Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Facebook doesn't unfriend you..your 'friends' do

After much consideration and discussion with Goose, my husband and my best friend I have decided to give myself a gift for Christmas. The gift of 'Freedom' in the words of William Wallace.
Freedom from judgement,  freedom from anxiety,  freedom from scrolling for hours a week through everyone's posts..looking for something important, something life-altering, something that will mean something to me. What I'm really looking for is something personal. A message to me. Something for me from someone that was thinking about me.

Facebook posts used to be so much more...now I find so many of them simple 'shares' of pictures with quotes on them to make us laugh. Which is not a bad thing. But they become less and less personal. And instead of commenting on them, we hit the 'like' button. Easy.
'Facebook makes it so easy to keep in touch with loved ones.'
That was what I used to say. But now I see that it makes it too easy.
Too easy to add someone that you don't really know or like. Someone you have no intention of ever getting together with. Someone that you don't even talk to.
Too easy to argue or say something hurtful, because you don't have to see that persons face.
I have sent messages to people and not got a reply. In a perfectly oblivious world, you can tell yourself, 'Maybe they haven't been on' or 'Maybe they're too busy'. But now Facebook features tell you not only that they've read your message, but how long ago they have.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I haven't quite decided.

I've seen people put up posts about things that are important to them, things they believe in and had people criticize or judge them in response. I'm sure I'm guilty as well. I feel like 'our' profile pages should be respected the same as our own homes. Our homes are where we can be ourselves and have the freedom of speech without persecution. If I want to paint my walls of my livingroom pink with orange polka-dots... I certainly don't want you coming in and saying, 'What were you thinking? You should not have done that!'

I have many friends & family on FB. Some of them, sadly... that is my only contact with them. Which is why I have wanted to remain for as long as I have. I see pictures of weddings, new babies, homes decorated for Christmas. I really do love having that window into their lives so I can see where they are in their lives. Many of them post about their beliefs, their religions, their favorite hockey team or political views. There are many that I do not agree with. Some I am outright opposed to. But I would never post judgements onto their page. (At least I hope I have not) That's not right. That's not fair.

But I would like to be able to be who I am online. Who I really am. Not smiling and nodding to please everyone else. Normally I am trying to make people laugh. That's what I'm known for. And I love that.
Put up a funny quote or picture and get 100 likes. But if you want to talk about something serious or a need for comfort, I find it's very easy for us to scroll past the needy...like not making eye contact with a homeless person on the street. If we don't look, it's not there.
I feel like if I let them know who I really am, they would turn away.

My Father passed away almost three years ago. About two years ago I was going through a really rough time and asked in my status for someone, anyone to share a happy thought or memory of my Dad. I thought it would help me hold him closer if I could talk to someone else that remembered him. I had almost 300 'friends' on my list at the time. And two people responded as I recall. And one of them didn't even know my Dad.
That should have been my wake-up call to Facebook not being for my greater good. I know now that when I think about someone or something if I feel the slightest anxiety it should be avoided.
But with all the bad hype the site gets..it really isn't Facebook that ignores you when you need someone to talk to. It isn't Facebook that deletes you without an explanation. It's the names without faces on your 'friend list'.

Goose, the hard-ass says, 'If you don't talk to them or if they ignore you delete them! I don't have time for that bullshit!'
But I am a very softhearted person. I am sentimental. At this age with everything I have experienced people are amazed that I am still open-hearted, loving, trusting and yes, even naive. I try to see the good in people and give way too many chances. Which is why I get hurt so often.
My personal experience tells me that if I 'be myself' or 'stand up for myself' that I will lose those that I love. It's been happening for years. It is precisely why I am now an only child of eight.

Most recently I got into a discussion with a cousin on FB. She didn't agree with what I said in my status. And when I tried to explain to her why I felt the way I did, she deleted and blocked me. I realize that she is young and maybe was afraid that it would turn nasty. But now, she is gone. I find myself wondering what a trip home might entail if we meet up now. People shouldn't turn their backs on Friends and Family because of a difference of opinion. We should be able to talk and have different views.
It shouldn't be that easy to click a button and delete someone from your life.

I know I am guilty of scrolling without clicking. I hate the posts that say, 'lets see who reads my posts' or 'many of you won't respond .. I know who will...' Those are annoying and I don't blame anyone for not responding.
I am also guilty of deleting people from my friends list. Roughly once a year I would go through my list and look at their face. I would listen to my gut and see if I had a positive response or a negative one. And if they caused any negative feelings or tightenings I would delete them. Sometimes it felt like a good decision. Sometimes it would hurt. Alot.
I have deleted family members on facebook and in real life because of the way they treated me and I just could not allow it anymore. And I cried. For a long time. Sometimes I still cry because I miss them.
But the fact that they have not tried to contact me, proves that I did the right thing. If they don't need me in their lives. If they don't miss my smile. If they can go for years without hearing my voice. Then I should no longer hurt because they are gone.

'I just got a new couch, you should come see it and we'll have tea!'
'Oh? put pics of it on Facebook so I can see it.'.....

I got my Family together for pictures a few weeks ago. We had so much fun trying to keep warm outside without our coats and getting the dog to sit still long enough and everyone to smile at the same time. Set the timer and run to get in the picture. And I remember the first statement from someone, 'Mom, get these onto Facebook a-sap!'

When I put something witty on my status, I need to see who responded. Who liked it, who commented. And then I get lost in the scrolling sea of posts again. An hour goes by, I lift my head to see my Husband smiling at me. And I realize that ...time is so precious.

I don't want to read your status.
I want to hear your voice.
I want to see your face. I want to feel your hug.
I want....Freedom!

Saturday, August 8, 2015


He did not want a fish!
Let me make that perfectly clear.

I had always had a pet.  From the time I was five years old, I had a puppy or a cat, or both....a bird, a fish, frogs, a hamster, a rabbit.  I always had something to take care of.  Other than my kids....or plants.
But these past few years, with my cat Lillie disappearing and then Goose's dog Harley passing away. Well, the kids are grown and no longer needing me.  Not exactly in the same way they used to at least.  I was starting to feel a bit lost.  I mean, I can only water the plants so much.

So I decided I wanted to get a fish...or two.

He said no. Flat out. Too much work. Too dirty. Too smelly. No way.

Then I went to the pet store. An hour away.
The flash of color was what stopped me. Japanese fighting fish. Beautiful long flowing fins. I saw the little betta's sitting dully in their plastic drinking cups. And quite literally, that is what they were in. I asked the young man working the fish corner what a betta would need.

'Nothing really. They seem perfectly happy in anything around the size of these cups.'
My heart sank.
That's really what they're telling people?
I wanted to rescue them all at that point. But knew I couldn't. If I had more than one, they would fight to the bloody death. And that's not the type of color I want to be gazing at.


I believe I read that in a Dr. Suess book when I was a wee girl.

So I brought Blue home. Can you guess what color he was? I placed him in a fish-shaped bowl six times the size of his little plastic cup. *spat*
I promptly gave him a few miniscule pebbles of fish food. Something YoungHeartlessMan told me at the store was to only give him one or two pebbles a day. Well, Blue was famished. He jumped and leapt at the pebbles like they were going to self-destruct in two seconds. I read the container and it said to feed the fish all he could eat in two minutes and then to remove uneaten food.

Trust me, there was no uneaten food.
I watched him stretch out in his new digs. He watched me warily. Coming to the glass to get a better look at his new Mommy. He seemed so much more active and happy than in the store that I cried. I loved how he interacted with me through the sub surface glass.

When Papa Goose came home, he approached the fish tank with caution. Not to appear too interested, of course. Blue's head immediately grew to three times its normal size. He looked like a cobra holding it's breath.
My first thought?
'Oh no, he broke the fish...'

Then as Papa retreated, Blue's head shrunk back down as he circled the bowl a few times and came over to my side of the bowl.
'Awww...he's protecting his Mama! How cute is that?'
'Yeah...very cute,' as he put away his lunch box. (Goose, not Blue)

Once we realized Blue did this every time Goose pressed his face up to the glass, he was ecstatic!
'He knows it's ME!'
This turned into beelines to the fishbowl every time he came home from work.

'Hey Buddy...how's it goin'?'
'Buddy Blue...BluesBrother....Blue Light'
That turned into...'He needs more room.'

Blue was moved into my trifle dish and Papa added a 'cave' for him to swim through. Otherwise known as my terra cotta garlic holder. Broken, of course, to 'add authenticity'. He spent the first few hours just peering at me from inside the garlic holder.  I felt bad at first, but then I realized that if I were that small and I was suddenly put into an entirely new environment...and I was born (or hatched) with an instinct to expect predators around every dark alley - I mean corner! I would probably be a bit hesitant at first as well.

He eventually came out and was curious as to what I was doing. I called him everything from 'Baby Blue' to 'Blue's Clues'. He got so excited every time one of us came up to his 'window'.

 It didn't take long to realize that once summer faded, so did Blue's energy. So Papa Goose came home with a new heater for Blue's trifle dish.

Well, obviously the heater was too big for a trifle dish. *sigh* They simply don't make good heaters for trifle dishes anymore. Plus it sat on the dining room table and became increasingly awkward to properly enjoy a salmon dinner.

Papa went online and used our RBC points to order Blue another new home.

A 15 gallon upright aquarium with a hood, light and an Aqueon 20 Quiet Filter. If I thought it took a long time for Blue to feel comfortable in the trifle dish, I was in for a surprise.  It was literally weeks before he ventured to the middle section of this aquarium. I mean, obviously it was the home that bettas dream of when they are cramped into the tight quarters of their red solo cup nightmare. But he had no idea what....or who? was hiding in the dark corners of this new world. Every time he ventured a bit further we cheered and celebrated for him.
When he came to the surface for Papa Goose to feed him, it became a ritual that Papa would pet him first. Right on the top of Blue's back. And he liked it! I never got that brave. Since if on occasion we did not come to feed him when he thought he should be fed he would bolt violently out of the water, spearing the pebble like marshmallow on a stick.
Nope, that's okay..I will refrain from the 'petting'...thank you very much.
I've seen pirahnas...on TV.
Once he was cautiously swimming out in front of the filter and it grabbed him and threw him forward. He sat still and shook his head at first. Then he caught in it again and seemed more prepared for it. Turns out our wee little Blue was quite the thrill seeker. He would hover on the outskirts of the waterfall and then jump in with big gust of....underwater....splash? (that's the best I can do) This became a daily thing for him. Whenever he was bored. He even tried to convince the snails to try. But they ignored him, as snails usually do.

When we finally couldn't find him one night, we panicked.
Had he been sucked up into the filter? Burned himself beyond recognition on the heater? Hit his head on the tunnel coming out of the water-slide?
It was a horrible three minutes.
Then his blue nose poked out of the belly of the pirate ship. We were SO excited! You would think we built that ship ourselves and hatched Blue from a wee egg long ago.
He was our baby.
But we still ate fish. And he still watched us... warily, nose pressed up against the side of the tank. Mentally shaking his head in disapproval.
YoungManWithoutAHeart had told us we should consider ourselves lucky if 'it' lived a year.

For the next three and a half years we lived with this little bundle of attitude and personality. He loved his Papa Goose.  And Papa Goose loved him. Any time we couldn't find him, we would turn on his light and he reluctantly would come out from inside his pirate ship. That was his refuge. His 'man cave'.

One day about a month ago, we came home from town to find Blue lying on the bottom of the tank. My heart jumped into my throat and I dropped my bags. I touched the side of the tank and peered closer to see him. When he saw me he catapulted to the glass where I was. He was happy to see me. He even ate a tiny bit. But then went back down to rest.
On the second day, when he was still in the same condition we moved him to a smaller tank. His old trifle dish. He spun around in circles, lapping the perimeter...seemingly agitated. I did not see his spurt of energy as a good sign. Blue kept coming up to the surface gulping huge amounts of air.
When Goose said, 'He's drowning...', I broke down. We cried and held each other, stroking the tank and telling Blue how much we love him.
What could we do?
I had flushed fish before. But that was different. They were dead. They weren't 'mine'. They were one of many in a community of fish. I was younger. And I was not attached.
This was my Baby Blue. The reality that we could do nothing for him was heartbreaking. I felt like I could not breathe.
The next 24 hours were spent on the dreadful Death Watch. Every time we came over, we expected him to be gone. But Blue, being Blue...would drag himself up and come over just to see us. And I would cry all over again.
He spend most of his last day laid out on the top deck of his pirate ship.
When we came over to him...and he didn't get up to greet us, that was when we knew. At this point I was completely exhausted and cried out. I had no more. I collapsed on the couch and let sleep take over.
Later, I'm not sure how much....Goose tapped on my toes to wake me. I opened my eyes.
'Come with me', he was holding a small wooden box. He constructed it while I slept.
Blue's name was painted on top of the box. In blue paint.
God, I love this man.
All the emotions came flooding back, tears threatened.  But I was too tired...and much too grateful to cry. I followed him around the shed to the big tree by the entrance of my greenhouse. There was a fresh hole dug. A very small grave. He placed the box gently into the ground and began to cover it while we talked about our favorite memories of Blue. We built him a proper Scottish cairn and he had a little wooden cross, courtesy of Papa Goose.

He was the best little fish that he never wanted.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Post Yuletide Depression

Every year I get so excited and wound up for the holidays.  I look forward to having my children all home.  I am thrilled because I was able to find or make the perfect gift for each and every loved one.
I'm humming carols while stirring my fudge. The house looks warm and cozy dressed in it's finest ribbons and pine.
All of our favorite foods are being prepared.

'This will be our best Christmas EVER!' is always heard at least twice.

So why, please, why are the days and weeks that follow this time so dark and dreary?

Is it because the shiny paper has been ripped away and there are no more secrets or surprises left?
Is it because those loved ones have gone back home and it is so quiet?
Or is it because the little house has been stripped bare of it's wooden cranberries and glittery candles?
The young pine tree having it's few ornaments and red balls yanked off and put into the plastic containers to sit in the dark for another eleven months.

Why am I sitting at my desk on the verge of tears?
Does everyone else go through this as well?  I am always hearing that people go through hell over the Holidays.  But I've thought it was because they were alone.  Or maybe the sufferers are the ones that have lost their Christmas spirit.

My Christmas spirit is in no short supply.  Christmas really is my favorite time of year.  I have a slate sign used to count down the days till Santa comes. And I usually start it after Halloween!
I don't have any sad thoughts regarding the Holidays...other than missing my parents.  I have great memories of family gatherings and traditions from when I was little.  And I miss that they don't happen anymore.  But is that really enough to cause such a lull during Dec 26 - Mar 9?

March 9th is my birthday by the way.  But often my thoughts go to 'Well the snow can leave anytime now that Christmas Eve is over', and 'I can't wait for Spring now!' once the bells stop ringing.
I learned a long time ago from the Grinch that Christmas 'doesn't come from a store'.  I have not forgotten that it comes in spite of boxes and tags.

Maybe it's a crash after all the sugar and sweets that are abundant every place you look.  Is that possible to have a month-long high and then hit the wall? Possibly.
But should the 'hit' last for weeks?  My livingroom door frames used to be lined with Christmas cards from friends & family from all over.  Now the price of a stamp keeps my door frame practically naked.  It's hard to hang a facebook post on your tree.

~longer sigh~
I don't know.  Maybe this is why so many people want to make New Year's Resolutions.  Because once the veil of sugarplums fades away they realize they really aren't happy with the way things are going.  The chocolate wrappers are all empty and your remote control helicopter lost a propeller after hitting the ceiling.

Maybe I can look for a Recovering Holly-holics Group.  We can all meet up with our half-licked candy canes and new clean socks. I did get bubble bath, bath bombs, funny DVDs that I can use to escape 'real life' as needed.  And maybe that's all we really need.  Is to get away once in a while.
To freshen up, regroup and come back full force.

I've got a good job to go back to this week where I am valued and appreciated.  I have a husband that loves me more than life itself.  I have 3 beautiful, healthy children that tell me I have not in fact ruined their lives...yet.  We have already reached the point which the days are getting longer.  And that is never a bad thing.  My truck is old, but she still starts even on the coldest days.  I may be a little stuffed after all that turkey...but at least I am not hungry.

My husband just came upstairs into my office and kissed me on my forehead. 'I love you, Doll'.

What more could I possibly ask for?
It's okay to have goals and dreams to reach for, but don't forget to be thankful for everything you already have.

May you be happy with everything that comes your way throughout 2015 and all your years ahead.