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A Running Revelation

***

I glance at the clock. Only three minutes left. Three more minutes until I can shove all these files back into their holders and shut down this glaring screen. Three more minutes until I can push the paperwork aside and head home to throw on my running shoes and see the real world–the world that exists outside my window as I sit trapped behind a desk.

I’m a real estate paralegal. If you ever buy, sell, or refinance a house, I’m the face behind the paperwork. Sooo much paperwork. Legal terms, rights of way, percentage rates, amortization schedules, title insurance, property taxes – it all stacks up to the ceiling in my office.  Or at least it seems that way some days.

(Okay, it doesn’t really. I’m neat to a fault when it comes to my office. Things are so organized and put away where they belong that I don’t want to disturb them. Thus feeding my procrastination tendency. But anyway…)

Escape is near. T minus one minute. Organization complete, files and papers where they belong, tabs all closed, computer shut down…5:00 p.m.!  See y’all tomorrow.

My car rushes home to beat the sunset. (There just aren’t enough precious daylight hours this time of year.) A rare, warm late February day is screaming my name.  I’ve grown tired of the treadmill. My running shoes are begging for asphalt, and I plan to oblige.

I race into the driveway, run into the house to throw on my running clothes (a tank top! In February!), grab my headphones and hit the road.

I tune in to an audiobook, my preferred listening material for runs. I’m reading Uncommon Type, a collection of short stories by Tom Hanks. (Yes, that Tom Hanks.) As the crunching sound of my footsteps hitting gravel-filled pavement takes me along the curvy, country highway near my home, I keep Tom Hanks talking in my left ear as my right ear stays tuned to traffic. It’s not the best way to listen to a book, but even divided attention is enough for a book this good. And besides, safety first. I’m sure Tom would understand.

I continue on. Find a good rhythm. Crunch crunch crunch.

I round a corner and notice an old, abandoned home on my right. You see a lot of these out in the country. I always wonder what happened to get them to this point – what is the story that caused everyone in the family to pack up and leave the place that once held all their memories?  And could they (if “they” still exist) possibly know that a lone runner passes their land almost daily making up possible scenarios to explain their forgotten property?  As a writer, these untold stories tumble in my head, yet rarely make their way to the computer screen once my run is complete.  I wish that weren’t the case. I wish I could be like Tom Hanks – I wish I could see mundane things and put them into a collection of brilliant stories for some runner to listen to as she pounds the pavement.

But, alas, I’m just me.  I have great ideas, and then I forget them.

I need to do better.

Crunch crunch.

My attention returns to the abandoned home on my right. I’ve run by it hundreds of times as I’ve run this route, but today something is different. The bushes are cleared. The lawn has been mowed. A new sign has been added reflecting the home’s address.

Work trucks are sitting nearby.

It is winter. I haven’t run this route in so long that I didn’t notice what was happening. The cold and snow had kept me away but now the sunshine has led me to the change.  Then, as I look more closely, a sun ray lands on the newly-added numbers on the run-down home. An address.  My running route’s abandoned home now has four simple numbers adorned on a post outside. So someone can find it.  The mailman, perhaps?

Well, how about that!?

Crunch crunch.

Then, suddenly, from out of nowhere, those four random numbers strike a chord in my memory. What am I remembering? I know these numbers somehow.  What do they mean?

It hits me!  I did the work for this house.

This house.

I sat there months ago looking at yet another mound of paperwork that resulted in this! I didn’t know that the people buying a house to fix up (yet another house in a string of houses that fill my working days…) were actually buying this house to fix up.

Wow.

Look at what I’ve done. Look how important I am.

Crunch crunch.

As Tom Hanks fill my left ear and my right ear stays on guard for oncoming traffic, my inflated ego surveys the product of my handiwork. My profession has just become three-dimensional. I see the product in real life. It’s no longer just a bunch of words and numbers and plat drawings. It’s a renovation. It’s a renewal. It’s someone’s hopes and dreams.

It’s no longer a house. It’s a home.

With a satisfied smile, I continue running.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

As Tom Hanks proceeds to regale me with everyday life happenings turned into the poetry known as short stories, I feel the inklings of my own story beginning in my mind. The story of a mound of paperwork turning into a home. The story of the real life that lies beyond the papers and the computer screen.

When I get home, I’ll start my story. But where should I begin?  Eh, I’ll figure it out. This story will make it to the computer screen this time.  Not like the others that disappear before I slip my running shoes off inside my front door. This one is good.  Too good to forget.

I run.

I look.

I listen.

Crunch.

Tom Hanks is still talking, his stories are still flowing, and yet. Yet. I feel like my story is just not good enough. Something isn’t right. So I saw a house that I did the paperwork on? Big whoop. Why does this matter?

What am I missing?

In the midst of my conundrum, my right ear detects a truck heading my way.

It’s an old pickup truck–faded red paint and a loud muffler. Typical transportation for this country area. In the distance, I can just make out the area on the front bumper where the license plate should be (a spot that renders itself useless in the state of North Carolina where you only need a back license plate). Squinting in the late evening sunlight, I see what the owners of this truck have done with this rectangle of unused canvas.

They have adorned it with a rebel flag.

A rebel flag.

Thoughts of any ego-filled, renovated house stories take a prompt backseat as my liberal blood boils. No, a rebel flag is nothing unusual to this area. We are in the bible belt. The “south.” Even as a transplant, after more than four years of living in this area I should be used to these sights by now.

But I never get used to it.

Angrily, my feet take me closer to the truck heading my way in the distance.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Who is this person? Has he never picked up a book? Has he never known a person of color? Listened to their stories? Learned about their ancestors and the struggles they had to go through just to survive? The inhumanity, the suffering…has it all fallen on his deaf ears?

The offensive truck comes closer and, as it nears, veers well over the centerline of the road into the oncoming lane to give me a wide berth.

Interesting.

As a runner on narrow country roads, this unfortunately doesn’t happen often. Some drivers seem angry that I’m sharing their space and will refuse to bend the rules of the road to slide over to safely pass me. In fact, some will even angrily stare at me as they glide by, refusing to budge even an inch outside their allotted, rightful lane.

But not rebel flag man.

No, rebel flag man not only surprises me by getting over but, as I start to make out his face behind the passing windshield, also smiles.

And then waves.

Waves.

What do I do? I’m not going to wave at a man sporting a rebel flag on his truck. It represents everything I’m against. It stands for all that I deem wrong with our country.

And then, it hits me.

(No, not the truck. An idea.)

That license plate is two-dimensional.

It’s “paper.”

Much like the things I see on my work computer screen, that little rectangle probably doesn’t tell the whole story. In order to fully see the man behind that wheel, I’d have to know more than just the information presented to me on the “screen” at the front of his truck. I’ve only seen the outside of his “house,” I haven’t seen the “home” that lies underneath the paperwork.

Suddenly, this thought process transcends well beyond a miniscule runner on a country road faced with a rebel flag toting truck driver.  So much of what we see in this current world is two-dimensional. Words seen on a screen; snippets of a remark seen on a news reel; a status posted on Facebook. It’s all “paper.” None of it has depth.

What if we could see it all in 3D? Would it look different?

My mind has considered all this in the few seconds as the truck begins to pass. In a last minute decision, my eyes meet the driver’s and I do what I didn’t think I would do. What I didn’t think I could do.

I smile.

And then I wave.

And then?

Well then, life goes on.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

There it is. That’s it. Simple as that. This is my story.

Both my feet and heart quicken their pace. We have things to do.

I rush home, throw off my shoes, and open my laptop.

***

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Untold Tales

“There’s tales I’ll tell and tales I won’t.”
– Lee Smith

Lee Smith, a local North Carolina author, visited our little mountain town a few months ago for a literary festival. Although I missed getting to see her and  hear her speak, there were some bookmarks left behind in her wake. When I saw them at our local arts council, I immediately grabbed one and have been using it as my bookmark ever since. On it was the above quote – “There’s tales I’ll tell and tales I won’t.” There was just something about that simple little quote that spoke to me. I thought it was because I’m a writer myself and I understand the decision process that goes into what you’re going to put on paper and what you’re not. But lately I’ve been thinking it hit a little close to home for a different reason.

I too have tales I won’t tell.

Yes, even me. The girl who vomits her life out onto a blog or status message each chance she gets. Even a big mouth like me has untold tales.

You know how people portray themselves in the best light on social media? Ever find yourself looking at other people’s lives or relationships and comparing them to your own?  Wondering why you don’t quite “stack up?”

Well, guess what? I’m one of those happy posters.

Guilty as charged.

But here is my confession: life isn’t always great.

I wouldn’t call myself a “liar” per se. The things I post are true. Good things do happen to me. They happen to all of us. I do have great kids and a marriage that has its great moments. And I have amazing friends. When good moments happen, I post them. I’m happy to share them because it makes me proud and I want to look back and remember this some day.

But sometimes there are things that happen in between those moments that just aren’t Facebook or Instagram worthy. You know?

Facebook is kind of our modern-day photo album. Think about it – if you go visit granny and look through her old albums, what are you going to see? You’re going to see the happy times. You’re going to see smiling faces looking at the camera. You’re going to see family with their arms around each other.  You’re going to see happy wedding photos.  You’re going to see laughing kids with ice cream and church Easter egg hunts.

Now, how do you think granny would feel if you said, “Hey – wait. Where’s the picture of that time you had me go outside and get a switch so you could beat my a**?” Or, “Hey, Granny, I’ve looked all through this thing and I can’t find a picture of the night Uncle Bob spent locked up in the local jail for that DUI…”

Um, yeah. That’s not gonna happen.

There are some memories that you just don’t want to preserve for posterity.

And is that granny’s fault?  I mean, are we seriously going to fault granny for not snapping photos during those moments? Of course not. Granny wants to forget that blot in Uncle Bob’s life. She’s not going to brag about it. She’s not gonna frame it and set it on the mantle.

So many times, we fault people for “pretending” their life is great on social media. But that’s not fair. They’re not pretending. Those things are true.

At the moment.

I think if there’s any blame to be placed, it should be on the perceiver. That’s us. We’re the ones looking at that life and thinking it’s perfect. We’re the ones looking at their happy moments and comparing them to ours. We’re the ones thinking that only bad things happen to us and they never happen to those perfect lives we see on Facebook. But that’s not their fault.

It’s ours.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I guess I’m just going through a down time and I want to talk about it. But then again, I don’t really. I don’t want to take a picture of what’s wrong right now and put it on Facebook. I just don’t. And I’m not gonna. Uncle Bob’s night in jail is just gonna have to stay in the family this time, you know what I mean?  But I also don’t want you to look at my happy pictures and think my life is perfect and yours should be too.

It’s not.

But those happy times? They’re real. I’m not pretending. Most people aren’t. We’re just choosing what we want to remember.

But this down time? I’m just hoping this one will fade into the recesses of my mind and never be brought up again.

Give each other a break, ok? Share in the happy times and be glad they exist for one another.

Okay, that’s all the rambling I have for today. This tale is as told as it’s gonna get.

***

“Sometimes you go through things that seem huge at the time, like a mysterious glowing cloud devouring your entire community. While they’re happening, they feel like the only thing that matters and you can hardly imagine that there’s a world out there that might have anything else going on. And then the glow cloud moves on. And you move on. And the event is behind you. And you may find, as time passes, that you remember it less and less. Or absolutely not at all…”
– Cecil Baldwin

 

 

 

 

From Lora’s Mouth to Your Heart: Words To Live By

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My friend Lora posted something on Facebook the other day, and I can’t shake it from my mind. It is powerful beyond what she even realizes, and I thought it deserved a broader audience. The next time you start to criticize something or someone, be it on social media or out in the “real” world, I want these words to be in your mind.

Maybe you’ll think twice.

Thank you, Lora, for passing along this wisdom and direction. It is appreciated.

Without further adieu…

***

To the pregnant women on social media posting constant updates and belly pictures, I love seeing how excited you are to become a mommy. ‪#‎babybump‬

To the women posting “selfies”, thanks for letting young girls know that it’s okay to love yourself and to feel beautiful! ‪#‎youareenough‬

To the mom posting a million pictures of her kids, it makes my heart so happy to see parents so proud of and loving their babies! ‪#‎momlife‬

To the married couple constantly posting “sappy love posts” thank you for being a reminder to the next generation that all hope isn’t lost and happy marriages most definitely DO exist. ‪#‎livelaughlove‬

To the gym enthusiasts and healthy eaters posting constant gym selfies and progress pics, thanks, you show change is possible with motivation and determination. ‪#‎yourock‬

To the work from home moms who are constantly posting about their businesses, thank you, you are showing your kids you can do anything you put your heart and soul into. ‪#‎wahm‬

To the people who are constantly posting inspirational quotes, thank you, someone out there needed to hear those words you shared 🙌 ‪#‎encouragementisneverwrong‬

To the person posting pictures of your meals. You’re making me hungry. ‪#‎foodporn‬

Let’s stop being annoyed by everything and start lifting each other up! 😘 ‪

#‎behappy‬ ‪
#‎smile‬ ‪
#‎documentlife‬

***

Now, let’s go out there and be good to each other, shall we?

***

eliot

The Great Divider

“Yes! Truth, truth! What’s so awful about it? I like it.”
– Maggie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I haven’t been writing for a while. Why? Well, that’s a good question. I’m a very opinioned person so current events are usually the fodder for many of my blog entries…and there has definitely been no shortage of those these days. The Kentucky court clerk, the upcoming presidential election, the transgender boy who wanted to use the girls’ bathroom at his school – I’m telling ya, it’s a blogger’s smorgasbord out there.

But yet, there I sat. Silent.

Until now.

Now, maybe “silent” isn’t exactly the right word. (I mean, silence is not exactly something I ‘do.’) I’ve had a few things to say here and there…shared some articles and memes on Facebook…that kind of thing. But when it came to sitting down and writing my thoughts out in a blog, there just seemed to be too many. There’s just so much going on out there, where would I start? Should I blog about each issue individually? No, somehow that just didn’t seem to be the right answer. Deep down, I knew that there was an underlying theme to all that was going on in the world…all that was going on in my head and in my heart…and I couldn’t sit down and write about it until I figured out what that theme was.

And now, here it is.

Two specific events happened this week that put all of this into perspective for me.

As I said, I’ve been sharing a few memes and articles on Facebook with regard to current events. I’ve also ventured to comment on others’ posts as well. One such post was one about the Missouri teen Lila Perry, a transgender teen who, though born with male genitalia, fundamentally feels female and lives his life as such. But when he attempted to use the girls’ locker room at school, that didn’t go over so well. Cue the media.

lila perry

Lila Perry

Now, although I do feel strongly about certain aspects of this whole situation, I do completely see both sides of the coin. So, rather than venture into sharing or posting about this particular situation, I opted to just keep quiet and observe. Until one commenter really pissed me off. He referred to this child as “it.” Not “he,” not “she.” IT. That really got my blood boiling.

Like homosexuality, being transgender is something you’re born with. Argue with me all you want to, you’re not going to change my mind. It’s not a choice…it’s a truth. So, when this man called this child an “it,” it suddenly became clear to me what monsters some of us can be. Okay, let’s jump on the “choice” bandwagon for a second. Let’s assume that the kid was not born with a scientific disposition that made him feel female. Let’s assume that he is, in fact, choosing to live his life wearing a wig and dresses and that he actually ‘enjoys’ the ridicule and the, I’d venture to guess, thrashings he has received because of it. Ask yourself this, if you were truly in your right mind, could you choose a life like that?  I’m thinking not. So, if It Man is right and this child did actually choose this, then I guess it would be safe to say that he’s not in his right mind, right? That he is a “freak” and that he is “mental” as some of the other commenters have called him. Okay, so we’re agreed?  So, with that being the case…are you now going to call mentally retarded children “it”?  How about kids with down syndrome? How about anyone with clinical depression? Hey, those are all mental impairments, right? Are we all “its”?

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise. Bear with me.

Moving on to Incident #2 of the week.

Now, anyone who knows me know that I am not a fan of The Donald. It’s pretty safe to say that I despise Donald Trump. I hate everything that comes out of that billionaire bully’s mouth. So, being the outspoken liberal that I am, I occasionally share these thoughts in the form of memes or articles on Facebook. In the process of doing so, I have had the unfortunate occasion to find out that many of my friends and family are actually supporters of that blowhard. How do I feel about that?

Eh.

I mean, I wish they weren’t, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not going to change their minds anymore than they’re going to change mine. Is knowing that people I love disagree with me going to stop me from speaking my mind? Heck no. Who I am says nothing against who they are. I’m just me and this is how I feel. My own father and I have the most varying political stand points you’ve ever seen in two people. He’s Republican all the way, I’m Democrat all the way. How do we handle that? We mostly avoid the topic and when it does come up, we just condescendingly grin at each other’s ignorance and end the day with an “I love you” and move on with our lives. That’s how it should work. To quote my Aunt Rebecca’s Facebook status the other day:

A very wise woman once passed on a quote, from another wise woman, that stuck with me. “If two people agree on everything all the time, then one of them is not necessary.” Sometimes, we need the “sandpaper” of other’s opinions to “smooth out” our own perspectives.

We disagree and life goes on.

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28: Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells 'you're fired' after speaking to several GOP women's group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

But this week, that philosophy didn’t apply to a few of my family members. Because of my standpoint on certain things, and one of my family member’s disagreeing with those standpoints, she “blocked” me on Facebook. Now, I know that sounds silly. (The “I unfriend you” commercial comes to mind…) But silly as it may be, it’s actually pretty hurtful. In this day and age, social media like Facebook is a way that we keep in touch with people we don’t see every day. So someone “blocking” you is a way of saying “I no longer want you in my life.” And to have that coming from a respected, beloved aunt that you’ve adored all your life?  Well, let’s just say it doesn’t feel too swell.

Now, as things like this tend to do, this family division spread like wildfire. Sides were taken – I was accused of disrespecting my aunt. (I still for the life of me can’t figure out what I supposedly did – I haven’t had one direct conversation with the woman about anything, political or otherwise, in months.) I can only assume that my outspoken political and social opinions went against hers and that she took them as a personal attack on her character. I hate that. I truly do. In fact, I spent a good part of that evening crying my eyes out. Knowing that this woman I have always adored and that half of my cousins (though not as a big of a loss, truthfully) all decided that I’m some kind of monster and ganged up against me over some mysterious offense is a pretty tough blow to take. I wanted to defend myself…and I did for a while. As is always the case, I covered up my hurt with anger and responded accordingly which, as is also always the case, got me nowhere. I considered deleting my entire Facebook account (the typical cowardly way out). I considered contacting the family individually and begging them to show me my transgressions so I’d at least know what it was I was supposed to be defending. I considered so many things but what I finally settled on was this: sleep.

That’s right. I went to bed. I stopped crying, got a good night’s sleep, and then woke up with a clearer mind and vision. And I also woke up with the answer to my non-writing conundrum. Just like that, the tie that binds all of these events together was staring me right in the face.

TRUTH.

That’s what is happening here. Truth. You had the middle ages, the ice age, etc. And here is what we’re in now. The Truth Age.

Suddenly, people are no longer afraid to be who they are. Somewhere, somehow a switch has been flipped. Be it political progress (or regress, depending which side you’re on), or be it the social media craze that has swept our nation…people are now speaking up and letting the world know who they really are. Lila Perry is no longer living as a girl trapped inside a boy’s skin. She is now a girl. Gay couples are no longer living their lives behind closed doors as if they are some kind of dirty secret. Non-Christians are no long adhering to laws and customs that go against what they don’t believe. And I, little nobody Melissa in Nowheresville, am no longer afraid to publicly state my opinion on all of the above. And not only am I not afraid to do it, I now have a platform to use for it – Facebook. A blog site. Social media.

Remember that famous movie line from A Few Good Men? “You can’t handle the truth!” Well, there you have it. Some of us can’t handle the truth. We just can’t. Hiding our heads in the sand and pretending it doesn’t exist has just been so easy for so long. And now, suddenly, truth has descended upon us like a hawk who has finally located its prey. Truth is EVERYWHERE. It’s in the eyes of Lila Perry. It’s in the two men’s hands that are clasped in matrimony. It’s in the stubborn refusal to change that exists behind Kim Davis’ words and actions. It’s in the picture of a three-year old Syrian refugee boy’s body washed up on shore. It’s in the hatred behind the word “it” as some random man typed it onto a social media site as the description of a child.

It’s truth. Sometimes it’s ugly. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it’s beautiful. And sometimes it’s all of those things all at once.

But it’s real. And it’s here. We can cast blame all we want to. Blame our President. Blame the Christians. Blame the media. Blame out-spoken redheads like me who won’t shut up. Blame, blame, blame. That’s what we do. But the only thing we have to blame is the fact that truth always rises to the surface.

“Three things shine before the world and cannot be hidden. They are the moon, the sun, and the truth…”
– Buddha

The truth is here, folks. What are you going to do with it? Hide from it? Let it divide your friends and family? Try to stop it?

Accept it?

The choice is yours.

But as for me? I welcome it with open arms. And I am more than willing to accept the consequences.

***

truth

Controversy

“I’m not an activist; I don’t look for controversy. I’m not a political person, I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights.”
– Ellen DeGeneres

So, here’s an idea. I know it might sound crazy, but hear me out.

So you’re sitting there and this crazy controversial issue pops across your radar.  Let’s say it’s…oh, I don’t know…Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) And let’s say that your uber-Christian beliefs tell you that Bruce (not Caitlyn – because you refuse to call HIM Caitlyn) is going straight to hell as fast as the little fire-breathing demon chauffeurs can get him there. And let’s say that you think, “Hey! You know what?! I think the whole world needs to know that Bruce is going to hell” and so you decide the next logical step is to post something about that on Facebook. And let’s say you lean back, prop your crossed-legs up on your desk, place your self-righteous hands behind your self-righteous head and wait, with a “God loves only me” smile, for the ever-supportive comments and likes to roll in like the waves at high tide.

ConflictBut then…wait.  What is this?  Oh no!  You drop your feet back to the floor, sit forward and stare at your computer screen in utter disbelief.  Right there, in the midst of the support you receive from your like-minded friends, suddenly a comment pops up that….*gasp!*….goes against your opinion.  Whaaaaat?  Oh yes, ’tis true. There it is. Right in the middle of the self-righteous (have I used that word already?) rants from you and your cronies, there is a comment that has the audacity to imply that you might just be wrong in your stance. A comment that suggests that CAITLYN Jenner is, in fact, not going to hell and that God actually loves HER just as much as He loves you.

Whoa, nelly!

So, what do you do? You pout. You and your friends gang up on the commenter and tell her how wrong she is and how “rude” she’s being by going against what you have to say.  About how she and anyone who agrees with her are on the wrong path and had better turn from sin and see the light. And then…in a display of utmost maturity…you DELETE said comment so that your post remains nice and one-sided like the good Lord intended.

There. That solves that.

But wait….along come other comments that go against your beliefs. What?!  There are more heathens out there!? “Delete!” Pretty soon, after tedious editing on your part, your post sits there just as you like it, with only the supportive comments accompanying it.  Shew!  That was a close one.

Oh, but wait.  You’re not done just yet. Since you know the initial commenter’s mother, you decide you had better tell her what her teenage child did. You proceed to send the mother…let’s hypothetically name her…oh, I don’t know…”Melissa”… a private conversation you had with her daughter (where you contacted her to tell her how rude she was being by disagreeing with you) and then sit back to wait for the mother’s wrath to ensue upon the kid.

But uh oh. This didn’t quite turn out like you thought it would.

Momma Melissa doesn’t quite agree with you.  In fact, Momma Melissa is actually PROUD of her daughter. Can you believe that crap? What kind of mother actually encourages her child to stand up for what she believes in and to speak out against something she feels is an injustice? The NERVE! What kind of mother has raised her children to believe that just because someone is different from you, that doesn’t make them wrong? What kind of mother would not only not punish her child for voicing her opinion, but would actually congratulate her for doing so?!

What is the world coming to?

But no worries. At least you’re not the one going to hell, right? Those poor lost souls….

So, back to my point. That crazy idea I had, remember? How about this? How about you not post controversial things unless you want a controversial response? Hmmm? How about that? How about you realize that Facebook is a public forum and, as shocking as it may be to you, there are actually people out there who think differently from you! I know, sweetie. It’s insane, it really is. But alas, ’tis true. Some people out there don’t sit at their computer pushing the little “share” button on articles knowing that they sit at the right-hand of God and that they alone are his chosen one. Seriously. Some people out there feel that we’re all created equal and that, if there is a God up there looking down on us, he wants us to love each other and save the judgment for him to take care of and decide for himself what he deems judgment-worthy.

I know, it’s weird, isn’t it?  But darling, these people do exist. Sad as it may be to you…they exist.

And those Momma Melissas of the world?  Sheesh. Look out, lady. You try to tell them that their kid has done something wrong, when they know good and well that they haven’t…well, be prepared to hear about it.

In fact, the really crazy Momma Melissas out there?  Ha!  They might even have a blog and might write about it and call you out in it.  Crazy, right?

People these days, man.  I tell ya….

***

“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.”
– Chauncey Depew

Facebook

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It has been on my mind for a while to do a blog about Facebook.  I attempted to deactivate my account recently due to…well, I don’t know what really.  I guess I just got sick of it.  A lot of my problems lately have seemed to somehow stem from something Facebook related, so I was ready to be done with the whole thing.  But my attempt was short-lived.  I came crawling back.  Like we all do.  Don’t lie, you know you’ve done it too.  This whole process got me thinking that I should blog about Facebook.  You know – the good, the bad, the ugly, the whole nine yards.

Now, let me explain how this whole “blog” process works for me.  First: something happens in my life, or I see something significant that strikes a chord, or an interesting thought pops into my mind…whatever the case may be…and I decide that I’m going to write a blog about it.  Once the decision is made, the next step is to look for quotes.  If you’re a regular reader, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are very few (if any?) of my blogs that don’t end with a quote.  Some also start with one, and most have them interspersed throughout the blog as well.  I absolutely adore quotes.  I am a lover of conversation and, to me, quotes are just noteworthy snippets of conversation between other humans who were going through something similar to what I was going through.  Quotes make us feel connected to each other.

And I think that’s pretty cool.

So, back to Facebook.  Once I decided to do a blog about this topic, I went about my usual method.  I started searching for quotes.  And here is what I’ve decided.  Rather than droning on and on about the pros and cons of Facebook, like I had originally intended to do, I’m just going to let the quotes speak for themselves.   People have already said it better than I have, so I’ll let them do the talking this time.  Ready?

Here we go.

First, one that I think pretty much sums up the whole topic in a nutshell:

“I didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time.”
– Betty White

Right on, little Betty.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s throw in another cute one from Betty just for our comedic pleasure:

“People have told me ‘Betty, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with old friends…’ At my age, if I wanted to keep in touch with old friends, I’d need a Ouija board.”
– Betty White

Hehe.  Oh, Betty, girl you cray cray.

Ok, moving along.

On a more somber note, here’s a notable one that really struck a chord with me:

“I feel like I’m part of a generation of people who are stuck in the past and are really self-absorbed.  I mean, we’re actually taking pictures of ourselves and posting them on Facebook, and keeping in touch with people that should have been out of our lives 15 years ago.”
– Diablo Cody

That one touched right on the whole reason I wanted to write this blog in the first place.  My recent disdain with Facebook began when I started having troubles with someone from my past giving me a hard time on Facebook.  It took me much too long to realize that just because someone was a part of your past, that was no reason to carry them into your future solely due to their presence on some silly social network.  *BLOCK*

Ok, I promised I wouldn’t talk much in this blog, so back to the quotes.

While we’re on the topic of not letting go of the past, here’s an interesting one:

“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before.  The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves – Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road.  If they had a Facebook page, they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.”
– Jaron Lanier

Wow.  Again, I’ll try not to comment.  Just let that sink in for a minute.

(And if you had to look up Jack Kerouac, don’t feel bad.  I did too.  Unless I’m the only one who didn’t know who that was.  And if that’s the case, then I’m just kidding.)

Moving on…

What do you think about this one?

“I would argue heavily that the time that has been allocated to social networking used to come from television, and people are benefitting from it.  People who are saying, ‘Aw, you’re spending all your time on Facebook…,’ well, I’d like to understand what that person used to do with that time.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk

I think this Gary dude might be on to something.  I know I rarely watch TV anymore.  Good thing?  Bad thing?  Eh, who knows.  It’s not my turn to talk anyway, so I won’t hypothesize.  I promised to shut up.

Moving along.

Ahhh, here we go:

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I couldn’t find an actual person to attribute this quote to (and I HATE that), but it was too good not to post.  Made me giggle.  (Because, hey – I’m the QUEEN of posting pics on Facebook.  Just ask some of my haters, they’ll tell you.)

Now, how about this one for you voyeurs out there (you know who you are):

“I am a Facebook voyeur.  I feel bad about it because I never put anything on there, but I find it fun to sit there and watch peoples’ lives go by.  Or whatever lives they’re presenting.”
– Eddie Kaye Thomas

Hmmm.  That last part is a zinger, wouldn’t you say?

On that same note:

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Yup.

And again:

“There is something decidedly faux about the camaraderie of Facebook.”
– Bill Keller

Hmmmm.  Would you agree?

Let’s dig a little deeper.  This one combines Facebook with one of my passions…acting:

“When playing a role, I would feel more comfortable, as you’re given a prescribed way of behaving.  So, both Facebook and theatre provide contrived settings that provide the illusion of social interaction.”
– Jesse Eisenberg

Ouch.  Ok, anyone else feel their toes being stepped on, or is that just me?

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Yes.  Here’s to hoping for that.

Or, how about this one in the “food for thought” category:

“With Facebook, you’re not really allowed to be unhappy.  Think about it: There’s only a ‘like’ button.  Yes, you can be angry, but it’s only lighthearted rage.  On Reddit, perhaps because you can be anonymous, people are willing to be openly sad or angry.  They are more honest.”
– Yishan Wong

(Let me break my “I promise I’ll shut up” rule here for a second with a loud, “DING DING DING.”  Ok, I’m quiet again…)

Now, let’s explore the word “friend” on Facebook, shall we?

“I don’t need to go onto Facebook and pretend to have friends I’ve never even met.  To my mind, that kind of destroys the meaning of the word ‘friend.’ I take exception to that.  Because I value and respect friendship.”
– Stefanie Powers

Hmmm.  What do you say to that?  Do you consider all of your Facebook friends as “real” friends?  Interesting.  But I’m shutting up, remember?

[Wait, one more thing before I shut up.  I think it’s interesting that there is a “close friends” list option.  I think this should be renamed “people that are actually important in your everyday life.”  At least that’s what mine should be named.  How about yours?]

Ok, I am fully aware that these quotes and tidbits are all teetering on the ‘negative’ side.  I’ll throw a few positive ones in for good measure, don’t worry.

But not yet.

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Hehe.  Ok, sorry.

Ok, positive.  Positive.  Hmmmm.  Let’s see.  Oh, ok, let’s see what Mr. Zuckerberg himself has to say about it:

” The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.”
– Mark Zuckerberg

Ok, Mark.  I hear ya.  Hey, Facebook is what gets my blog out there, right?  I think you may be right.  Or how about this one:

“No one has done a study on this, as far as I can tell, but I think Facebook might be the first place where a large number of people have come out.  We didn’t create that – society was generally ready for that.  I think this is just part of the general trend that we talked about, about society being more open.  And I think that’s good.”
– Mark Zuckerberg

What do you think?  Ok, I know I promised to shut up, but one quick thing here.  You may not agree with me on the gay rights issue, and hey – that’s your conscience you have to live with, my friend – but I can tell you that more than one of my homosexual friends over the years has contacted me privately and thanked me for loving them and publicly supporting them with my Facebook posts and for not treating them like they were any different than I am.  Think what you want about that, but as far as I’m concerned – if I’ve made even one person feel less alone with a Facebook post, then it’s all been worth it.  I’m proud of that.

*Sigh*

Ok, I don’t know where else I can go with this blog after that.  Yes, I tried to “run away” for a few days, but I came back.  I guess it was a little something like this:

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I don’t know that I was exactly ‘looking for attention’ (honestly, I was trying to hide from it), but I do get the ‘running away from home’ reference.  Do I consider Facebook to be “home?”  Well, I hope not.  Not to that extent anyway.  But you know what I do consider it?

Life.

Facebook is life.  It’s a mixture of things that make you smile, make you sad, make you laugh, make you cry, and sometimes things that make you so angry that you try to run away for a while.  But that’s just it.  You can’t escape life.  You can try not to look at it for a while, you can even try to pretend it’s not there and it’s not still going on if you’re not around to see it, but you know what?  It is.  Like Dolly Parton says,

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with a little rain.”

You gotta take the bad with the good, people.  It’s all there for the taking.  And whether you jump in there and show off, or whether you choose to just sit back and watch – either way, it’s life.  It’s there and it’s not going anywhere.

And you’re a part of it.

Kinda cool in a way.  Don’t you think?

Thanks for reading.  I know I didn’t say much in this one – just sat here quiet as a little churchmouse (*giggle*), but I appreciate you coming along for the ride anyway.

(And hey – I’m willing to bet you clicked on a link on Facebook to get here, didn’t you?)

😉

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“If you don’t take the chance to live life, what can you say at the end of it?”
– Naveen Andrews

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[Footnote:  Before I close out, I wanted to mention something I thought was interesting about this blog.  I went back to edit before posting, as I always do, and I noticed that I alternated between capitalizing “Facebook” and not capitalizing “facebook.”  I’m still not sure what the “correct” thing is to do, but I thought it was a little poetic that I didn’t know whether to attribute the importance of a capital letter to the name.  Kinda what this whole blog is about, wouldn’t you say?  Interestingly enough, I chose to capitalize.  Deduce what you will….]