Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Official... "Facebook" is Now an Action Verb

According to Time Life Magazine, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is now the man of the year.  While he gave us a magic platform to reach back into our past and locate friends and lovers not seen in thirty years, he also gave busy moms a reason not to feel guilty when we forget our cameras at our children's many, many events, awards ceremonies and such.  We look at the good mom with camera cables, charged batteries and perfectly posed children and can now utter the self redeeming words, "Facebook it."  Within hours, photos of our children come flying in from organized mothers we barely know, but are grateful for.  The word "Facebook" has become an action verb... a task to be performed shortly after the last click of the camera shutter.  "Facebook those pictures to me."  You hear it everywhere.  At a ballgame, when the kids just won the All Star World Series, and you stand there with a pom-pom in hand and no camera, all you need to say is..."Hey, Facebook it." Soon you will be downloading photos of your little winners and uploading them to Walmart for next year's Christmas cards.  I never worry anymore about dead batteries, blurry photos, or missing the right shot.  Someone out there has snapped a prize winning photo and surely will tag me in it.  Even when you don't want photos shared, there is that one person in your group with a handy smart phone who will snap that photo of you and the girls downing drinks at a pub and they will Facebook it before the next round arrives.   The problem with this is that not all of your Facebook Friends need to see these things.   My children's friends will send friend requests and I, like most people, accept their invitation.  It's not like I put anything on Facebook that isn't appropriate for all to see.  It's those dang uploads that get you every time.  I've come to realize that I can't post anything about work, church, politics, or any other sensitive topic.  I'm limited to posting about what I had for dinner and nobody wants to see those posts.  My status bar stays empty most times because I am status aware and need to keep my job.  I need to be a good role model for those kids and I don't want an Instant  Message from my mother asking what I was doing in that pub.  I watch the posts role in about friends who haven't fed their cows in Farmville and wonder how they have time to manage a virtual farm.  I often confuse Mark Zuckerberg with Farmer Zuckerman from Charlotte's Web and wonder if "Some Pig" is out there in Farmville chasing spiders and talking rats.  It would spice the game up a bit.  Surely someone will catch some photos and Facebook them.  Who really doesn't want a photo of a talking pig, anyway.  I surely would and should I ever run into one, I know that I will have no camera in hand. Thank God for that new action verb "Facebook."   I will never again miss another talking pig or pictures of my kids in their greatest moments of childhood.  Someone will Facebook it all to me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The After Christmas Effect

I would like to introduce Turtle.  He is nameless. He floats around in a tank of hazy water with a facial expression that epitomizes the exhaustion and inability to continue that comes with preparations for the holiday season.   I plan to have postage stamps made with this look and attach them to all of my credit card payments as I slowly begin the process of paying for Christmas.    I know this look and have seen it in my own reflection.  As we grew each day closer to Christmas and all the glory that it is, my eyes lost a bit of twinkle and exhaustion set in as I felt myself sinking to the bottom of this proverbial pond of gift cards, ribbons, bows, increased credit limits, and chocolates from countries I've never heard of.   But, ready or not... Christmas does arrive and it waits for no one.  My Christmas morning begins early because each child wants to wake me in the early morning hours to sneak with them out to the living room to see what treasures Santa has left them. It's our special time that is only shared between mother and child.  We don't play with the toys or pretty things, we just peek and take in the sights and sounds of the living room lit up by the glow of tiny Christmas lights.   We'll sit on the floor together and gaze at all that is there, knowing it is all protected by one very large dozing cat who takes residence under the tree during the month of December. Then.... it's off to bed again.   It isn't long before the other child is gently waking me to sneak with them back to the glory of the living room to see what gifts await them.  My husband and the cat never wake.  They are used to our nocturnal stirrings and pay no attention any more. They no longer wonder what it is we do in the middle of the night.  It has not effected them negatively, so it must all be good.  After child number two was tucked back in bed, I heard what I knew must be my daughter's missing hamster.  It has survived for two weeks by eating the soles of her boots and a tube of pink lip gloss.  Who knew, I must add.  But now.... here he was, early on Christmas morning, and soon I was on the floor with a flashlight and a handful of pumpkin seeds and granola hunting hamsters.  I thought about Mary and baby Jesus and what their night was like some 2050 years ago and thought....   "Wow -  this is so not what they would have been doing" as I tried to squeeze to the back of the closet to find the hamster.  About the time I gave up on finding him, the sun came up and it was time to make that long walk down the hallway again.  This time, the entire family was in tow... except the hamster.  Even with pre-exhaustion setting in before a complete sunrise, the magic of Christmas began to unfold before us. And as always - it was wonderful.  It was a busy day and I'm still trying to dig myself out from a pile of wrapping paper and increased credit card debt, but what fun we had.  The best gift was having my brother home for the holidays.  He brought us jewelry hand crafted from villagers in Africa.  The items were lovely.   He gave my son a necklace that has an image of what appears to be a leaping gazelle on it.  I'm a little concerned that this might actually be the fertility God symbol.  I will add this to my list of things to check on tomorrow.  No room for error there, you know.  My daughter was thrilled with each of her gifts that slowly transformed her into a tiny jet setting Valley Girl... Flannel pants, Uggs, Northface, Apple... We have moved past the age of Barbie Dolls that are wired to their packages and require special welding tools and cutters for removal.   We had all of our friends and family over and had a wonderful time visiting and watching the kids be kids.   My daughter managed to walk into a remote control dual rotor Chinook helicopter that was hovering about the living room.   It made an emergency landing deep inside her long locks of hair.  Dual rotors!  Yes - Not just one to unwind massive amounts of brunette hair from, but two, for added fun.    I do believe that having a helicopter attached to the side of your head is a look that could be pulled off at Christmastime - Look at Cindy Lou Who who proudly wore a tea cup and saucer in her blonde beauty doo.   It's all about owning it, I suppose.   After the removal of the helicopter and a few layers of hair, we gathered in the den for the traditional singing of Christmas carols and downing of eggnog.  Oh, wait - That's not us - that was George Bailey's Family in a Wonderful Life.  We raced to the den to pick our avatars and do a little white water rafting while standing in a raft at the headwaters of Nintendo's Curvy Creek.    We jumped and pivoted and flung our arms in the air to grab virtual coins that I was unaware loomed at the top of the treeline as we plummeted down the raging waters. We crashed through pilings and piers and somehow came out unscathed, but exhausted.  I finally left the kids to play with their toys and claimed my spot on the couch in front of the fire where I am certain I wore the same look as the aforementioned turtle.  I woke this morning and all is calm in the house.   I'm not sure, but I believe there may be an extra child somewhere in the den buried under a pile of wrapping paper and Christmas joy.  In just a short while, I will wake them all and begin putting things back in order.  Perhaps the hamster will return to this cage, the turtle will bask on his rock, and I can thumb through my photos of another wonderful Christmas with family.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Model Consumer

I am the model consumer.  A product label promising new and improved qualities to my life is certain to gain my attention.  These products are strategically placed in retail stores to speak in coded tongue to shoppers like me.  Just the other day, I went to the new MegaTron, bigger than the last one, Walmart, built three sites over from the previous two.   All I needed was a loaf of bread.  As any good Southern woman knows, it is almost impossible to leave Wal-Mart without spending a hundred dollars or more. Immediately upon entry, I was drawn to the vitamin aisle with an already lingering notion that perhaps I needed more vitamin D in my life.  I actually needed a cruise to a sunny tropical island, but I temporarily quieted that wish with a bottle of sunlight and a need to shop.  Unfortunately, all the other letters of the alphabet called out to me and soon I could play a quick game of Scrabble with the bottles of Vitamin A, K, D and B in my basket.   I moved to the next aisle and a can of Skintamate shaving cream called to me from the shelf.  It was baby blue and offered Skin Therapy.  Who doesn't need skin therapy, I ask you?  I did have Vitamin D in a bottle to hold me until I could soak up UV rays at the Tropic of Cancer, but now there was skin therapy available for $4.79.   It was "Baby Soft" and "Lotionized"  My God - Lotionized!!!!  I didn't even know this was a concept, let alone an actual word, but I wanted it.  I wanted a Skintimate experience where I would bathe in skin therapy and be lotionized.  An added bonus.... It had Vitamin E!!!!   Who planned this product! They knew me so well!    Suddenly, I could hardly wait to get home and shave my legs.... an act that brought no real pleasure, unless you are 11 and getting to shave for the very first time.  After that... the fun is gone... unless you purchase Skintimate Skin Therpay.   It's funny to me that nowhere on the bottle does it actually say shaving cream.  And yet, I knew what this product could do for me and it quickly landed in the bottom of my basket with the rest of the letters of the alphabet.    By the time I made it to the bread aisle, I had well over $100 worth of items in my basket, all promising some form of new and improved life.  Truth be told.... I'm certain my life would remain just as good without these false promises of delight.  My husband uses a simple bar of Dial Soap for everything.  I spend $18 for a bottle of volumizing, moisture sealing, illuminating shampoo and he uses a bar of soap.  Our hair looks fine, except mine smells like scented expensive shampoo and his smells like clean hair.  Isn't that really all we are seeking.  Hmmmm?????  We currently have nine bottles of shampoo in our shower.... one for everybody's needs.   My son has teenage straightening shampoo.  My daughter has something that has a fun lid and smells like popsicles.  Even the dog has a bottle in there for tick and flea removal.  I know that one day I will be all leathered up in Skin Therapy and grab the wrong bottle of shampoo and find myself tick and flea free with a scent like I've just been to the vet.  My husband may be smarter than all of us with his single bar of soap and absence of label reading.  His Vitamin D comes from working in the garden and his straight hair comes from genetics.  Perhaps if I read less labels and went back to hot water and a bar of soap, I would be many dollars closer to that trip to the tropics.  I believe it may be time to let someone else do the shopping!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Secret Order of the Big Haired Beauties

My child learned, at a young age, the power of big hair.  It is something I have always wanted, but have never had the luxury of having.  In the 80's, when big hair defined who you were, I was cursed with short wispy blonde locks.   This tiny beauty, however, must have inherited a big hair gene that I never knew was lying dormant inside of me.  I'm guilty of big hair envy and a feeling of sadness still wells up inside of me as I pass down the hair care aisle and see all of the hair freezing and big sexy hair products used to create these heavenly coifs.  My daughter enjoys her gift of big hair and spends many an hour in front of the mirror working it into styles that would make Miss America and fairy tale princesses proud.   I've discovered, while looking in from the outside of the big hair world, that there is a sisterly bond, an unspoken covenant, between those who are lucky enough to have big hair.  This bond transcends language barriers, shorelines, and age differences.   Let me explain....Most every mall in America has vendors in the inside court area who sell hair straighteners, iron rods and such.  Many of these saleswoman are here on work visas from Israel.  They are dark haired beauties armed with kind smiles, big hair and a cash register.  While their English may be limited, they have no problem communicating with their big haired sisters.  My daughter can walk in the mall and I instantly hear.... "Oh my God,  you are beautiful.  Look at your hair!  Look at both of you."  They hug, touch each other's long locks, and speak in some kind of secret language of giggles and hair care terminology.  I hear whispers about  phenol derivatives, chemical changes and finishing sprays used to maintain styles of the hardest to hold hair. There are more giggles and dark hair begins to fly out in all directions as they shape, straighten, mold and create new beauty doos.   I stand there with my straight wispy blonde strands and wonder if the salesgirl's comments are sincere or just quoted from a sales manual that is obviously well written because before this happy reunion is over, my child's hair is three inches bigger, I'm feeling pretty sexy, too and I've written out another check for $120.00   I know women who spend thousands of dollars on pills and therapists to fight depression and raise their self esteem, so I never feel guilty about my occasional support of these hair care girl's work in America when they leave me feeling confident and sexy even if it is only until the chemicals break down and my hair is flat again.    After our last encounter with our hair care friends, my daughter left with a large bag of hair care products and I left with the notion that I, too, would look good in a pair of gold spandex pants and leather boots like Aleana and Marnisha were wearing.   Thank God better senses prevailed and I remembered that is only a look you can pull off with big hair and a small butt.  There is a mathematical formula that calculates the mass of one's hair style and the size of one's back-side to determine if you can pull off that look without defying laws of physics, breaking any fashion rules or scaring friends and neighbors.  Our friends wore this look well.  As a forty six year old mother of two, I accepted the fact that I was a few years too late and a few hairs too short  to wrap my ass in spandex and parade around in boots. But oh...if I only could!

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...