Monday, May 18, 2009

Facebook - It's Not Really About The Icon

I recently read an article that condemned women who use pics of their kids as Facebook icons as boring has-beens who now dominate dinner party conversation with discussions of strollers and school lunches. Interesting. I don't use my daughter's picture as my Facebook identity, but it seems a bit off to me to make a sweeping judgment about that many women based on... well, Facebook.

Is Facebook that ingrained in our lives now that we can judge a person's whole life by the photo they put by their name? If so, I suppose I should try to check this monumentally important account more often. Frankly, I'm far more likely to make snap judgments based on the annoyingness of the games and apps and quizzes a person spews onto my wall than I am to care what photo they choose. My friend Alison has a cartoon character. Dare I contemplate what that says about her? Facebook is a tool with which you can find out more about a person's world. Let's not mistake it as their entire world.

If I did choose to put a picture of my daughter up to represent me for a day, I'd do so because I'm proud to have achieved a reasonable level of career success while maintaining some hobbies and a sort of clean house, spending a lot of time volunteering, having an active social life, *and* raising a daughter who is funny, well-rounded and well-behaved. Whether or not that meets anyone else's definition of the healthy, modern woman matters to me about as much as their choice of Facebook photo.

What about those creepy people whose pics show them turned to the side, or with a hand near their face, or even a stray lock of hair falling over one eye? They're obviously ashamed of themselves, hiding their lack of contribution to the world, and should possibly re-consider even being on Facebook at all. It's gotta be a full-on shot of your face, or you're just plain doing it wrong.

At the end of the day, though, if you find yourself obsessively characterizing your Facebook contacts based on the photo they choose as their icon, perhaps it's time to take a little break? Besides, as far the dinner party conversation issue goes, I can't say I'd enjoy someone who wanted to talk smack about other people's Facebook choices any more than a parenting-only conversation. At least the stroller convo might have some useful real-life applications....

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Day With The Soybean Queen

When you work from home, it's a tricky thing. I love that I have the freedom to set my own schedule, and I can usually bail on work and go have lunch or go to my daughter's school activities, and finish up my work at 2 a.m. or whenever my next free moment comes along. The problems with working from home are two-fold, though.

First, I never leave my work behind at the office, because my office is handily contained in my laptop, which always seems to be nearby. And I love it. I start to get a wee bit twitchy without it, in fact. Yesterday, I went to town without my laptop (normal) but I also forgot my phone (not normal), and I had to quell a rising panic when I realized that I couldn't spend the hour of wait time between my daughter's sporting events checking email, playing on Twitter, surfing the web or catching up on work. Gah! OK, so it really wasn't that hard to stop the panic. I marched my little one off for a mom/daughter dinner and laughed at her restaurant antics (wouldn't mommy like a kiss after EVERY bite of food???). No prob, Bob.

However, when it's ten o'clock and I'm exhausted but I know I could crank out just one.more.thing before bed? It would be handy to be able to leave the office somewhere else. Perhaps I need a time-sensitive lock box for my laptop. This laptop may not be used between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Of course, then there would be a tornado or something at 1 a.m. and I'd have to gnaw through the lock to check the weather. OK, maybe no lock on the laptop. Whatever.

The second problem with working from home is that everyone else forgets that I work. At all. Well, except my editor. She *always* remembers. :) Even my husband, when he's home during the day, will ask, "what are you going to do today?" Ummm.... well... they actually won't pay me if I don't do work at some point, so I think I'm going to work! Sound good? Yay! Other times I'm working along, typing intently, brow furrowed with the effort (note to self - get Neutrogena to sponsor blog with anti-wrinkle cream for brow furrow), and my husband suddenly decides that he really and truly needs help holding a tape measure or a level or pushing some sort of button on a piece of farm equipment RIGHT THEN. And suddenly I am an unpaid farm hand with a mangled manicure.

Even my mother asks me what I'm doing when she calls me during the day. *sigh* I think part of the problem is that for people who live in my little town, what I do is less visible than, say, someone who assembles things or farms or works in a store or teaches children. Being a writer seems nebulous and unofficial. Being a writer on the internet, even more so. Once, upon hearing that I was a freelance writer, someone said to me, "doesn't that just mean that you don't have a job right now?" Ha. Ha. Ha.

Today's schedule is pretty standard, except that I don't have to go to town for anything. Whew. I'll spend about 4 hours of my day writing things that pay the bills. I might spend 30 minutes to an hour writing things for fun, like this blog (shocker - it doesn't pay the bills! Sure would like some of that anti-wrinkle cream, though). Then I get to do the random stuff that fills up every mom's day.

I need to call the car dealership to find out what options they can get for me on an '09 Ford Flex. I think we're going to (FINALLY) buy one within the next couple of weeks, and I don't want to order one. So, the dealer is looking for one that has most of what I want. As usual, I have very expensive tastes and I am forcing myself to reign it in a bit. Do I really need that Panoramic Vista Roof? Probably not. But I waaaaant it. So badly. Frankly, the light-up cupholders also appeal to me, but I suspect that it would actually send my husband into some sort of catatonic state if I spent money on lights in cupholders, so I'm avoiding that. You can CHOOSE the COLOR of your CUPHOLDERS! Daily! I know.... I'm stopping now.

After I try not to kill my husband with vehicle upgrades, it's off to the garden for a while, where I must plant one Cleveland pear, four heirloom tomatoes (Mr. Stripeys and Brandywines), four columbine, two purple nettles and three yews. Then I need to weed. A lot.

When the wee one returns home from school, it's homework time. Then we play ball in the yard. I claim this is for her benefit, but after my showing at my own softball practice last weekend, I think she knows it's actually for me. While I'm making dinner later, I'll check in with my fake internet girlfriends to see what madness they're up to today. I confess, that's one of my favorite parts of the day.

The evening is usually spent trying to get my child to not use the living room as a toy box and laundry receptacle, being grossed out while she and my husband watch Andrew Zimmern and discuss actually eating the bizarre foods he's sampling, chasing the kiddo off to bed, doing a little more writing, and collapsing into an exhausted (but still really sexy) heap after making some attempt to clean my kitchen and scale Mount St. Laundry.

And that, my friends, is why, when you call and ask me what I'm doing, I say, laughing, "oh, nothing."

Monday, May 04, 2009

Still Aliiiive. Barely.

My poor, neglected little blog. :( I had surgery in mid-February, and boy, did I underestimate the time it would take to feel human again. I think I'm nearly there, two and a half months later. Let this be a lesson to you, surgery-getters. Take whatever recovery time your doctor gives you and double it.

Allegedly, I should have been able to go back to work 2 weeks post-op, if I worked outside the house. Two weeks after my surgery, I was still sleeping in the guest room so that no one stood a chance of accidentally touching me, I could barely stay awake for more than three hours at a time, and I still wasn't driving myself anywhere because I couldn't wear a seatbelt unless I also put a pillow underneath it. No, that wouldn't attract the attention of the local law enforcement at all! And I'm sure my employer would have loved finding me face-down on my desk every few minutes, too.

Luckily, I have mostly recovered just in time for softball season here in the Midwest. As you may know, we sometimes lack recreational options out here in the sticks, and hence, softball is HUGE during the summer. The little one has coach-pitch practices already, and my husband and I have practice for beer-league softball in another town. It's a good thing I can drive without that pillow now, because I rarely see the outside of my truck unless I'm standing in a ball field somewhere.

I'm not that great at softball on a good day, so getting ready to play after having surgery is humiliating at times. Swinging a bat with 35 inches worth of relatively fresh scars around one's chest/midsection? Ow. It still kind of hurts to raise my arms very far, which makes it really interesting trying to throw a softball very far. The good news is that my performance at practice means they'll be less likely to put me in to play very many games, thus reducing my overall humiliation.

After all of the driving to practices and running after softballs and batting until my arms might fall off means that the small amounts of post-op energy I've regained go away pretty fast. So, if I don't blog again for another 48 years, I'm probably napping. All sayings involving sleeping animals and how you should let them remain asleep apply here.