People have a right to their opinions, we all do, but the strange thing about the internet is that where in real life we observe some kind of moral code of kindness and an unwillingness to intentionally hurt someone’s feeling, the blanket of anonymousness gives people cart blanche to be downright nasty. A couple of months ago someone alerted me to some comments posted about a column I had written and by the look on his face I could tell it wasn’t good. I couldn’t remember anything I had said that was particularly controversial, so I really had no idea what column he was talking about. As he started to prattle on about how wrong ( crazy, perhaps insane) someone thought I was, I put my hand up in the air and said “don’t tell me, I do not want to know”. Maybe ten years ago I would have wanted to know what someone else thought of me and my opinions and I would have tried to bend to their will, to be the person they wanted me to be, but, as I can attest by throwing my back out last week just by walking up the stairs while talking on the phone, I am too old to care. There is so much peace that comes with this, it should be a mandatory course taught in high school called ” Forget trying to get everyone to like you, cause it’ll never happen- Be your own person 101″. I am thinking about this because I was just on the Telegram website reading the news when I stumbled upon the video for Colleen Power’s song” New Townie Man” which is a hilarious take on a girl from around the bay going out with a guy from town. I was crying from laughing as I inadvertently scrolled down to the comments section, I read the first few that said they thought it was really funny and cute, then it got to the angry ones, which I must admit stopped me in my tracks. I poured myself another cup of tea, took a deep breath and let out a half scream ” Don’t people know she is joking?”. Colleen is from around the bay, she is an intelligent woman with a long life ahead of her filled with visiting her family around the bay and most likely with her townie man in tow. The fact of the matter is if she really felt anything but love for the place she came from and the people who live there, the last thing she would do is write a song about it , do a video for it and put it up on youtube. They say laughter is the best medicine and I’d rather be laughing at myself then someone else, so I am going to watch the video again, cause I see myself in every one of those characters and man is it ever wicked funny.
New years resolutions used to start January 1st, then somewhere along the way the starting line shifted to the second, without anyone noticing it got switched to the Monday after the first weekend of January, until it was considered a bit obsessive if you started depriving yourself anywhere before the fifth. So after a weekend of last ditch fun I woke up today with the will and intention to not eat chips, to think positively and get motivated to go to the gym. In the end I spent about an hour hunting around the house searching for a bag of chips even though I would have settled for a single one, the next hour I sat thinking negatively about wanting, needing to eat chips and the hour after that I wondered why I didn’t I have the foresight to hide a bag somewhere. As the sun dipped down below the skyline I spent another hour digging for my gym bag under the rubble of clothes I had yet to unpack from Christmas and when I finally found it I had no choice but to go to the gym. They say the hardest part is getting there, but if that was the case people would step out of their cars, walk to the front door, put one foot inside and turn right around again feeling lighter, healthier, with rosy cheeks and a toned heart. Instead the gym was packed to the gills, I felt like the last clown to squeeze into a VW. I made my way through the crowd, past the machines and apparatuses that usually stand like a row of lonely statues but were instead being pummeled by people who hadn’t been to the gym in eight months as the toxins in their sweat literally ate away the treadmills enamel. I reached in my purse for my IPod ( ah the perfect invention for trying to chisel away boredom in the gym, anything to take away from the fact that you aren’t really doing anything, you’re not skiing down a hill, slapping a puck in the net, not even a ball over the net, you’re just running in place staring at the walls) and cursed as I remembered it lying rather precariously under that pile of clothes. I attempted to do a ridiculous outer thigh/butt/lower earlobe exercise as I waited for a cardio machine and couldn’t help overhearing the man next to me complaining loudly to the attendant that people were only allowed to do 30 minutes, that there should be signs, that he’d been waiting for five full minutes, his enthusiasm indicated he worked out come hell or high water 365 days a year and he wasn’t impressed by the crop of resolution exercisers. He stood behind people one by one, monitoring their screens ( a big no no) , snuck up behind them and tapped them on the back and yelled, “you’re over your time, you’re over your time, I’ve been waiting!”. I’ve got to say I have never seen a group of people go from looking so miserable to looking like a crop of world class athletes who lived for the elliptical machine, they glided as if they were sipping Guinness. I plan to go back the same time tomorrow, I can think of nothing as motivating as that guy trying to kick me off, I’d stay on for hours and hey I might even enjoy it.
There is a joy to Christmas that can really only come from children, the surprise and excitement on their faces as if the world is one big present for them to unwrap, so when there are no kids around you really really miss them like a bunch of limbs gone astray. My sweet little nephews were at home in England this Christmas and we were all suffering form a low grade depression about it, like a bunch of heartsick teenagers we would turn and look to each other and say ” remember last year when the boys..” did this , that and every other thing. I am sure I almost cried fifteen times I missed them so much. Of course it is easy to forget about the diaper changing, the fighting over legos, the runny noses and when they won’t go to you when you are dying for a hug because quite frankly what kinda kid would want to spend that much time being hugged instead of playing with their new star wars toy ( pronounced staaah woes- for added effect), but like anything in life you just get on with it. Then about six o’clock Christmas night I heard a beep coming from my computer, I had a new message and it was from my brother, I crossed my fingers hoping he had sent some pictures of the boys and a video link appeared. I clicked the full screen option and all of a sudden it was like we were all together, opening presents, dancing around the kitchen with the boys dressed up as santa, rudolf and a little christmas penguin. There was no fourth wall at all, well maybe a little like groundhog day as we pressed repeat over and over again, until the next video arrived and the next after that. Getting to see the new missing tooth and new versions of twinkle twinkle was the only gift we could ever hope for. We sat down to eat a feast, cleared our plates, did some dishes and sat down on the sofa in the clean living room. This was a different vista for Christmas, there were no toys lurking on stairs, no cookies ground into the carpet, no video games that needed triple A batteries and all we had were nine volt, no chocolate covered hands over your new sweater, simply no mess. We decided to look at it as if the glass was half full, it was almost like the kids were here except we didn’t have to clean up after them. That said, next year if given the choice we’d just go ahead and knock the glass over, especially if it was a sippy cup!
A very bad thing has happened to me and I did it to myself willingly and no I didn’t get a tattoo of Martha Stewart on my face, I joined Facebook. Argh why why why, why did I do this? I am addicted, enthralled, attracted yet horrified and repulsed. I feel it seeking out of my pores like a bad drug or listeria infected lunch meat, I want to get out now but I’ve already taken the first hit and I am lying on the floor shaking and dying for more. I have work to do, places I need to be and shoveling that needs to be done before the rain freezes the snow and turns the driveway into a skating rink, but I am not moving. In my head I keep repeating to myself “I think I’m sick, I shouldn’t go outside now in case it gets worse”. Truth is it’s not a lie because I do indeed feel sick really I can’t leave my computer , it won’t let me go, I have officially been hit by facebook. Cut to two “fun filled” hours later where I have been hovering my finger one centimeter above the delete your account button and then withdrawing it to my side as I recited aloud the reasons I joined in the first place. I was sucked in so I could see pictures of my family and friends kids, for the past year I have wondered where the usual email train of pictures were and the answer was always Facebook and I felt like I was missing out. Yet when I would hear stories about super personal info people would post on their page in seven minute increments I was spooked to the core and vowed I would never do it. Remembering this led me to put on my hat, mitts, boots and my new winter coat to head out and shovel. The sun was shining, it was warm and the snow though laden with water felt light as a feather, my mother and I remarked at how cautious drivers were about not spraying us with snow, slowing down just before the driveway. I decided that I would leave Facebook when I got in, it was quite simply keeping me from the joys in life. Then I looked up as a minivan sped towards a puddle of melting snow and covered me from head to toe, in my ears, my hair and in my eyes. “That’s it” I screamed at the sky, I’m going in to check my Facebook.