Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.

Summer’s Here!

          Finally summer has arrived! The northeast has been pummeled with constant rain and windstorms for what seems like months. Nevertheless, my family surged over the finish line ending freshman year of high school for Noah and 6th grade for Jordan.  As I write this it really begins to hit me for the first time, I have children in high school and middle school. I mean I know that but to see it in print….

      Luckily for all of us, pre-teen angst is similar to my halftime angst. I call it halftime because it sounds better, more optimistic. Or maybe I’ve just been living with boys for too long. Middle age sounds dowdy, decrepit, and old. Like a clock slowly winding down, tick tick. Halftime sounds optimistic like there’s more of the game left to be played. There’s still time to reevaluate prior mistakes and successes, make adjustments big and small before the second half. A do over of sorts. I may be rationalizing a bit here but  a bit of self-delusion may be all I’ve got.

      Predictably, this year has been filled with the unexpected intermittent, uninvited  hot flashes, skin and body/image changes you would expect at this age. There are the inevitable mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, interminable sleep marathons, insatiable hunger, (which can lead to tantrums, but I digress), sleep deprivation, exhaustion, talking endlessly to people who don’t seem to understand the english language, and frustration! Indecision, indifference and confusion often lead to complaints such as: “I’m bored” to “I never get to do anything fun”, and my personal favorite, “I just need time to myself.”  This daily litany and self-analysis is enough to drive a person crazy. And it’s not just about me, if you think all of that sounds beyond unbearable, the boy’s moods swings, temper tantrums and changes have been no picnic to live through either.

      Still summer is a transition and a welcome one at that. We can seclude ourselves on the deck, at the beach or tucked cozily on our beds reading (me), watching tv, playing video games, with an occasional grunt which passes for conversation, (boys). This summer I have decided to just live without a plan or a goal.  Okay decided sounds like I had a choice my sons thought otherwise.

      With the usual complaints and occasional disdain from my sons, the consensus is that: “we don’t need you to plan every minute of our day we’re older now”. Fair enough, (If only that didn’t include the constant hurrying up to wait and “oh didn’t I tell you that I need $20. and my game is 45 minutes away and I told you I need a ride and we have to pick up….Why aren’t you dressed????”). What? Nobody told me! Which is inevitably followed by the bemoaning sounds of “Oh Mom!” There is the ever-present muttering, mumbling and criticism which haunts my days and sometimes nights. Any other men/boys and I might have broken up with them by now. I mean I’m supposed to get life advice from a 15 and a 12-year-old? Yeah right, (cue eye roll). See, I’m learning.

      Since they’re so smart, I’m taking their advice. Here’s to staying loose and letting the summer unfold, teenage style. Despite the challenges of living with boys who crash into walls, spill any liquid they touch, break every glass/plate/cup we own, and don’t get me started talking about bathroom hygiene and cleanliness.,(don’t fret, a trick of the trade for teenage boys, Axe body wash, minus the body wash part), it’s gonna be a great time.

      We are living it up, enjoying life, and spending time together, mostly. We’re gonna take it easy and go where the wind takes us. It’s only half time but I like the way the first half of the game has gone so far. Here’s hoping I kick butt in the second half. 

      

 

 

 

Silence in Summer…

What a glorious summer we’ve been having. It’s seasonal arrival was right on time and our family has reveled in its warmth and verdant views. It is truly a blessing after the winter of Snow and huddled nights under the blankets for warmth and comfort.

Spending most of my summer waking hours with my beloved sons, is a tapestry of color, laughter, and love that I will carry with me all the rest of my days. I take a piece of each of them with me, in every breath I take.

Still, there are days, I long for a lazy summer in the hammock, reading, drinking iced tea and the only sound for miles is the birds, squirrels, and the whispering of the wind through the shades of the over abundant and ever-present, green leaves. Silence is never truly silent, is it? There is always some sound or another present in the stillness. I long for it anyway.

I loved living on my own, in my own company. I loved knowing that when I got home the expectations and demands of other people, were locked safely outside my door. Their presence only required, if I requested.

Family life is nothing like that. You are totally ensconced in each other’s daily rituals, foibles, side jokes, habits, and plans. There is nowhere to hide even if you wished silently and perhaps fervently to. And believe me when I say, there are days that I wish to hide away from the inane and mundane, to run away and lounge about in a supine position, and veg., all day and night with a great book and drift mindlessly away.

So it’s ironic that when I finally get those rare moments of solitude and silence that I so longed/begged for; I miss the bedlam and mayhem that encircles my son’s lives like an orbit of chaos, where ever they go. I miss looking over and seeing their eyes alight with joy as they jump off the dock into the water, or ride their bikes, camp, pitch a good game, score a soccer goal, toast marshmallows, or pitch a tent in the yard. 

I miss their mischievous giggles when they are up to no good. Usually that means they are getting along even if they are teaming up to spray me with the hose or trick their dad into taking them to the lake for an evening swim.

I miss their curiosity and fearlessness that gets me to try things I would ordinarily wish not to try, simply by saying, “Come on Mom, you can do it”. This is how I found myself staring down at a darkened floor well at the “Drop Floor” ride at the local water park. I climbed into a sealed, coffin like, bubble tube and the floor dropped out from underneath me with a flourish and a thunderous jolt. There was a moment of sheer panic when my brain realized that the floor beneath me had disappeared. Soon I was falling, tumbling, choking, coughing, and swirling, awash in a giant, enclosed, snake-like, colored hose, with gallons of chlorinated water tossing me about like a stick in a stream. Abruptly, I arrived, spit out of the tube, and unceremoniously dumped, gulping down gallons of chlorinated water,  gasping for air, into a shallow pool awash with fluorescent lights and a cacophony of indiscriminate sounds, where the staff smiled benignly and perhaps with a bit of smirk, at my valiant effort not to drown. 

I struggled with as much dignity as I could muster, positive everyone had heard my lady like shrieks and screams throughout the park,  to get out of the water without further embarrassment or worse yet tears. Tears of joy mingled with tears of all-encompassing terror and fear. I am proud that my kids got to see me and my mom do something so terrifying and live to tell the tale.

So while I long for a day of silence from time to time, there is nothing like summer days and nights with your kids. Photographs and vignettes for the mind’s eye photo album. It makes me glad to know that I am building memories with my kids and that they know I love them so much that I would even take risks with them that no other people on the planet could ever convince me to take. Now that’s real love folks.

I hope everyone is having a blessed and joyful summer. I hope in the midst of the long lazy days of summer, you take sometime off to enjoy a bit of silence.

#summermemories

 

Blizzard of 2015!

It was a lovely Monday morning that suddenly, and with much expected, pomp and circumstance, the day had morphed into “The Blizzard of 2015!” Panic arrived at the grocery store, the Packie, (New England for liquor store), and tempers mounted at the gas stations, as hearty New Englanders jocked and braced for 2-3 feet of snow, depending on where you live. It is no surprise, I live where 3 feet of expected snow raged and fell heartily and steadily for two days and two nights.

If you live in New England, as they old saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.” It did change with the fury of 1000 winds, as snowflakes danced determinedly, gracefully, purposefully, and endlessly to the startlingly white covered ground. Even knowing the snow was coming, it arrived at an alarmingly fast pace; relentlessly, dramatically and unceasingly, until bedtime last night.

My sons declared it the “best snowfall, ever,” well at least for now. They suited up and as surely as New Englanders know the weather will change, we also know that we must also buckle up and get about the cleaning up after surviving the storm. Be it, hurricanes, wind gale seas, flooding, or snowing, we must get our outer gear on and start to shoveling, period. My sons made me proud and we tackled the Blizzard of 2015, with zeal, delight, and vigor, shoveling our way out of the storm, sort of , mostly just to the street where the plows pushed it back on the driveway. But hey, that’s still progress. We can know see the street.

What could be the reward for working so hard, you ask? Well if your 9 and 12-year-old boys; white and milk chocolate chip pancakes. Yum, and they did shovel for two hours, well what is a mother to do? I sat back, ate an omelette (just looking at the pancakes hurt my teeth). Indeed eggs and coffee may just pull me through the next few days, as school was canceled for another day. Can’t say as I blame them, it’s a blizzard out there, haven’t you heard?

Yup, the Blizzard of 2015, (so far), has come and gone. I’d say we should just continue to count our blessings for being warm, safe, fed, shoveled out, and loved. 

The door opens, snow has arrived.
The door opens, snow has arrived.
Shoveling begins at the door.
Shoveling begins at the door.
The Blizzard rages on.
The Blizzard rages on.
Neither sleet nor rain.
Neither sleet nor rain.
Marshmallow snow mounds.
Marshmallow  fluff snow mounds.
Just Rewards.
Just Rewards.

Holiday Season!

I love the lights, the cheer, the food and the joy around the Holiday Season.

Things have been hectic and taking a moment to breathe and enjoy the crush of the season, is my task this year.

I am ahead in the shopping department, (a first in many years). I am decorating and sending out my homemade Christmas/Holiday cards today while I sit sipping eggnog and listening to some Holiday tunes.

I guess this rare moment of reflection and peace and quiet has given me a chance to think about all the things I am grateful for this year and all the things that I will need to change as I enter 2015.

For now, at this very moment, I am so glad that my tree is sparkling, my beautiful sons are smiling, and I am excited to find out what joys are around the corner.

I hope everyone is taking some time this Holiday season to do something wonderful for themselves.

IMG_1534

Snowy Gingerbread House
Snowy Gingerbread House