I shot my cell phone (but I did not shoot my old PC)

I’m at the end of my four-day Christmas break, watching “The Witches of Eastwick” (Susan Sarandon, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jack Nicholson – let’s see, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson both played villains in different “Batman” movies; the family had a couple of “Batman” discussions over the break, including how many stars have played Batman, who were the bad guys in each one, etc. Guess my brain hasn’t moved on, plus I love playing “what other movies have these stars been in together?”).

Spent Christmas eve and Christmas day at the family’s house – the whole family holiday get-together has changed over the last couple of years, and maybe you have noticed it at your house, too – while talking and watching television, and eating, we are also checking email, playing games, checking Facebook, texting, and looking up stuff.  (I’m mostly knitting and chasing the dog, but I’ve also been known to take a peek at my email, and lots of peeks at Facebook – in addition to being ADD, I also have a touch of ocd; just a touch, so it’s in small letters).  Everyone has a cell phone, and there are also iPads and laptops lying around, in case someone gets an uncontrollable Angry Birds urge.  (My husband was startled one afternoon, when, out of nowhere, he heard me yell, “Die, pig, die!”  while sitting on the couch with the iPad in my hand.  It’s not a relaxing game, but it is irresistible).

When in my lap, my dog will actually push my hands away from the keyboard so he can be petted – he believes he is the alpha laptop, and isn’t pleased about sharing real estate with my Mac.  I wonder if any studies have been done on animals who live with families who have no computers or cell phones, as compared to those who live with families who have multiple devices, and if there are differences in health, mental state, and behavior. Might make for an interesting experiment, if the variables were controlled (sorry, my psych minor is showing, or should I say, my almost-finished minor – I balked at statistics, so there you go).

I think one of my New Year’s intentions will be to have more conversations, and limit the technology in my life – the phone is silenced more than before, and now I have to work on curbing Angry Birds and Facebook (not eliminating either, I love Angry Birds, and Facebook has brought some wonderful people back into my life.) We’ll see; maybe you can text me and let me know what you think…ha!

(P.S.  I don’t know if this is obvious, but the title of this post is meant to be read to the Eric Clapton song, “I Shot The Sheriff.”  Yes, I am a little bit corny, and a little bit rock and roll…)

2nd annual almost-completely superficial Thanksgiving post

Just took out a lemon cranberry crumble cake from the oven, and I’m waiting for it to cool before adding the lemon glaze.  While this happens, I think it’s time to make a list of those things that I am grateful for on this Thanksgiving.  If you are expecting family, friends, and my dog, not that kind of list. Love you, love them all, but here’s what also floats my boat this year:

1.  Going to the movies – even though the experience isn’t what it was when I was a wild-eyed child, going to the movies is still something that I always set forth to do with the optimistic hope that I will feel the same way that I used to feel when I walked out after seeing “Serpico,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Cabaret,” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” – as if I had been somewhere else, and  could see the world differently now, if only for a little while.  I think the most recent films that have made me feel transformed afterward have been “Midnight in Paris” and “Julie and Julia.” Oddly enough, both films were set in Paris; it’s possible Paris could make this list next year, if I can survive all the happiness this year.

2. Online shopping! (Or what I like to call, “Click, click, boom!” I have no idea why, except that maybe the “boom!” is the sound of my checking account exploding.)

3.  Books.  Don’t roll your eyes and mutter, “Old lady, books are so 20th century…” I bought a Nook, and it’s a slick piece of plastic, really; however, it can’t match turning the pages of a REAL book.  And if it comes to living in a world completely without books, sign me up for the Neptune Society –

4.  Coffee, especially the sound of it being brewed in my handy dandy Keurig coffee maker.  Not to be a shill for this thing, but it was a Christmas present last year, and is a brilliant little machine.  I am also especially grateful  not to have been a married woman in the ’50s, as apparently a woman’s entire reason for existing relied on her being able to make a decent cup of coffee  (check out “Coffee Jerks” on YouTube; it is pretty funny, and explains “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” to me).

5. Finding the funny – sounds simple, but I know that there are souls in the world who can’t find it , and who never even care to try.  Laughing is one of the greatest gifts in life, and what is so cool is that you can give it to yourself and someone else at the same time.

I have to go work out – there is a plateful of carbs in my immediate future.  Many thanks, campers; let’s march on through the holidays with a big drumstick in one hand and a garlic dinner roll in the other! Onward!

Mood swinging

Sometimes no one says it like Charlie Brown, know what I mean?

It hasn’t been a bad day, just a frustrating one.  Here’s the Smiths to elaborate – days like today make me gravitate towards the Buddhist concept of desire being one of the roots of suffering; if that isn’t true, I don’t know what would be.   I’m comfortable with the fact that I can’t control other people’s actions, only my own;  I also like the idea of being present in the moment, without thinking about what was or what could be. I’m not saying that I do that all the time though; I definitely daydream a lot, and my therapist tells me that I analyze every little thing, which I agree with (I think the reason I analyze everything is because…wait, see what I did there?).

Someone very nice recently said this to me, by way of Facebook (we will be covering Facebook more completely later on in the semester, and there may be a quiz, so heads up, students!): “Look for the blessings.”  Look for the blessings – I don’t  think it can be said enough.

To me, laughing is always a blessing – here’s Bruce Willis on The Daily Show today with Jon Stewart; it’s six minutes and change, and funny (I watched it twice). Life is pretty absurd; we better learn how to find the funny in it, or we might not live longer – it will just feel like it.

Finally… for me, there’s always music.  I can’t get enough of Keith Richards lately; here’s “Locked Away” from 2008. Cracked and bleeding emotion – sometimes there’s pain, but it’s better than feeling nothing at all, isn’t it?

(I’m sleep deprived, hence, the jumpy post. I love that you indulge my rants; smooches!)

Hey, read this thing I read! And watch this thing I watched! (via Madame Librarian’s Blog)

Instant love for Marcel the shell; and Jonathan Franzen’s newest book is on the way to my house as of yesterday – “The Corrections” is one of my favorites.

I was reading “The Onion” yesterday during my commute. And I got so engrossed in an interview with Jonathan Franzen. I’ve never read any of his books, but this dude has shit figured out, so much so that I’ll have to seek out his work. I really like what he has to say about reading and writing and communicating electronically. I couldn’t trim this down, it just all speaks to the core of my being: I think novelists nowadays have a responsibility—wh … Read More

via Madame Librarian’s Blog

Night and morning again

Mom’s funeral was today; it’s over now, and I’m home. We had lunch after the service yesterday – there were eighteen friends and relatives who came to share stories, eat, laugh, and remember my mother.  I brought a stack of photographs from my parents’ days of dancing and nightclubs, and postcards from the ’40s that she saved, and passed those around.  It was a good way to end the day. I told Jamal that I feel like I’ve been on a very long trip , and now I’m back.  Tomorrow Jamal is getting on a plane for Italy; business is picking up, so he will be traveling more in the next few months.  My head is full of so much today, and yet I don’t seem to be able to put together a coherent thought tonight.  Will you indulge me if I indulge in some random hoo-hah, to clear out my brains from the week:

“Mad Men” starts Season 4 on Sunday night.  If you’ve never seen it, you can still start now.  I can’t add anything new to what has been said about this most excellent show, except if you want to experience fine drama, you can’t do much better than Don Draper and company.  It’s ’60s American Gothic (not the black hair/white face kind), it’s a comment on the damaged American Dream, and it’s unparalleled television.

I will also add that my other passion is beginning a new season on Tuesday, September 7th:

Very different from Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy is also riveting television.  It’s so good that I almost don’t want anyone else to watch it, because I want it all for myself (and maybe just a few other friends who already know about it).  Just as high-quality as Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy deserves nominations, and awards, and it’s stunning to me that no one from this show was nominated for anything this year, especially Katey Sagal.  Whatever, Emmy people – if you can’t nominate that which deserves recognition, how do we take these awards seriously?

I saw “Despicable Me” in 3-D, and you should, too.  It is weird and fun:

3-D is so much better than it used to be,  by the way – the glasses are shrink-wrapped, and kind of look like vintage Ray-Bans; and the 3-D experience itself is big fun, because now it works (it was 50-50 back in the day, as to whether you would actually be able to see the 3-D effects with the glasses on, they were cardboard, with one blue lens and one red lens, and if you squinted, you could sorta make out a 3-D monster coming at you, but no promises).

*****

I just got back from the airport.  The weekend is ahead; it will be a relief to have two days where the biggest decision I have to make is what to have for lunch. I have an exit poll for you; it came up while I was looking through photos –

Thanks for sharing; have a good weekend.

Every picture tells a story

I’m up to my eyelids in old photographs this morning.  Had to take a little break to write a bit – Mom passed away last Wednesday, and I’m in the middle of preparing for the viewing and service later this week.  I feel like I’ve been in the middle of  a combat zone, and now the war’s over, and I’m home.  I don’t feel better that she’s gone, except in that I’m glad that she’s no longer in pain.  Last night I went to her house to pick up her photo albums, and I went into every room, remembering.  My mother was a true fighter, and it still hasn’t registered with me that she isn’t here anymore. So I’m  going through the house, and finding that which will help me remember her.

One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up was to look through my mother’s photo albums; there is something special about an old photo album that just doesn’t compare to looking at photos online.  I think we sacrifice something with relying on computers for everything; in going through old photo albums, there’s a tactile sense of discovery –  touching the book, and seeing a group of yellowed,  grainy black-and-white photos on a page, with some rips from where they might have been transferred from an even older photo album.  My issue with doing everything on a computer (even though I LOVE computers, and wouldn’t want to be without one) is that everything becomes sterile and static;  not having photos yellow and fall apart, or not being able to smell the mustiness of a library book takes away from the experience for me.  I keep being told that everything will be digital in five years; while technology is  wonderful, I don’t think it should replace everything. I propose a peaceful co-existence of virtual and actual; thoughts?

Here’s more of my mother; to be able to share pictures of her here is comforting to me. Peace.

Friending and de-friending

Sitting here this morning,  I’m drinking in the freedom of five days off, with my favorite holiday stuck in the middle like a fancy beach umbrella.  I learned from my friend Kay that the Declaration of Independence was read on National Public Radio a couple of days ago  (it’s a twenty-year tradition on NPR) – if you haven’t read it in a while, read it now, won’t you?  Or if you prefer audio, hear the reading on NPR online (when you get there, click on “Listen to the story”). This country has taken a boatload of hits in the last ten years, but we have this poetic and fearless document to show the world that we don’t quit.  Happy Red-White-Blue!

I went to dinner with a group of women friends last night – first time we’ve had a chance to be  all together in a long, long time, and it was a really good time. We all used to work together, and have gone to (or are in the middle of going to) other jobs, but we make a point to get together whenever possible.  We ate, talked, laughed, and were stared at, but eh, who cares?  I feel fortunate to know these crazy and fun women.

Friendship is such an interesting word these days; the American Heritage Dictionary leads off the definition of “friend” with: “a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts,” while the 2010 Random House Dictionary goes with “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.”  I’ve recently been educated regarding the newest informal addition to the definition of “friend,” which applies to social networking sites, like Facebook and Yelp.  The word has expanded to include people you might be acquainted with, but not know well, or those you might not know at all, but are “friends” with on a website.

Was it last year that the word “de-friend” entered the Oxford Dictionary?   I have had the experience of being de-friended by a few people, as well as doing a little de-friending of my own, on both Facebook and Yelp.  I tried to initiate a discussion on Yelp (yup, I’m on it – check out my reviews, if you dare) once about the meaning of being de-friended, after I noticed that one of my friends (who I didn’t know, except from Yelp) was absent from my list. (A little back story here – Yelp is a website where you can create an account, then review restaurants, shops, dentists, and any other services.  It also has a talk forum if you want to share information with other Yelp members. If you decide to become a friend of another Yelp member, it’s usually because you like their reviews, and want to keep track of what they write.)  I was told to “get over it,” that I was being too sensitive, and that people will do a sweep of their friends list for any number of reasons. So…ok. I “got over it,” and figured out that friending (my Mac just cringed at my molestation of the noun; I am bloody with the casualties of grammar and usage, but I press on) is somewhat similar to jury duty for some people, in that you may be selected or dismissed for any reason, or for no apparent reason.

So…ok. My feeling is this:  I love my three-dimensional friends, and I enjoy my online friends (some of them are both, bonus!).  I think it’s a matter of degree; if suddenly I was no longer on the friend list of someone who I think of as a good friend, it would concern me.  But if it was someone who is more of an acquaintance, I would notice it, but that’s about it. The Internet is a tremendous instrument, and yet a tricky one;  I think we not only have to keep an eye on what we do with it, but what it does to us, and the way that we relate to each other.

Finally, a song for my friends – this says it better than I ever could…now go forth and party for our country!