Tag Archives: Facebook

How Facebook Reconnected Me To My Ex-BoyFriend’s Wonky Groove

Gratitude to Loretta Stephenson @WANA Commons for the use of this image

Not long ago, I received a private message on Facebook from a stranger who turned out to be one of my ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends.

This woman expressed concern that her ex – a man I used to live with – might be unstable, perhaps dangerous, and she hoped I could provide her with some background to help her understand what had happened in my now twenty years dead relationship.

I remembered the good things first.

How he brought me flowers and played with my curls. How we’d hiked and biked, ridden horses and picked wildflowers. How he gave me heart-shaped rocks.

How he made me feel.

After someone else had left me broken.

We played house in a rat-infested shack.

We went to university, learned our professions well.

But one day, he accused me of eating all his peaches.

And the next day, he stopped listening to my poetry.

He went out late and came home later, smelling of beer.

I learned he slept with another woman.

When I decided to leave, he came home as I was gathering up my last box of things and shoved me against a wall.

With his hands pressed against my shoulders, he shouted too close to my face. “You promised you’d never leave!”

Then he slid to the floor.

I kept moving.

Because I knew it was a trap.

He’d always used my words against me, twisted things around to make me feel like I was in the wrong. I was tired of being the bad one.

He followed me outside to my car. It was summer, and he stood on the hot driveway wearing shorts and wool socks as he leaned against my open window.

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me.” His long eyelashes were wet. “You’re just like everyone else.”

I remembered I’d left my purple and green tapestry inside, but I decided he could have it.

Because I wasn’t going back.

Alone in my new apartment, I mourned the death of our love. I remembered how he begged me to stop taking my birth control pills. We’ll make beautiful babies together, he had whispered in my ear as we laid together on our futon in the dark.

Somehow I knew his words were wishes, not promises. They were just words without rings or commitment attached.

Somehow I knew to get out.

In the Facebook message from the ex-girlfriend, I learned there is a collection of women who have been wined and dined, then made to feel small, cheated on, and dumped by this same man.

If this is true, it means that for decades, he has brought one woman after another into his home. That he has fathered children, but abandoned their mothers.

I was sad.

Because I’d always said if he couldn’t find happiness with me, I’d hoped he could find it with someone else.

And I was sincere when I said that.

But it sounds like he is still tortured by the devils that were chasing him when we first met, that he has become the person he said he would never be.

I also learned I have a bit of a reputation.

Apparently, I’m “The Smart One Who Got Away.”

And that is partly true.

I did get away.

But I hate hearing that this man is broken, a scratched up record with the needle stuck in the same rut, and that this wonky groove is still the rhythm of his life.

And I hate hearing that he is smearing women against the sky.

Have you ever received second-hand news about a lost love? What did you learn? What did you say? Feel?

tweet me @rasjacobson

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When a Walk in the Park is Not a Walk in the Park

“A girl from school wrote that she was going to kill herself on Facebook.”

Up until then, the leaves under our feet made swishy, dry sounds. But I stopped moving.

I needed to sit down, but he didn’t want to so I had to keep walking.

“She said goodbye and everything. I didn’t find out about it until after it happened.”

I held my breath as we passed the trees that had turned gold.

Tinker Park. Henrietta, New York. Fall 2012

“Is she okay?” I asked, praying hard for this girl who was suddenly with us like the wind in the trees.

“Her friends contacted her mother or something. She’s in the hospital.”

“Do you know her?” I shoved my hands in my pockets.

“Not really. I found out from a friend.”

We stopped at the water’s edge and found each other’s eyes.

“I want you to promise me something.”

My son looked at me. He knew what I was going to say. But I said it anyway.

“If someone threatens to hurt themselves or someone else on Facebook or in a text or in real life, you have to promise me that you will take it seriously.”

“I will.”

“No matter where I am. You have to contact me. I’ll help you do whatever we need to do.”

My son tilted his chin. “Sometimes you can’t answer your phone.”

He had me there. Because when I am teaching, I can’t take calls. Or answer texts.

The wind blew cool air though my sweater.

“You know what I mean. You can leave me a message. I can check messages. If there is an emergency, I can always make time.”

My son nodded.

The sun was going down as we turned down the mossy path.

As my feet moved, I thought about the girl’s mother. How terrified she had to be.

I thought of a car accident that occurred just a few miles down the road: how a young driver had been speeding through a residential neighborhood and smashed into a bus. They could have all been killed, but they weren’t.

I thought of my son who has been quiet lately. How we don’t connect the way we used to. How I don’t know what he does for most of his day. How he is going on a trip to New York City on a school field-trip in a few weeks.

I won’t be there.

And what if he needs me?

“Mom,” Tech called. He’d stopped to inspect something on the ground. “Come check out this bug carcass.”

I looked at my son. I thought he was going to say thank you. Or run over and hug me. Or tell me how glad he was that we had talked. I thought a lot of things. But he didn’t do or say any of the things he used to do and say so readily.

“Let me take a picture of you,” he said, holding out his hand for the camera.

So I posed for him.

“You okay?” he asked, a line creased his forehead.

I told him that I was fine, but it was a lie.

Because 8th graders shouldn’t be thinking about killing themselves.

They shouldn’t be thinking about dying.

Back at the car, we noticed our shadows.

“My shadow is taller than yours,” my son smiled. “I’m catching up to you.”

I looked at the red and the yellow and the green around me. I looked at my son in his maroon hoodie which will soon be too small for him. A gust blew some leaves off the trees. They soared over our heads and then fell on the grass, quivering.

I know time is passing, but is it so wrong to want things to stay like this for a little while longer?

I’m not ready for winter.

When is the last time you slowed down, unplugged and took a walk with someone you care about? Do me a favor, call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Or write that person a letter. Do something to show someone you care about them today. What is one beautiful thing you can do to show someone they are important to you? Or (conversely), what do you wish someone would do or say to you today. Let me be that person.

tweet me @rasjacobson

Losing My Gourd: A #LessonLearned by Amy Stevens

When you see the teacher, you know it’s a #LessonLearned!

I first “met” Amy Stevens 18 months ago at Life From The Trenches. Amy’s blog commonly features stories about her life with her husband and their children. Amy has lofty goals of growing a garden, frequently uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism, always wears socks in hotel rooms, sometimes says “Amen” at the end of The Pledge of Allegiance, and pretends to eat peas in front of her children.

Amy lives in Joplin, Missouri, and it is an understatement to say that her life was rocked in a major way when those tornadoes hit last May. Since then, Amy has been posting intermittently as she has worked tirelessly to rebuild her family home while assisting in rebuilding her community. She continues to provide her children with a sense of faith in a world where nothing is solid. Amy writes about beautiful, messy, and chaotic moments that make ordinary life magic. And she’s hoping to get back into her writing — starting now.

I urge you to follow Amy on Twitter @AmyStevens_ or, if you prefer via her Facebook page. I feel fortunate to have Amy here today to share this month’s #LessonLearned.

• • •

Photo by Craig Newsom at Flickr.com

I don’t know what led me to become a hospice social worker, but it’s been an amazing journey.

I could write about the patients: how they teach me about grace, compassion, gratitude, and provide powerful doses of perspective.

But I’m not going to write about the patients.

I could write about my colleagues.

You want to see radical compassion? Watch a hospice nurse work furiously to ease the pain of a patient. You want to experience mercy? Watch an aide provide care with patience and gentleness. Want to soak in real faith? Watch a chaplain offer a prayer that helps our patients find solid ground to cling to in grief.

But I’m not going to write about my colleagues.

I am going to write about a spaghetti squash.

One of the nurses gave me the squash, a giant one. Leaving the squash on my desk, I went to a meeting debating if this squash called for marinara, sweet sugar and cinnamon, or maybe just some Parmesan. There are so many options when it comes to spaghetti squash.

Fast forward to an hour later. My meeting ended and I walked out to my desk to find that the squash was gone. In its place was this note:

“You’ll never see your gourd again.”

In addition to all the things I said above about my coworkers, they also have sticky fingers.

They also think they’re funny.

And so it began.

I threw out reasonable accusations.

Everyone was a suspect, and everyone looked a bit shady.

They are, in fact, a tad shady.

No one came forward.

Because they’re good. Really good.

I went home and, as any top-notch investigator would, I turned to Facebook.

I posted this completely authentic picture of my poor children with no supper. (Guilt can lead to confessions, and this was no time for mercy.)

Look at those starving children!

My photo was posted along with the following Status Update:

Someone at work stole my spaghetti squash leaving behind the note: “You’ll never see your gourd again.” Tonight my children go hungry: victims of a cold, calculated crime.

Forty-three comments later, I learned my colleagues are not only shady but also willing to throw each other under the bus.

Still, no one came forward with a confession.

I was not surprised.

The following morning, I entered the office to this:

Squashy looks like he had a rough night.

Apparently, my squash had been stolen and passed around the office like some kind of contraband sex toy. The main culprit was a nurse, but no one was innocent in this game — except for my poor, hungry children.

(I wouldn’t feed them dinner until they posed for the Facebook picture. I wanted authentic.)

From the moment I discovered the theft, to the discovery of wide-eyed squash, to my apology over the intercom for accusing innocent people of a heinous crime, there was laughter.

Life hasn’t always been easy in Joplin, Missouri. As a community, we’ve struggled to rebuild ourselves after last year’s tornadoes. And, of course, working in hospice is not easy.

And yet.

My life has led me to a place where I’m surrounded by people who leave in their wake physical relief and soothed souls. There are no better people to teach how to comfort and how to be comforted through understanding words, soothing touch, and the simple presence of someone not scared away by suffering.

There are many lessons to be found in this tale. Obviously, the first lesson being that one should always secure her squash. But also that life is gritty – often devastating and heartbreaking – so it is important to find joy in the ridiculous, share comfort in a little squash vandalism, and heal through humor.

What’s making you laugh these days? What’s your favorite fall vegetable? How do you like your spaghetti squash? Anyone else have a playful office climate & culture? What kind of fun little pranks have you played at work?

Twit these Twits @rasjacobson & @AmyStevens_

Facebook Advice Before The Bar Mitzvah

A few months ago, after her daughter had just made her bat mitzvah, my friend Jill held my hands in hers and gave me some advice. She said:

“On your son’s day, don’t look in the book. I mean it. Just look at him. You can read the words and old day and you know the prayers and songs by heart. But just watch him. Watch him watching everyone. Don’t miss anything. Trust me on this.”

Jill is one of my wise friends.

Friday afternoon, I asked a last-minute question of my Facebook friends.

My former camp counselor wrote:

I love this piece of advice, how Betsy’s words echo Jill’s, and I plan to put aside my prayer-book, and just watch my son.

Admire the person he is and the man he is becoming.

(I will look and look and look at my boy even if it freaks him out.)

I will also breathe, enjoy the moment, keep my legs crossed during the hora, enjoy the moment and remember the significance of the moment.

Maybe I’ll even have a little something besides my standard Canada Dry Ginger Ale with a lime.

And what was that other thing?

Oh yeah, enjoy it.

Thanks to everyone for your comments emails and sweet tweets  — from the ridiculous to the sublime — wishing our family well.

I promise I will write you something fun after I get Tech packed and shipped off to summer camp have had a little time to clean up my kitchen process. It’s amazing how many of my brain cells have been reallocated from writing to other creative endeavors like cutting hundreds of triangles and making elaborate stickers and stuffing test tubes with M&Ms.

It will not involve masturbation.

Probably.

What do you think? Is this advice good for any event where friends and family will collide? Anything you would add?

Tweet this twit @rasjacobson

Ups and Downs & Lessons From the Universe

It’s been one of those weeks!

Were my life a roller coaster ride, I’ve got to tell you, this week has been positively loopy.

And it’s only Thursday.

On Monday, I showed up at my local grocery store, all showered and dressed at 8 am, to discuss catering for my son’s bar mitzvah with a woman named Karen.

Only to learn that my appointment is actually next week at 8 am.

As I stood there, dejected, I received a text from someone telling me that she couldn’t make a coffee date we’d been strenuously trying to set-up.

For months.

Last night, Hubby told me that we cannot have the Friday night dinner before our son’s bar mitzvah at the location we had previously selected.

I cannot even discuss this right now without feeling nauseated.

Because, seriously, where are we going with under 6 weeks left?

Yesterday, I wrote a guest post of which I was particularly proud. Very few people left comments. And that’s okay, except it left me feeling embarrassed and confused. I don’t understand why that content didn’t speak to people. I re-posted it HERE and, for those who may have missed it, I would still be interested in hearing your comments.

Anyway, I was feeling kind of low.

Then I learned it was National Teacher’s Appreciation Week. I had no idea.

One of my former students sent me this comment on my Facebook wall.

So that made me feel better. I mean, I figure if I’m losing my writing mojo, at least my students appreciate me, right?

And speaking of my students, this morning I tried to log onto my email account at Monroe Community College.

But I was locked out.

Because every six months we have to reset our passwords. Pain in the booty.

I’m currently working through Super Heroes combined with a series of uppercase letters and those annoying keys required for extra security. You know: !@#$%^&*()_+.

Those.

So I had to change my password which took four attempts plus a call to the Technology Services Help Desk.

Because I’d forgotten I’d already been W0nderw0man08! and Aquaman09% and Superman10# P0isonIvy11? And the computer won’t let you repeat any part of any identity you’ve ever been before.

By the time I made it in, I was a little cranky.

But then, lo and behold.

I saw this piece of loveliness. (You may have to click on it to appreciate the font more fully.)

You guys, I was instantly pumped up like Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be when he was on steroids.

  • And I would like to take this opportunity to thank every English teacher that I have ever had. I’m just positively overwhelmed. And…wow…I’m just so unprepared for a moment like this…
  • I would like to thank Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume. I’d like to thank William Faulkner and and Harper Lee and Kate Chopin and F. Scott Fitzgerald…Omigosh, y’all. You know who you are.
  • I’d also like to thank the unattractive green swivel chair in my parents’ house for letting me sit there for hours, escaping to different lands.
  • And thanks to all my former students who hit LIKE when I update my status on Facebook, even if my status isn’t interesting or funny. I’m just happy you let me know you are still out there and you haven’t minimized me. Yet.

Look, there he is now.

So once again the universe teaches this twit a lesson.

Life will always be filled with bumps in the road.

But.

Somehow, some truck eventually comes along and some hot dude steps out and takes his shirt off and patches the hole with gravel.

It always works out, y’all.

(Except when it doesn’t.)

Anyway, it’s extra nice to have this happen during my blogoversary month.

And don’t forget, it’s not too late to register for a chance to win Elena Aitken’s SUGAR CRASH.

xoxoRASJ

Tweet This Twit @rasjacobson

Running on Empty: A #LessonLearned by El Farris

Howdy pardner.

One of the greatest blessings to have happened to me this year has been the discovery of my writing partner, El Farris, of Running from Hell with El.

In January, El and I concocted our plans to write our novels together and provide each other with weekly pages and honest feedback, and it is amazing how just a few months later we have crossed over from blogging friends to real life friends.

We talk to each other almost daily, and our conversations do not have a start or stop. They simply continue. El is a pantser, and I’m a plotter. El writes fast and furious and says things like: “I’ll go back and fix that in the next draft,” where I can’t move forward until I feel I’ve connected all the dots. We work well together. If we were on the color wheel, we would surely be the other’s complement.

There is much to admire about El, and I’m so happy to have her here during my blogoversary month. Folks can find El on Facebook — there’s a reason she has over 6,000 fans — and you can follow her on Twitter at @runningfromhell.

Click on the teacher lady’s stick to see others who have written posts in this series.

• • •

Running on Empty

Have you ever felt like this?

I’ve learned a lot of important driving lessons over the years. Some of them might seem pretty obvious, but I have a history of learning the hard way. For example, I realized I made a poor decision driving my Subaru for the first time (before I received my driver’s permit) when I drove the car into the front yard. A few months later, I found out how important it is to yank up the parking brake when coming to a stop at the top of a steep hill when the same black Subaru slammed into Dad’s beloved cherry tree. And finally, I learned to ignore the man-child thwacking the rear window with a cherry Twizzler only after the out-of-town police car flashed his lights and handed me my hundredth speeding ticket. That was the last ticket I received. I think.

As slow as I have been on the uptake while behind the wheel of a vehicle, I am even slower at learning how to navigate the churning waters of social media. I have spent a lot of time developing my online persona via Facebook and Twitter; Once my book is published, I hope that social media will help me to sell my book. For the moment, however, social media wraps a web around me that sometimes makes it hard for me to breathe.

How is this so?  We’re talking about a virtual world right? Well, yes, and no. For each comment or request that someone makes to or about me on Facebook, Twitter or on my blog, a real human being stands behind and is represented by the words he or she types.  And I care about each human being. I care very much.  Maybe too much.

One of the Facebook groups I help administer is dedicated to suicide prevention. Even though we are not officially a crisis hotline, the fact is that once in a while, someone is in dire straits and I am part of the last line of defense. Either as a member of a team or all alone, I grasp hold of a lifeline and extend it to someone who has swallowed or is about to swallow their last pill, and most of the time, I would not have it any other way.  I would prefer to lose a few hours of sleep than to lose the man or woman holding that line.

The other night, however, it got to be too much. I was tired. I had pushed my body to its breaking point by running more than 100 miles in 10 days.  I craved sleep. I needed a break from needs and commitments and pressures and even friends.

But instead of taking a break, I jumped into a Facebook conversation with an acquaintance who lives in another country. I do not need to describe the particulars of our conversation. Let’s just say it took about 60 seconds to determine that “Lin” needed to get herself to a hospital. I follow a set of guidelines when speaking with someone who is suicidal.  I ascertain whether they are safe; determine how present the risk of self-harm is; tell them I care about them and, more than anything else, I keep them talking until they promise to get professional help.

This story is not about preventing suicide.

It’s about taking care of my needs and my family’s needs.

Too much, too much!

The night Lin was in crisis, I sat glued to the computer. I skipped dinner and hardly spoke to my husband. When my children interrupted me too many times, I grabbed my Smartphone and went for a walk under a darkening sky while I continued what really felt more like hostage negotiations than a talk with a friend. I walked and talked and typed as fast as I could for well over an hour and, when my phone ran out of batteries, I dashed inside and continued working with Lin.

At one point, my middle son tiptoed into my bedroom, where I sat typing on my iMac and asked for a kiss. I held up my hand and started to snap, “Not now,” but I caught myself and gave him a brief, cursory hug.

Later, my youngest clambered into my leather office chair and refused to leave until I answered his long list of nighttime questions. Annoyance gave way to guilt. I turned away from my work only after Lin promised to go to a mental health center and allowed myself to spend a few minutes of quality time with my children.

I did not, nor do I, resent helping Lin. It is my honor and my duty to throw a lifeline to a human being who needs assistance. But providing that kind of assistance takes a toll on me and my family. The next day, I wandered around my house like a ghost.  I remained quiet and worried. I received updates from Lin. She was safe, but I found it impossible to ignore her private messages. She seemed to need me, and I felt compelled to respond.

In retrospect, I learned a lesson from all of this that I keep forgetting. My own needs must come first. Too often, I overextend myself and this leaves me feeling as if I am running on empty.  It’s okay to drive around and pick up desperate stragglers, but I am the driver of my own life.  And I must leave enough gas in my tank to get me to my next destination.

How do you keep from overextending yourself? And what do you do to keep your tank full?

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

Acquaintance is not a Dirty Word: A #LessonLearned by Nina Badzin

Click on the teacher lady's hand to see other writers involved with this project.

It’s fantastic to have Nina here today writing about different types of friendship because Nina and I met through a “shadchan,” the Hebrew word for “unprofessional matchmaker.” Our pimp matchmaker was the fabulous Julie C. Gardner. Julie told me to go and check out Nina’s blog.

Best. Click. Ever.

Because when I landed at Nina Badzin’s Blog, suddenly I felt all shivery. Immediately, I knew I wanted to play Mah Jongg with this woman. Seriously, I loved Nina’s writing voice right away. She explained Why She Might (Or Might Not) Follow Me On Twitter and  Why Marriage Needs To Come Before The Kids. She even told me about Why I Needed To Eat Her Grandma Suzie’s Brownies. So my cyber-crush quickly developed into a collaborative project, and I am so happy to report I won her cyber-heart. Two months later, I was able to get Nina to commit to a date… to write a guest post. I’ll be at her place next week.

Seriously. I’m going to Minnesota.

If you aren’t following Nina, all I can say is big mistake. Huge.

(Actually, Julia Roberts said that in Pretty Woman.) But it applies here as well. Except Nina is not a prostitute who just bought a lot of clothes. Follow Nina on Twitter at @NinaBadzin.

• • •

Acquaintance is not a Dirty Word

Once upon a time (like a year ago), I over-analyzed the relationships in my life no matter how casual and fleeting. When I was an English teacher, for example, I worried about putting too much time into my colleagues since I knew I’d stay home with my kids within three years. I shied away from getting too chatty with the other moms in various Mommy & Me classes since I already had a few close friends in town. I wondered why I was still keeping in touch with long-distance friends when we would probably never visit each other now that we all had young kids.

It was as if every woman in my life had to fulfill all of my friendship needs. In the past year — probably the cause of having my fourth child and less social time than I had in the past — I’ve accepted that it’s normal, mature, and expected to have different friends for all kinds of reasons. Not everyone needs to reach BFF status. “Acquaintance,” I discovered, is not a dirty word.

Of course we should treasure the close, intimate relationships in our lives. I’m simply suggesting that a friendship is worth something even if it doesn’t fit the Oprah/Gayle standard. I’ve learned to enjoy each kind of friend.

There are friends of convenience.

These friends inhabit your space: co-workers, neighbors, yoga buddies, church friends (synagogue for me), parents with children at the same school. In the past I took the simplicity of these friendships for granted. Take my former colleagues, for example. I probably would have enjoyed our lunches together more had I not worried about whether or not we’d ever transcend the initial stage of friendship. The love of fiction, a hate of the vice principal, and fifth period free should have been good enough for me.

Look how cute Nina is! Tell me you wouldn't kill to be any category of friend to her.

There are friends we simply “really, really like.”

I consider myself extremely lucky to have many friends who fall into this category. Several of these women are people who would probably become even closer friends of mine if we ran into each other more, had more time to spend together, or if each of us had more openings for “very close friends.” See Rachel Bertche’s wonderful memoir MWF Seeking BFF for more on the topic of the “friend card” and when it’s too full.

There are “group friends.”

All of your friends are friends so before you know it, you’re friends too. Birthday clubs, cooking clubs, book clubs—these all have the makings of group friendships.  My mom has been in the same monthly bridge group for 40 years. Does she consider every person in the group her closest confidant? No. But she wouldn’t dream of missing the opportunity to help host their kids’ bridal showers, to attend the weddings, send gifts to the grandchildren, and organize the shiva meals for elderly parents and spouses. She wouldn’t analyze whether the friendship only exists because of the group before helping her friend celebrate or mourn.

There are friends bound to us by history.

She stood by you when you had acne, bad hair, embarrassing accessories, and strange taste in boyfriends. Bottom line: she got you through a more vulnerable time. You might not choose her at forty, but you’re friends for life –especially if you’re both on Facebook. But seriously, these friends are keepers no matter how infrequently you see each other and no matter how awkward those first moments of telephone small talk after months or even years of not talking. The quality of the sporadic phone chats or in-person visits with these friends are what help you accept the somewhat surface conversations with your friends of convenience. Different friends for different needs. That’s what I’m preaching here!

There are best friends.

These relationships rise above circumstances, convenience, group status, history, and distance. The only thing problematic about them is their potential to make you devalue the other friendships in your life. Not all friendships get to this level, nor should they. It would be impossible for every relationship to maintain the intensity of the “best” friend.

One last category to appreciate: Internet Friend

If you’re an active blogger and/or Tweeter, then you probably spend more time “talking” to your virtual friends than even your most beloved BFF. Internet chemistry can be felt across the screen, and it’s special. Renée and I clicked as soon as we “met.” And I’m so grateful she let me come here today to talk about valuing each kind of friendship for what it brings to our lives.

Do you appreciate having different friends for different needs? Or do you find yourself over-analyzing your friends?

One Way to Start the Day

This video is making me weep.

This morning started out like any other.

I hopped onto the computer and saw this video posted on Elizabeth McLennan‘s Facebook page.

I watched it.

And I couldn’t stop crying.

I challenge you to get through this video without crying.

The comments are flying in to this boy’s page like crazy. Hundreds, every minute.

I couldn’t get mine to post.

Maybe you can get your words of support to stick.

I know I’ve said this before, but talk to your children about bullying. About the words they use to other people.

Teach them to lift people up rather than tear them down.

And just so you know, I did some research, and Jonah posted another video yesterday, so I assume he is doing okay.

But there are other “Jonahs” out there.

What would you say to a child who is hurting? And I wonder why he removed the second video.

Back in 1985

Me & my BFF's circa 1985. I'm the one in blue with the green lei.

In my last post, I wrote about my nephew Alec’s recent high school graduation.

As I sat waiting inside the local college field house, miles away from the actual school my nephew attended, I couldn’t help but think about my own graduation in 1985.

First, I have to admit that I have absolutely no recollection of who spoke at my high school graduation. (My sincere apologies, Mr. or Ms. Graduation Speaker. I am sure you were very good.)

I do remember sitting in my white cap and gown. (The boys wore red.)

I remember looking at my fabulous white high-heeled pumps and thinking about my tan. My tan was very important to me, as tans were to many of us back in the mid-1980s. We were not a very serious bunch. I mean, we were serious but in an 1980s kind of way. Which was not very serious. Yeah, we were going to college – but we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. At all. Maybe that was just me. But seriously, I don’t think so.

Where my nephew’s graduating class was focused, we were distinctly goofy. Of course some of us were more self-propelled than others, but as a class, we were more about fun. I may be making this up but I kind of remember someone pretending to trip and possibly even staging a fall as he walked to get his diploma. I wore a green lei around my neck during the graduation ceremony. On two separate occasions, the vice principal told me to remove it (and I did), but I slipped it back on before I walked across the stage for hand-shaking and hugs.

In 1985, I was more interested in the social interactions that high school had to offer than its academic challenges. I joined the “fun” clubs. I was a cheerleader. I danced and rode horses. I also got a lot of detentions; I even managed to earn myself a 3-day in-school suspension. Hell, I wore blue to graduation when we were clearly instructed to wear white or light colors. As a group, we did a lot of pushing the proverbial envelope.

In contrast, my nephew and his peers seemed pretty serious.

Maybe they have to be.

Given the current economic prognosis, they can’t afford to mess around the way we did in the decadent 80s.

I mean, it’s good to be thinking of more than just developing “a great base tan.”

The night of Alec’s graduation, as we celebrated his accomplishments with pizza and watermelon, I was surprised by how content Alec was to just hang out with his family. He played his ukulele, chatted with his grandparents, sat outside on a chunky patio chair with the men, their voices blending together in a low hum.

He seemed unfazed that he was leaving for camp the next day. He said he wasn’t too worried because he knew he would be able to keep in touch with his closest friends.

Immediately after my high school graduation, my clan of Best Friends Forever (The “BFF’s”) gathered in a parking lot to sip champagne from plastic glasses, and I remember feeling a tremendous sense of relief and freedom.

Along with a side order of sadness.

Because I really didn’t think I was going to see any of my them ever again.

Let’s forget for a moment that the 1980s featured a lot of apocalyptic songs which suggested that we were all going to die in a nuclear war. (Think of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U” or Rush’s “Distant Early Warning”; Genesis’ “Domino” of  Modern English’s romantic ballad “I’ll Stop The World and Melt with You.” Oh and Nena, the chick who brought us “99 Red Balloons.”)

Seriously. I didn’t think we were going to make it to our 10 year reunion.

But on a less morbid level, there were no cellphones back in 1985. No Facebook or Twitter. No texting.

I remember smiling big but feeling internally frantic. I could feel change on my skin as sure as I had felt the sun baking my shoulders for all those weeks leading up to graduation. Just like my nephew, I packed my duffel bag and trunk and headed off to (same) summer camp where I planned to work for 8 weeks as a counselor. Unlike my nephew, I felt loss in my bones.

I imagined myself standing in line waiting to use a dormitory payphone. But I knew I would never have enough quarters to call my friends as much as I would like. I also knew that even if I called, the odds were, they would not be around.

I knew I would have to find new people, and that I would have to work to make new friends. But I also accepted this as the natural order of things: growing up meant breaking bonds to form new ones.

After speaking with several graduates of the class of 2011, I realized that they are less sad than we were. With the advent of social media, friends need never disconnect from one another. Unless a person wants to become invisible, it is absolutely possible to remain in touch with one’s friends from high school. On a daily basis.

It remains to be seen if all this connection will be a blessing or a curse. I wonder if today’s students will remain perpetual teenagers, clinging to their childhood friendships, finding it difficult to move on and forge fresh bonds with new people, or if they will plunge into adulthood, embracing new opportunities while maintaining constant contact with old friends from back in the day.

As I watched graduates from the class of 2011 pose for photographs, then stop to text someone, thumbs a-blazing, I thought about what graduation really meant for me.

I was able to go to college and start fresh.

I made a conscious choice to stop being “the flirty girl” and reinvent myself as “the studious girl.” Would such a transformation have been possible if I had people from high school constantly reminding me of my flakiness? About how dumb I was in math? About the time I spilled the bong water? Or the time I started cheering “Block That Kick” when our team had possession of the football?

Is it possible to move forward and evolve when people are urging you to look back and stay the same?

What do you remember about your high school graduation? How do you think social media will impact future generations?



Class Pictures: The Aftermath

That's what I'm talking about!

Yesterday for School Photo Day, I wrote about how I was voted “Class Flirt” my Senior year in high school.

A few hours after my pictures went live, Monsieur Flirt contacted me.

Actually, that is not exactly true.

Earlier that morning, I put out a call on Facebook asking friends to help me track him down.

It didn’t take long.

He responded to my blog – at first a little defensively – and we ended up privately emailing back and forth all day.

Short little emails.

He’s still funny.

And charming.

And he told me I’m funny.

(No duh!)

Somehow he forgot to mention that I am hot.

I don’t know how that happened.

Anyway, during our correspondence, Monsieur Flirt requested that I post an updated picture of him today. I guess even PMo got a little trapped behind the burden of those Senior Superlatives. Like me, he has grown up. He’s a man. A responsible and doting father with a job: a mortgage, bills. He is the same but different.

And he would like to show the world how he has morphed.

So you saw him in 1985; here he is in a photo taken in 2010.

Twenty-five years later.

PMo in 2010

At the end of our day of emails, PMo tapped out a quick last note:

Always fun bonding with you…

And I thought.

Yup.

PMo and I will always have that high school bond, a shared history where he was the studly-stud in the leather bomber jacket and I was the boobless babe in the short, red cheerleader skirt.

Thanks for being such a good sport, PMo.

If Photo Dude were taking our picture today, I’m sure he’d get a better shot. We would unlikely turn our backs to each other, and we would definitely smile.

In fact, I’ll make sure to get that picture at our 30th reunion in 2015.

Anyone else have any “Morning After” School Photo Day stories? Or am I just the lucky one?

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