Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happ Father's Day 1988

In 1988, I spent the summer working in London. London is where I was for Father's Day that year. When my dad passed away, my mom gave me all the letters and cards I had sent him over the years that he had kept in his dresser drawer.  This is the letter I sent him that year.

Dear Dad,

This seems odd, writing to you.  But I feel the need to, and so I do.

I miss you.  Does that strike you as odd? I mean, I find it normal to miss home, and my parents - but I miss YOU. I miss sitting at the dinner table complaining together about how mom is on the phone or that dinner isn't cooked quite right.  I miss asking who is on "Johnny" tonight and making you stop changing the channels so I can see someone you've never heard of before.

I miss knowing that you are worried.  I don't know exactly what you're concerned over for me - I know you care and are concerned, but I don't have the specific thing and I miss that.

I'm really enjoying myself. I'm poor. DIRT poor. I live in a "ghetto". But it's such an experience, I wouldn't trade it.  Tomorrow I'm taking a draw on my salary (they said I could, because I just missed payday...) So I shan't be poor for long.

I've started saying "half" as though it rhymed with "cough" - I like it.

There is talk that I may be able to help open the Paris store for Joan & David - I would love that! My French is almost eight years old but it would help me live in Paris! That would be too much to ask for. But it is still just talk.

I feel so distant from you and all my family (and clean water, and clean air!) but I feel that this is most likely part of growing up and taking on my own responsibilities. I mean, I sometimes felt (as I'm sure you have) that I've never be able to actually handle life on my own.  I'm pleasantly surprised - I CAN do it!!

Anyway - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!! I would've phone you but i heard you were out of town...

I love you dearly - and miss you terribly.

Love, Jim

For the record, I didn't go to Paris for work. I didn't live in a "ghetto". The water in London left a strange scum on the top when you made tea and when I blew my nose the pollution from the city turned my boogers black. Even after taking that draw on my pay, I was broke. I still can't really handle my own life. And I still miss my dad.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Less Than Social Media

These days there is fine line to walk with social media. The veneer of public discourse has broken down to what at times can seem like monkeys throwing poo from cage to cage. The blog with long thoughts and original content gave way to Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat with re-posts, thumbs up, and memes followed by #ThisIsSoUs !

The most recent US Presidential election was played out on the internet with every camp choosing a different corner and every corner choosing a different news source as their own personal generator of "truth".  Things got harsh.  Things got mean.  Things got ugly.

So I took a walk.  Yes, one outside.  And then another one, off of Facebook, off of Twitter, off of Snapchat and off of Instagram. I gave it a week and checked back in, it had gotten worse.  I gave it the rest of November and checked back in, it was still ugly. So I took the rest of the year off.  I read a book. I watched tv.  I ate a lot of cookies.

For two months I've sat by trying to figure out what my role is in social media and what social media's role is with me.  In the past I have appreciated the chance to keep up with more people and share my life moments with ease.  While I was gone, I texted people, sent emails and (audible gasp!) saw people in person.  But not the far away people, that's much harder. I missed that part.

Before I took my social media holiday, I played "Facebook Police".  Politely (I hope), I would ask people to check their source, for truth or bias. I would ask they look at the comments following articles they posted that often revealed a more sinister group of people that I couldn't imagine they would normally associate with. At first it was private messages, then it was polite comments below, and later I resorted to being outright incredulous.

But the ugliness kept coming faster and more furious.

After the election, within the week I'd been called a fag behind my back and my husband wouldn't hold my hand in public out of fear that we'd be beaten up.  The ugliness had leapt off the internet and was following me on the street.

It was all too much to take in.  I laid low.  In public and in social media. But here is where I have reached today: Screw you internet.  Screw you rednecks.  Screw anybody who wants me to keep quiet.

Quiet is being good.  Quiet is being safe.  Quiet is not making waves.  Quiet is overrated.

I refuse to contribute to the ugliness of it all.  I will maintain my polite veneer. But there is good, and there is bad.  There is truth and there are lies.  I will go back to being the "Facebook Police" and you may hear from me. I'm done with all this re-posting and forwarding and blind copy/paste of bullshit that nobody reads. Have your own ideas, post your own thoughts and experiences.

When I read social media it is usually from the comfort of my own home, you're probably the same.  I would never march into your house with muddy boots and shout, "What a dump! You have shitty taste! Only I know how to decorate!"  It's much more likely, I'd politely take off my shoes, compliment your decor, make a snide remark about how I'd never have the nerve to combine such interesting prints or colors, then suggest a delightful book on proper home decor. It's called "good manners".

So pull out your white gloves before you post something on your social media, for your protection and mine.  It's the internet for god's sake, do you know how much porn has touched it!