What Twitter is Good For II

Can someone let @pghrugbyangel I need to talk to her? KTHXBAI.

Seriously, I use the DM feature of Twitter quite a bit. I DM’ed the above tweep to see if she can babysit for me next Friday. And then I quit Twitter, and I haven’t emailed her yet. Ooops.

Oh, DM = Direct Message. It’s kind of Twitter’s IM feature. (Again, for my dad: IM = instant messaging, akin to chat. It’s like instant e-mails, back and forth. Oh, never mind.)

So every now and again, I DM someone. Do they want some gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough (part of my daughters’ daycare fundraiser)? What time were we going to meet? Can you babysit for me on Friday, at 6 p.m.?

I don’t have to remember e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers. (How lazy is THAT?) I don’t have to know their last name, even! (Insert your own inappropriate joke here.)

But now I have to go all the way into my e-mail, find an address, put a subject line in, type a message, and send it. Instead of the two-step method that is Twitter.

So, not only has my attention span been shortened, but I can’t even be bothered to e-mail (or, even more medieval, call) someone.

How pathetic is that?

Plus there’s the whole waiting for them to e-mail or call back thing. Twitter: another sign of the culture of immediate gratification.

The Hard Way

A friend of our sent us a card with candy in it recently. The candy were those little ‘red hot’ cinnamon candies (which I love).

Flora wanted one of those candies in the worst way.

I tried to warn her.

“That candy is hot,” I said.

“Will it cool off?” she responded.

“Not that kind of hot. It’s spicy.”

She gave me an incredulous look (Flora has quite a repertoire of incredulous looks). “Who would give us spicy candy?” she asked.

I handed over a candy.

She blew on it for a bit, then popped it in her mouth.

A minute or two later, I looked over at her. She was holding the candy in her fingers, a stricken look on her little face.

“I told you,” I said. She looked at me mutely, her expression priceless. Somehow horrified and wondering at the same time.

“Throw it out,” I advised. “And get yourself a drink of cold water.”

Withdrawal

When I was in my 20s, I gave up coffee for Lent.

I had a headache for a week. It sucked. It also made me aware that I was pretty hooked on caffeine.

Giving up Twitter is worse. (Yet, probably better for me.)

The willpower it takes to not type “twitter.com” into my browser is… phenomenal. Although I could safely do so, I guess, as I would get a sign-in page, which would be enough to bring me to my senses.

I think. Best not to test me right now.

I have gotten some e-mail from “tweeps” (that would be Twitter peeps for those not in the know. And, for my dad: “peeps” is short for people, in this context people who are friends — not those marshmallow confections that Dr. Bro likes so much). They have asked how the no-Twitter thing is going, and I have been honest: It’s hard. I don’t like it.

I even find myself irritable about the whole thing. I guess part of that is feeling out of touch, and, I will admit, irrelevant.

Which brings me back to one of the reasons I gave up Twitter in the first place: the relevance of my on-line presence in the first place.

(Justin Kownacki has a zillion thoughts about on-line relevance, and I will be citing him in the coming 40 days. Just as soon as I get that professional blog on-line. But that is another post for another day. I’m still waiting for my attention span to increase. Although in squee-worthy news, Justin links to me on this post. I’m not really sure he means it to be complimentary, but I’ll take it. I’m a narcissist like that.)

Where was I?

Oh, right.

Twitter and this blog are purely personal pursuits. They are not for networking, they are for socializing. I’m not trying to drum up business, although I do occasionally post links to this blog on Twitter. One of the points I made in my Year of Social Media post was this:

Becoming a parent can be extremely isolating. Within the last five years, I had two babies, moved to the suburbs, went from WAHM to SAHM to WOTHM. While I still keep in touch with a handful of IRL friends (without social media, too), I have lost touch with many more. Friends I went to high school or college with, people I moved away from when I left the South Side.

In the past year, though, I have discovered so many more people and I feel as if I’m fast on my way to becoming friends with many of them. Social media and blogging have helped me overcome the isolation I have felt since the triple-whammy of motherhood, ‘burb living, and full-time work.

As such, Twitter (and to lesser extents, Facebook and Plurk) have been vital to my mental health.

I am stepping away not because I don’t want to be connected any longer. I absolutely crave that connection — like any person craves connection.

It’s just that it’s gone way beyond a way to connect to people, and become a compulsion. My husband is the psychologist, so I won’t be psychoanalyzing myself (he can do it in the comments for me), but it seems that not being able to stay away from Twitter for 5, 10, 20 minutes is a bit of a problem. Especially as the children may be setting a fire in the other room. (I kid. More likely they are figuring out how to use the remote. But still, what is mommy-blogging for if not to over-dramatize?)

So if I’m commenting more often on your blog, or sending you pointless e-mails and text messages, please bear with me. I’m searching for ways to still connect without being compulsive about it.

Thanks for your patience.

What Twitter is Good For I

I had a question regarding punctuation, and, because I follow a lot of writers (as well as punctuation/grammar geeks) on Twitter (and some of them follow me back), I thought I would post it there.

Nothing doing.

So I emailed a couple of people and looked around online. I sent a query to the Chicago Manual of Style Online. (They were against what the publisher wanted to do, but acknowledged that it is common.) (Aprostrophes in years, if you want to know: 1950’s, 1800’s — not possessive, plural. CMoS says 1950s, 1880s. I concur.)

This is one of the ways I use Twitter, though. Informal polling (where should I eat downtown?), grammar/usage questions, even attempting to get some empathy/sympathy (regarding anything: my husband hogging the remote, potty training issues with my 3yo, snOMG). And it works for me that way, too.

Waiting for feedback from my blog or emails takes so long! /whine

Again, I am sensing a problem.

I’m only two days into this. I have a lot to think (and write) about.

Lost: The Substitute

The Sideways Story is going to break my heart. I like everyone so much better in it! See the alive but still crippled John Locke start to find peace and acceptance in his body and in his life. I’m so happy to see Helen (which doesn’t mean she’s not going to die of a brain aneurysm down the line). See Hurley act like a benevolent Buddha. See Ben Linus as a history teacher bitching about the coffee in the teacher’s lounge!

Helen mentions John’s father as if he is still in his son’s life, as if he’s invited to the wedding. So why is John in a wheelchair? I wouldn’t think you’d invite the guy who shoved you out of a window and crippled you to your wedding, even if he is your dad.

It’s another glimpse (like Hurley’s comment in “LA X”: “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”) that not only are these characters’ futures changed, but their pasts have changed. John’s in a wheelchair, yes; Kate’s on the run, yes; Hurley’s won the lottery, yes; but the reasons for these things have shifted.

Because in the sideways timeline, the Island is under water. Jacob hasn’t touched them. Their lives have taken the track that they were supposed to have taken.

Maybe it did work.

Back on-Island, in the meantime, Smokey drifts around and decides to recruit Sawyer to his cause. Richard is terrified of him (the usually unflappable Richard has been seriously rocked by Not Locke’s appearance). A boy (the boy from Flight 815?) tells Not Locke that he can’t kill “him” — Sawyer or Richard? (I think Richard; Richard is somehow special.) Ben only lies once! Sawyer sees right through Not Locke, even with two-thirds of a bottle of whiskey in him (my favorite moment of last night’s episode).

And Not Locke takes him to that spooky cave.

I think the writers/producers of Lost are exploiting our assumptions about black and white, namely, that white is for the good guys and black is for the bad guys. I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

To me, the names all over the cave wall and ceiling are proof that Jacob is crazy. Insane crazy. Hell-bent on proving the Man in Black/Not Locke wrong — that there will be an ending; that the Island does need protecting; that some day someone else will take his (Jacob’s) place. At the same time, though, I think Jacob is setting up “the candidates” for failure. He manipulates people so they come to the Island, and then leaves them to their own devices. A terrible twist on the idea of free will.

And by doing so, by attempting to keep things in balance, Jacob keeps the Man in Black trapped.

That’s all over now, though.

Did you notice whose names were not on the cave wall? Kate, Claire, Rose and Bernard, Mr. Eko, Frank Lapidus (whom my husband insists on calling Frank the Penis), Ben, Juliet, Miles. Are they wild cards? Dispensable? Not candidates to do one of two things: protect the Island or help Not Locke escape his trap?

I know: it seems like a lot more questions. But I think the story is getting told, the mysteries are being revealed. They’ve got fourteen more hours.

I am loving it.

40 Days and 40 Nights*

I am giving up Twitter for Lent. I’m pretty freaked out about this decision. It’s causing me a lot of anxiety.

And that’s kind of the problem.

I like Twitter. I get Twitter. Twitter makes me feel connected.

I spend too much time on Twitter.

So I’m going to go without it for 40 days and 40 nights. (Holy Thursday cannot get here quickly enough. Already.)

I’m not giving up social media altogether. I’m going to keep blogging; I’m going to keep reading blogs and commenting. (I’m getting better at doing this. Maybe less Twitter will mean more commenting.)

I’m going to check in at Plurk.

But I have to step back a little bit, and assess how to better use the time I spend on Twitter. Maybe I’ll get more sleep or do more cleaning. Maybe I’ll play more games with my kids. Maybe I’ll read more books. (That sound you just heard was Dan slapping his head and saying, “D’oh!”)

I’ll be going to next week’s tweet-up anyway (I already have a sitter!). I really like everyone I’ve “met” on Twitter, and as I primarily tweet with Pittsburgh people, I’ve developed a whole new circle of friends. It’s the ‘social’ in ‘social media’.

But it’s time to assess my Twitter use, and perhaps develop an alter (read: professional) ego to make it more useful to me (for networking, not for “marketing” or anything douchey like that).

Plus, it really is the hardest thing I could do for Lent.

If my posts suddenly become very short and frequent, you know why.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Is it futile? Will all these people I’ve made friends with on Twitter leave me? Will they even miss me? (Probably not.) Should I give up something else instead?

*To clarify, I will not be breaking my Twitter fast on Sundays. I was not raised with the “rule” that Sunday during Lent was a free day. It’s true that I don’t have to do anything above fasting or abstaining from meat on Friday, but as I am already a vegetarian, I like to go the extra mile.

Random Thoughts: The Bored Edition

1. More snow. Is coming. I’m a little worried.

2. Kate fell asleep on the floor yesterday — something unprecedented. She had fallen asleep in the car, and as we brought her into the house, she woke and started fussing at us. I thought she was going to go into a full-blown tantrum (it had been that kind of day). She curled up on the floor, barely in the house, boots and coat still on — and passed out again.

3. She then proceeded to fall asleep on the stairs, and then, for the final 20 minutes of this very broken nap, in my lap on the couch. She wanted to sleep — she clearly needed to sleep — but no way no how was she going to do it in her room.

4. Given the resurgence of the tantrums over the weekend and the falling asleep every where, I am wondering if the ear medications are working. Today is the last day for drops, and she’ll be taking the antibiotics by mouth until Wednesday. She’s been complaining that her ear itches. Is that a bad sign?

5. My kids love Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (the movie). Kate actually refers to it as Chancey with a Cloud of Meatballs, which slays me. I like it too. I’ve ordered it four times on our television. Guess I better go out and pick up that DVD.

A Good Date

Aside from being completely underwhelmed by the Grille on Seventh (I’ve never said this about a restaurant meal before, but the food was boring; it made me think that old people must dine there a lot: very bland), Dan and I had a great night. Our seats for Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) were perfect (on the floor, right of the stage, about eight rows back). We could see him perfectly.

The highlight (for me) was when he brought out a tenor to accompany him on “Narcolepsy”. I was going along enjoying myself, digging Folds’ piano chops, and the PSO, and thinking that Folds has a pretty nice voice to go along with everything. And then the tenor opened his mouth, and I was blown away.

I should try to catch some opera sometime.

Anyway, the audience participation (de riguer) and the rousing “Army” that closed the show, pretty much sealed the deal.

This song always reminds me of finding and marrying Dan. Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Ear, Ear: Revisited

It seems, five days into antibiotic treatment, that Dan and I have stumbled onto a new wrinkle in the whole 3-year-old behavioral pattern.

If you take an already strong-willed 3-year-old (is there any other kind?) and add a raging ear infection you get the human equivalent of a thermonuclear device.

I imagine, when you are a toddler/little girl, chronic ear pain is like having a beehive in your head. The incessant buzzing of pain must just short out all the circuits. So when, on top of the pain, things don’t go your way (i.e. your mom says ‘no’ or your dad asks you to say please) you just lose it. And that buzzing makes you a crazy, screaming monster for, oh, if you’re Kate, 30, 40 minutes. Until you’re pooped out, and still in pain, and you just want a big hug.

Thank goodness for Alexander Fleming.

Kate is sleeping through the night again. As a matter of fact, on Wednesday (two days into treatment), she fell asleep while I was singing lullabies. That is unprecedented.

The epic tantrums have tapered off. There is still some pouting and stomping, but much (much) less screaming and hitting. I haven’t had to put myself in timeout in days.

She is cheerful again. A tad overactive as bedtime approaches (I think that’s no naps + cabin fever), but laughing, not flipping out. She’s eating well again, too.

I don’t know how Dan feels, but I have been breathing a big sigh of relief. It looks like we’ll survive Kate’s terrifying 3s after all.

Knock wood.

Yuck

I did something the other day that I’ve never done before.

I put the kibosh on a shirt my 5-year-old daughter picked out.

We were at Target, and we were doing a little light shopping. We picked out some Valentine cards and treats for their parties on Friday, and I thought it would be nice if they each got a special little shirt, too.

In general, I let my kids pick things for themselves. Usually I give them two or three choices, just to make it easy. On this particular day, Dan was with Flora in the ‘girls’ section — not toddlers, which is where I was with Kate.

When I found them, Flora was holding a purple t-shirt, in her size, that said “YUM” on it.

And I said, “No, you can’t get that.”

Dan looked surprised; Flora was downright distressed. “But it’s my size,” she protested. “I know,” I answered, “but you have to pick another shirt in your size.”

I didn’t make a huge deal about it, but I did take it away from her and put it back. We picked out another shirt, and then Dan saw the Paul Frank shirts, and picked one of those out for her. We also got matching leggings.

I didn’t like the shirt because the message I saw on it was that my daughter was a consumable. That she was the something yummy.

And I am intensely disturbed by that.

I don’t want my daughter to be seen that way — especially when she’s only 5 years old. I imagine I’ll feel the same way regardless of her age. And I certainly don’t want my daughter to see herself as something to be consumed, either.

Am I making too big a deal of this? Would you have let your daughter pick out and wear this shirt? Where and when do we decide what is appropriate, and when do we let our children (not just girls) decide?

Further, how do we send the ‘right’ messages to our children? In other words, how do I enable Flora to either not pick the Yum shirt because of the message, or to pick it because she embodies the IRONY of the message? (Admittedly, not when she is 5 years old. She grasped sarcasm pretty quickly; I’m hoping she gets irony at least by the time she’s a teen.) Or is that latter point too much to ask? At any age?