Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bloggers of the Blog People

Did you know that the word blog is only 10 years old. Ok, for you twenty somethings out there that might seem old to you. After all, it’s half your age. But to us old farts? That’s young. And I feel like the word has been around forever. But according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog), the word blog was coined in 1999. It’s a tongue in cheek reference to the word weblog. Then it became acceptable to refer to blog as both noun and verb. Then came the word blogger. 

Frankly, I’m not enjoying the progression.

Weblog is ok. Direct. Succinct. Very business like.

Blog? While Michael Gorman of the Library Journal (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA502009.html) likens the sound of the word blog to “something you would find stuck in your drain,” it is definitely tongue in cheek. Kinda cute even. I can live with it.

But blogger? I’m a blogger? Sounds too much like booger, blubber, Frogger. Dried nasal mucus? my expanding middle? An 80’s arcade game? No thanks.

Michael Gorman even takes the term one step further. He calls bloggers, “The Blog People.” The Blog People?!?  Sounds like some B-grade, cult movie classic. Complete with quotable dialogue, “Oh no! It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!”

There has got to be a better word. But it has to be catchy, current, hip. Something that creates the vision of a cute, petite, girl-next-door sitting at her laptop in her adorable cotton pj’s, but sexy all at the same time. Coffee cup (or sweet tea with 2 lemon slices) within arms reach. Her golden retriever, Max, sitting at her feet and her tabby, Scooter, purring softly next to her.

Seriously. Blogger of the Blog People. There has got to be a better word.

Suggestions?……… Anyone? Anyone?

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The Dad He Used To Be

When I got the idea for this post I tore the house apart to find a particular picture of me and my dad. It’s a favorite of mine. I was about 18 years old, walking down the street, holding hands with my dad and my grandfather. My two favorite men in my life at the time. I couldn’t find it. So I said, well, I’ll just find another one. And then I realized. There ISN’T another one. My dad is still alive. I’m in my 40’s and I don’t have another picture of him and me.

Now I believe that every family is dysfunctional. What distinguishes us from other families is the degree of dysfunction. Ours has its fair share. My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder. She is high functioning. When we were kids, friends would tell us how much they admired our family. My sister and I would look at each other like they were nuts! Seriously? You’d enjoy not being spoken to for days? Being pulled around by your hair? Getting in trouble for leaving 2 kernels of corn in the sink? Testing the “waters” every morning to gauge the mood? Doing everything in your power to make sure Mom was happy? Because we all know — if Mom ain’t happy then nobody is happy. That was never more true than in our house.

When I was young my dad was good at diffusing the “situations.”  He’d say, “She’ll get over it.” He’d calm her down – sometimes. And if that didn’t work  he’d take us out of the house for awhile. As a result, we were able to develop a relationship with him. He’d take us fishing. To baseball games. I learned about songs he liked. Heard  stories about him growing up. When we moved out of the house things began to change.

I guess because he no longer had his daughters as a distraction he began falling under my mom’s spell. Things that angered her now angered him. The whole cycle of putting someone on a pedestal, worshipping everything about them and then tearing them down and throwing them in the dog house – he follows now, too. My mother, ever so impressed with titles, would brag about their neighbor “the Supreme Court Judge.” (Before you start guessing who – not the Federal Supreme Court,  the State Supreme Court) Anyway, then she was telling me a story about the Spinster next door and I said, “Wait. I know about the Supreme Court Judge neighbor but who is the Spinster?” And she said, “The Supreme Court Judge IS the Spinster. But she’s not really a Supreme Court Judge anymore. She’s retired.”

I envy my friends who have lunch with their dads. Talk to them on the phone without someone listening in. When my parents lived closer any time I’d stop in to see my dad at the coffee house he ran he’d hurry and call my mom to join us. Oh, I could do things alone with my mom. But I couldn’t with my dad anymore. She’d get so jealous. She’d accuse us of loving him more than her. And to survive her wrath my dad gives in to her demons. I once asked him whatever happened to the man who used to say “She’ll get over it?” He rolled his eyes and said, “That’s minimizing her feelings.”

I read in a self help book on BPD that spouses and children often take on the traits of their partner/parent and can become BPD themselves. My sister and I ran in the other direction as fast as we could. We constantly check in with each other, a barometer of sorts, assuring ourselves that we’re making sane choices with our husbands and children.

I miss my dad. But I’ve come to realize I miss the dad he used to be. Or at least, the one I thought he was.

(I still can’t find that picture. But I promise, if I do, I’ll post it with this entry.)

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If I Ruled the World

My friends and I will talk about the woes of the world, offer our solution and then laugh, “When I’m Queen….” We tackle some of the world’s biggest problems and often come up with some pretty simple solutions. Or we just completely eliminate issues as if they never existed. Wave our magic wands. Sprinkle the pixie dust. Send out our decree. If only….

If I ruled the world, of course there would be no war or poverty or hunger or disease. That’s a given. But I’d also eliminate deceit and prejudice.

Only people that wanted children would give birth to children. That would eliminate the need for abortion and foster care in one fell swoop.  The job of Stay At Home Mom would be revered. Teachers would rank right up there with doctors. They would be the celebrities of their communities.

And celebrities? They would be entertainers. That’s it. Nothing else. No hanging on their every word, burp or latest visit to Target. If they had something intelligent to say about an issue, we’d listen. Just as we would listen to anyone else who had something intelligent to say. But no more going to world leaders, with their 10th grade education and fishbowl perspective, simply because they won an Academy Award, excelling at their craft of entertaining.

We wouldn’t need to organize Neighborhood Watch because that’s just what good neighbors do. Watch out for each other. Get involved when we see injustice or something suspicious. Look out for each others children and step in with a gentle reminder if your neighbor’s child misbehaves. And the parent would be glad you stepped in and took care of it immediately in their absence. Because, after all, it truly does take a village.

And Neighborhood Watch? Wouldn’t be necessary, of course. No major crimes unit here. Just the occasional teenage prank or mis-step. Because they’re still learning, you know.

We’d encourage our friends and celebrate their successes. No more jonesing for the Joneses.

No waste. We’d grow only what we could eat. We’d all recycle. We’d buy only what we needed. And we wouldn’t need too much because no one’s looking to see if you wore that dress at the last party, or if your son’s pants are hand-me-downs. No one cares because it’s what’s inside that counts.

Ok. So it’s a bit sappy. Pollyanna. Glass half full. Resemble a Disney movie you saw recently. But that’s the kind of world I’d love to live in. I’ll take sappy over scary any day of the week.

Yep. If I ruled the world……if only.

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Filed under Problems

Before I Was A Mom…

 

…crying children were like nails on a chalkboard. Now? I frantically search until I find the source to make sure a parent is there taking care of the distraught little one.

…I slept as late as I wanted to on the weekends, which wasn’t very late, but still. I slept until I wanted to get up. Now? Wake up call in our house is 6am. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

…my husband and I could have a little romp in the hay, mid-afternoon, take a little nap afterwards and do it all over again. Now? We have to schedule time. And then keep/remember/have the energy for “the date.” Afterwards we say, “Mmmmm. That was nice. Let’s not wait 3 months for the next time, k?”

…having the money to go out was no big deal. We did what we felt like. When we felt like it. Now? We have to tack on $40-50 more to the budget for the babysitter. Ouch!

…I always remembered to shave my legs. Now? Please don’t look!

…I had seen every single Best Picture nominee for the Academy Awards. Printed out my ballots and threw a big bash so we could eat popcorn and Twizzlers and comment on the tuxes, dresses, and  speeches. Now? Do they still have those awards shows? After our nightly Curious George episode our tv is off.

…I loved my husband. Now? I adore, cherish, am continually amazed by, LOVE my husband. He is such a wonderful father.

…hugs were nice. Now? Hugs are sticky, slimy, sweet smelling, cozy little wonders all day long.

…my skin was fresh with not a wrinkle in sight. Now? I’ve earned every single “laugh line” quite honestly. My children set me into a fit of giggles at least once a day.

…I wondered how I was going to make a difference in the world. Now? I’m shaping the future with my bare hands.

This post was inspired by the Group Writing Project. Click the picture below for more info!

MamaBlogga Group Writing Project

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Facebook is the New High School for Adults

Don’t look so surprised. I know you’ve thought it, too. Sure, you can try to fool yourself. I joined to keep in touch with friends and family. I like being able to share pictures of how much our kids have grown. I lost touch with Nancy in college and we’ve reconnected! Isn’t that wonderful?

Yes. It’s great. If that’s what it’s used for. But there’s a whole new element that no one talks about. We expect the younger set to be catty. After all, they’re young. That’s what they do. And also not surprising is the fact that females between the ages of 18-24 make up the largest groups of users on Facebook. (http://www.istrategylabs.com/2009-facebook-demographics-and-statistics-report-276-growth-in-35-54-year-old-users/) But the group with the largest growth, up 276.4% from last year, is females ages 35-54.

And we haven’t changed. We’re still the same catty bunch from our high school years. Don’t tell me you didn’t look at Karen’s profile, notice that she was still single at age 45 and think, ‘Yep. I always knew she was gay.’ Or how Susie has really put on the weight – you’ve aged much better than she has! Or how “Cutest Couple” divorced within 5 yrs – you predicted that, too. And if you keep these thoughts to yourself, it’s fine. It’s normal.

What isn’t normal, at least from the perspective that we mature and get wiser in our old age, is continuing the catty trend publicly. In our neighborhood “friends” of mine post pictures of their Poker Party Bash (wasn’t invited), John’s 40th Surprise Party (wasn’t invited), Renee’s Birthday Dinner (wasn’t invited), Debbie’s Birthday Night on the Town Celebration (wasn’t invited). I serve on committees, play Bunco, play tennis and go to bookclub with these people. Our children play together at the pool. I thought we were “friends.”

A friend of mine who was invited to the Debbie Birthday Bash refused to be in the pictures they were taking. They asked, why? She said, “Because you’re going to post these on Facebook and someone who wasn’t invited is going to feel hurt. I don’t want to be a part of that.” A discussion stirred up feelings on inadequacy, insecurity, etc. They explained that they wanted people to know they lived a full social life. They wanted the guy that ignored them in high school or the clique of popular girls that always excluded them, people they were “friends” with now on Facebook, to know that they had beautiful friends, fancy cars, gorgeous homes and went fabulous places.

The following night the pictures went up. They all looked fabulous. They all looked like they were having the best time. And about an hour later, Debbie posted the pictures of the Renee’s Birthday Dinner – an event that occurred two months ago, an event  my friend wasn’t invited to. I guess Debbie got the last word.

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Filed under Growing Up

They’re just words!

To educate

“Well, I don’t get what the big deal is. They’re just words!” I was floored. I was a teacher at a small private school. Teaching World Literature. We were studying Dante’s Inferno out of Norton’s Anthology of World Literature. Three students turned in papers quoting, verbatim, sections of the editor’s comments that introduced the work. Word for word. 10thGraders. Been writing papers for about 6 years now. Introduced to the concept of plagiarism many times. We discussed it ad nauseum in a lecture I gave. We even worked on exercises together, explaining how to footnote, how to use the MLA method, how to quote within your paper. And clearly, in bold, at the bottom of the assignment sheet, handed out when the paper was first assigned, was typed: “Plagiarism = O”

I couldn’t have been more clear.

But still it happened. The repercussions are simple, right? A zero to each offender. Nope. Two of the three students were board member’s children. A zero could not be “given” to a board member’s child. Whether she earned it or not. Unacceptable. The head of our Upper School questioned me. “Maybe you weren’t clear about just what plagiarism really is.” The Headmaster called a meeting with the parents and me to “sort all of this out.” I was stunned. The infraction was as clear as day. The proof irrefutable.

I received threatening phone calls from a board member’s wife. She’d have my job before her daughter “earned” a zero. One of my colleague’s called me stubborn. And then a parent of a child that wasn’t even involved called me for a conference. Prepared to talk to her about her son’s progress (he was doing beautifully) we sat down. All she wanted to talk about was this “silly business” about plagiarism and she wanted to know why in the world these girls were in so much trouble. I told her this was between me and the girls. She wouldn’t back down. I told her, “Well, for one thing it’s stealing.” “Stealing what?” she asked. I said, “Another person’s thoughts, opinions, words.”

“Well, I don’t get what the big deal is. They’re just words!”

I don’t have much of a poker face. My jaw must have dropped to my knees. There was no reasoning with her. And I sat there thinking, I get it. These entitled, privileged people, used to getting their way, used to sneaking ideas by bosses to get ahead. They just won’t get it. Words don’t have a monetary value to them. And that’s how it has to be explained to them. With a dollar sign. So just like Martin Luther King in his “I Have A Dream” speech laden with monetary references I explained copyright infringements, how being published is like a patent. She nodded slightly and said, “ohhhhh.” But I don’t think she really got it.

Bottom line? Precious Suzy doesn’t cheat. Precious Sally doesn’t fail. But I fought to keep the zero grade and thanks to an incredibly supportive department head it stuck to their precious grade reports. Needless to say, the rest of the school year was a living hell. I received no respect from the parents and as a result that attitude trickled into the classroom and spread like an insidious virus to the other students.

Words are a precious commodity. Especially when combined to create new and intelligent, thought provoking opinion. Protect your words. Protect the words of others. Respect their value.

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Filed under Plagiarism, Teaching

Hello blog world!

I am so glad Al Gore invented the internet! This is amazing. Sitting here, at my computer, sending messages to……..? Who will read this? Who are you? What caught your eye to visit this page? I am so new to this blogging concept. And what is so amazing is before I ever entered my first blog I did a little research on you other bloggers out there. Did you know that there are grandmothers out there who blog? Seriously! Grandmothers! Now I am REALLY feeling behind the times. I’m somewhere between 30 and a Wal-Mart greeter. Not yet a grandmother, thank God!

So. Welcome, Me! Looking forward to seeing exactly where this will all lead.

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