From the Far Reaches of the Wilderness

I am staying with my sister in San Diego. Scratch that. I am staying in northern San Diego County. I might as well be in the Alaskan outback for all that matters.

Her home is situated in a lovely rolling valley surrounded by avocado trees and citrus. This makes for a pastoral environment, but is hell when it comes to the internet.

There’s some local wireless available, but the signal is weak. I have a laptop connect card, but half of the time I can’t connect at all. The other half of the time, I’m struggling to keep a connection. In fact, I can barely get any cell phone coverage at all. I’m going to have a serious discussion with that Verizon salesman when I get home.

I can’t deal with pages loading at the speed of a snail’s pace, so you may not be hearing from me for a while. Besides, I have to get the young one up to move into college today.

A Brief Post About My Part of a (Secret) Party and Office Help

I attended the much hoo-ha’ed meeting of the internet minds, but only for the day. I would have stayed longer to enjoy all the wonderment that is drunken karaoke, but I had to leave to go back to work TODAY, Sunday. That is because the last girl I hired, nicknamed “ElastiGirl” because that’s exactly who she looked like, flew the coop from the salt mines after only a couple of weeks. She didn’t give a notice and didn’t say goodbye.

Because of ElastiGirl’s hasty absence during the busiest friggin’ time of the year, I have had to place yet another Craigslist ad for office help. After only being gone a mere 10 hours, I opened my inbox to find 150 resumes waiting for me. It’s a rough economy as witnessed by the sheer number of responses this time. This is for a position where I had prominently featured the words “Part Time,” “Evenings” and “Perfect for High School Student” in the title.

After much consternation, I whittled the list down to ten people I might want to meet face to face. (If this is any indication of internet dating, I think I shall remain a lonely old crone should something unexpected happen to Mr. Demonic, otherwise known as the ex-Very Cute Boy.)

With a list of interviews scheduled for tomorrow, I could finally settle in to taking the photos off my camera.

People know I do NOT use my real name here, even though others know my real name and now know my real person. So, in the interest of anonymity, I am keeping some of the identities of the other party-goers incognito.

Here are the photos that I could share:

Nice toes. They belong to me. Nice butt. It belongs to our hostess’ dog.

These belong to a certain pale skinned beauty with lovely red hair. Her pedicure is impeccable.

Now, I can’t mention who these belong to. That’s because the subject is a minor, and I don’t think I have the parents’ written consent to splash her image across the internet. I tried to get a shot of the mother’s, but she kept hiding her feet under her bum. I don’t know why. Her shoes were lovely.

And here was our lovely hostess. (I have a secret for those who want to know. She was only moderately fluffy.)

Our hostess and her nice husband treated us all to lunch. It was delicious. I know this, because I ate everything on my plate, including the pickle. 99 times out of a hundred, I will not even touch the pickle. We then returned to her house, where 95% of us wanted to take a nap. The other 5% was her husband, who appears to be a human dynamo with excellent taste in music. (Amazing Rhythm Aces? I thought I was the only person who bought that album!? I even dug my copy out of the basement when I returned home.)

There was the promise of drunken karaoke last night, but I had to go home to T-H-I-S. Damn, damn, damn. Once home, I found my daughter stricken by a cold. She was limp and pale, and even Red Bull couldn’t revive her. That’s going to be some vacation she’ll have this week. I guess it figures that you would get sick on the first day of vacation.

Anyway, I wish I could have stayed at the party longer. 😦

Thanks, Mimi, for a very nice time!

I Saw a Photo of Random Granddaughter

(I’m not sure I’m supposed to divulge that, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.)

Mr. Random knows that I love Random Granddaughter. I think he and I have an unspoken agreement in that I am the Internet President of the Random Granddaughter Fan Club. I’m sure there are others who are fans of RG in real life.

I’m a busy woman in real life, but I have already thought of a few things I could offer to fan club members. Perhaps we can provide our card carrying members with an actual card. RG name could be on one side, and a license to be opinionated could be on the other. Think of it. If you had an occasion where you really wanted to voice your thoughts, be it on bagels or bedtime, you could whip out the card and speak without retribution. Just show the card.

Mr. Random recently emailed me a few photos of himself and his brood. He and Mrs. Random looked as I imagined them. The two mommies are adorable as well. The adults look quite sensible. And Random Granddaughter is just as I imagined her to be: cute, small. I might be mistaken, but I could see attitude emanating from the one photo. I take it that much of her attitude is a direct result of her environment. Well placed genes might play a small role.

The photo was truly a gift. Now I can envision the little cherub in my head as I am reading about her escapades.

Virtual Reality

I’ve taken to watching odd channels on TV. I no longer watch local or national news. I still watch what used to be Court TV, A & E and the Discovery Channel, but only when there is programming with regard to real crime and forensics.

In between, I casually flip around and see what the rest of the 180 channels are about.

I can’t watch the Food Networks anymore. Too fattening, and an unreal portrayal of what it takes to create something delicious. Reality TV bites. I can’t stomach it. TV, as a whole, is pretty much junk entertainment, but like many times in real life I must have junk food and junk entertainment.

Last night, I flipped over to a Gamer’s Channel. (!) Who knew that there existed an entire network devoted to playing computer games? The program dealt with virtual reality, and how “virtual” reality is now becoming the real thing. Gamers no longer play the computer, but now they can play each other online.

This caused me to think. I believe most of my reality is “virtual” reality. I’m not sure if that’s a sad state of affairs or if that’s the wave of the future. I don’t play games online, but I certainly have an online presence.

I’ve made a lot of online friends. I have an Internet boyfriend. Many of my in-person friends and most of my relatives find staying in touch online as easier. Except for the connection fees, it’s cheaper. It’s more immediate than writing a letter in your best penmanship, although I’ve been known to visit the local card shop and pick out something pretty to send via snail mail.

The Internet is my virtual reality.

It’s my little community.

Through friendship with others like me, I share my pain and my pleasure. If I want to learn about people on the other side of the globe, I can. The Internet is my school and library. It’s the town hall and the shopping mall.

Last week, I talked to an online friend using my computer. It was really cool! This accomplished even though we’re on different time zones. The next step: getting a web cam so we can all chat at the same time. Unlike the chat rooms of old, we will be able to actually hear each other speak.

It’s a brave new world out there.

Friends, and Other Things

This lovely man wrote a blog post about friends, and that really started the conversation going as to what is a friend (versus acquaintance), what makes a friend, the needs of friends, and when do you know it’s over. The post and the ensuing comment thread got me thinking about friendship all weekend.

I started thinking back to the people of my past. I’m ashamed to say that I have treated some people very badly. Perhaps being a bad friend is part of being in your teens and twenties. And then we get to the neglectful thirties and forties, when our own personal bubble means so much more than our friends. Finally, you get to an age of “maturity” – if you want to call it that – where you rehash the major and minor points in your life and start making all of those wrong things right.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but this is what happened in my case. I make no apologies for my previous bad behavior. “Sorry” often doesn’t cut it anyway. Somewhere around my 50th birthday (a day that will live in infamy, a day I’d rather forget), I decided to revisit parts of my past. I told people how much they meant to me at the time I knew them best. I reconnected with high school friends I’d long lost touch with.

Another thing happened around the same time: I decided I would start making some new friends and treating them like the precious jewels they are. One reason was watching my own family. My father, who is 75, bemoans the fact that all of his “friends” are dying. This sounds suspiciously like his own mother when she was the same age. While technically correct in the fact that my father’s peers are slowly dying off, it’s also true that he could actually make some new friends if he chose to do so. My younger sister, who has stayed in the same general area where we grew up, on the other hand has so many friends I am not sure she can keep them straight. They are of all ages, all colors, and all types. I know from experience that my sister is an amazingly giving woman, sensible and spiritual. I saw through her interactions that she draws the same kind of people to herself. I’m a firm believer that you reap what you sow.

And so began my quest for becoming a good friend. In the past couple of years, partially due to the Internet, I’ve made more good friends than I did the previous twenty years.

I liken myself to a seed that’s been asleep. During the years that I was busy raising children (and believe me, if you knew my son back in the day, none of us were sure he’d make it out of high school, much less get into college, so I was busy), many things stood still. Creativity. Inner exploration. Friends. There are only so many hours in a day, and my immediate family came first. Perhaps that’s not the ideal way to live one’s life, but it was something I had to do. As soon as I was reasonably certain that they were “fine”, I threw some fertilizer and water on the seed.

The best thing about expending energy and time on other human beings is that it lessens the grief in your own world. All of a sudden, the world opens up. It becomes larger, prettier, more colorful. Instead of you and your own four walls, there are others with their stories and their experience. The bonus is finding people who have lived a parallel life to yours. You share your stories, realize they are astounding in their similarity to your own life, you laugh, compare notes. You feel like you’re not a weirdo, not an oddball, not dysfunctional or deranged, but rather part of the human race.

I have friends with whom I disagree on a regular basis. My own Dear Mr. Demonic is among those. I love him, but we don’t have matching psyches. Opposites attract. I need people like this around me to keep me grounded. I need them to present the other side and to insist on showing me even if I don’t want to see. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion, even if it isn’t mine.

As for those who will never be my friend, you know who you are. You’re shallow; you’re narrow-minded; you’re petty; you’re mean spirited; you’re dishonest. While my entire focus is to be “a good friend” to all who are my friends, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be a door mat. I don’t relish being stabbed in the back, and I don’t think anyone does.

I know what it’s like to be a bad friend, and I vow not to walk that path again.

If you are my friend, I’ll be here for you. As long as I can help you, I will.

Living in a Glass House

I’m usually pretty open about myself. On other online forums, I use my own real name. Now my thought is that eventually I’d like to be considered seriously for my writing, thus the use of my real name. Some people might think that is a pretty foolhardy move. There are some online who are a little off kilter, just plain weird or downright dangerous.

I started using my own real name for a couple of reasons. One, I was naive. I thought everyone did it. Two, I am very bland. You could say really boring and saccharine to the Nth degree. I can’t really think of a cutesy moniker. I even have the same email address for many different service providers, you know, *.msn, *.aol, *.yahoo, *.gmail, *.hotmail, etc. I have certain things go to certain email; for example, I use the MSN address when I buy things online. I shouldn’t say this, but I use the same two or three passwords for all the email. This is because I can’t remember diddley in my old age.

I know of people who don’t do that, for whatever reasons. Mostly, they don’t want to be bothered, and I can appreciate that. Also, if an online persona has young children, I believe that one should be careful about posting their names, ages and photographs. I understand completely that there plenty of whackjobs out there.

On the other hand, I am “out there” as myself. My children are adults (well, one is, and one is almost an adult, in two months and seven days, as she keeps telling me ad nauseaum) and I’m an adult. Last I looked, my husband is an adult. My real name is rather unique. In fact, every person on the planet with my surname has an ancestor that came from the same small village in eastern Europe, so we’re all related by blood or marriage. I figure, might as well be out there and keep my “enemies” where I can see them.

Do I have enemies? Well, I’m not sure, but I’m not naive enough to think that the Internet is one happy bubble of pleasantness and joy. I’m sure there are some who have Googled my name and found a treasure trove of information which could be used to smite me. It happened to my husband. On the other hand, I have had long-lost friends find me online, and that alone has been satisfying to have my information in a public forum where they could contact me.

I’ve been extremely lucky and greatly blessed by the people I’ve met as a result of my online world. I love all of them. As I have told MIB, the Internet is the new neighborhood. This is how we meet people with similar interests and passions. This doesn’t mean that we’re here to hook up or do something weird. This is the Brave New World.

I was just thinking about this because I called an online friend today who is not feeling very well. In our conversation, I asked him if he would be interested in meeting me or the rest of the motley crew that we’ve known in the last year. He said no. I can understand the hesitation.

The other reason I thought of this today is because of my house. My husband, who was feeling a bit randy today, gave me a grope in the kitchen and asked “quickie?” but then remembered he had a guy coming over at 7:30 to give us an estimate on repairing the old rotting wood in our sun room. We don’t have sex in the lower level of our house, because it’s all windows and no window coverings. Talk about a glass house.

That’s why God made offices and office sex.

But I digress… my point is, I’d rather have it all shook out in public online than a quickie in our “glass” house.

Tumbling: Don’t Try This At Home Without a Spotter If You’re My Age

Last night I was working on various writing projects, and IMing the IB (Internet Boyfriend) late into the night. (It’s not what you think. MIB and I have a joint online venture that we’re trying to remove the bugs from. There’s no romance involved, unless you call being enamored of our project a romance.) The reason for working at home is that I have another life during the day time. It’s a business life, and it’s a busy life. Writing is my recreation, and while I try to do it at work (sometimes without much success), I can really only concentrate if I’m sitting in my perfect purple chair, which is in my bedroom. It’s hard to concentrate with the phone ringing all day. No one calls me at home, except telemarketers. I have caller ID so I choose not to answer those calls.

After spending five hours typing, the perfect purple chair was not feeling quite so perfect. In fact, I was beginning to feel a serious issue with my back and neck. While MIB was chatting away, I put my laptop down on the floor and stretched out. Doing this helped a bit, but not much.

It was 1 a.m., and my daughter was cleaning her room and making a terrible noise. So I got up (without MIB knowing) to survey her progress. It was very positive! I was impressed. It was also helpful to move about. My back felt much better.

When I returned to my laptop, I realized that the article I was working on for another forum had suddenly disappeared. It was a huge article, with lots of links to other things. I was angry. I was almost despondent. I was really tired. But, this is what happens when you use the web based publishing tools of various sites. I neglected to save it as a Word document. It was my fault. Even though I was bleary-eyed, I managed to reconstruct the article much as originally written. In fact, dare I say it? It may have been better than the original.

By 2:30, my fingers started to do their own thing, and it was hard to keep up with a IM conversation and type an article at the same time. Besides, my back was now killing me. So I said good night to MIB and thought I would lay prone on the floor again before going to bed.

While I was doing so, I decided to do some up dogs and down dogs, otherwise known as baby yoga. This usually helps, but not early this morning. What I really wanted to do was flip all the way over. I started rocking backward in an attempt to flip over, but found that I couldn’t get my legs to cooperate! My muscles felt like they didn’t belong to me, and my stomach had gotten into the way. Damn! What had happened to me? This used to be an easy task for me!

By the third attempt, I was annoyed. I wanted to flip over, damn it!

After getting up this morning (I overslept because I only got three hours of sleep), I decided to clear a spot downstairs and try again. Since I couldn’t seem to complete the task by flipping my legs over my head, I thought I would try it the other way. You know, by doing a somersault, head first.

This method worked. Somehow, I made it all the way over, even though I nearly lost consciousness.

I guess I should have had a spotter.