The Alternate Universe of Facebook

parallel-universesDo you have any idea how long it’s taken me to figure this out? It’s sad, really, considering I am usually fairly attuned to the way people behave. If I’m in the same room with you, either overhearing your conversation with someone else or having a conversation with you, I’ve pretty much figured you out in the first 15 minutes.

But Facebook? Not so much. Sure, I know all about the fact that people tend to only post the best of themselves and their lives, but it never really dawned on me how totally and completely FAKE some of it is.

I already figured out for myself over a year ago that posting anything about my children was crossing a line. I completely stopped posting pictures or anything else about my children other than a few random snippets of conversation perhaps once a month or so, only if it’s funny and relevant. But invading their privacy by posting pictures of them or updates on their lives was where I drew the line. My children are their own people, not my trophies or puppets or pets to show off to the world. They have their own Facebook (which I discovered they rarely ever use), their own jobs, their own social circles, their own lives. If they want to post pictures of their lives, with or without their parents, that is their business. It’s not just an issue of privacy, I think it’s a very primal issue of separating the personhood of your children from you. They have a right to their own personhood. It’s not mine to advertise to the world.

That much I figured out on my own, without either of them asking me. It just kind of dawned on me as a revelation, I suppose.

But relationships. That was hard to figure out. Marriages, relationships, families. That took a while.

I think it started with the normal…. eh….. conversations that mothers and daughters who are close on a friendship level typically engage in. She and I are notorious for talking shit about people catching up on the latest news on a fairly regular basis. That is when I started noticing that the things she was telling me about certain people just did not jibe with the image some of these people were perpetuating on Facebook. This perfect little family image, with the perfectly dressed children, and their perfectly wholesome quips and stories of their pleasant little family life, all of it, ALL OF IT, was completely fucking FAKE.

The husband’s sweet smile in the typical “heads touching” selfie? Yeah, not a smile. More like “GET. ME. THE FUCK. AWAY. FROM. THIS. BANSHEE.”

The mommy/son hug pic- Little son with the seemingly wide-eyed sense of innocence and a little Mona Lisa quirk of the lip (his own arms curiously dangling at his side)? Yeah, more like “SOMEONE PLEASE FUCKING HELP ME!”

The perfect, professional, matching-outfit, family picture in the mystical wooded setting of their own backyard? Translation- “We’re $80,000 in debt paying for this shit and my bitch of a wife keeps charging her blow-outs and manicures on my maxed-out credit cards I’m working two jobs to pay off.”

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, I am sure, but to these particular people, it did. In every way imaginable.

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The resemblance is uncanncy

And then there were the private conversations with people who seem to seek me out for advice (Sometimes I seriously feel like Augra from The Dark Crystal). The ones who plaster their Facebook pages with cutesy little couple pictures and baby pictures. And then she calls me in tears because she refuses to have sex with him because she knows he’s cheating on her with a girl who works at his office. They have two children together and are having trouble paying their mortgage and, even though she’s 100% sure he’s cheating, she is curiously not asking me whether she should leave him. She’s asking me how to make her marriage work even though he’s cheating and she refuses to have sex with him. How THE FUCK do you respond to that?

And then the nail in the coffin. The very, very close friend of mine who called just to talk, and we ventured into the subject of his marriage. And the fact that his wife gets angry if he doesn’t “show her affection” on Facebook, or respond to her posts, or post sweet things to her wall. I was, I suppose I should be embarrassed to say, blindsided. But that wasn’t the end of it. Apparently, if he’s not working hard enough to paint her as the wifey goddess that she is, she also logs into HIS Facebook account and does it for him. She (and I hate using such a throwaway word, but it’s relevant in this situation) LITERALLY posts “affectionate” things to her own account from his account. I honestly did not know that shit happened.

HOW FUCKING COMMON IS THIS? Can anyone please tell me? How could anyone be so insecure that they take a virtual paintbrush and paint a virtual Nora Roberts novel all over their own husband’s Facebook account?

My husband and I rarely ever communicate meaningfully on Facebook. Why would we? We’re together almost all the time. If he wants to send me something funny, he usually does it in private message because, more often than not, the shit we share with each other is so graphically inappropriate it would probably get us shunned by our entire families. Whether or not he responds or even acknowledges me on Facebook has never even crossed my mind as something I should be concerned about. We’ll post a few pictures every once in a while, if we’re doing something interesting, but we sure as shit have nothing to prove. And saturating each other’s Facebook feed with testaments of love and light and magic and tender moments of affection demonstrating our eternal love to one another? Yeah, that’s the real life equivalent of “Get a fucking room, dipshits. We’re so fucking over it.”

We have our own moments. At home. In the real world. In private. Where they belong, because that’s where they mean the most. If you think those moments belong in public, it means you need other people to see it in order for it to be real.

So yeah, the idea that the lives of some people on Facebook are so completely fake, not just tweaked a little here and there or a little exaggerated, is absolutely new to me. How could I have allowed this ignorance to go on for so many years? But why would it ever dawn on me that some people are so insecure that they demand their spouse SHOW THEM AFFECTION ON FACEBOOK?

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT EVEN ABOUT?

All I can do is laugh now. I never know who is real and who isn’t. I’ve had a bit of disdain for people who prance their children all over the Facebook stage for a while now, but the fact that I now have to question the reality of every single person I am not intimately acquainted with is just fucking BIZARRE.

That’s when I realized something else. Several of the people I am intimately acquainted with, who happen to be married or in serious relationships, AREN’T EVEN FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER ON FACEBOOK. They don’t post anything about each other. If you were to read one particular friend’s Facebook page, you wouldn’t even know she’s been dating another of my friends for the past 4 years, or that they just got engaged, or that they’re getting married in 7 months, or that my husband is officiating. SHE DOESN’T POST ANY OF THAT SHIT. When I compare the two different types of relationships, it’s really a gigantic slap of reality right in the fucking face.

Now it’s just a game to me. Another game, just like figuring you out in face-to-face social situations.

Make no mistake. I am blind no more. And I think it’s fucking hilarious.

and SAD.

So Typical (Dream 4)

6563590g*SURPRISE EDIT*
I never know what’s going to happen when I wake up. I’m a sleep-talker, sleep-walker, sleep-eater, sleep-uuhhh-fucker (yes, that’s a thing). So, after I typed this post, my husband asked me if I remembered anything about my dreams last night. I explained to him the story I posted below. He got this strange sort of look on his face with a quirky smile and said, “No. No. Ohhhh, no. You laughed. Yep. You were laughing at me. And you turned to me and said “I’m gonna stab you in the FACE!”

Ok. Now, you may continue reading what is apparently only a very small glimpse inside the mind of a sleep-murderer……

 

I worked for the post office along with an old friend of mine from high school. Our job was delivering packages, so of course, for some reason, we had to ride in the back of the post office van with the packages….. while naked.

And then the nightmare happened. I had to deliver a package to my old high school.

Naked.

Just the memories of high school already give me panic attacks. The last time I entered a high school was to sign my boys up for a driver’s ed class. Even then, as an adult woman, the familiar smells of cafeteria food and pencil shavings, and sounds of the dull moan of fluorescent lights and squeaking chairs, gave me the sweats. I expected some hulking teacher to come around the corner any minute and give me in-school suspension. I had to go into the office to ask for an enrollment form for homeschooled kids to take driver’s ed. I was sure they were going to send me to the principal for not adhering to the dress code or for just…. generally…. being weird. That’s what happens when you are generally weird and are forced to live and go to school in a backward southern town. Even now, people I knew in high school are coming out with their own stories of the bigotry and hateful religious hypocrisy they were subjected to over 20 years ago. These are people I never thought I’d hear these stories from. On one hand, it makes me sad for them. On the other hand, it makes me feel validated for the disgust I have when I think back to that time in my life.

So, I suppose it’s no surprise that the typical “showing up at school naked” dream would slither its way into my unconsciousness.  No song this time. I just woke up with a fear that lingered for several seconds that I was going to have to repeat high school. It took me a while to realize that I am a 40-year-old woman, and especially that it is ridiculous for me to continue to harbor such deep-seated resentment toward SCHOOL, of all fucking things.

At the right place, the right time, and with the right type of personality, some kids clearly flourish in a school environment.

I was not one of them. Even now, whenever we talk about it, my mother frequently says she wished she had homeschooled me. My sister did well. Emotionally and academically, she was perfectly fine. She went to the very same school I did, and even had many of the same teachers. She was fortunate that her innate personality allowed her to fit in, even in an environment where she did not subscribe to the religious zealotry that permeated the very walls of that place.

But I railed against it. I fought back. I fought hard. I will admit, I did everything I could to make sure everyone knew how much UNLIKE them I was. I couldn’t hide my contempt the way others could. I didn’t know how to simply ignore it, do my school work, and get on with things. Part of me wishes I had known how to do that.

The other part of me, even at 40 years old, still wants to go burn that fucking place to the ground.

Dreamlettes

  1.  There was an arm. A toddler’s arm. Wrapped in a tarp. In the back of my car. I’m driving around trying to figure out the best way to get rid of it. It can’t be anywhere on my property no matter how deep the hole is because of the forensic dogs. But the hole has to be deep. Somewhere.  Fade to black.
  2. The school counselor is pissed. Somehow, I converted an entire high school to Scientology and got her fired. She throws all the papers in her office in the air and gives me a death stare. I’m proud of myself. Aerosmith plays a concert at the high school. But all their songs are slow songs. Fade to black.
  3. I’m marching in a pro-choice rally. Everyone is wearing an index card safety-pinned to their shirts with aborted fetuses superglued to the card. “We know what it looks like, and we don’t care.”

It was freezing in my bedroom when I woke up. At least the song matched this time. On a related note, I did not realize “dream journaling” was a thing. Hmm. This might be interesting.

Fustercluck (Dream Series #2)

I can’t even begin to explain what happened last night. I have no words. None.

So, I’m not going to use any words. Just a collage of pictures, soundtrack included.

You form your own conclusions.

starfish  eels

Starfish and tiny eels.

chickencoop

Stored in a chicken coop, which I bought at a gas station.

jennifer

I followed up on an ad in the newspaper for a room to rent. It turns out, it was Jennifer Aniston. But, the room for rent was hers. More to the point, she was actually renting out the other half of her bed. It felt strange, but I just went with it.

……. And woke up with this playing on a loop in my head.

Welcome to my world.

The Soundtrack

Am I the only one whose dreams have a soundtrack?

Yeah, it’s weird. As far as I can remember, it’s usually only one song, a different song every night. The song seems to have nothing to do with the dream, and it sticks in my head for the rest of the day.

My dreams are always strange. They’re a menagerie of different snippets of stories.

I do go through phases when I don’t dream, or I don’t remember my dreams, for months at a time. And then suddenly, I’m transported to all sorts of LSD-esque worlds with color and sound and plots and characters. They have a pattern usually. There is the “main dream” which tends to begin with a clear problem and follows itself out to a resolution, and then there are snippets of other stories and ideas and conversations, completely unrelated to one another, that follow the main dream.

More often than not, I can bet the farm that at some point during the night there is going to be some dystopian sci-fi and/or space travelling adventure going on.

A lot of it makes sense to me, even after I wake up, but it’s hard to explain to other people, so I just don’t. Last night, the sci-fi dream had something to do with two different planets, each primitive and advanced in their own different ways. One planet got a hole in it. No, really. It just got a hole in it. So, all the people from that planet had to go to the other one while the hole was being repaired. Once the hole was repaired, all of its people came home, but because they’d stayed on the other planet so long, they’d made friends there. So, unlike before when each planet tended to leave the other alone, now there was a lot of travel back and forth by friends visiting one another. All that sounds great, but I remember feeling a bit sad because now, a little bit of each planet’s culture meshed, as it naturally would when two cultures spend a good deal of time with one another. I was sad because I felt like neither planet was “pure” anymore.

Because I’m always the watcher, never a participant, I just see the whole thing play out as though I’m watching television. And I just thought to myself, “things will never be the same again.” On the planets, that is. I don’t know why that made me sad. There isn’t anything wrong with cultures blending or rubbing off on one another. I guess part of me thought there was.

But none of that has anything to do with the soundtrack. Or the song, I suppose would be the better word. Because there is usually only one that I can remember. And I really need to start writing this stuff down because some of it is really story-worthy shit.

I remember listening to this song when I was a little girl and always giggling to myself when he sang “rollin’ like thunder, under the covers.” I was a precocious little fiddler.

A Little (Frozen) Cheese with My Suthun’ Whine

When it comes to winter, there are three kinds of people.alexcornell-antarctica-3

1.) People who love winter; ergo, love the cold.

2.) People who’d prefer it be a little warmer, but they can deal.

3.) People who JUST. CAN’T. FUCKING. DEAL.

The third group are kind of like people who hate mornings. Or wasabi. Or democracy. Or super close-up pictures of things that trick you into thinking its a vagina when it’s really something totally unrelated. I think I got off-subject a little there.

Needless to say, I’m in the third group. I hate the cold so badly that I can’t even look at pictures of Alaska or icebergs or Greenland and see anything beautiful about them. It’s kind of like when people watch Obi-Wan and Anakin battling on Mustafar and think “What kind of hellish planet is this?!” That’s exactly what I see when I see pictures of cold places. And when I hear people talk about the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness or Norway or sailing through the North Atlantic, I feel exactly the same kind of confusion as if someone were to describe Mustafar as “the beauty of nature.”

My husband and I chose to live in South Carolina because we kind of have a strange comfort zone. We don’t really like the ambiance of the Deep South (K, we hate it), but we’d go on a killing spree if we had to live in a place that was perpetually cold for months on end.

Of course, cold is subjective. It really depends on where you were raised, your preference, what you’ve gotten used to over the years, all sorts of things. My definition of cold will no doubt elicit laughs from most. If I start seeing the weather forecast dropping below 60, shit starts getting real. If I have to put on socks to go check the mail, the mail will not get checked. Here, let me give you an example. Here is a screenshot of the 10-day forecast for the city I live in.

weather

As you can see, today (being the 9th of January), is hell on Earth. That is completely fucking unacceptable. Unfortunately, Wunderground doesn’t let you go backward or I’d be able to show you that the weather has been this way for the past 3 days. What this means for people like me is something called “temporary soul death.” In fact, today is a little bit warmer than the past couple of days. During these times, we do not revel in the “beauty of nature.” We don’t go on brisk winter hikes and watch the squirrels do whatever they do. We don’t go down to the beach and get tore up and go polar-bearing.

No. We binge-watch Netflix, sit on the couch under 3 blankets with socks, and wonder why God has forsaken us.

My creative juices are frozen inside my brain like those little patches of morning dew that never really thaw out because they’re stuck in the shade.

The entire back of my house is windows, almost floor-to-ceiling windows, that open out into my backyard and a little lake with a pretty water fountain that lights up at night. I have two palm trees with hummingbird feeders on them. I have a covered porch with a $300 radiant heater and a huge stack of firewood for our fire pit.  I have cushioned Adirondack chairs. I have a nice little patio table with an umbrella in my yard.

That all sounds so nice and idyllic, no? A fire pit, a radiant heater…. everything I’d need to enjoy the outdoors in the winter. But THIRTY FUCKING DEGREES IS NOT A NORMAL WINTER! No, No, AND NO.

For those of us who truly believe that winter, not banishment, is Adam and Eve’s punishment from God, all of those wonderful outdoor accouterments are meant to be enjoyed should the weather dip a touch below the 60s and perhaps there’s a slight breeze.

And if you still don’t understand where I’m coming from, let me give you a few examples of how I came to this point:

-When I was growing up, I wore sandals and shorts to school in January.
-When my youngest son was born on January 2, I came home from the hospital and had to turn my air conditioner on. And that was just fine with me.
– As you can see in the forecast above, my air conditioner will probably be used sometime in the next 10 days. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.
-I’ve canceled and rescheduled appointments because the temperature was in the 50s.
-I’ve never seen snow chains and have no idea what they look like.
-If I am forced to leave the house in 30 or 40-degree weather, my teeth start chattering so badly that I can’t talk. My husband finds it hilarious.
– I’ve been snow-skiing once, when I was a kid, in Tennessee (where they have to make fake snow), and I was so miserable that after the first 30 minutes or so, I went back inside and ate pizza for the rest of the day.
-It doesn’t matter what the thermostat inside the house says. Right now, I am sitting on my couch under two blankets wearing a sweatshirt and socks.
– When the weather forecast predicted snow last week (although it did not materialize), I did consider that it would be interesting to watch it snow on the beach, but my plan included simply driving there, not actually getting out of the car.

Clearly, as you can tell, cold weather- for me- is the most physically and mentally paralyzing of all natural phenomenon just short of natural disasters. In fact, when I see the temperature go down into the teens, I consider it a natural disaster….. probably because I grew up in the south where the states actually declare a state of emergency during those times. Temperatures in the single digits are completely foreign to me.

Thinking back upon my entire 40 years of life on this planet, I don’t think I have ever experienced single-digit temperatures.

Of course, having said all this, I will revisit the subject sometime in the middle of July when the heat index climbs up around the 120-degree mark and I have to start cancelling appointments because my poor ass will melt to the leather seats in the truck, and I have to make sure I stay on the grass when I check the mail because my driveway will cause third-degree burns on the bottom of my feet.

But I’d choose the third-degree burns over this 30-degree bullshit any day of the week.

 

Founder

TWO thousand sixteen was really not my year for much of anything.
I may or may not have some kind of problem with seizures, but I’m too afraid to have it worked up. I may or may not have had another little one a month or so ago. That, or I simply passed out for no discernible reason.

I was diagnosed with diabetes. If someone asked me for my idea of the last thing in the world I’d ever have, it would be diabetes. To say I was shocked, and a bit frightened, would be an understatement. And, as if to smack me in the face a second time, I also have a certain GI issue that whittles my “diabetic” diet down to almost nil.

Instead of that magical, universal, existential view of life that breathed a poetic sense of creativity into my soul that poured out of me and onto pages and pages of thoughts molded into beautiful turns of phrase, I’ve just been paralyzed.

Instead, my thoughts linger on the arbitrary number 40. The reminder that life is too short to be afraid of what is going on inside my body, but that what is going on inside my body might make my life even shorter.

I am so much more than this. There are so many more lives I have left to live. I have so much more left to give. I don’t want to leave this world forgotten. I don’t want to leave it with only a handful of people who know what I was capable of but are left disappointed because they have nothing to remember me by.

I don’t want to leave without inspiring someone to create something they never thought they could, or love with unrestrained passion, or find their Duchenne smile and never let it go, or step off their prescribed path to travel the unmapped paths they never knew existed.

There is a Me I’ve lost somewhere. A Me with no boundaries. A Me who found talents I never knew I had. A Me with tangible thoughts and ideas that people held in their hands with awe. A Me who loved myself without pretense, the kind of love that shone a light in the darkness, a light that drew others into it who needed me as much as I needed them. A Me who gave as much as I took. A Me who made others feel as though they weren’t alone in this world. A Me who was so full that she never asked for more than what others were able to give.

There is a way to find her again. I’ll figure it out.