Through a veil darkly

It’s shadowy in here. The light comes in from time to time, but it’s not as bright or warm or comforting as it has been in times past.

This is not my first go-round in this state of mind. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a serious, introverted individual. Not that I haven’t had my jovial moments, mind you! I inherited my dad’s easy breezy ability to make people laugh. It’s effortless…a few well timed phrases and I’ve got ‘em rolling in the aisles. At times I do experience genuine joy. But these days, more often than not, humour making is the mask I wear.

On a regular basis my heart is heavy. I worry. I fear. I get stressed. I get anxious. I cry. And when I end up going through that washing machine cycle of emotions, being spun around at high speeds by circumstances I can’t seem to get control of, that’s when the veil falls and blocks the sun.

At times the veil lifts on its’ own, like fog fading as dawn becomes full-blown day. Other times I do my best to function as best I can, in spite of limited visibilty. This curtain that separates me from my world, from real connections with friennds and loved ones, can also bring a strange sense of security. Back here, behind the partition, I can’t be hurt. Well, not as much…it’s my own little world, my pocket of protection.

But it’s still a divider. Intangible, invisible, irrefutable. Continue reading

Still Here….

I’ve passed by blogs like this one before. The page comes up, with a catchy title. Scrolling down, I read the various posts. But wait…the date of the last post is 2 weeks/6 months/3 years(!!!) ago. What happened? I mean, how can someone start a blog, and leave it neglected for so long?

Before I first started blogging almost a year ago, I thought about it very carefully. What did I want to say, would there be a theme running through all my posts, or would they all be random, independent thoughts? How often would I come in to maintain it? That was a tricky one. Because I thought that keeping a blog was like taking care of a plant. It needs to be watered and fertilized on the regular.

SIDE NOTE: I am notorious in my house for unintentionally killing plants. I have a Betta fish; he’s doing ok so far. So maybe it’s just vegetation that I should I keep my murderous mitts away from.

I decided that I would come in at least once a week, as ideas came to me like revelations in a dream. I was chock full of stuff that I had to share with the public at large. Anytime I sat down in front of the computer, ready to write, I would get irate if anyone or anything interrupted me. “Not NOW, I’m BUSY!”

And so it went, for a while. A week sometimes became two. Occasionally three. I’m a wife and a mom, and I have a full time job; things don’t run as smoothly as we’d like them to. But I fear, my page has become one of those pages. The ones you pass by when you notice the cobwebs hanging from the words on the page. The ones that have an echo-y sound to them when you read the title out loud. My page seems to have been abandoned.

And here’s the thing. When I visit blogs that haven’t been touched for months or years, it never occurred to me that those people probably had the same intentions I did: to not let a too much time go by between submissions. But guess what….shit happens.

That is the reality of blogging. Real life steps in, and you can barely manage to get yourself together to go to work. You’ve been hit with the proverbial ton of bricks, and life loses focus. Blog? I can’t put a coherent sentence together when talking to real-time people, don’t ask me to write a moving composition on the Miley Cyrus Movement. Your bedroom becomes your sanctuary; the world gets locked out at the end of the day, because you are on the edge of tears from the time you get up, and they’re bursting through the dam and you don’t want the kids to see you so upset….

Yes, I’ve neglected my blog. But my dear, faithful followers….if you’re still out there…know that I did it because I had to. Shit happened. I got hit with that ton of bricks. I’m slowly getting back up again.

Opting Out

Sometimes you just have to say, “No, ta, I’m good. I don’t really need/want/care for that.” How often do we take something, sign up for something, that we never really wanted? Yesterday, I was at a street festival with my kids. There were food vendors and jewellery vendors, and a few people handing out free this or that. And it was sort of an automatic response, like instinct kicking in, to reach out and receive whatever these people were offering. Because it’s free, and I MIGHT need it later. Right? And it’s free, so…

But it’s hit me lately that always saying Yes, even to something seemingly innocuous, is not always a good thing.

I like to get emails, and notifications, and LIKES, and tags. It makes me feel special. Lame I know, but this is what happens when you get sucked into the Social Media lifestyle. There is no real problem with getting a lot of information about who is viewing what you’ve posted. No harm in getting email from your favourite stores whenever there’s a sale on. No harm…unless all this is coming in on your cell phone.

I get a rush with every BING and PING and POP! @katnip8 liked my photo on Instagram. John Hancock just tagged me on Facebook. Zippa-di-doo-dah just retweeted my comment. Sure, yeh it makes me feel great! Even getting notifications about the blogs I follow in here makes me happy.

But the constant, steady stream of “Hey, guess what?!” is not good. For one thing, it runs my phone battery down. There are days when I hardly use it, once it’s charged for the day, but by noon the phone is hot, and the battery life has drained to half or less.

Another reason, is that it turns me into Pavlov’s dog. I am no bitch (if Pavlov’s dog was a female…)! But more importantly, I shouldn’t be responding to each and every sound or vibration on my phone as if I get a treat with every thing that comes in. There are different sounds to distinguish between email, texts and other types of notifications. But with every noise my hand goes right into my pocket to take out my phone so I can see what it was.

It’s like going to a fast food joint, and you get a meal deal. The server asks if you’d like to Super Size your meal, for just 10 cents more!! So you Super Size, feeling like you’ve just solved a major world crisis by making this particular deal. But guess what? Not only have you paid out more money than you’d planned, even if it is only 10 cents; you’ve also purchased more food than you could possibly finish comfortably. Where’s the benefit?

So this is where I am. I’ve Super Sized myself into mental fullness, so I’m cutting back. Not only am I saying, “No, thank you” to extra this or that, I’m opting out of other things completely. Last night I went through most of my emails, found the unsubscribe option and clicked. I went into Facebook and un-checked text pop-ups for just about everything. And with each unsubscribe and every un-check, I felt lighter and freeer. Because I don’t really need to know about all the sales, I don’t shop that often. And I’d don’t really need to know about the latest WordPress blog updates, because I come in here every day anyway. I can live without knowing who tags/likes/adds/comments on my various social sites, at least until I have the opportunity to go in and see what’s happening.

This morning when I woke up, and checked my phone, I had 2 emails. TWO. Most mornings I have at least 10. My battery is fully charged, and I expect it be like that wayyyyy past noon.

What’s really in a name?

My friends, I’m a bit confused about something, and I’m really hoping you can help me.

Linguistics is my passion. Although I got a degree in English Lit from university, I really want to go back one day and get a Linguistics degree. Words intrigue me: their origins, their spellings, their meanings. Sounds change, spelling is altered and meanings shift over time. Someone asked me once why certain words become known as swear words. I explained to them that some of these words were at one point, just descriptive words, in their country of origin. Somewhere along the way, another word was used to describe the same thing, and the first word became a less desirable one to use. Hence, swear words. http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/04/10/nine-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-swear-words/ (#3 gives a good example of this).

The whole idea of word meanings that morph is what brings me here today. Because you see, I’m wondering about how some words have bad meanings and yet people embrace them? Bear with me.

Let’s take a word that ignites people: the “N” word. For those who may be reading this outside of North America and may not be familiar with this term….and because we’re all grown folk, I’ll make it plain: Nigger. As a child I was fully aware that this was not a nice word. Actually, it was an awful word, devastating to the heart and mind. For hundreds of years this word has been used to subdue and strike fear in the hearts of millions of blacks around the world, any place where slavery was present, and in post slavery years. It has not ever, nor can I ever foresee a time in which it will have a good meaning.

I like rap and hip-hop. But I don’t like the use of this word in the songs I listen to. I don’t like the fact that young black men use this word when greeting each other. “Wuzzup, mah niggah!” When I hear it, I cringe! I want to ask if they realize how many of their fore-fathers and mothers died trying to face down the shame that this word carried? How they whispered in their children’s ears while they slept, “You’re just as good as every body else…you have a right to be here…black is beautiful…”.

And while I’m trying to process this, my mind goes on to ponder the righteous indignation these same people feel when whites use the word in the same way. I don’t get it…if you want to take this word and try to infuse it with goodness when you use it, why is it so bad for your white friends to do the same?

I have the same question about such words as “slut” and “fat”. Perhaps its because I’m from a different generation (born at the tail end of the 60′s). Raised with the knowledge that certain words are good, and others are bad and never the twain shall meet. The mental image I have when a girl in my class was called a slut doesn’t go away when I see women marching on Parliament Hill in a Slut Walk. Is it possible that language change has taken this word and given it a fresh coat of paint, making it a brand new shade of acceptable?

And ‘fat’. A word I am also familiar with. Never meant anything good. In my head it summed up all that was undesirable; it implied laziness and lack of control. At no point in all my time on this planet have I ever heard it used in a uplifting manner. Fat people should be ashamed. But I see it used now as in ‘Fatshonista’ and ‘Fatabulous’, in a effort to shed a positive light on those who aren’t and may never be the slim, trim version of woman-hood the world has come to expect us all to be.

I can’t speak from experience on this one, but I am very much aware of the LGBT (forgive me if I’ve missed a letter) community re-claiming the words ‘Queer’ and ‘Dyke’ in much the same way. Taking that which those who hate you have used against you, and turning it around. Perhaps its a way of saying, If I call myself this name, then you can’t hurt me with it.

I’m intrigued, my friends, truly. And I would love to hear back from you on this one.

My Tech Addiction

I’m an addict. I’m hooked. Undeniably, unequivocally, uncomfortably, strung out. Drugs? No. Well, unless you count popping Advil like candies when I get a wicked headache….but no, not drugs. Coke is my kryptonite; I find it hard to resist a cold one on a hot day. But since I can, and have on many occasions, said no to one, it’s not that either.

What’s got me jonesin’? Technology. I am a tech hound. By no means am I tech savvy, no sir! If the printer jams I call my hubby or my son. When I can’t get my iPod to function properly, panic ensues. I have very little understanding about how electronic things work. Satellites, smart phones, meterology….it’s all rocket science to me because I just don’t get it. There is no way I could fudge my way through even a beginner tech course if my life depended on it.

Confession is good for the soul they say, so I’ll step into the Confessional, kneel down and let it all out. If I’m not on the computer, or on my phone, then I’m thinking about being on my computer or on my phone. At various times throughout the day I whip out my phone (discreetly, if I’m at work, of course!), and check my email, catch up on news via Twitter, or post something cool or silly or random to Instagram.

I get updates from the various stores where I shop frequently; BOGO at Payless! 50% off summer sale at Ardene! Back to school sale at Marshalls! The various blogs I follow here at WordPress are also beamed to my phone whenever there’s a new posting.

On my way home, as I check things on my phone, I quickly make a mental run of how many household chores stand between me and my laptop use. More than reading. More than watching tv. I love to spend time on the computer.

It wasn’t always this way; as a stay at home mom, with 3 young’uns I just truly did not have the time for it. And back then, in the early 2000′s there just wasn’t that much online that interested me. Ahhh, but times have changed, haven’t they! And now there is wayyyy too much to capture my attention.

Msn.com on my homepage….then Facebook…Pinterest….WordPress….Etsy…and random topic searches on Google (what sound DOES a giraffe make????). Should I mention that while I cruise the WWW, I may also be texting and checking out new apps on my phone?? Yeh, may as well. The more confession, the gooder it is for my soul!

My children often tease me, saying I’m worse than a teenager, always on my phone and the computer. Meh. Can’t argue with the facts….Oohh, what a nice sunset!! Gotta take a pic for Instagram!

Keeping it simple

I’ve recently learned of something called a “Sentence a day” journal, from http://thechailatte.wordpress.com/ . Each day there are prompts or questions that give the writer a jumping off point for that day’s entry. Having checked it out online, there seem to be two versions. One has the journalist writing only one succinct sentence, a few words that summarize the day. The other version is the aforemention, where the question or statement is the one sentence.

In either case, one is not limited to only writing one sentence. It seems to be a very handy guide to helping someone focus on a topic, but doesn’t in any way limit that person. I found a site that has a guide to this journal at http://debbiehodge.com/2012/06/keep-5-year-journal-july-prompts/.

Being a rabid journalist myself, I decided to take a stab at it, and I have to say, it’s an eye-opening experience! Under normal circumstances when I write my journal I tend to ramble when all my thought come rushing out. Now there’s nothing wrong with a run-on writing; sometimes the feelings don’t have time for sentence structure and grammar rules. It’s coming out and it’s coming out now! But there are other times when you just want to make a note of what’s happened but don’t really know how. Even if the prompt is not exactly connected to your day’s events, it’s a jumping off point, and you can take it in any direction you want.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s sentence….