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.

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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."

Doubt

I’m a competant professional.  Expert domestic delegator.  Reasonably thoughtful wife.  And active-duty mommy moving steadily up in the ranks towards ‘2-Star Experienced Caretaker, Counselor and Boo-boo kisser.’  It’s a lot of work, but I generally manage to accomplish the mission-critical assignments.  Then there are ‘those’ days.  The ones where I look around and see this:
Laundry scattered on pool table

It's been here for 3 days. I think it's clean. But I should smell it. Just to be sure.

And this:

Kids sword fighting

In theory, this is 'play.' In reality, it is a war to the death. The winner gets Mommy's full attention for at least 3 minutes while she administers the lecture on the perils of puncture wounds. Video would be infinitely more compelling.

And I imagine my boss doing this:

Tina Fey rolliing her eyes

"Really? Did she give up coffee again?" Photo: YouTube, CityTV

And I look like this:

Me, looking a mess

Me, amping up to beat the husband off with a stick.

And then…THEN I notice these:

My crows feet

And I can’t help feeling like I want to eat a half-gallon of Haagen Daaz vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup and proceed directly to bed. 

Is it just me?  Because Facebook leads me to believe there are women out there managing to fit in a daily run, complete complex work assignments, make shockingly-elaborate princess castle cakes, host weekly game nights, raise perpetually polite and well-behaved offspring and apply makeup.  EYELINER?  EXERCISE?  Where do these women find the time?  I am in awe.

Rationally, I know we all have days when we wonder if we’re doing enough.  Being enough.  Applying enough Olay Definity eye cream.  But for me, these occasional days of doubt are the major downside of working from home.  Don’t get me wrong, for every challenge, there are no fewer than three great perks.  But when your daily commute consists of a 30-second shuffle from the bedroom to the living room, there’s no one to run into in the break room and say, “Last night, I let the kids have peanut butter and Pop Tarts for dinner.  I mean, peanut butter…it’s got protein, right?”

“Clean up on Aisle 5”

It’s a little-known fact that the grocery store industry is run by an underground ring of satanic processed food worshippers.  Over the years, I’ve often fantasized about spearheading a nationwide boycott.  Seriously. It’s up there with the very detailed plan I have for how to spend my lottery winnings.  

But since grocery stores have a monopoly on Cool Ranch Doritos, I’ve kept my mouth shut.  Well, not today.  Today, I’ve got a bone to pick with good old Chuck.  Chuck is the general manager of my local grocery store.  We’ll call him ‘Chuck’ because that’s his name.  Actually, his name is ‘Charles,’ but it’s hard to get your Clint Eastwood on when you’re in a stand off with a guy named Charles.   

So, Chuck recently got word from the home office that impulse-purchase-based profits are in the toilet, which clearly means that local shoppers are not nearly disoriented enough to take advantage of the “buy two get one free” special on powdered milk.  Time to reorganize. 

Based on the way this order was executed, I can only assume that Chuck is either: 

A) Completely asleep at the wheel, or 

B) A corporate top performer and out-of-the-box thinker who is conspiring with his 9 year old son to make sure there are plenty of hysterical, hyperventilating housewives to cart out of aisles and into the back room where they keep all those people for whom the experience is just “too much.”  

Having seen Chuck’s picture at the front of the store, it really could go either way.  But I’m gonna go with ‘B’ here.  Because only a 9 year old with an early bedtime would elect to commence removing and relocating all the items on 50% of store shelves at 8 AM in a retail location that’s open 24 hours.  I’m sure his mom didn’t want him up late on a school night.  An evil genius needs his rest, after all. 

But all’s well that end’s well, because I gotta tell you, the result is a masterpiece.  If you don’t leave this store with 10 packs of tropical-flavored gum, 60 rolls of toilet paper and the shakes, you’ve got a bright future ahead of you in the grocery business, my friend.  Try not to squander your talent on something silly, like science.  Or technology. 

Witness the work of an artist…Go ahead, I’ll wait. 

Layout of Ingles grocery in West Jefferson, NC

Super intuitive store layout

Impressive, eh? Not only are the saucy noodles I needed yesterday NOT in the dry pasta aisle, but tortillas are shacked up with Hogs N’ Heaven pork rinds on a random kiosk strategically positioned in front of the ground turkey.  Am I alone in thinking that dry noodles — be they pouched or boxed — are dry noodles and should all be located on the aisle that is clearly marked DRY PASTA?  Or that tortillas belong with International Foods and pork rinds with Snacks?  Unless of course you’re making your world famous pork rind roll-ups for the kids’ lunch.  In which case, it makes perfect sense.  

Why put juice with cereal?  Maybe we’re considering it part of breakfast.  But think of your target market!  Put juice where it belongs, Satan — near the TONIC WATER.  Because I swear to the Sweet Virgin Mary if you do, I will hop on the powdered milk special train just because you made it easier for me to get the mixers for the stiff drink I’m going to need when I leave this place. 

The examples go on and on.  I know there’s a method to the madness, and it has nothing to do with making the store an easy, convenient and pleasant place to shop.  Innovative artists like Chuck are rarely understood and appreciated in their lifetimes.  Still, I have to believe that somewhere Chuck and his son are carefully crafting the speech for their “Psycho Store Organizers of the Year” award.  

Nice job, Chuck.  Keep reaching for the stars and separating the good guac from the processed, avocado-colored dip masquerading as the real thing.  I, for one, do not begrudge you success.  Just send the guys to peel me up off the floor in Aisle 5. 

Server error

I am a procrastinor of epic magnitude.  When I am overwhelmed — and as a wife, mother, sister, daughter and marketing professional who works full time from my home, I often am — I am prone to either A) flit about in a flurry of meaningless activity, or B) lapse into a state of full-body paralysis.  It’s not that I don’t get things done.  I do.  I just like to wait until I’ve worked myself up into a healthy froth of total anxiety before commencing with meaningful task execution. 

My therapist (although I suppose I really should call her my ex-therapist since I only met with her biweekly for two months before winter hit the NC mountains like a really pissed off woman scorned, and I used the ice as a reasonable excuse to commence hibernation) told me this is result of a lack of “me time.”  While her explanation is no doubt valid, I prefer to function in a semi-consistent state of self-inflicted delusion.  Not about everything.  Just certain things…like why I procrastinate.  I tell myself that I work best under pressure.  Adrenaline, brought on by the aforementioned frothy anxiety, makes me brilliant.  Some of the best executive speeches I have ever written were composed at 3:30 AM a full 12-48 hours after the proposed deadline. 

But today, I really need to get moving.  My sister, her husband and my 3-week new nephew will be arriving on my doorstep in approximately five hours.  I have nine loads of laundry sorted and strategically placed by category on my family room floor.  The house is a mess.  I have no fewer than four overdue work assigments.  The oldest child has an early release day from school (t-minus 23 minutes until he descends up on me).  And my vacuum was fatally injured in a run-in with my puppy, who could think of nothing more entertaining to do on Tuesday than chew the cord to a fine shred and spread it artfully across my bedroom rug.

Seriously, I have a lot to do.  I’d prefer to be flitting about in meaningless activity, mostly because virtually no activity — from emptying the coffee pot to wandering about folding the toilet paper tails into cute triangles — would be truly meaningless today.  I doubt seriously I could find a way to flit that wouldn’t ultimately contribute to my end OCD goals of having the house immaculately clean, the laundry done and put away, dinner premade and in the fridge, and two conference calls checked off the list before my sister arrives.

Unfortunately, I have choosen paralysis.  The universe is making an attempt to assist.  The server on my work laptop has been down all morning, making it virtually impossible for me to get anything done in terms of the job I am actually paid to do.  A golden opportunity.  And yet, here I sit, listening for the washer to complete its cycle.  Writing.   Knowing that with each passing minute, I will have to compromise something on the list of things I want to get done today.  And coming to the very-not-new conclusion that this procrastination thing has gotten entirely Out Of Hand. 

I absolutely must address this issue.  Catch the plane off Fantasy Island, conduct some productive soul searching, stroll down to the root of the problem and identify a workable solution.  I am.  I will.  Right after I sort my hot roller clips by size and color.  I think I feel a flit coming on….

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