When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social

Truth time: I have been avoiding you all.

I normally sit down on Monday mornings, tap-tap-tapping away at my keys, crafting a new blog post as my cup of tea and bowl of oatmeal turn into a lemon-lime sparkling water and whatever ready-to-eat food can pass for lunch. (In other words, I eat a lot of string cheese and things that come in bags that make loud crinkling noises.) Then I schedule social media posts, browse newsfeeds, interact with blogging groups, read about ways to increase reach and website hits, and try to figure out what in my life is interesting enough to be worthy of sharing.

But considering my life has felt mostly like I’m scheduling social media posts, browsing newsfeeds, interacting with blogging groups, and reading about ways to increase reach and website hits, I come up empty-handed on that last one. So when I sat down on these last two Monday mornings, I actually felt more inspired to put away a load of laundry than do anything else. And that’s just effed up.

Back when I was struggling to breastfeed my first child, I remember thinking that the act of feeding my baby shouldn’t be something I wanted to avoid. But it was. The fact that she seemed to want to eat every two hours made me feel like just when I thought I could breathe, I had already fallen behind. And I usually had very little to offer. But I continued to give, at the expense of the things she REALLY needed, like a happy mother.

Similarly, social media doesn’t feel so social anymore. Continue reading “When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social”

This Is The One Where I Give Away Free Stuff…So You Probably Want to Read It

You may have noticed my blog looks a little different (it will likely evolve some more in the near future). I thought I’d change things up in celebration. Guess who is *this close* to hitting 1,000 followers? Heck yeah! I’m SO close that I may actually hit the milestone while I slumber, in between the time I scheduled this post to publish and it actually publishing. Unfortunately, I do think a chunk of those followers are spammer blogs who post in Croatian or redirect you to pyramid schemes promising financial Continue reading “This Is The One Where I Give Away Free Stuff…So You Probably Want to Read It”

Like a Rolling Stone

It feels a little weird to be blogging. I mean, it has been exactly twenty-three days since I last posted something (not that I have been counting or anything). That is apparently long enough for the WordPress site to stop automatically logging me in, causing me to have to actually type in my username and password…which I almost couldn’t remember. It’s a good thing I am not entrusted with any classified information. I am pretty sure they don’t have a “remember me” box to check when logging into the nuclear launch codes. 

checking the fridge
Oh hey, Twitter. I forgot you were in here. (photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com)

I guess I can chalk up my lack of blogging to taking to heart the idea that “life grows sideways.”* I have been rolling with the punches. And the punches just haven’t seemed to be landing on blogging lately…or Facebook…or Twitter. (Actually, the punches NEVER land on Twitter. My Twitter account is pretty much like those leftovers you know you should throw out, but you put them in Tupperware anyway because you just MIGHT find a use for them. Like you just MIGHT become one of those people who researches creative ways to reinvent leftovers into a brand new meal. But you never do. But you are also one of those people who is not so good at cleaning out your fridge, so the leftovers just sit somewhere in the back next to the jar of barley malt you bought last year because you needed one tablespoon of it to make homemade bagels, which of course you have never made since. Are you sensing why I am not so good at capping my thoughts to 140 characters?)

What I HAVE been rolling with is basketball practices; indoor soccer games; tumbling classes; birthday parties; First Communion meetings; Brownie meetings; overseeing the selling of Girl Scout cookies; making Walmart my unfortunate second home; powder puff derbies (well, just one of those); sporadic workout schedules; ice skating; school volunteering; randomly deciding to reorganize the kitchen on a Monday afternoon; realizing that a freshly reorganized kitchen “needs” some pops of color by way of new utensil, flour, sugar, and tea cannisters; “sacrificing” my time to scour Pier One and T.J. Maxx for said sources of pops of color…you know, typical mom stuff. Because typical mom stuff is how I roll. Just consider my theme song “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood. That’s right. Winwood. Hey, that brassy 80’s tune worked for my grade school soccer team. Get it?…roll with it…like a ball. Uh huh. We even had a little sideline dance. Take that David Beckham.

I have also found myself, as always, rolling with the hilarity and awkwardness provided by my children. Here are just a few noteworthy moments:

– My son can be rather creative in his dress-up play. He is fearless when it comes to making bold and daring choices. Some of you may remember this ensemble from a previous post:DSCF8800

He has also proven to be unfazed by gender stereotypes, following in the footsteps of young male actors during the time of Shakespeare and stepping into a female role…or the role of a robot monster who also happens to be wearing a dress:DSCF7799

And then just today, he designed this outfit for “Wacky Wednesday” at school:774274_10152446747505532_1366605929_o

But the real beauty of his fashion choices are in his interpretations of what the dressing-up transforms him into. Last week, Michael came up to me in just his skivvies and asked me to tie a piece of crepe paper around his neck. It ended up looking like a bow tie. Let me just reinforce that picture for you…skivvies and bow tie. He said he was being a sea monster, which came as a huge relief to me. Because my first guess was Magic Mike.

chicken and rooster
“Hey, chickie. How ’bout you and me do a little egg fertilizing?” (photo source: Wikipedia)

– Just before Christmas, I mentioned that Grace’s advancing age is bringing on all kinds of questions I am not ready to answer. I also mentioned that I was more comfortable answering her questions about sex than I was about Santa. Well, I may have spoken too soon on that one. The questions I was referring to in the previous post were ones she was asking about anatomy, mostly female. No problem. Last night, however, my husband and I got the “big one.” And it all started with hard-boiled eggs. At dinner, Grace was proudly recounting how she had learned to hard boil an egg. Which led to this:

Grace: “What exactly is the yellow part of the egg? (a bit fearful) Is it the baby chicken?”

Kurt: “No, because the eggs we eat aren’t fertilized. It only becomes a chick if the egg is fertilized.”

Grace: (satisfied, but only for a millisecond) “Oh. What does fertilized mean?”

Me: “You know how human babies are made from part of a mom and part of a dad? Well, it is the same with chickens. The eggs we eat only have the mom part, not the dad part.”

Grace: “But how does the dad part get to the mom part?”

Me: (hoping desperately that she is talking about chicken parents) “Uh, I am not exactly sure how the dad part gets into the egg…” (can you feel my uneasiness?)

Grace: “No, not the chickens. Like people. How does the dad get his part into the mom?”


Kurt: (Eating tomato bisque, just ignoring the whole conversation by this point, mostly because he loves my tomato bisque, and our chatter was ruining the moment between him and his soup spoon. And now that I think of it, I am really annoyed at his timely love affair with tomato bisque when he was the one who brought up fertilizing in the first place. Stupid enginerd.)

Me: “Well, I would love to tell you about that, but it is kind of grown-up stuff, and the dinner table isn’t really the place to discuss it.”

Grace: “Why not? We’re just sitting here, eating and talking. The food doesn’t care.”

Me: “But Michael isn’t quite old enough to know about that kind of stuff yet.”

Michael: “I hate eggs. Chickens have eyeballs. I hate this soup.”

Me: “Um…well,…you know maybe we…(trails off into undefinable mumblings)…HEY! You,  little miss, have not told me ONE thing about how school was today!

Grace: “Oh, it was really good! Our class got our 100th marble today for doing good stuff so we are going to have a movie day with popcorn.”

Me: “Wow! I want to hear ALL about these marbles…fascinating…”

Roll with it, baby. Ain’t that right, Winwood?

* quoted from The American Gene by Michael Nesmith

A Lesson for a Teacher

A few nights ago I had dinner with a former student of mine. She had recently found me on Facebook, was coincidentally back in town, and she wanted to catch up. I was elated. It is always a treat to have these little versions of “What Are They Doing Now?” whenever my path crosses with an old student. As a teacher, I could not help but get invested in my “girls,” as I would call them (no, it is not that I ignored the boys…I taught at an all-girls Catholic high school). It is the nature of the craft.

I have gotten together to catch up with students before; some I even talk to on a fairly regular basis. Inevitably there are always kids you grow a little closer to: you taught them for multiple years, you helped them solve an important problem, and so on. I always seemed to strike up a deeper relationship with my Yearbook students since the nature of that class afforded us all to chat about our lives; therefore, I knew them all a little better. These were usually the kids that would shoot me an email when they were in town to grab some lunch and catch up.

But this time was a little different. This particular former student was in the very first class I taught as a fledgling teacher. They were a great class, and we all got along smashingly, her included. She was a good student, but art was her thing, not English. So after leaving my class, she became one of the many students who would still say hello to me in the hallways, and that became the course of our relationship until she graduated. I was just as proud to see her receive her diploma as I was of any of my students, but then I never saw her again. As far as I knew, she didn’t give me another thought. It happens.

But then we met up the other night, and it was wonderful to hear about where life had taken her. She is an amazing, and I mean AMAZING, artist, and it was beautiful to see how she has found the courage and strength to find what will make her feel happy and fulfilled. When I told her how delighted I was that she had contacted me, and how it is always a nice little surprise when students find me on Facebook, she replied, “Of course! Who wouldn’t want to ‘friend’ you on Facebook? We always had fun in your class!” Well, shucks. But seriously, that was a wonderful validation for me, even now that I am not teaching anymore. I know how much of myself I put into being a teacher; I know how much I racked my brain for ways to keep my students interested; I know how much I agonized when they were not working to their potentials, or when I just could not seem to get something across to them. But they did not know that. So it felt really good to hear that somehow it all came through, and even better to hear it from a student I would not have expected.

Photo via Karen Watson liscensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo via Karen Watson on The Graphics Fairy liscensed under CC BY 2.0

Now I sit here and think of all the teachers I had over the course of my education and wonder how many of them realized the impact they had on me. My grade school Music teacher Miss Mooney, who undoubtedly created the connection in my brain that music equals fun, and who taught me that everyone has the right to sing by giving me a solo in the spring concert…despite my lack of tone and pitch. My fifth grade teacher Mrs. Semsar, who taught me that some things in life are just “no big hairy deal.” My middle school Science teacher Mrs. Lonigro, who was so knowledgable and passionate that she made me love regenerating amoebas, and who probably taught me more about the written language with her strict grading policies than my middle school English teacher. My eighth grade History teacher Mr. Blackford, who was the first adult, nay person, to really and truly encourage my love for the Monkees by giving me his old Mike Nesmith-inspired wool hat. My high school Art teacher Ms. Ahrens, who taught me that you do not have to be the best, but you have to do your best. My high school English teacher Miss Wilson, who gave me my first B in the subject, pushing me to reach her expectations, and who told me that my dreams of being an English teacher were still achievable even if I did not completely understand Shakespeare at age fifteen. My high school Latin teacher Domina Creed, who, dare I say, made Latin fun, and who called me after I had four teeth pulled to make sure I was feeling okay. My university History professor who once lectured a whole class period in the character of a stockbroker who lost everything during the Crash of 1929. My university English professor Dr. Preussner, who opened my eyes to the fact that Hawthorne was kind of a “hottie” and who made discussing Melville kind of interesting (sue me, I am not a fan). And finally, my high school Math teacher Mr. Stein who blew my mind by using the current love triangle on Days of Our Lives to explain inductive and deductive reasoning, and who, more than anyone, made me want to be a teacher.

This list of ladies and gentlemen boasts an astounding amount of talent. And if in any way I had the same impact on my students that they had on me, I am truly humbled.