Life (?) In Pictures

When I was in high school, Myspace was the chosen mode of social media for the masses. I’m actually surprised that it went out of vogue the way that it did; it was much easier to lie about who you were on there than it is on Facebook. That’s probably not the right way to explain it because people lie on Facebook all the time. What I really mean is that it was easier to create a persona on MyspaceThere were just all these tools at your disposal. There was a large assortment of wallpapers to choose from and you could basically pick any song in the known universe to play whenever someone dropped by your page. You could write a mysterious sounding bio, and if you learned a bit of HTML, you could really spice things up with how things were arranged. You were able to pick your top eight friends, thereby letting the world know just how hip your squad was, and filter your comments to only show the cool things you were up to.

It was fun. It was also fake. I may have looked totally edgy with my inky black hair, staring dreamily off into the distance, but in reality, I probably just finished a huge pile of english homework and I was off to do my algebra next, while my mom constantly reminded me that she’d asked me to put the towels in the dryer six times now (They’re going to mildew, Emily!). Sounds like a super rad existence, doesn’t it?

I liked Myspace though. I was very much a loner back then and a bit sheltered and it opened a big wide world of all these different people to me. Myspace is also where the selfie was born. And boy, did I take about a million back then.

I am not much for the selfie these days. Don’t get me wrong, I do take them occasionally (I have a selfie in my About section), but it’s rare. I try not judge people who do take them, but it’s hard not to when you see someone post about a million a day on Facebook. What kills me the most is when it’s obvious that they just had an impromptu photo session in their car. I mean, come on! How can you possibly have time to do that? My thoughts while I’m waiting in line at the bank or the pharmacy do not start with, “Well, better take some sexy, glamour shots of myself while I wait!” and it absolutely blows my mind that other peoples’ thoughts do. It all just feels so incredibly self involved to me.

I also don’t feel the need to document every single moment of my son’s life in pictures. I do take pictures of him, for sure, and in the past I’ve even been guilty of snagging a few for the express purpose of posting them on Facebook just to show everyone how beautiful he is (and he is beautiful). But there are just so many moms out there that I feel may have had kids just so they could brag on Facebook. I know that sounds ridiculous, but is it really that far out there? People do all sorts of things for attention, and having kids has always ranked somewhere on the list.

This is one of the biggest reasons I hate social media. It feels like it exists for people to “humbly brag” about their lives and I think it encourages us to think too much about ourselves. When your world revolves around what pictures you’re going to post on Facebook today, that’s when you know you’re not really living. So put down the phone. Enjoy your moments. Not every one of them needs to be documented with a photo. Some of them are just meant to be lived.

The Age of Dr. Google

The ease of accessibility of information in our day and time blows my mind. We literally have the answer to any question we can think up at our fingertips. I’m part of what I like to call the “transitional” generation, meaning I can clearly remember the time when the only computer I’d ever seen was in my third grade class room and it took floppy disks the size of dinner plates. And cell phones didn’t even exist. I remember using a big bulky set of books called the encyclopedia. I remember when the internet was such a new and fanciful concept that you couldn’t quote any information you found there as a reliable source on an essay.  And no I’m not, like, a hundred years old or something. I’m not even thirty.

It’s strange how quickly things can change sometimes and how easy it is for us to adjust. Healthcare is pretty much unaffordable these days, so I’ve adjusted to being Dr. Google for my family. That means that whenever someone in my house is sick, I immediately google their symptoms to see if it’s serious enough for a doctor visit or if it can be treated at home. Natural remedies often abound at my house, not because I’m one of those crazy people who gather plants in the woods and mistrust modern medicine (my child will be vaccinated), but out of necessity. My family can’t afford to pay two hundred dollars every time one of us sniffles.

It’s sort of funny though. I’ll just about bet that the nurse at my son’s doctor’s office rolls her eyes when she sees us coming up the hall. I usually already have a diagnosis, and ninety nine percent of the time I’m on the right track. I’m at least a self professed Dr. Google, and I never ever pretend to know more than my pediatrician. She’s a super awesome lady and I think she appreciates that I’m self informed. I also appreciate the fact that she knows that if I’m there, I’m seriously worried and I expect her to do something. Don’t send me home with the advice to feed my son popcicles (Yes, I actually received this advice in an emergency room on New Years Day. It’s the most expensive advice I’ve received to date). If all you can do is get out your prescription pad and treat his symptoms so that he can rest or breathe and heal, then do it. I know that a lot of doctors don’t like to treat symptoms and I get why that is, but I like that our doctor understands that it’s sometimes necessary when a child is too young to understand what is happening to them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining (Well, okay, I am a little. I wish it wasn’t so expensive to stay healthy), I’m just exceedingly grateful that I live in such a time when knowledge is so accessible to everyone. I’m thankful that it enables me to care for my family. I know I can’t possibly be the only Dr. Google out there.

Life; Organized

There’s a meme floating around the internet that says something along the lines of “Great! It’s the weekend! Time for me to do fifteen loads of laundry!” I laugh every time I see it because I cannot even begin to tell you how true the spirit of this message is to my life.  All my house cleaning is saved for the weekend. I wish I didn’t do it this way and I tell myself every Sunday evening that I’m going to do more through the week so I don’t have to spend my entire Saturday cleaning my house and my entire Sunday afternoon doing all of our laundry. It never happens though. I clean someone else’s house all week, so it makes it difficult to be gung-ho about doing my own. I’m so sick of domesticity by the time I get home in the evenings that sometimes it’s hard for me to get dinner on the table and we fend for ourselves more often than I would like to admit. It sort of makes me feel like a bad mommy-wife.

I at least keep clutter in our living areas to a minimum. I put forth some effort in that department. People never know what I’m talking about when they come over and I tell them to please excuse my house. I just don’t want them looking too closely because the truth is, I’m a “Monica’s closet” person at heart. If you’re not familiar with the sitcom Friends, Monica Gellar is a character on the show who is an extreme clean freak.  On an episode in season eight, however, it’s revealed that she has this closet in her apartment where she hides a mountain of junk that she just can’t seem to get rid of.

See, cleanliness really isn’t the problem. My husband and I have always been the type of people to clean up after ourselves. We don’t normally leave dishes in the sink. We put our clothes in the hamper and we rinse the sink out after we brush our teeth. It’s not really clutter either. The things in plain sight and the things that we love, that actually bring value to our lives, have a place. We put them back in that place when we’re finished with them.

No, what really gets me, what really makes me feel like my life is in a constant state of disarray is the hidden clutter, my versions of Monica’s closet. Under the beds. The things in the closet under the stairs. The top rack of literally every single closet in my house. Under the sinks. And it’s all things that we don’t use anymore that I just can’t seem to get rid of, like purses that I haven’t carried for years, rolls upon rolls of yarn when I rarely knit anymore, and like Monica, the proverbial punch bowl that I need to keep in order not to step on anyone’s feelings.

About twice a year, I  pump myself up to get my life organized. I tell myself that there’s no sense in keeping all of that junk. Occasionally I’ll actually clear some of it out, but more often than not I get all sentimental or end up convincing myself that I’m really going to lose this last ten pounds and be able to fit back into that. So most of my junk ends up in a different closet than it started in or organized in a different way, but still there. I just can’t help it. I guess Monica Gellar is my spirit animal.

The Insomniac Diet

It’s another one of those nights for me. I’m awake. I’m miserably tired, but I. am. awake.

I swear I know the landscape of every tiny bump of the popcorn texture on my bedroom ceiling and just the way high moonlight creeps in through the curtains. I know how many times the night trains rumble by on the tracks a few miles away.  I understand that my husband never moves after he falls asleep and that my child does gymnastics. I know these things firsthand. Ever since my pregnancy, I go through periodic bouts of sleeplessness. I’ll have a few nights of peaceful rest, and then I’m up the rest of the week, maybe settling down enough to sleep a couple hours each night. Maybe.

I guess I function okay during this time. I go through the motions of doing what needs to be done at least.  I take care of the kid and do my work, but it’s all done through a haze of tiredness and dread of bedtime. Dread because I know that one sleepless night usually sparks another one.  And I know why.

There’s a diet that all insomniacs are on. It’s a diet of anxiety that we feed ourselves at bedtime. If you can’t sleep on a regular basis, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Oh my, is it really three o’clock in the morning? What in the world am I going to do if I don’t get any rest? Please, I just really need to get some sleep. Is it really getting lighter outside? Okay, okay, okay, no more looking at the clock.  Just rest your eyes and maybe you’ll drift off. 

This is my life. And I know it’s my biggest problem when it comes to getting to sleep. I’ve fixed everything else. I cut out the caffeine. I dim the lights. I drop off screen time about an hour before bedtime.  I lay down at the same time every night. I have a sleepy time routine. I still struggle.

I know there are options out there for me. I’ve tried the over the counter sleep aids. They don’t even touch my sleeplessness. I’m a stubborn insomniac. I don’t really like taking them anyway. That’s a big reason why I haven’t seen a doctor about it, even though I probably should. I hate the thought of having to take pills for the rest of my life, and I don’t like the thought of being dependent on drugs, even if it’s not about getting high. I’m not knocking anyone who has found relief this way. More power to you. This is just about me, about my personal preferences, and about my history with drugs. I’m pretty scared of anything that might springboard me back to the state I was in when I was seventeen or eighteen. I’m a much happier person now, insomnia notwithstanding.

I guess I don’t really have any other options. So I’ll be over here. Awake. And trying to change my diet.




The Gravity of Time

My brother graduates from high school next week, and he moved out of parents’ house this past weekend. I really can’t believe it. I remember vividly the day we brought him home; I was eleven when he was born. Over the years, I helped change his diapers and I helped him with his homework. I encouraged him. I fussed at him and I occasionally tanned his hide for him when he needed it. I watched him struggle with acne. I watched him excel at school. I told him he needed to grow up a million times when he was acting like a turd. Now he is. Grown up, I mean.

He’s still a turd most of the time too, but that’s besides the point.

How exactly did he get this old? Didn’t I just graduate high school? How did so much time fly by? I want the answers to these questions. And most of all, why don’t I feel this old? I am on the inside of my body, and I’m watching as the outside is garnering the effects of age. A fine line here. A little paunch there. The gravity of time takes the beauty of all.

I guess I’m also a wee bit jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, but I’ve never been much for planning the future. I find that the present moment demands every ounce of my attention. It’s both a blessing and a curse. My life may not be a dream, but I’m relatively happy at least. What I’m truly jealous of is all that potential. Don’t you remember what that was like? To have all those choices before you? To have all that power to shape your life? To be whatever person struck your fancy? I wish I had paid more attention back then, been more deliberate, chose my path instead of floating along the way I did. I suppose that’s a choice I made too.

I’ve been trying to find the words to explain this to my brother, but I am not gifted in the oratory department. I stumble over my words in real life conversation. I don’t really think it matters anyway. Like all eighteen year olds, he alone holds the secrets of the universe.

But if I could, I would do my best to impress upon him the gravity, the seriousness, of time; that we only get so much of it. Don’t waste it. Don’t regret how you spent it. Look to the future, but try not to worry too much about it. Be deliberate, but don’t let planning take your joy. Put your feet on the path to take you where you’d like to go, and then go do something fun. Make choices, and make sure your good ones are what defines you. Regard things from an eternal perspective, not a temporal one. Be carefree until you find a reason worthy enough not to be.   And in the infamous words of Jack Dawson, make every moment count. God only gives us so many on this earth.

Maybe it’s not too late to take my own advice.