by the cool kids – the ones always looking to see if you measure up. Are you funny but not crass? Smart but not nerdy? Opinionated but not alienating? 

Sigh. Perhaps I am the only one yearning for authenticity. Honesty. The full picture. But alas, there’s just too much pressure to appear a certain way online. 

May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.

Too tired to even fake it anymore. Sad, isn’t it? My husband, too, is dismayed.

In the beginning of the online social revolution, the feeling that we were together yet alone was exhilarating. After all, what was the chance someone we knew was really going to come across that blog post?

Not anymore. In a few short years social media has created unprecedented levels of global human connectedness.  And that’s fantastic. But it also means that everyone is going to see that picture of you playing tip cup. Last weekend. With your kids in the background doing virgin jello shots.

It’s kind of exhausting.

Then again, I’m sure this is just my problem. And in spite of everything, I always did like running with the popular crowd. So breaks I may take, but I will always be back.

Maybe soon, dear social media, we can drop the charade and really get to know each other.  In a totally appropriate way, of course.

Almost Wordless Wednesday

…Because let’s be honest, ‘wordless’ isn’t really my thing.

Flock of  birds at Talampaya National Park La Rioja Cuyo

Photo credit: HarvestHeart

I live on a street that seems to me a southern version of San Franscisco, with its tight row houses and steep, sloping sidewalks. Addison loves to sit on her scooter and fly down the hill in front of our house because it feels dangerous and because I have repeatedly told her not to. 

Once my sister asked her, “Addison, how many times do you think you’ve ridden that scooter down this big hill?”

Thinking, she looked up to the sky, where a flock of birds blazed a path almost as rapid as hers. “As many times as there are birds in the sky,” she said.

We should all do the things we love as often.

Attack of the Pretty Police

 

Robert Palmer Girls
Caution: Mixed metaphors ahead.

Addison is changing. And I don’t like it one bit.

My once supremely confident, creative, take-no-trash little Alpha dog – the one who seemed to eat life up she loved it so – has become doubtful and disillusioned. Among her first grade peers, her big bark and wildly wagging tail have all but disappeared, replaced by a disconcerting deference to the ‘popular’ girls.

The seeds of insecurity were sewn in kindergarten, when it became clear over the course of the year that the girls – five year olds – were beginning to classify each other as pretty and…not. Popularity was subsequently determined by where you fell on that excruciatingly superficial and subjective scale.

As usual, the Pretty Police prevailed:

I can’t wear that…everyone will think I look stupid.

 Madison says my eyes are squinty when I smile.

 So-and-so says my ears stick out too far.

 Really?!  First of all, there is nothing wrong with Alpha’s ears except her propensity for using them selectively when I am speaking to her. And secondly, as a species our ears tend to protrude from our heads in order to gather sound, so that we can hear.

Honestly, it took every ounce of restraint I had not to summon up Kristen and Demi, just to make a particular point:

Kristen Stewart

See? Beautiful AND sticky-outy ears.

But that would’ve been immature. And I am a model of maturity. Ask anyone (who has known me less than a year).

Demi Moore

"Bite it, Princess Perfect Ears. -- Love, Demi"

Anyway, four months into the new school year and the seeds have taken seemingly firm root, sprouting insidious weeds that I’m afraid will smother too many of the things that make Addison a fairly magnificent specimen to behold.

Hopefully sometime before the hormones strike their hefty blow, my Alpha dog will rediscover her inner nonconformist…the one who was once so often heard to say, “That’s stupid. I’m not doing it.”

In the meantime, those of us who love her will pull on our gardening gloves, drag the hoes out of the shed, and settle in for some serious weeding.

Hardcore Christmas in the South

 

Winner of the Clark W. Griswold Foundation '2011 Most Crazed Christmas Lights' Award

This is my neighbor's house. It both thrills and exhausts me. I am currently resisting the urge to lay prostrate on the front walk wrapped in a shroud bearing the words: "You Win."

True Confessions Friday

Last month I wrote about Guilt. And how I have a lot of it. I was all freaked out about posting the piece because I have this infuriating need to be liked and approved of, which I am pretty sure drives He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named INSANE. But I did it anyway. Because, well, why the hell not? At some point a person has to LIVE, for God-freakin-sake. Throw caution to the wind and care in the can, because what is life if all you do is obsess over whether people LIKE you?  (For the record, this bravado flies directly in the face of the way I live my life on a daily basis. I’m thinking I must have missed a pill or two that week.) 

In any case, I posted it. And the damn thing got picked up on ‘Freshly Pressed.’  So.  So, what? you say.  Well, SO… even though I’ve been wanting to further unburden my oft-troubled soul of all the things I feel bad about from week to week — because it is, in some freakish way, cathartic for me – I’ve developed an irksome case of performance anxiety. 

Seriously, I don’t have that many more good stories about Catholic school. It was a generally positive experience, which makes me more than a little bitter when I consider how much material I really should have gotten out of those four years. I never even got my hands smacked with a ruler. Not once. Sister Marianne did staple my shirt shut on one occasion, but that is a digression for another day. 

Guilt. Performance anxiety. Confessions. Yes…that’s why I logged in. So rather than never again have the opportunity to virtually offload my many domestic transgressions, I am instituting the first-ever “Time to Make the Brownies” weekly tradition:

True Confessions Friday. Because Guilt isn't just for Mondays, anymore...

As a rule, I’m not a fan of bloggy games. They seem like a lot of work to me. But we’re going to pretend this one is really fun. Mostly because I said so. 

This Week’s Seven Deadly Sins (aka, Stuff I feel bad about):

  1. My complete inability to cook even ONE healthy meal for the offsprings’ consumption while their creator was out-of-town on business.  Yes, we ate out. Every. Single. Night.  If you listen closely, you can hear their cholesterol rising from the depths of my bedroom.
  2. Allowing aforementioned offspring to be the last two remaining souls at summer camp for reasons I cannot even remember but am positive did not warrant the undue stress of feeling forgotten by the only parent within a 500 mile radius.
  3. Failure to complete the lone-requested Father’s Day gift — a mammoth, three-year picture project that was initiated exclusively out of a deep-seated desire for shiny new photo albums – DESPITE being awarded four full days of complete solitude last week and another four husband-free days this week. I am so screwed. Bad wife. Bad, BAD wife!
  4. Continuing to sort dirty clothes into elaborately-classified piles in the downstairs guest room, but not actually do a single load of laundry.  Just to give myself the satisfaction of seeing empty hampers in all the other bedrooms.
  5. Neglecting to write checks, draft inspiring notes and mail cards for second cousins’ high school graduations in two different states, despite telling the spouse this task has already been crossed off his exceptionally comprehensive ‘To Do’ list.
  6. Unjustly administering the ‘I don’t care if you don’t want to eat it or don’t want to do it or you think it’s not fair. There are starving children in Africa and scared children in L.A. who go to bed listening to gunshots ring outside their windows, so be grateful for what you have and when I tell you to do something, just do it” lecture, out of nothing more than garden-variety frustration over screeching siblings who chose to ignore repeated requests to help pick up the avalanche of possessions sprinkled about my family room.
  7. For responding to the oldest child’s cry for help with, “If this is a joke, I am so going to spank your butt.” (In my defense, he was crying wolf from underneath the porch in an attempt to get my attention during the one phone call I’ve made to my mother in their presence in the last three weeks.  Still, I’m pretty sure threats of physical violence result in immediate disqualification for the ‘Mother of the Year’ award.)

There. I feel better already.  Thank you for your support.  Hopefully soon, I’ll figure out if WordPress enables the function that will allow you to link to my post with a cute little icon that provides a direct path back to your own ‘True Confessions Friday.’ 

In the meantime, feel free to unburden yourself in the Comments section. And if you know a good priest who can provide Friday afternoon absolution, send me his contact information. I seriously doubt my Craig’s List ad is going to attract the right candidate for this activity.

She’s a Superstar…

Molly Shannon on the red carpet as a 'Superstar!'

Mothers are notorious for telling their children they can be — or do – anything they want in life.  This is not, as I suspect some teenagers may believe, an attempt to blow sunshine up the dark orifices of an entire generation.  Rather, it is a mother’s keen understanding of the true possibility and potential of her offspring.  It’s our little way of saying, “Hey kid, make good choices and stay out of your own way, and you’ll go far in life.”  We’re trying to inspire confidence, for God’s sake.  You’re WELCOME. 

(Also, we happen to truly believe that you are fantastic. Gratitude can be expressed in your choice of especially thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts or by successfully completing adolescence without the need to be bailed out of anywhere.  Take your pick.)

While most of us fall into the category of “could have climbed a little higher on the life ladder if we’d only had a tad more nerve and the discipline to forego 10-20 fewer Saturday night keggers,” there are some people who come into this world as a force of nature.  There’s no doubt these little suckers are going somewhere…it’s just a semi-frightening matter of whether they choose to use their powers for good or evil. 

Case in point:

Independent third-party predictions for the manner in which Addison will bring the global masses to their collective knees have included President of the United States and cult leader.  These assessments were levied by people I consider to be fairly informed and reliable sources:  her preschool teacher and one of the Hub’s coworkers who is a confirmed hater of small people who are clearly immature and germ-infested. 

Suffice it to say, it was the former who predicted Addison will someday bust up on Barack in Chicago and snip, “Yeah, you were first. In your own little way. But the girls are in the house now, baby, and I am so gonna kick your legacy’s candy ass.”  As the only rooster on his own little chick farm, it’s my bet that he’ll find this at least mildly amusing.

Addison herself, is still in deliberation.  She announced this morning that she would like to be taken to Hollywood…the sooner the better.  I’d like to say that she added something especially funny like, “because I’m a superstar,” but the manner in which this request was delivered clearly denoted that part was implied.  While I”m sure I’d make a smokin’ hot stage mom, my response was to suggest that she wait a few years.  Like until she’s 18 and waited enough tables to come up with her first month’s rent.  Because I’m not footing the bill for super-stardom until she demonstrates a little initiative. Or at least a willingness to perform “Henry Pickle” on cue for family and friends in a manner that truly befits her level of talent and stage presence.  I think it’s important to be practical about these sort of things.

Anyway, given my general lack of cooperativeness, she has currently decided to settle for an as-yet-unplanned trip to Disney World, where she can get her princess on.  Royalty, I suppose, will have to suffice until she can round up the cash for bus fare to the Big Time. 

For my part, I’m glad to have a few more years to see how my tiny tornado takes on the world while still having the safety of our little family to retreat to after a tough day of directing teachers and classmates presumably less qualified for greatness.  I hope she finds a way to keep all her confidence and moxy intact to adulthood.  If she does, the world had better watch out.  The Force is strong with this one…

The case for hoarding

As a general rule, I feel compelled to have actual content before bothering anyone with my random thoughts.  But it’s Wednesday.  And here in la-la-land, that’s You Can Do It! day, so indulge me.  Or wait for Thursday, when I get back to real writing.  Because right now, we’re boarding the bus for “Things Laura Gets Excited About And Then Realizes She Doesn’t Have The Right Curtains For.” 

So, I was reading another blog this morning and I came across this:

Tie Dress

And I thought, Oh my God, that is so kind of…HOT…and it’s just like those curtains my mother-in-law made me for the office, like, 10 years ago.  Except those are not hot, but MAN, what a great post this would make!  And then I saw this:

Tie wreath

And THIS:

Tie clock

And I thought, OK, now seriously, I totally HAVE to do the tie post.  So I go running downstairs with my camera and the cutest belt I can find because at this point, I am completely committed to modeling the latest in tie-curtain-dress fashion, and it turns out that at some point during the last move, I THREW THEM AWAY.

This is something I do often.  Throw things away. I hate clutter and having arbitrary things l don’t really need.  So every couple of months, I’ll pick a closet or drawer and just start chucking stuff.  My husband – the one who still has his ceramic baby booties (don’t get me started), a moderately inappropriate scrapbook made for him by his high school girlfriend, and shreds of a once-thought-to-be-cool University of Colorado t-shirt with a middle finger on it — hates this behavior.  But I have kids with a crap-ton of stuff and therefore I absolutely loathe having other at-the-time seemingly useless stuff shoved in random places around my house.  

I will admit that my predisposition towards roomy drawers does sometimes come back to bite me in butt.  Like when I can’t find a single white button-up shirt to wear with jeans because I’ve thrown them all away due to possibly-imaginary-but-really-probably-there yellow stains under the arms.  Or when I want to craft a tie-curtain-dress masterpiece. 

So maybe the hoarder is right.  Maybe I should save more.  That way, when maxi-pad minis and coupon-covered lamp shades come into vogue, I’ll be totally ready.

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