Trouble in Blogville

This is what happens when you decide to save money on a decorator and do it yourself.

First, you try to update your existing blog template and end up taking out a load-bearing wall. Oops.

Next, you decide to pack up and move to an apartment while the repairs are under way.

At the walk-through, you fall in love with scenic view, the simplicity of the layout,  and the freedom and flexibility to upgrade and redecorate. So, in a moment of passion, you sign the lease.

On the big day, you slide the key into the lock, turn the knob and step into your new home and — it’s all wrong.

Somehow the great view was a trick. The mountain vista is really a pile of trash covered in moss.  None of the outlets or appliances work. The doors stick. The landlord won’t return your calls.

You’ve invested money in custom paint, rugs and window treatments.

So, you have a dilemma: Don’t unpack, cut your losses and keep looking for a new home, or make the best of it, hire a professional to fix the problems.

I’ll be deciding in the next week whether to stay or go. Bear with me here.

On a related note, there is also some trouble with the phone lines in Blogville.

I’m unable to comment on some of my favorite blogs because the comment system locks me out.

In one case,  I don’t know what the frick is wrong. I’ve upgraded my site, made adjustments, and so have they. Yet, my words are trapped in some comment limbo.

Some of it is my doing. I have three Google e-mails. So, if I comment using the Google/Blogger ID system, I’ll be identified either as MOM without the accompanying URL link to explain it is MomZombie and not the woman who gave birth to you, or MY REAL NAME (not an option and you still wouldn’t know it’s me), or a string of numbers that will make no sense to anyone outside my family.

For whatever reason, I cannot comment using the Open ID system or by selecting WordPress. There aren’t enough hours in the day to resolve these issues.

The best way for me to comment on a Blogger blog is to select the NAME/URL option, which many of you provide as an option. Thank you. Whether or not you want to adjust this for little ol’ me is up to you. But consider this: There may be others out there who love your blog, too, but cannot comment due to these restrictions. And you may not know it unless they take the time to send you an e-mail or a message through Twitter.

So, there it is. There are bugs in the walls. There are leaks in the pipes. Yet, in spite of all these inconveniences I keep blogging.

I must be crazy.

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Attendance not necessary

Photo by MZ

Let’s get right to the point, shall we?

What? You were talking first? Sorry, but I think what I have to say is far more important.

What happened to manners?

I’m not talking about high-society etiquette and dispute over the proper spoon to use. I’m referring to everyday, common-sense, Golden Rule kind of stuff.

My nickname isn’t Emily Post. I don’t pal around with Judith Martin (but I adore her weekly column on social graces) and often I let slide things that maybe should be addressed. Rather than call out the store clerk who yaks into her cell phone headset while ringing up my order, I just grab my receipt and make a mental note to spend my money elsewhere. There does exist hope amid all the chaos: While scouring the racks at my favorite resale shop, I was pleased to overhear the owner taking to task two of her employees for “excessive texting” on the job. High five to you, woman.

Excuse me, I ‘m talking now. Please put down your phone. I see you over there.

I can trace this slimy little trail of behavior right back to the first cordless phones. When was it? Sometime in the early 1990s? Suddenly everyone was multi-tasking: They were doing their nasty business in the bathroom while being interviewed by a reporter; they blathered on about this bitch and that ho while steering a shopping cart through a grocery store. The sounds of ring tones bleating and chirping out all genres of musical hits during church services, movies, plays and children’s programs grew more commonplace and acceptable.

Next thing you know a new generation is reaching adulthood with this model of behavior as the norm. You cannot  blame parents for all of this. Spread it around to the cell phone companies and cable TV and reality programming.

In a search for common ground on this stuff, I find myself nearly alone in a field. My mother has a cell phone but she only turns it on when she wants to make a call. (Overly polite and from another era.)  At the other end of the spectrum is my daughter, who sleeps with her phone next to her pillow, eats with her phone in her lap and performs household chores with one hand while texting with the other. Sometimes she takes a break to log on to Facebook. (Unable to disconnect, ever.)

Here is a recent conversation I had with my teen, in which I explain how I went to a fine-arts fundraiser concert, at which we were asked to turn off our cell phones before the show, and how no one listened and just kept on texting and surfing the Net on their smart phones all through the show. What the freakin’ hell, people?

She: So? What’s your point?

Me: What do you mean, so? That’s rude. I hope you don’t do that.

She: Mom, it’s not rude to text during a show. Texting is silent.

Me: I don’t know about that. I can hear that annoying tap-tap-tapping from across a room. It’s not subtle. And it is rude to ignore the performer and chat no matter in what form. You think the people on stage can’t see what you are doing?

She: You need to lighten up. You’re the rude one with your stupid phone always ringing and vibrating in your purse. Half the time you can’t even find it and you never answer it. Talk about rude.

I reminded her that I keep my phone on vibrate these days and I return calls as quickly as I can. I’m even trying to respond to texts with something more in-depth than “OK” or “THX.”

She: Whatever.

Me: How is it OK to be in someone’s physical presence, yet ignore them in favor of chatting or texting with whomever is on your phone?

Apparently this is a gray area, one that I have a hard time wrapping my aging gray matter around. So, it’s not rude to ignore the person or performance in front of you as long as you are saying nice things about the performer on Facebook and Twitter and posting pictures from your phone to the Net? Is this how it works?

She: Do you want some kind of award for politeness? I think most people would rather be with someone real than with some prissy woman who’s trying to be perfect all the time.

Am I am pris? Am I not real? God, if she only knew me back in the day. Hah!

Why must I shut off my dumb phone while you tap away on your smart phone? In my one-person quest to uphold lost social graces, am I viewed only as uptight and outdated. Is there any hope?

While I considered whether I was a prissy perfectionist old skool mom, my preschooler interrupted our debate with this directive:

“Shhhh, mom,” she whispered and pointed to a Barbie doll “mom” seated at a miniature desk with computer and phone.”You have to be quiet. She’s working on her computer.”

Great, now I’m a hypocrite as well.

Put down the damn phone

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I love social media.

I have two blogs. Two Twitter accounts. I’m on Facebook.  I belong to countless online communities.

So I understand the lure, the pull, the sexy side of it. Even though I have all this stuff, I know I don’t always use it in a productive way. This has bothered me a bit more lately, as other matters push for my attention. I’m trying to strike the right balance between doing things that are fun, doing things for professional benefit, and living in the real world.

I’m trying to keep a firm line in the sand between online and real life.

However, lately I’ve noticed more and more folks hauling out the iPhone or some other model of smart phone for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with phone calls. 

My teenage daughter and her QWERTY camera phone are a thorn in my side. Just today she sent me a picture message. Of what? Some stupid candid picture of me doing yard work. Great. It’s probably on her MySpace page by now.

Sure, we pay the bill. If she pushes our buttons too much she knows she loses the privilege of having it. We’ve threatened it and we’ve followed through.

But what to do with all the adults out there who don’t have that behavioral threat hanging over their social-media addled brains?

Which brings me to today’s installment of Bitchfest:

Unless it’s a social media event or work-related, put down the damn phone.

At back yard cookouts, weddings, family parties, children’s birthday parties, time and again I see one or two folks checking out of the moment and getting lost in cyberspace. I used to be ignorant. I thought they were checking their messages or calendars. Maybe they were on-call for work? Nope. They are Tweeting away or Facebooking or browsing around. 

I’ve watched a guest at a cookout sit and stare down at his phone nestled in his lap while his children splashed in the pool and his not-so-social-media-savvy host sat nearby. Last weekend I was at a party where a guest just could not stop talking about and using his iPhone. It was a child’s birthday party. Obviously he was bored.

His rudeness paved the way for a few others to haul out their smart phones. Let the pissing contest begin. Meanwhile, who’s watching the kids?

Let’s put it another way: If I pulled the book I’m reading out of my purse and opened it and began reading while seated at a party, would I be viewed as rude? If I brought my laptop to a wedding reception so that I could compose a blog post or check Facebook, would I get a few dirty looks?

Put down the damn phone.

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Gutless goes for a cleanse



Are you on Facebook?
Do you Twitter?
I get asked this with more frequency.
Two words: Old boyfriends.
Two more words: Weirdo magnet.
I’ve signed on to many social networks, gotten so far as a preview page. And when I see all my stuff out there, like so many pairs of my big-girl panties blowing on the clothesline, I freak and shut the whole thing down.
I blog, true. But semi-anonymously.
But old boyfriends and weirdos scare me. Sometimes old boyfriends are the weirdos. Sometimes the weirdos are old and they want to be my boyfriend. Get the picture?

A million years ago I was a paid writer. I had a daily byline in the newspaper and a monthly column with my mug shot attached to it. While I enjoyed the opportunity to get my words out there to the world, there was the downside. There are the scary folks who come out of the woodwork. They call or show up. Sometimes they want your time or a favor. Sometimes they have inappropriate gifts. Sometimes they want a pair of your big-girl panties.
The fringe element made me want to go anonymous.
Maybe I don’t want to be found, to reconnect with certain people from my past. I’m sure there are privacy settings and all that, so this long-winded diatribe is probably a lame-o excuse. I realize I am a hypocrite. I spent about two hours on the Internet last night Googling the names of old boyfriends. I found nothing. Do they feel the same?
Somehow all this made me think of “Northern Exposure,” a show about Alaska that made me want to go to Alaska, before Sarah Palin ruined it for me.
There was an episode in which former debutante/current bush pilot Maggie follows a Native American ritual and cleanses her soul by writing letters to all her dead boyfriends so that she can move forward with her life.
I’ve often imagined how something like that would go:
Old Boyfriend No. 1: Former altar boy gone bad. What was your turning point? You were so chaste and hot and sweet as a young man. Last I heard you were working as a DJ in nightclubs and had quite the notched belt, if you know what I’m saying. I know you thought we’d get married someday but it just wasn’t in the cards. Especially considering your appetite for the buffet table.
Old Boyfriend No. 2: I blame my reclusive ways on you. We reconnected on the Internet a few years ago. I thought it was for the purpose of a platonic friendship. We vowed we would stay in touch this time. I guess I was wrong. After two years of what I thought was nice communcation, you pulled the plug when I told you I was adopting a child. I may as well have said I was pre-op transsexual. Can you say shallow?
Old Boyfriend No. 3: You died in a horrific airline disaster right here in our hometown. You were 24 years old, just married and had a baby on the way. I cried for you and your family for months. I wanted to come to your funeral but was too afraid. I still think of you and your little family that never was to be when I drive by the airport. Do you  miss life here on Earth or are you truly in a better place?
Old Boyfriends No. 4-7: Hi, it’s me, your good-luck charm. I say that because after me all of you went on to success and wealth. When we dated, you were poor. You scraped together change and singles to take me out to dive bars and drink pitchers of watered down pee water beer. You drove in your ghetto cruisers to pick me up. Don’t get me wrong, we had our fun. But it still kills me a little to hear years later that all of you are living the good life: huge McMansions in the tony suburbs, all the amenities, including the blonde beautiful wifeys who made beautiful babies for you. You all owe me a real dinner, in a restaurant with cloth napkins, you hear?
And finally, Old Boyfriend No. 8: Have you come out of the closet yet? If so, I hope you’re living on the East Coast and not the West Coast. I hope you have a nice life partner and live in a deliciously appointed loft in a gentrified district of a dynamic city. Seriously, no girl likes to hear the failure of a relationship is due to “I think I might be gay.” All I can think is: Was I the one to help you come to that realization? Ah, well, I forgive you. Times are different now.
As for the rest, yeah, I think we both knew the chemistry was off. Either you or I made a very bad judgment call. It’s best that we keep the distance and the mystery in “Whatever happened to?”
Now that I’ve cleansed my soul, maybe I can now move forward and put my face out there.