Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Social Media Hateration

Some days I congratulate myself on how I have crafted my social media apps, especially Facebook.

I think many people underestimate how completely sites like Facebook and Twitter and tumblr and Instagram are customized by each user. People who say they don't like Facebook and get stressed out by the hate or politics or drama in their feed have set it up to see that.

Perhaps they have set up their life the same way. Most of the people I know who complain about drama are the ones who start the drama.

But my point is that anyone who doesn't like those sites have set them up wrong. Facebook will show you baby pictures, football stats, recipes, gossip, Bible verses or boobs, depending on how you have set it up. The days I congratulate myself are the days when something political is happening and I don't see a bunch of hate spewing in my feed. When gay marriage became legal, every post I saw that day was filled with joy and rainbows, but a few friends complained that they saw posts opposed to gay marriage. I didn't have that, because I don't want it.

I am pretty sure I have Facebook friends who oppose gay marriage because of (in my opinion) misguided religious beliefs, but they aren't the type to be all hatery and yelly on Facebook.  If they were, I wouldn't be friends with them, or at least I would hide them.

(I have exactly 211 friends, and most of the people who complain about arguing in their feeds have three or four times that number. That is part of their problem.)

I have unfriended people for being hateful several times. These were not people I was even very close to, so it was no big deal to cut them loose.

The thing that confuses me is that I often see "polite" discussions (on other people's posts) congratulating themselves about being friends with people who have opposing viewpoints. That's what I love about you, they say, we can be friends and have respectful conversations even when we don't agree.

But that seems like such bullshit to me. How can you respect someone's opinion if you disagree with it, really? My friend who admires Caitlyn Jenner having a respectful conversation with her friend who refers to Caitlyn as "it" is confusing me. I don't want to say that they are both full of shit, but they might be. My friend who often posts about how awesome Bernie Sanders is and responds to his friend who still misses George Bush by saying that they will have to agree to disagree and still remain friends may be sincere; maybe the desire to stay connected to this person is more important. But still, I take issue with the word "respect".

How happy was I to find an old friend on Facebook a couple of years ago, a friend who I met in 7th grade in the nearly pointless Gifted program in our rural school system. Despite the fact that she lived several mountains away we made the effort to see each other, and we had so much in common. I had completely lost touch with her after high school.  This is why I love Facebook!

And then a few days ago she posted about President Obama: "yet another bow to kiss the rings (or maybe the behinds) of his Muslim brothers as he sets the U.S. table for them to take over."  And she really, really believes that.  She is a high IQ 50 year old woman who is positive that the president of the United States is a Muslim terrorist. 

I mean, obviously I am aware that Fox news and other similar media outlets spew hateful and obvious lies and that there are plenty of people who believe them. But I don't spend time with those idiots, and somehow seeing it in an old friend is especially upsetting.  And what can I do? Challenge her on it? There is literally nothing real that proves her point in any way, so if she believes it, then she is willfully delusional for whatever emotionally fucked up reason. I can't talk her out of it with reason and facts, because the reason and facts have always been there and she has turned her back on them.

I really want to be kind to people, and people who are living their lives from a place of fear instead of love are the ones who really need some kindness and understanding. Maybe at some point in the far distant future I will be saintly enough to love her in spite of her deliberate ignorance and hate, but it doesn't look like it's going to be anytime today. The closest I can get is Unfollowing her instead of Unfriending her. And even that feels a little hypocritical.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Trendy grief quote

This 4 year old quote about grief from a Reddit poster called GSnow has been rediscovered and shared around the internets lately, and there's good reason. This is the best description of grief I've ever seen. It's comforting for me to read about grief right now, and I love this.

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child.
But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gorged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything… and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life. Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Too much sad going on

Our beautiful cat Sydney has died.

We adopted her so long ago, it was before Greg and I were married, before we bought our condo. It feels like she's been with us forever.

She was a very vocal, social cat who followed Greg around like a puppy. She was polite, though. She would come up on our bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, just to check and see if we were awake yet. If we weren't (or we were lying still and pretending) she'd just hop down and check back an hour later.

Often on Sunday mornings we'd have family cuddle time; she'd lie on Greg's chest and I would snuggle up in his shoulder nook.  A couple of times each year she'd have allergy troubles and those Sunday morning snuggles would sometimes include sneezes; a kitty sneeze in the face from just a few inches away is pretty unpleasant. But we always laughed.

She meowed really, really loudly when she wanted something, and not just once or twice, she would keep going until she got it. She purred so loudly you could literally hear her from the next room. I've never heard a cat purr so noisily.  She used to purr while she was eating her crunchy cat food and it was the weirdest, most savage sound. Sometimes you can look at the 12-pound Siamese housecat and see the lion.

She started losing weight, and we took her to the vet, and they did blood tests and didn't help her at all. So we took her to another vet and he did more tests and tried so hard with different types of medication.

Cancer through her digestive system meant that she was eating, but not getting the nutrients she needed to maintain weight. So she'd eat, and lose weight, and seem normal, but still lose weight. And the poor thing always felt hungry. We'd give her cheese and steak and peanut butter and all kinds of ridiculous things, and she enjoyed eating it but got none of the calories and stayed hungry.

So it became a question of how long to wait. I know some people wait until their beloved animal family members are not able to walk, not able to do anything. We didn't want to wait that long.

While she was still able to get around, and meet us at the door every day when we got home from work, and jump up on my lap, and purr a little from time to time, we put her to sleep. She was clearly suffering, but the suffering wasn't constant yet. She weighed less than 4 pounds.

She's gone now. Our house is so quiet.

I swear the saturation isn't bumped up on her eyes,
they really were an amazing color
(~ 4 years ago)

Nothing better than lying on a nice crunchy fresh plastic
bag... except maybe jumping into a nice fresh cardboard box
(~ 5 years ago)

Greg and Sydney on her last morning

Lying in my lap, the expert in
maximizing lap comfort (~3 years ago)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


It's the first day of September.

This year I am not sad about the hours of Florida sunshine getting shorter. I'm not whiny about the dark coming earlier and earlier, or the weather cooling off, or the summer ending.

I haven't even gone to the perfectly good pool that I have access to (and pay for, really, with the monthly homeowner dues) at our condo complex one single time this year.  I did buy a new bathing suit, but I haven't worn it.

If anything, the bright blue skies and hot yellow sunshine is annoying. Shut up, summer.

For the first time I'm looking forward to shorter days, sunset coming earlier, and even the cold(er) weather. I keep seeing visions in my head of chilly nights with a house in the darkness, warm orange light from inside peeking through the windows. I keep thinking of fuzzy throw blankets and pumpkin scented candles and cups of hot tea.

I'm also looking forward to Christmas. It'll be the first Christmas that I don't spend with Mom. (There may be one or two Christmases when I was in my late 20's and had just moved to Florida, and Mom and Dad were still a 12+ hour drive away in Virginia, and I stayed in FL and they stayed in VA and we didn't see each other. But that didn't happen more than once, I think. How can I not remember? I gave it so little thought at the time. I sure didn't know that 20 years later I'd literally be brought to tears by my inability to remember.)

It will also be the first Christmas of my married life with Greg that we don't have to drive 7+ hours to Georgia to visit Mom. I kind of hated that drive and I am looking forward to not doing it this year. I also kind of hated not really spending Christmas at home; not being there on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day made me feel like it wasn't really worth a lot of decorating, or a lot of cooking.

I'm going to get a few really good quality Christmas decorations, and find new ways to display the old decorations to give them places of honor in our home. I have handmade decorations made by several family members, some of whom are dead now. I have ugly styrofoam glitter things that I made in kindergarten and Mom saved and put up every year.

After taking our usual Thanksgiving day trips to Greg's various family members the month before, we can just take a few days off work and create our own brand new Christmas traditions.

I swear I'm looking forward to it.